NEW HEAD OF BROADCASTING SERVICE APPOINTED.
President Boris Yeltsin has
appointed Valentin Lazutkin to head the Federal Television and Radio
Broadcasting Service, which oversees all broadcasting in the country, Russian
and Western agencies reported on 17 March. Yeltsin said Lazutkin, who had been
first deputy chairman of the broadcasting service, commands the respect of
Ostankino employees. Alexander Yakovlev resigned as head of the federal
broadcasting service and chairman of Ostankino on 16 March in order to
concentrate on building the Russian Party of Social Democracy he launched in
February. A replacement for Yakovlev at Ostankino, which is being reorganized
into a production company, has yet to be appointed. Lazutkin declined Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's offer to appoint him to the post, Interfax
reported. In 1994, Lazutkin resigned as vice chairman of Ostankino after
admitting the network's coverage during the 1993 parliamentary campaign had
been biased toward Yeltsin's supporters, Reuters reported. -- Laura Belin,
GRYZUNOV RESPONDS TO GOVERNMENT NEWSPAPER.
Sergei Gryzunov, the State
Press Committee chairman, has responded to charges published in Rossiiskaya
gazeta that he mismanaged the committee, Segodnya reported on 17
March. Gryzunov accused the government newspaper of intentionally distorting
the facts and called on the government to do some "hard thinking" about whether
to continue subsidizing the newspaper. He claimed that Rossiiskaya
gazeta received 24.8 billion rubles from the federal budget in 1994, while
all other Russian newspapers and magazines combined received only 31 billion
rubles. Gryzunov pledged to raise those and other issues in court and said he
is confident he will win the case. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
YELTSIN SEES BIG ROLE FOR RUSSIAN PARTY OF SOCIAL DEMOCRACY (RPSD).
President Yeltsin believes that the new Russian Party of Social Democracy
(RPSD), led by Alexander Yakovlev, will play an "important role in the election
campaign," Russian TV reported on 17 March. He envisions the new political
organization as a united, democratic party, according to Reuters. The new
organization is intended to support Yeltsin since Yegor Gaidar's Russia's
Democratic Choice Party, which formerly had close ties to him, opposes the
president's policy in Chechnya. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
RPSD MOSCOW BRANCH ELECTS FORMER FSK CHIEF AS LEADER.
At its founding
conference, the Moscow branch of RPSD unanimously elected Yevgeny Savostyanov
as its leader, Interfax reported on 19 March. Until 2 December 1994, he was
deputy director of the Federal Counterintelligence Service (FSK) and the head
of its Moscow department. More recently, he has been an adviser to the chairman
of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia. Addressing the
conference, RPSD leader Yakovlev said the party has the support of "18 federal
organizations," but refused to name them. Savostyanov struck a very different
note in his remarks. He said the main problem with the democratic movement
since 1991 was its inability to distance itself from the executive branch,
obliging it to take responsibility for the errors committed by that branch.
Citing one example, he blamed the executive for overestimating the willingness
of foreign partners to cooperate with Russia and said that, to some extent,
"foreign countries have betrayed our reforms." Savostyanov said the main aim of
the party is to build "a regime as favorable for working people as possible"
and to achieve "stability meaning the ability to work on the basis of
predictable rules and the idea of restoring domestic production." The Moscow
branch of the party passed a resolution indicating its willingness to form a
coalition with the trade unions. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
IT'S OFFICIAL--GROMOV OUT.
Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev ended
several days of confusion when he told Interfax on 17 March that his former
deputy, Col.-Gen. Boris Gromov, had been dismissed from his post the previous
day by a presidential decree. Grachev said Gromov would hold the rank of a
deputy foreign minister in his post as expert on military issues at the Foreign
Ministry. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
SIBERIAN OIL SPILL.
A burst pipeline in Irkutsk Oblast in Siberia leaked
about 3,500 cubic meters of oil on 16 March, Russia's Ministry for Emergency
Situations said on 19 March. According to Interfax, the oil spilled over an
area of 19,500 square meters. Cleanup work has begun, but there is a danger
that the oil could seep into a nearby river during the spring thaw. Aging
pipelines have led to a series of oil leaks over the past year, causing severe
environmental damage in Russia's north. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
ENERGY CRISIS IN PRIMORSKY KRAI.
The Primorsky power station, which
provides 70% of the krai's electricity, virtually shut down operations on 17
March owing to a lack of fuel, Kommersant-Daily reported on 18 March.
The local power authority Dalenergo owes fuel suppliers in other regions nearly
200 billion rubles. Electricity supplies from Khabarovsk Krai have also
stopped, owing to repair work on the power transmission line. According to
Interfax, electricity consumers in Primorsky Krai, with the exception of vital
enterprises and hospitals, are experiencing severe power cuts. -- Penny
Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
DUMA TO ENTER THE BLACK SEA FLEET DEBATE.
The State Duma voted
overwhelmingly on 17 March to form a commission to consider the fate of the
former Soviet Black Sea Fleet, Interfax reported. Konstantin Zatulin, chairman
of the Committee on CIS Affairs, had proposed that the commission be drawn from
his committee and those on defense and geopolitics. He criticized the draft
agreement being worked out by Russian and Ukrainian negotiators as having
"little to do with [Russian] national interests." The agency reported that
deputies were concerned that they had not seen the package of documents being
prepared for Yeltsin's upcoming visit to Ukraine. As a result, the Duma also
approved Zatulin's proposal that First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg
Soskovets--due to visit Kiev on 20 March--make a report to the Duma when he
returns. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
EU OFFERS SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP TO RUSSIA . . .
The EU has offered a
special relationship to Russia if it drops its objections to NATO's eastward
expansion and resolves the conflict in Chechnya, international agencies
reported on 19 March. Meeting in Carcassonne, France, the EU foreign ministers
said if those conditions are met, NATO should negotiate an agreement with
Russia that would include a special consultative mechanism, regular political
dialogue, and a mutual non-aggression pact. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
. . . BUT STALLS ON TRADE DEAL.
The EU's foreign ministers have agreed
not to go ahead with an interim trade pact with Russia because not enough
progress has been made on assuring human rights in Chechnya, international
agencies reported on 18 March. Some of the ministers expressed optimism that
the pact could be signed by their next scheduled meeting on 10 April. Russian
Foreign Economic Relations Minister Oleg Davydov complained that the EU's
decision was economically motivated. "We have learned Adam Smith better than
you," he said, according to the Financial Times on 18 March. "You are
employing protectionist measures against a weakened Russia." -- Michael
Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
HARSH RUSSIAN REACTION TO U.S. SENATE VOTE TO BLOCK RUSSIAN-IRANIAN DEAL.
Several Russian officials reacted harshly to a U.S. Senate vote on 16 March
to block U.S. nuclear cooperation with Russia if it goes ahead with its plan to
provide further aid to the Iranian nuclear program, Interfax reported. Yury
Kotov, director of the Third Asian Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry,
said Russia will not "follow instructions by third parties" and will continue
cooperation with Iran. On 17 March, Moscow TV reported that Vladimir Lukin, the
head of the State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee, said, "Not a single
international law is being breached." Citing U.S. President Bill Clinton's
decision to cancel the Conoco oil deal with Iran, Lukin added, "Now, however,
when Clinton has clearly shown that the desire to punish Iran is even stronger
than the interests of American companies, it will be far more difficult for
Russia to protect a profitable contract to construct the light hydrogen
industrial reactor [in Iran]." -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
CRACKDOWN FOLLOWS AZERBAIJAN COUP.
Azerbaijani government troops and
Interior Ministry forces succeeded in defeating rebel police units on 17 March
after fierce fighting in which dozens of people were killed or wounded, Russian
and Western agencies reported. Speaking at a press conference on 17 March,
President Heidar Aliyev claimed that former President Ayaz Mutalibov and
disgraced former Prime Minister Suret Huseinov had masterminded the coup
attempt, according to ITAR-TASS. Reuters quoted Interior Minister Namig Abbasov
as claiming that the insurgents led by Deputy Interior Minister Rovshan
Dzhavadov had planned to assassinate Aliev. Some 200 people were arrested on
17-18 March, including former Interior Minister Iskander Hamidov, head of the
radical Boz Gurd party, some of whose members were allegedly aligned with the
insurgents. Azadlyg, the newspaper of the opposition Azerbaijan Popular
Front, was banned from publishing and Musavat Party leader Isa Gambarov was
detained and warned not to speak to the press, Reuters reported on 18 March. --
Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
NEW KAZAKH GOVERNMENT NEARLY FORMED AS OPPOSITION DWINDLES.
Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin announced he has almost finished selecting members
for a new government. Although opposition from members of the dissolved
parliament persists, the threat is apparently not sufficient to prevent
Kazhegeldin from travelling to the United States tomorrow for an eight-day
official visit, according to Interfax. After Kazakh President Nursultan
Nazarbaev called for their resignations last week, 130 of the 177 members of
parliament held a meeting and formed the "People's Parliament" with 72 of the
deputies participating in a hunger strike. A day later, all but 22 of the
deputies had stopped fasting, and by 18 March, only 50 members still supported
the opposition, Reuters reported. Vladimir Chernyshov, one of the hunger
strikers, was attacked by unknown assailants on 18 March and taken to the
hospital with head injuries. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.
CLASH ON TAJIK BORDER, MURDER IN DUSHANBE.
Russian troops killed six
people attempting to cross from Afghanistan into Tajikistan, Reuters reported
on 18 March. Several hours later, a Russian serviceman was wounded en route
from the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, to his base. On 17 March, Captain Andrei
Romanov was shot and killed in the entryway to his home in Dushanbe. Five other
Russian soldiers have been slain away from the border zone of conflict so far
this year, and as yet, no one has been charged in the crimes and police have no
suspects. Col.-Gen. Valery Patrikaev, commander of the allied peacekeeping
forces in Tajikistan, announced on 18 March that he intends to lodge a note of
protest demanding a proper investigation of those crimes and the arrest of the
culprits. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.
TURKMENISTAN TO RECEIVE WORLD BANK GRANT FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROJECT.
World Bank intends to grant Turkmenistan a $25 million credit for an
environmental project in the Aral Sea region during the first half of 1995,
FIA-Interfax reported on 17 March. -- Lowell A. Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.
ECO MEMBERS SIGN ONTO UNDCP.
Although the third summit of the Economic
Cooperation Organization (ECO), which met in Islamabad on 14-15 March, ended
with an apparent lack of consensus on key proposals, an agreement was signed
with the United Nations Drug Control Program for mutual coordination and
technical assistance in narcotics control, AFP reported on 16 March. ECO, which
made little headway after its establishment by Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan in
the 1960s, was recently enlarged to include Afghanistan, Azerbaijan,
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. Several members are major producers of
opium and opium derivatives as well as cannabis products. Key items on the
Islamabad summit agenda, notably accords on the establishment of an ECO Bank
for Trade and Development, a reinsurance company, an airline, and a shipping
company, were not all signed by all 10 member countries. -- Lowell A. Bezanis,
UKRAINE MOVES TO LIMIT CRIMEAN AUTONOMY.
The Ukrainian parliament on 17
March annulled Crimea's constitution and abolished its presidency,
international agencies reported. The move was prompted by threats among Crimean
deputies to hold a referendum on reunification with Russia during municipal
elections set for 29 April. Speaker of the Ukrainian parliament Oleksandr Moroz
told reporters that repeated calls for Crimea to bring its constitution into
line with Ukraine's have been ignored, despite concessions Kiev has made in
favor of the region's autonomy. Ukrainian legislators also voted to launch
criminal proceedings against Crimean President Yurii Meshkov for promoting
secession from Ukraine, and they moved to disarm his presidential guard.
Crimean deputies denounced the Ukrainian parliament's resolution as an affront
to the Crimean population, but they stopped short of any retaliatory measures.
With the exception of the Crimean Tatars, they appealed to Russian leaders to
postpone signing a long-awaited friendship treaty with Ukraine and intervene on
the region's behalf. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
REACTIONS AMONG RUSSIAN OFFICIALS TO CRIMEAN EVENTS.
Chairman of the
State Duma's Committee for CIS Affairs Konstantin Zatulin told a closed-door
parliament session that sanctions may be considered against Ukraine in response
to Kiev's move against Crimea, Interfax reported on 17 March. He said all
official Russian state visits to Ukraine should be canceled; the Duma should
consider suspending trade and all economic agreements with Ukraine; Russia
should demand the immediate repayment of Ukraine's debts to Russia; and
measures should be taken to ensure the security of Russian citizens and
servicemen in Crimea. But Chairman of the State Duma Ivan Rybkin said the issue
of Crimea is an internal Ukrainian affair. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
COALITION TALKS IN ESTONIA.
Tiit Vahi, chairman of the Coalition Party
and Rural Union (KMU) alliance, which won the most seats in the 5 March
parliament elections, held talks with Reform Party Chairman Siim Kallas on a
possible coalition on 16 March, BNS reported the next day. The Center Party, a
possible third coalition member, has not yet held formal talks with the KMU but
did meet with members of the Reform Party. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI,
LATVIA FIRES LATVENERGO PRESIDENT.
State Energy Minister Juris Ozolins
on 16 March fired Gunars Koemecs, president of state-owned Latvenergo, the
largest energy monopoly in Latvia, BNS reported the following day. Prime
Minister Maris Gailis dismissed Latvenergo's board on 14 March and placed
Ozolins temporarily in charge until a new board is named on 21 March. Koemecs
claimed he was fired because when he was industry and energy deputy minister,
he dismissed Ozolins from his post as chief of the ministry's foreign affairs
department, citing his poor job performance. Koemecs is consulting with lawyers
on appealing his dismissal in a civil court. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI,
SEJM OVERRULES WALESA.
The Sejm on 17 March voted by 303 to 11 with 21
abstentions to overturn a presidential veto of a constitutional amendment that
would enable the parliament to remain in session after a dissolution order is
issued. President Lech Walesa had argued that the amendment would disrupt the
tripartite balance of power. Citing the experience of Hanna Suchocka's
government in 1993, which ruled without a legislature for three months, the
deputies argued that the amendment restored parliament control over the
government. But they seemed most determined to limit the president's room for
maneuver. Under the new legislation, the Sejm remains in session until after
new elections but can neither alter the constitution, the budget, and electoral
laws nor adopt legislation entailing major financial consequences. The
president's spokesman warned the Sejm to expect a "determined response" from
Walesa. In another move to curtail Walesa's powers, the Sejm voted 346 to 27 to
give the National Broadcasting Council the right to select a chairman from
among its ranks. The president currently makes that appointment. The
legislation must be approved by the Senate. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.
POLISH BISHOPS OPPOSE "NEUTRAL" STATE.
The Polish conference of bishops,
in a communique issued on 18 March, said the new constitution must invoke God
as the highest authority, defend human life from the time of conception, and
enshrine the principle of "tolerance" rather than "neutrality" on worldview
questions, Gazeta Wyborcza reported. "The term `worldview neutrality,'
like the `separation of Church and state,' are associated with the postwar
practice of favoring nonbelievers and expelling religion from all areas of
public life," the episcopate's statement said. Polish Primate Cardinal Jozef
Glemp argued in a sermon on 19 March that enshrining the separation of Church
and state could facilitate a return to totalitarian practices. But
Constitutional Commission chairman Aleksander Kwasniewski of the Democratic
Left Alliance (SLD) told Radio Zet on 19 March that "worldview neutrality" was
"a self-evident principle" that must guide the state. Polish leading dailies
report that the bishops' tough stance has created a dilemma for the former
communist SLD, which wishes to avoid antagonizing its anti-clerical voters but
also dreads an all-out war with the Church. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI,
CZECH PARTIES DENY THEY INTEND TO LEAVE COALITION.
Two of the four
governing parties, the Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA) and the Christian
Democratic Union-People's Party (KDU-CSL), have denied they are planning to
leave the coalition, Czech media reported on 20 March. Tensions within the
coalition increased on 17 March when Josef Reichman, head of the ODA
Secretariat, was formally accused of corruption in connection with a 52-million
koruny debt the party owes to a now failed bank. President Vaclav Havel and
Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus last week discussed the possible implications of
the affair, which is the most serious threat to date that the government could
break up. But a party spokesman said the ODA did not intend to leave the
government. A KDU-CSL spokesman made a similar denial. Reichman is currently
being treated for nervous exhaustion in a psychiatric hospital. -- Steve
Kettle, OMRI, Inc.
CZECH PREMIER STRESSES SUDETEN GERMAN ISSUE IS CLOSED.
Vaclav Klaus on
17 March said again that the issue of the expulsion of millions of Sudeten
Germans from Czechoslovakia at the end of World War II and the confiscation of
their property is "definitively closed," Mlada fronta dnes reported the
next day. Klaus was reacting to a speech by German Foreign Minister Klaus
Kinkel, who called on the Czech government to open a dialog with Sudeten
groups. Klaus has repeatedly refused to do so. Klaus on 19 March met with
German Finance Minister Theo Waigel, leader of the Christian Social Union in
Bavaria, which has long supported Sudeten German demands. The two did not
discuss the Sudeten question but Waigel asked Klaus to eliminate "strains" in
Czech-German relations, Rude pravo reported. "I don't see any strains
whatsoever," Klaus told journalists. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVAKIA AND HUNGARY SIGN BILATERAL TREATY.
Slovak and Hungarian prime
ministers Vladimir Meciar and Gyula Horn on 19 March signed the basic
Slovak-Hungarian treaty in Paris, where they are taking part in the Conference
on the Pact of Stability from 20-21 March, Pravda reported. The Slovak
cabinet approved the wording of the treaty in a late-night session the previous
day. The bilateral treaty will have to be ratified by both countries'
parliaments, which could cause problems within Slovakia's governing coalition.
Slovak National Party Chairman Jan Slota said the signing of the agreement was
"premature." He also called some provisions of the text "unacceptable,"
particularly the inclusion of Council of Europe Recommendation 1201, which
grants national minorities the right to set up autonomous organizations,
Sme reported on 18 March. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
KOVAC RETURNS BILL ON SLOVAK SECRET SERVICE.
Slovak President Michal
Kovac on 17 March returned a bill passed by the parliament on 6 March that
would have transferred the power to appoint and remove the director of the
Slovak Information Service from the president to the government, Pravda
reported on 18 March. SIS director Vladimir Mitro resigned in February, and the
Movement for a Democratic Slovakia apparently wants to appoint its own
candidate. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIAN PLANE WITH SLOVAK ARMS HELD IN AZORES.
A Russian An-124
transport suspected of carrying Slovak arms to Ecuador was detained by
Portuguese authorities in the Azores on 16 March, Reuters reported the
following day. The plane was flying from Bratislava to Quito, Ecuador,
according to a Portuguese air force spokesman. It landed in the Azores to
refuel, where the Portuguese authorities became suspicious. When they inspected
the plane, they found it loaded with arms, although the cargo manifest
indicated the plane was carrying medical supplies. Ecuadorian and Peruvian
troops have clashed over a disputed border area, and while sales of weapons to
either party is not illegal, most countries have denounced sending arms to
areas where fighting is taking place. Concealing weapons and ammunition as
medical supplies is illegal. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
MUSLIMS SEND CONDOLENCES FOR DEATH OF CROATIAN GENERAL.
AFP reported on
19 March that Bosnian Vice President Ejup Ganic sent formal condolences to
Federal President and Bosnian Croat leader Kresimir Zubak for the apparent
murder of Bosnian Croat General Vlado Santic in the Bihac area on 8 March. The
telegram said that "the two of us have been confronted with almost insoluble
problems before, but we have managed to solve them successfully." The murky
Santic affair has strained Croatian-Muslim relations in recent days, but
Slobodna Dalmacija on 18 March quoted Zubak as saying that "for all that
we are doing, we need patience, tolerance, and consideration." Bosnian
authorities on 15 March arrested three Muslim military policemen in connection
with the disappearance of Santic. Nasa Borba on 20 March quotes Bihac
Muslim rebels as saying that government soldiers killed Santic and threw his
body in the River Una, but Vjesnik reports that "there is no information
about his fate." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
BOSNIAN SERBS STEP UP PRESSURE ON UN.
International media reported on 19
March that Bosnian Serb forces fired a mortar shell in the direction of a
French air transport at Sarajevo airport and that French UNPROFOR positions
returned fire. Serb snipers fired on city streets, and gunners hit the Bosnian
government's sole supply road along Mt. Igman. In the meantime, a Russian UN
observer was arrested by Serbs at a checkpoint outside Sarajevo. A UN spokesman
said it was "likely" that the Serbs were "stepping up an organized campaign of
harassment." He added that the UN "may use force to neutralize" any position
firing on UN aircraft in the future. The Serb reaction to these statements is
not known. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
TUDJMAN HOLDS HIS GROUND REGARDING UNPROFOR.
Croatian President Franjo
Tudjman told CNN on 18 March that Zagreb has not changed its position in
agreeing to a new international presence in Croatia. He maintained that Croatia
was firm in saying that UNPROFOR had to go and that the primary task of a new
international body under a different mandate would be supervising Croatia's
borders. He added that he remained optimistic that both Belgrade and Knin would
come round to a negotiated settlement to Zagreb's liking. But The New York
Times on 20 March reported that "messy" discussions are under way in UN
circles about the composition and mandate of the new force. Croatia wants it to
"control" its borders with Serbia and Bosnia, but the most likely mandate on
offer will be for the small force to "monitor" its frontiers. -- Patrick
Moore, OMRI, Inc.
Nasa Borba on 20 March reported that EU
officials have rejected Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's condition that
sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia be lifted before Belgrade agrees to
participate in a summit on the situation throughout the former Yugoslavia.
Milosevic, following meetings with Greek Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias,
called on the EU on 17 March to help lift sanctions. He noted that since the EU
was the architect of the embargo, "it would be fair if an initiative to lift
the sanctions were to come from [that organization]," AFP reported. Finally,
Nasa Borba on 18-19 March reported that rump Yugoslavia Foreign Minister
Vladislav Jovanovic met with Pope John Paul II on 17 March. -- Stan Markotich,
ROMANIA STANDS FIRM ON BILATERAL TREATY WITH HUNGARY.
Minister Teodor Melescanu told Radio Bucharest on 18 March that he visited
Bratislava the previous day to discuss the Hungarian-Slovak agreement to sign a
basic treaty. He noted that Romania will continue to reject the inclusion in
the treaty of "the principle of autonomy based on ethnic criteria." Prime
Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu, after meeting with members of parliament parties,
told the press that Romania will not agree to enshrining in the treaty Council
of Europe Recommendation 1201, which grants national minorities the right to
set up autonomous organizations. But Vacaroiu said Romania agreed with the
provisions of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National
Minorities. He added that the government's position was backed by the parties
at the meeting and that there was consensus on the need to conclude a basic
treaty with Hungary. The Romanian premier will attend the final session of the
EU Conference on the Pact of Stability in Paris, where he will explain
Romania's position on the treaty. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
GREATER ROMANIA PARTY WANTS MORE SAY IN DECISION-MAKING.
The leader of
the extremist Greater Romania Party, at a press conference broadcast by Radio
Bucharest on 17 March, said the four-party protocol signed on 20 January was
"not worth the paper it was written on." Corneliu Vadim Tudor pointed out that
two months after the protocol was concluded, his party still had "no access to
the decision-making process." Should the Party of Social Democracy in Romania
and the government continue to ignore the protocol's provisions, he added, the
new National Bloc (see OMRI Daily Digest, 16 March 1995) will "find the
means to wake them up to reality and save Romania." -- Michael Shafir, OMRI,
BULGARIAN PREMIER DISCUSSES BUDGET WITH MAYORS.
Zhan Videnov and members
of his cabinet on 19 March met with the mayors of Bulgarian's 100 biggest towns
to discuss the state budget for 1995, Bulgarian newspapers reported the
following day. According to Duma, 29 billion leva ($435 million) will be
put aside for the needs of cities and villages. Some mayors said that the sum
is insufficient and that the communities will run out of money in the summer,
24 chasa reported. Videnov also announced that the country's
administrative and territorial reform is the government's top priority. Finance
Minister Dimitar Kostov asked for strong budgetary discipline, while Deputy
Prime Minister Doncho Konakchiev said the mayors should not plan any new
building activities. Meanwhile, Standart reported on 20 March that
construction of the water pipeline linking rivers in the Rila mountains to the
Iskar dam, Sofia's main water reservoir, has been completed on schedule. The
pipeline is designed to alleviate the water crisis in the Bulgarian capital,
which has been experiencing strict water rationing since November. -- Stefan
Krause, OMRI, Inc.
ALBANIA WANTS KOSOVO DISCUSSED IN GENEVA CONFERENCE.
Minister Alfred Serreqi repeated demands that an overall peace plan for former
Yugoslavia must include a settlement of the Kosovo crisis, Reuters reported on
18 March. Albanian President Sali Berisha had earlier called on the Serbian and
Kosovar leadership to start talks under international mediation without
specifying preconditions, the Albanian-language service of Deutsche Welle
reported on 16 March. The Kosovar leadership, which continues to maintain that
Kosovo is an independent republic, has expressed its willingness to take part
in the negotiations. Mahmut Bakalli, a high-ranking Kosovar official, said
meeting Kosovo's demands is a prerequisite for preventing further wars in the
Balkans, Nasa Borba reported on 18 March. Meanwhile, Albanian Defense
Minister Safet Zhulali said Greece has invited Albania to take part in a
military exercise, Reuters reported on 19 March. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI,
GREECE, MACEDONIA TO BEGIN DIRECT TALKS.
Greek Foreign Minister Karolos
Papoulias said on 19 March that Greece will resume direct talks with Macedonia
under UN auspices in April, AFP reported the same day. Senior officials from
both countries and former UN mediator in Yugoslavia Cyrus Vance will meet in
New York, Papoulias said. He added that the economic embargo of Macedonia,
which Greece imposed in February 1994, will remain in force during the talks.
Greek Government Spokesman Evangelos Venizelos said the resumption of
negotiations signifies only "Greek participation in the process of mediation"
rather than the start of a "dialogue." Any normalization depends on "the
attitude of Skopje," Venizelos was cited as saying. Meanwhile, the Greek weekly
To Vima on 19 March said the announcement followed strong pressure on
both sides from the U.S. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
[As of 12:00 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave