RUSSIAN MILITARY COMMAND ASSESSES CHECHNYA OPERATION.
On 28 February, a
four-day conference opened in Moscow at which representatives of the Russian
military and civilian leadership are to assess the performance of Russian
troops in "restoring constitutional order" in Chechnya, Interfax and
Nezavisimaya gazeta reported. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev rejected as
largely unfounded both widespread criticism of the abysmal performance of
Russian ground troops and what he termed "populist pronouncements by individual
senior military officials" concerning inadequate preparation and planning. In
the latter case, he was presumably referring to his rival General Aleksandr
Lebed, who dismissed the entire conference as a pointless "show." Grachev said
he had held talks with Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev in Mozdok on 6
December, at which Dudaev had said his position was hopeless, but claimed he
was a hostage of his entourage, and therefore could not comply with Russian
President Boris Yeltsin's ultimatum to disarm. Grachev further claimed that
Dudaev's forces, which allegedly include up to 6,000 mercenaries from
Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Turkey, and the Baltic states, are
currently retrenching in the towns of Gudermes and Shali. Col.-Gen. Fedor
Ladygin, head of the General Staff Main Intelligence Department, predicted it
will not be possible to eliminate Chechen resistance in the near future.
However, Chechen opposition Provisional Council chairman Umar Avturkhanov said
there will be no large-scale guerrilla war in Chechnya and that resistance to
Russian forces would not last for long. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
GRACHEV PROPOSES MILITARY RESTRUCTURING.
At the same conference, Grachev
said the contract servicemen had not shown their worth in combat, and the
military would have to rely on conscription. Training should be adjusted to
prepare troops for local disturbances and urban combat rather than for a major
war, he said. Grachev told the commanders the Russian armed forces could not
drop below 1.7 million men, and a large contingent would be required in the
Caucasus region for some time. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
GRACHEV WARNS OF TERRORISM; BOMB EXPLODES AT EMBASSY IN RABAT.
also warned that troops could expect continued acts of terrorism in Chechnya,
ITAR-TASS reported on 28 February. Meanwhile, terrorism occurred on another
front as a suicide bomber blew himself up at the Russian consulate in Rabat,
Morocco. He died, but no injuries were reported among embassy staff. He was
reportedly wearing a placard with the word "Chechnya" written on it in Arabic.
-- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
INSTITUTE DIRECTOR SAYS $5 BILLION SPENT ON CHECHNYA.
About $5 billion,
or 2.5% of Russia's GNP, has been spent on military operations in Chechnya,
according to Andrei Illarionov, director of the Institute of Economic Analysis.
The calculations were based on official statistics provided by Russia's Defense
Ministry for the operation in Chechnya beginning last December, Interfax
reported on 28 February. The numbers do not include assets required to restore
the republic's economy. Illarionov said defense expenditures, which amounted to
4.1% of the GNP over 11 months of 1994, jumped to 6.6% last December. That
caused the federal budget deficit for 1994 to rise to 10.4% of the GNP.
Meanwhile, Illarionov noted that while January inflation reached 17.8%,
February's rate should be around 12%. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
YELTSIN SUSPENDS GRYZUNOV'S DISMISSAL.
President Yeltsin has asked Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to suspend the dismissal of Sergei Gryzunov,
chairman of the State Press Committee, Interfax reported on 28 February. A
presidential source said Gryzunov's case would be reevaluated, citing protests
from journalists and the public. Although Chernomyrdin told reporters, "You
know why" Gryzunov was fired, the reasons remain unclear and have sparked a
debate in the Russian press. Rossiiskie vesti wrote on 1 March that "the
lack of an intelligible official explanation" indicates serious decisions are
now made "in the undercover style of cadre politics." On the same day,
Komsomolskaya pravda wondered which "government circles" decided to fire
the press chairman, since Gryzunov was "the last to know," while Yeltsin claims
to have been "misinformed" on the matter. Many journalists say Gryzunov is
being punished for refusing to take part in official disinformation on the
Chechen crisis. Gryzunov said Mikhail Poltoranin, chairman of the Duma press
and information committee, may have lobbied for his dismissal. Recently,
Gryzunov had proposed that the finances of one of "Poltoranin's favorite"
newspaper's, Rossiiskaya gazeta, be investigated. Gryzunov told Interfax
on 28 February that even though he was fired without cause, the public
controversy over his dismissal proves that democratic reform in Russia is
irreversible. He praised the Russian public and Yeltsin for rejecting
"behind-the-scenes intriguing" in the affair. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
FINANCE MINISTRY TO DEVELOP SECURITIES MARKET.
Russia's Finance Ministry
plans to further develop a securities market in an attempt to improve the
system of state borrowings and balance the internal state debt, Deputy Finance
Minister Andrei Kazmin said at a Moscow seminar on 28 February, Interfax
reported. According to Kazmin, introducing a securities market with longer
terms of repayment, together with a reasonable level of accessibility and
attraction to investors, will help lower Russia's high inflation rate. Kazmin
said the number of banks which have licenses to distribute treasury bonds has
increased from 9 to 17, and another 15 commercial banks are on a reserve list.
The decision to issue treasury bonds was adopted on 9 August 1994. The total
amount in the first issuance reached 4 trillion rubles with repayment terms of
three months, six months, and 12 months. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
CIA: RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT MAY NOT RATIFY START II.
A CIA analyst told
Congress that Russia might not ratify START II, AFP reported on 28 February.
Peter Clement, head of the CIA's Russian affairs division, told the U.S. Senate
foreign affairs committee that some Russian lawmakers say the country's nuclear
forces should not be reduced because the Chechen war showed that conventional
forces are ineffective. The upcoming elections "will complicate matters
further," he added. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
U.S. GROUP VERIFYING START I ARRIVES IN MOSCOW.
The first U.S.
commission to verify Russian compliance with the START I treaty arrives in
Moscow on 1 March, Interfax reported. The group will verify initial data about
numbers and types of strategic nuclear weapons on 56 inspection tours within
Russia. The group will also visit Ukraine and Russian military installations in
Belarus and Kazakhstan. Another U.S. team will carry out a "demand" inspection
on 2 March in which the Defense Ministry will have nine hours to take the team
to any area it requests. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
FEDERATION COUNCIL REJECTS DUMA LEGISLATION ON DEMONSTRATIONS, MEDIA.
The Federation Council failed to muster enough votes on 28 February to
override a presidential veto of the law on political demonstrations, Interfax
reported. Only 28 deputies supported the override, far short of the 118
necessary for a two-thirds majority. The State Duma had overridden the
presidential veto on 22 February. Yevgeny Krestyaninov, chairman of the
Federation Council regulation commission, said deputies must now start working
from scratch on a new law. The Council also failed to pass two laws already
approved by the Duma: "On Television and Radio Broadcasting" and "On Changes
and Amendments to the Decree on Mass Media." The Council rejected the
legislation because some of its terms were unacceptable, but did not specify
exactly which provisions. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIA ARRESTS EXTREME NATIONALIST.
The Federal Counterintelligence
Service has arrested Alexei Vedenkin, deputy chairman of the Russian National
Unity party, Interfax and Reuters reported on 28 February. In a recent
television broadcast, entitled "Fascism in Russia. Who?," he said he wanted to
execute Russian Human Rights Commissioner Sergei Kovalev and State Duma defense
committee chairman Sergei Yushenkov, both of whom had been critical of the use
of force in Chechnya. Vedenkin said he had drawn up a hit list of 150 other
liberals and proposed erecting a statue to Defense Minister Grachev. The
television program showed Vedenkin sharing meals with Liberal Democratic Party
leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, but that party appeared to dissociate itself from
Vedenkin when it released a denunciation of fascism on 27 February.
Moskovsky komsomolets reported on 1 March that Vedenkin is no more than
an "adventurist" who tries to make himself appear more important than he really
is, and, therefore, was an easy target for the security services. Nevertheless,
Andrei Loginov, head of the presidential administration's department on
relations with political parties, associations, and parliamentary factions,
urged the adoption of "urgent police measures" to oppose the fascist threat. He
said a presidential decree currently being drafted will take a tough approach
to the problem. Yeltsin is also planning to hold an anti-fascist conference,
possibly in the second half of April. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
KOZYREV: UN AND CONTACT GROUP HAS FAILED TO MEET COMMITMENTS TO BELGRADE.
In meetings with the rump Yugoslavia's defense minister, Pavle Bulatovic,
Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said, "The UN Security Council and the
Contact Group owe Belgrade," Interfax reported on 28 February. Kozyrev added
that he favored lifting sanctions against Belgrade, especially since Serbian
President Slobodan Milosevic had supported the Contact Group's peace plan. He
continued, "I am sure the UN Security Council and the international Contact
Group have not fulfilled their . . . commitments." Referring to the military
agreement signed between Moscow and Belgrade on 27 February, he said any actual
military-technical cooperation between Russia and rump Yugoslavia must await
the lifting of international sanctions. Bulatovic's visit to Moscow was
featured prominently in Nasa Borba. -- Michael Mihalka and Stan
Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
CHUBAIS SAYS MINERS WILL NOT STRIKE.
First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly
Chubais said Russia's miners would not go ahead with a strike scheduled for 1
March, Interfax reported on 28 February. The Russian Coal Industry Workers'
Union had announced on 23 February that it was postponing an indefinite strike
called for 1 March until 15 March. Chubais said agreement had been reached on
many issues and that the government had paid the miners a total of 1.6 billion
rubles by the end of February, Ostankino TV reported. Chubais admitted,
however, that the money disbursed by the government did not cover its entire
debt and the situation in a number of areas remains tense. A major problem, he
said, was nonpayment by consumers, particularly in Vorkuta and Primorsky Krai.
He added that the government intended to send a commission to those regions and
was taking steps to arrange payment by debtors. Meanwhile, Interfax reported
that miners in Primorsky still intended to strike on 1 March and they reserved
the right to call an indefinite strike. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
MINIMUM WAGE 12% OF SUBSISTENCE MINIMUM.
The minimum monthly wage of
20,500 rubles is a mere 12% of the subsistence minimum, the Labor Ministry told
Interfax on 28 February. A Russian requires 170,000 rubles a month to buy food
and other essentials and pay utility bills. In January, the average cost of the
minimum consumption basket of 19 basic items was 135,000 rubles. On 27
February, Labor Minister Gennady Melikyan said average monthly pay was just
over twice the subsistence minimum. Melikyan also noted that the share of the
population's income earned at official jobs has been shrinking and that the
difference in pay between the lowest and highest income groups is continuing to
grow. Officially, the richest 10% earn 15 times the poorest 10%, but the actual
difference is much larger. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
No report today.
CONGRESS OF UKRAINIAN NATIONALISTS ON CIS.
The right-wing Congress of
Ukrainian Nationalists has issued a statement calling on Ukraine to withdraw
from the CIS immediately, suspend its nuclear disarmament, halt negotiations
with Russia over dividing the Black Sea Fleet and signing a friendship and
cooperation treaty, and fortify the country's borders, UNIAR reported on 28
February. The statement was prompted by an interview with Russian
ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky published in Vseukrainski
vedomosti. Zhirinovsky told the newspaper that "The Russian army will march
over Ukraine, eliminating everything in its way, and will deploy its garrisons
everywhere it meets resistance." -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
POLISH PRESIDENT SPURNS CONSULTATION ATTEMPT.
Lech Walesa continued his
game of cat and mouse with the ruling coalition on 28 February, refusing to
discuss the composition of the proposed new cabinet with prime minister
candidate Jozef Oleksy, Gazeta Wyborcza reported. The president's
spokesman said Oleksy came to the meeting "unprepared." Unless he was actually
appointed prime minister, the spokesman argued, Oleksy lacked the
constitutional authority to conduct cabinet consultations. Walesa's move forces
the coalition to proceed with the constructive no-confidence vote on 1 March,
without any certainty that the president will cooperate afterward by naming
Oleksy prime minister, as the constitution requires. The president may be
aiming--as he has done in the past--to strengthen his bargaining position in
talks on the new cabinet. But the sarcasm and nonchalance that have infused
recent presidential statements suggest that Walesa is determined to try to
block the formation of any new government and may even intend to use the
constitutional ambiguity that will arise after Pawlak is ousted and before
Oleksy is appointed to try to dissolve the parliament. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI,
COALITION PUSHES AHEAD, OLEKSY RELUCTANT.
Party colleagues from the
Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) needed several hours on 28 February to persuade
prime minister candidate Jozef Oleksy to continue attempting to form a new
government, Gazeta Wyborcza reported. After his unsuccessful meeting
with President Lech Walesa, Oleksy was apparently ready to give up. "I don't
want to, but it looks as if I'm going to have to [try]," Oleksy reportedly told
parliament deputies from the Polish Peasant Party (PSL), paraphrasing Walesa's
familiar saying about running for president. Oleksy concluded that the
president's attitude signaled a "lack of good will" that would undermine any
new government. But SLD leader Aleksander Kwasniewski announced that "the new
government will be elected, regardless of the president's opinion." Most PSL
deputies also favored a tough stance, although some supporters of Prime
Minister Waldemar Pawlak see the president's opposition as a good reason to
leave the current cabinet in office and simply change a few ministers. Both
parties voted on 28 February to impose discipline in the constructive
no-confidence vote. Any deputy who votes against will be thrown out of his
caucus. The biggest opposition parties will abstain. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI,
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SEEKS TO SPEED UP REFORMS.
Leonid Kuchma, on
returning from a two-week working vacation in western Ukraine, has taken
further steps to accelerate economic reforms, Interfax reported. He issued a
decree on 27 February offering shares in restructured joint-stock companies on
the Ukrainian stock exchange. Some 30% of those shares will be up for sale to
individual and corporate investors, and the proceeds will finance the
establishment of new voucher auction centers throughout Ukraine as well as a
national electronic stock exchange. Ukraine's privatization agency, the State
Property Fund, was instructed to compile a list of 100 joint-stock firms from
the so-called "D category" of enterprises, which includes large monopolies,
defense plants, and most enterprises whose value exceeds 45 billion Ukrainian
karbovantsi. Shares in companies in the "C category" (comprising companies
worth between 0.7 and 45 billion karbovantsi) that are not sold at voucher
auctions will also be made available through the Ukrainian stock exchange. --
Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
BELARUS DISBANDS POW COMMITTEE.
Komsomolskaya pravda on 28
February reported that Belarus has decided to disband its committee for the
exchange of information with the U.S. on MIAs and POWs. The committee helped
determine the fate of 10 Americans shot down in Vietnam. Until the breakup of
the USSR, the participation of Soviet servicemen in the Vietnam War was kept
secret, and all servicemen who took part were pledged to silence. Some 150
retired air defense officers who participated in the war currently live in
Belarus. Along with servicemen throughout the former USSR, they have been
providing the U.S. with information on American MIAs and POWs. In exchange, the
U.S. gave Belarus information on a dozen Belarusians captured or missing in
Afghanistan. The head of the Belarusian committee, Lt.-Gen. Cherhinets, said he
has information on another five US servicemen listed as missing. But now that
the committee has been disbanded, it is uncertain whether this information will
be made available to the U.S. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
Russian Ambassador to Riga Aleksandr Rannikh
on 27 February handed over to Latvian Prime Minister Maris Gailis a letter from
his Russian counterpart, Viktor Chernomyrdin, Reuters reported the next day.
Chernomyrdin promised to help find "a peaceful and conflict-free solution" to
the problem of the estimated 2,000 Russian retired servicemen who are still in
Latvia, despite agreements signed by Russia saying they would leave by 31
August 1993. Latvia agreed to give the Russian servicemen temporary residence
permits until 30 April if they registered by 1 March. Less than half have done
so and could therefore be deported. Russia has asked that the retirees be
allowed to remain in Latvia until the end of the year so that problems with
their resettlement can be resolved. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT IN ISRAEL.
Algirdas Brazauskas--accompanied by the
foreign affairs and health ministers, three parliament deputies, and 29
businessmen--arrived in Jerusalem for an official three-day visit on 28
February, Western agencies reported. At a welcoming ceremony hosted by
President Ezer Weizman, Brazauskas said he was ashamed that some of his
countrymen murdered Jews during World War II and pledged to prosecute war
criminals. He was confronted outside the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial by
dozens of protesters carrying signs reading: "No rehabilitation for Lithuanian
Nazi murderers." Brazauskas also met with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
PIRATED SOFTWARE, VIDEOS, AND CDs FLOOD CZECH MARKET.
More than 85% of
all software programs marketed in the Czech Republic are pirated, causing legal
producers to lose 5.5 billion koruny since 1993, Czech media reported on 1
March. Experts say 35% of video cassettes and 8% of compact discs are also
illegal copies. The latter are mainly produced in Bulgaria. Pirating is one of
the major sources of "dirty money" in the Czech Republic, alongside
prostitution and drug dealing, according to Mlada fronta dnes. The
newspaper quoted Alenca Kinclova of the Czech Anti-piracy Alliance as saying
that courts regularly levy "ridiculously low" fines rather than imposing the
maximum punishment for forgery or infringement of copyright. Offenders can be
sentenced up to five years in prison or fined 2 million koruny. -- Steve
Kettle, OMRI, Inc.
IMF RECOMMENDS SLOVAKIA SPEED UP PRIVATIZATION.
An IMF representative is
expected to take part in the 1 March session of the Slovak parliament committee
on finance, currency, and the budget, at which the 1995 draft budget will be
discussed. The last IMF mission to Slovakia was on 18 January-1 February, when
representatives decided to delay the third installment of Slovakia's stand-by
loan. Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Sergej Kozlik on 9 February said that
the installment was delayed only because the 1995 budget had not yet been
approved. The budget, approved by the government on 15 February and expected to
be passed by the parliament in early March, has been criticized as unrealistic.
It provides for a budget deficit of 21 billion koruny, GDP growth of 5%, 10%
annual inflation, and a 14% unemployment rate. According to a Sme on 1
March, the IMF recommends the following goals: a budget deficit of 13 billion
koruny, GDP growth of 2%, 8% annual inflation, larger foreign currency
reserves, the implementation of structural reforms, lowering the import
surcharge to 5% by the end of June and eliminating it by the end of 1995,
speeding up privatization (by the coupon method, in particular), and gradually
liberalizing energy prices for households. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI,
HUNGARIAN-RUSSIAN TREATY RATIFIED.
The Hungarian parliament on 28
February ratified the Hungarian-Russian basic treaty by a vote of 264 to 2, MTI
reports. The treaty was signed by former Prime Minister Jozsef Antall and
Russian President Boris Yeltsin in December 1991, but its ratification by the
Russian parliament was delayed because of some deputies' objections to the
passage condemning the former Soviet Union's intervention in Hungary in 1956.
The State Duma finally ratified the treaty in January 1995. Hungarian Foreign
Minister Laszlo Kovacs emphasized that the document was very important for
Hungary because Russia was its largest trading partner in Eastern Europe. The
two countries will exchange documents on the treaty during Prime Minister Gyula
Horn's visit to Russia next week. -- Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc.
"THE DIRTY JOB HAS STARTED AGAIN."
This is how leading UN refugee
official Sylvana Foa described the latest wave of Serbian "ethnic cleansing" in
the Banja Luka area, where the Muslim population has dropped from 500,000 three
years ago to 37,000. She said that "it looks like the mopping up of what is
left, mainly old people," AFP reported on 28 February. Vecernji list on
1 March carries a similar report on the fate of the local Croats. Meanwhile, in
the Bihac pocket, news agencies reported that fighting increased on 28 February
and that unknown gunners subjected nine empty relief trucks to heavy shelling,
forcing the crew to take shelter in armored vehicles nearby. Bosnia and
Herzegovina marks its third anniversary of independence on 1 March with
political, cultural, and sporting events in Sarajevo. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI,
"VENOMOUS ROW" BETWEEN UN AND NATO OVER TUZLA MYSTERY FLIGHTS.
The New York Times on 1 March reported on the deepening feud
between the world organization and the Atlantic alliance over at least two
flights by unidentified aircraft near Tuzla in mid-February. NATO says they
were its own normal patrols or "commercial aircraft on approved airways in
Serbian airspace." The UN replies that "the idea that trained officers could
mistake a low-flying transporter over Tuzla for a commercial aircraft flying at
35,000 feet in Serbian airspace is frankly ludicrous and insulting." The UN has
hinted that the U.S., possibly together with Turkey, is secretly dropping arms
to the Muslims, a charge NATO firmly denies. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
IS CROATIA HUNTING FOR AN ALTERNATIVE TO UNPROFOR?
reports on repeated hints by Croatia that it is willing to accept some form of
international presence on its borders once UNPROFOR's mandate runs out on 31
March. Other accounts suggest that Zagreb is desperate to bring in NATO or WEU
patrols as the only means to avoid another war. The problem is that to patrol
Croatia's borders, the forces would have to position themselves between Krajina
and both Bosnian Serb territory and Serbia proper, which the Serbs generally
reject. NATO has also publicly rejected Croatian President Franjo Tudjman's
calls for it to form a new international force in Croatia. -- Patrick Moore,
ETHNIC ALBANIAN DEPUTIES BOYCOTT MACEDONIAN PARLIAMENT.
Albanian legislators in the Macedonian parliament have boycotted the
parliament's latest session, Flaka reported on 1 March. The legislators,
who have four minister posts in the coalition government, are demanding serious
negotiations on higher education in Albanian and a solution to the conflict
over the self-proclaimed Albanian-language university in Tetovo. They took the
decision to boycott the 1 March session following the police crackdown on their
university on 17 February. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
GRAVES DESECRATED IN NORTHERN SERBIA.
Tanjug, citing local police
sources, reported on 28 February that 63 Roman Catholic graves have been
desecrated in the town of Novi Sad, in the Serbian province of Vojvodina.
According to police sources, the incidents seemed to be random acts of
vandalism, possibly with no connection to ethnically or religiously motivated
groups. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
ANOTHER PARTY TO QUIT ROMANIAN OPPOSITION ALLIANCE?
The executive board
of the Liberal Party '93 announced on 28 February that it has recommended that
the party's National Council not sign the revised protocols of the Democratic
Convention of Romania (CDR). A final decision on whether the LP '93 will
withdraw from Romania's main opposition alliance is expected to be taken on 11
March, when the party's National Council is scheduled to meet. Dinu Patriciu, a
leading member of the LP '93, was quoted by Radio Bucharest as saying that only
a number of "noisy" political formations have remained in the alliance and are
trying hard to "give the impression that the CDR still exists." -- Dan Ionescu,
ROMANIAN PRESIDENT FAVORS SENDING TROOPS TO ANGOLA.
Ion Iliescu, in a
letter addressed to Senate Chairman Oliviu Gherman on 28 February, asked the
parliament to approve the participation of Romanian troops and a medical unit
in the UN peacekeeping force in Angola, Radio Bucharest reported. Iliescu
proposed sending an 800-strong infantry battalion and a field hospital with 200
staff. He said the troops could leave by mid-May and the hospital could be
ready as soon as 15 April. Under the Romanian Constitution, the parliament must
be consulted before any decision is taken on sending Romanian troops abroad.
Romania sent a medical unit to the UN peacekeeping mission in Somalia last
year, but this would be the first time it has contributed troops to a UN
mission. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON FOREIGN POLICY ISSUES.
Mircea Snegur, in a recent
interview with RFE/RL, summarized by Infotag on 27 February, said the
international community would like to see Moldova as a zone of security and
stability in the region. He said he had witnessed once again the support of the
international community during his visit to Washington in late January.
According to Snegur, the United States believes Moldova has taken a step
forward compared with other former Soviet republics and deserves support.
Answering a question about the possible expansion of NATO, Snegur noted that
membership in that organization should be based on mutually acceptable
international accords and should not be damaging to any country. He further
praised the economic advantages of Moldova as a member of the CIS. As for
relations with Romania, he said "they remain priority ones for Moldova." -- Dan
Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
BULGARIAN OPPOSITION CHANGES STATUTES.
The National Coordinating Council
of the Union of Democratic Forces on 28 February approved changes in the
coalition's statutes, Demokratsiya reported the following day. The
National Conference is to be the UDF's highest body. It will be called at least
once a year and attended by representatives of the UDF's local and regional
councils and member organizations. The conference will elect the chairman of
the UDF and his deputies for two years. Until now, they were elected for one
year by the National Coordinating Council, in which each of the 15 member
organizations has one seat. A newly established National Executive Council--to
include the UDF chairman, his deputies, the chief secretary, and the chairman
of the parliament faction--will be in charge of day-to-day affairs. -- Stefan
Krause, OMRI, Inc.
JOINT MILITARY MANEUVERS IN GREECE.
Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, and the
U.S. will hold joint military maneuvers in Greece in May within the framework
of NATO's Partnership for Peace program, AFP reported on 28 February. The Greek
army announced that Germany will attend as an observer and that Albania has
been invited to participate in the same capacity. No answer has been received
from Tirana yet. The Greek and Bulgarian chiefs of staff, Adm. Christos Lyberis
and Gen. Tsvetan Totomirov, have also agreed on the details of joint naval
exercises in the Black Sea. Totomirov is on a three-day visit to Greece and is
to meet with Greek Defense Minister Gerasimos Arsenis. Arsenis visited Sofia
last week where he signed a bilateral defense accord with his Bulgarian
counterpart, Dimitar Pavlov. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
GERMAN PRESIDENT IN ALBANIA.
German President Roman Herzog and Albanian
Foreign Minister Alfred Serreqi have signed a joint declaration pledging to
expand cooperation and deepen mutual ties, Rilindja Demokratike reported
on 1 March. Herzog, on a two-day visit to Albania, expressed support for the
re-establishment of Kosovo's autonomy and called on Albania to prevent the
Yugoslav conflict from spreading. He also discussed Albania's further
participation in NATO's Partnership for Peace program, minority questions, and
the situation in Macedonia. Albanian Democratic Party leader Eduard Selami did
not attend a reception at the German embassy in Herzog's honor, as expected,
but instead went to a party meeting in Fier to discuss his own position within
the party, Populli PO reported the same day. Selami had offered his
resignation before the meeting because of continuing disputes with DP
government members. An extraordinary party meeting on 5 March will decide on
Selami's fate. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
[As of 12:00 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave