KOZYREV ADVOCATES INDEFINITE EXTENSION OF NPT; CAUTIONS AGAINST ABMS.
Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev advocated the indefinite extension of
the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) at the NPT review conference in New
York on 24 April, international agencies reported. He also expressed support
for a comprehensive test ban and the total elimination of nuclear weapons, but
noted that the latter was not possible in the near future. Meanwhile, in a
New York Times interview published 25 April, Kozyrev cautioned the U.S.
against developing an anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system in contravention of
the 1972 treaty. He was particularly concerned about development of short- and
medium-range ABM systems to handle long-range missiles. Russian Public
Television reported 24 April that Kozyrev said he was "prepared to discuss" the
Russian deal to provide nuclear aid to Iran, a major source of contention in
U.S.-Russian relations. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA ON CHECHNYA, ELECTION PLANS.
co-chairman Viktor Kurochkin predicted that federal authorities would reach a
peaceful settlement with Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev in time for the 9
May ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of V-E Day, Russian Television
reported on 24 April. However, Kurochkin said the fighting in Chechnya would
resume on 10 May and continue indefinitely, "because this war is waged against
the people, not against illegal armed groups, and the people are invincible,"
Interfax reported. Meanwhile, party co-chairman Lev Ponomarev announced that
Grigory Yavlinsky's Yabloko group, which Democratic Russia considers its
closest potential ally, had rejected offers to form an electoral bloc for the
December elections, Radio Rossii reported. Consequently, Democratic Russia
plans to campaign for parliament independently. The party was founded in 1990
as a large umbrella movement for pro-democracy forces in the USSR, but since
1991, it has suffered many splits and defections. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
PRIBYLOVSKY ANALYZES PROSPECTS FOR DUMA ELECTIONS.
The next State Duma
will be even more anti-Yeltsin than the current one, political scientist
Vladimir Pribylovsky told NTV 25 April. He sees a bright future for the
Congress of Russian Communities, which may draw many of the military votes that
went to Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party in 1993. The
organization will do particularly well if General Alexander Lebed and Yury
Skokov, former secretary of the Russian Security Council, can preserve their
current alliance. Sergei Shakhrai's Party of Russian Unity and Concord has lost
touch with its electorate, Pribylovsky said. Most of his support in 1993 came
from Russia's national republics, but voters there oppose Yeltsin's campaign in
Chechnya, which Shakhrai has supported. Pribylovsky sees little chance for a
united democratic bloc. He believes that Grigory Yavlinsky's bloc will have the
greatest support and that Yegor Gaidar's Russia's Democratic Choice will lose
some of its current backing, but still surpass the 5% limit and enter the Duma.
Pribylovsky said Boris Fedorov's Forward Russia and the new pro-Yeltsin Stable
Russia will have trouble reaching the 5% barrier. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI,
COMMUNIST NEWSPAPER DENOUNCES RUTSKOI.
Former Vice President Alexander
Rutskoi, the leader of the patriotic Derzhava movement, described himself as a
"free-sailing" politician who was running for president to change everything in
Russia for the better, Interfax reported on 24 April. By contrast, an article
in the 25 April edition of the pro-Communist Sovetskaya Rossiya called
Rutskoi's recent public appearances "offensive." The author reminded readers
that although Rutskoi was once one of Yeltsin's closest allies, the Derzhava
leader refuses to admit responsibility for helping Yeltsin get elected in June
1991 or for the subsequent collapse of the USSR. Noting that Rutskoi attacks
the Communists in his speeches as much as he attacks Yeltsin, the author
speculated that Rutskoi was more concerned about his presidential ambitions
than about cooperating with other opposition forces to save the country. --
Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
DUMA GROUP SEEKS TO SHUT PRESIDENTIAL CHAMBER ON MEDIA DISPUTES.
unidentified group of Duma deputies intends to question the constitutionality
of the Russian President's Judicial Chamber on Information Disputes,
Izvestiya reported 25 April. The chamber grew out of a temporary
information arbitration court that handled disputes over the way candidates
presented themselves during the 1993 parliamentary campaign. Yeltsin liked the
way the court operated and gave it permanent status on the last day of 1993.
The chamber currently has no formal ability to enforce its decisions, but
conceivably could be given considerable power to regulate the 1995 electoral
campaign. The Duma deputies are preparing to challenge the chamber in order to
assert greater control over the mass media in the wake of Yeltsin's creation of
Russian Public Television last year. Izvestiya warned that "if the
chamber is now under a cloud, then lightning will soon strike journalists" and
the mass media will be subjected to new forms of political pressure. -- Robert
Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
GOSKOMSTAT SAYS 45 MILLION RUSSIANS BELOW POVERTY LINE.
third of Russians are now living below the poverty line, according to
Goskomstat figures cited by Radio Mayak on 24 April. The report said that the
number of people earning less than the minimum monthly subsistence wage--set at
260,000 rubles in Moscow and 195,000 rubles elsewhere--increased by 23%
compared with the first quarter of 1994. The average monthly wage in Russia is
now 326,000 rubles and the average cost of a minimum consumption basket of 19
basic goods is 164,000 rubles. According to a Russian Public Television report
on 22 April, the poorest 20% of the population earn only 5-6% of total incomes,
while the top 20% account for 45% of the total. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
CHUBAIS TO ASK IMF FOR $9 BILLION.
Russian First Deputy Prime Minister
Anatoly Chubais left for Washington 24 April to hold talks with the IMF about a
$9 billion standby loan for 1996-1998, Interfax reported the same day. The IMF
has recently approved a $6.8 billion loan for 1995. Chubais, who was appointed
Russia's new representative to the IMF and the World Bank last week, will
attend meetings of both organizations during his visit. -- Michael Mihalka,
MISSILE SILOS IN KAZAKHSTAN BEING DESTROYED.
Russian missile troops have
begun destroying some of Kazakhstan's SS-18 intercontinental ballistic missile
silos, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 April. All the former Soviet missile silos in
Kazakhstan will eventually be destroyed and the missile warheads returned to
Russia as part of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-I). There are two
SS-18 missile fields in the country, and the first silos to be destroyed are
part of the Derzhaivsk field in the Turgai region of northern Kazakhstan. --
Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
CONDITIONS TERMED CRITICAL AT BAIKONUR.
At a meeting chaired by First
Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets in Moscow, conditions at Kazakhstan's
Baikonur space launch site and in the nearby town of Leninsk were described as
critical, Interfax reported on 24 April. Repair and maintenance of the site's
facilities have halted due to financing problems; workers in Leninsk's
non-industrial sector have not been paid since January and are said to be
abandoning the city in "droves." To date, Moscow has not remitted any of the
161 million rubles it allocated to the town. Russia is to pay $115 million
annually in keeping with a recent agreement to lease the site for 20 years. --
Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.
ECONOMIC INTEGRATION EFFORTS IN CENTRAL ASIA.
Meeting in Bishkek, the
prime ministers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan approved a five-year
economic integration program, Interfax reported on 24 April. Over the next two
years, they will give priority to cooperative production of small electrical
engines, gas meters, medicines, and fertilizers derived from Aral Sea deposits.
The meeting's outcome was expected; economic cooperation and prioritizing
projects were on the agenda for the 14 April Chimkent tripartite summit of the
republics' presidents. It appears that common positions on the inter-Tajik
conflict and approaches to its resolution, prolongation of the president's term
in office, and economic affairs--including participation in the customs union
established by Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan--are emerging. -- Lowell
Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.
LUKASHENKA ON RUSSIAN AGREEMENTS.
Nikolai Gonchar, head of the Committee
on Russia's Federal Budget, met with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka
in Minsk, Belarusian television reported on 21 April. Talks focused on
increasing cooperation and implementing accords between Russia and Belarus.
After the meeting, Lukashenka said that Belarus was ready to have open borders
with Russia and a customs union, adding that he was unhappy that the accords
still have not been implemented. Gonchar told the press that work continued on
legislation regarding Russian and Belarusian financial working groups, and said
the law could become the basis for the integration process. -- Ustina Markus,
UKRAINE WILL NOT SIGN CIS BORDER AGREEMENTS.
Ukraine's Deputy Defense
Minister Col. Gen. Ivan Bizhan has said that the country did not sign
agreements on the joint guarding of CIS borders at the 21 April CIS meeting of
foreign ministers in Moscow, Ukrainian radio reported on 24 April. According to
Bizhan, Ukraine will not sign such agreements because it does not recognize the
concept of common CIS borders with non-CIS states. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI,
CIS BANK URGES ITS OWN ELIMINATION.
The Council of the Inter-State Bank,
established in 1993 to oversee relations between the CIS central banks, will
urge that CIS heads of state eliminate the bank when they meet in May.
Vyacheslav Solvov, vice chairman of Russia's Central Bank and the country's
representative on the council, told Interfax 24 April that the decline in
ruble-based transactions between central banks and the increase in commercial
banks' interstate transactions have left the Inter-State Bank without a role to
play. "Inter-state banking operations are run by commercial banks," Solovov
said. He did, however, support the idea put forward by commercial banks that an
international bank be set up to handle trade turnover within the CIS. --
Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
GRACHEV ENDORSES KOZYREV STATEMENTS.
Russian Defense Minister Pavel
Grachev welcomed the hard line that Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev has taken
in favor of defending ethnic Russians in the near abroad, Interfax reported 24
April. Grachev said the problem was particularly acute in Tajikistan, and
indicated that he had made his views on protecting Russian soldiers known to
the Tajik representatives at the CIS Defense and Foreign Ministers' meeting 21
April. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
POLAND, HUNGARY TO COORDINATE NATO MEMBERSHIP EFFORTS.
Minister Jozef Oleksy, speaking during his two-day official visit to Hungary,
has said that Hungary and Poland will cooperate in their efforts to join NATO
and the European Union. His Hungarian counterpart, Prime Minister Guyla Horn,
noted that both Hungary and Poland regard the process of joining NATO as
"irreversible." Meanwhile, Hungarian Defense Minister Gyorgy Keleti, who on 24
April began a three-day official visit to Germany, discussed the inclusion of
East European countries in NATO with German Defense Minister Volker Ruhe.
Hungarian and German media quoted Ruhe as saying that Hungary's membership in
the EU and NATO are in Germany's interest. Ruhe also noted that Bonn feels an
obligation to help clear the way for Hungary to join both organizations. --
Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc.
FBI TRAINING ACADEMY OPENS IN BUDAPEST.
FBI and other federal agents
will start training 33 Hungarian, Czech, and Polish police officers at the
International Law Enforcement Academy in Budapest. The academy was opened on 24
April. Hungarian and international media report that policemen from 23 former
communist countries will attend the eight-week courses. "As crime becomes
international, so crime prevention must turn international," Hungarian Internal
Affairs Minister Gabor Kuncze said at the opening ceremony. U.S. Attorney
General Janet Reno and FBI Director Louis Freeh were prevented from attending
the ceremony by the Oklahoma bombing. Referring to the bombing, U.S. Ambassador
Donald Blinken said the "reasons are self-evident for opening such a facility."
The academy's faculty will initially consist of six teachers from the FBI and
other federal and state agencies. As the courses evolve, the staff will become
more international. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc.
UKRAINIAN MILITARY REORGANIZATION.
The Ukrainian Ministries of Defense
and Health have agreed that in peace time, military doctors will be removed
from military units and organized into civilian medical groups, Ukrainian Radio
reported on 22 April. The decision was taken to try to make better use of
resources and manpower. The ministries are to draw up a plan for the
reorganization of military units and submit it to the Cabinet of Ministers for
confirmation. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
BELARUSIAN ELECTION UPDATE.
Belarusian Television on 23 April reported
that the registration period for candidates in the parliament elections has
ended and the campaign period begun. In all, 2,396 candidates have registered
to run for the 240 parliament seats. The opposition Belarusian Popular Front is
fielding the most candidates, followed by the communist party and the centrist
Party of Popular Accord. One-third of the candidates are independents. A number
of candidates have been disqualified owing to irregularities in the
registration process. In Vitebsk, the registration forms of one-third of all
candidates have been declared invalid. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
BELARUS EXPANDS OIL PROCESSING.
Belarusian oil processing in the first
quarter of 1995 was up 45.6% on the same period last year, Interfax reported on
24 April. The total amount processed from January-March 1995 was 3.65 million
tons. But oil extraction was down 97.9% or 488,963 tons. The Russian-Belarusian
oil concern Slavneft estimates that 40% of the oil processed in Belarus will be
sold on the domestic market and the rest abroad. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI,
BALTIC ASSEMBLY MEETING.
The sixth session of the Baltic Assembly on 22
April adopted 14 documents but failed to pass resolutions on sea border
agreements and a joint policy for illegal immigrants, BNS reported. Estonian
parliament deputy chairman Arnold Ruutel was elected president and his
Lithuanian and Latvian counterparts, Egidijus Bickauskas and Maris Budovskis,
vice presidents for the assembly's next session, to be held in Tallinn in
December. The Baltic deputies to the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly
handed out three Baltic Assembly documents to the council's political
committees on 24 April: resolutions on Chechnya and the end of World War II in
Europe as well as a statement on Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev's
recent remarks that Russia may use force to defend Russians living abroad. --
Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
ESTONIAN FERRY RUNS AGROUND.
More than 1,000 passengers and crew were
evacuated safely from the ferry MS Tallink after it ran aground early in
the morning of 22 April shortly after leaving Helsinki, Reuters reported. The
accident, which occurred in heavy fog, was apparently caused by a
"miscalculation" of the ship's pilot. The ship was towed back for repairs to
Helsinki harbor within four hours and the passengers were taken to Tallinn
later that day. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
LITHUANIAN PRIME MINISTER IN SOUTH AMERICA.
accompanied by Transportation and Energy Ministers Jonas Birziskis and
Aleksandras Stasiukynas, Bank of Lithuania Chairman Kazimieras Ratkevicius, and
other officials, began a three-day state visit to Venezuela on 23 April, BNS
reported the next day. He is scheduled to meet with President Rafael Caldera,
the parliament chairman, and various ministers. Slezevicius is to arrive in
Colombia on 27 April for talks with President Ernesto Samper Pizano, Foreign
Minister Rodrigo Pardo, and other government officials. He hopes, among other
things, to find investors for the Butinge oil terminal and to discuss purchases
of a new type of fuel costing 30% less than the Russian black oil currently
used by the power plant at Elektrenai. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
POLISH DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER IN LATVIA.
Grzegorz Kolodko on 22 April met
with Latvian Prime Minister Maris Gailis to discuss prospects for cooperation,
BNS reported. He noted that there are more than 250 Polish-Latvian joint
ventures in Latvia and stressed the need for establishing a Liepaja-Gdansk
ferry line. Kolodko also told a press conference that a free trade agreement
between the two countries will probably go into effect on 1 January 1996.
Poland is unwilling to sign such an agreement until Latvia has an association
membership agreement with the European Union and joins either GATT or the World
Trade Organization. Official talks on the free trade agreement will begin in
July. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
POLISH FOREIGN MINISTER IN U.S.
Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, on a three-day
visit to the U.S., met with Vice President Al Gore and Secretary of State
Warren Christopher on 24 April. Addressing the Washington-based Institute for
Strategic and International Studies, he argued in favor of Poland's membership
in NATO. Bartoszewski is scheduled to meet with Defense Secretary William Perry
and National Security Adviser Anthony Lake. He will also hold talks with
representatives of the Jewish community. (Bartoszewski was granted honorary
Israeli citizenship for his part in rescuing Jews during the German
occupation.) -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc.
BERLIN-MOSCOW TRAIN LINK TO BE IMPROVED.
Representatives of German,
Polish, Belarusian, and Russian railroads, meeting in Warsaw on 24 April,
agreed to modernize the Berlin-Warsaw-Minsk-Moscow connection, international
agencies report. The trains will travel at an average of 160 km per hour, and
the Berlin-Moscow trip will be reduced by 9 hours. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI,
SHAKE-UP OF CZECH PRISON SERVICE FOLLOWING MURDERER'S DEATH IN JAIL.
Justice Minister Jiri Novak on 24 April fired the head of the Czech Republic's
prison service as well as the warden and deputy warden of a jail where a
confessed murderer died under suspicious circumstances, Czech media reported.
Frantisek Kahanek, who confessed to the sexually motivated murder of a
10-year-old boy, died in custody on 9 April, one day after being arrested.
Police and prison officials initially denied that inmates or warders were
involved in his death, but a post-mortem showed Kahanek died from injuries
possibly sustained during his arrest or in jail. Four prison guards have been
jailed on charges of assault and abuse of power, while a police spokesman who
gave false information has been sacked. "After five years of trying to humanize
the prison service came the Kahanek case. The relevant officials have to take
responsibility," Mlada fronta dnes quoted Novak as saying. -- Steve Kettle,
MAJOR SLOVAK TRADE UNION CRITICIZES PRIVATIZATION METHODS.
trade union, in an open letter to the Slovak government, notes that all
post-revolution governments and parliaments have implemented economic reforms
that were painless only for themselves and a narrow group of supporters.
According to KOVO, current high-level political representatives "speak about
the need to make the privatization process transparent [and] the necessity to
decriminalize the process. Unfortunately, these are only words . . . reality is
the direct opposite." The union also claimed that the course of privatization
is decided by political loyalty to the current leader and governing power.
Chairman of the KOVO board Jozef Krumpolec told Sme that since the
revolution, current Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar has served in the government
longer than any other official. Thus, his government is also responsible for
the present "legislative gaps," Krumpolec argued. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI,
CONTROVERSY OVER EDUCATION IN SLOVAKIA.
Ethnic Hungarian teachers and
parents, meeting in the southern Slovak town of Komarno on 23 April, have
issued an open letter to Slovak officials and citizens criticizing the
government's preparations for "alternative" (bilingual) education. They also
raised objections to the recent law on educational administration, which grants
the Ministry of Education the authority to appoint school directors, and called
for educational autonomy and collective rights. Democratic Union Deputy
Chairman Roman Kovac, at a press conference on 25 April, said his party does
not support educational autonomy for Hungarians living in southern Slovakia,
since the region is mixed, not "ethnically clean." Michal Kovacic, who heads
the Teachers' Forum of Slovakia and attended the meeting in Komarno, told
Sme that the problems of Slovak and Hungarian teachers "are practically
identical" and that both groups are opposed to the law on educational
administration. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVAK ECONOMIC NEWS.
Following a sharp drop in January, Slovak
industrial production grew by 0.5% in February. Construction increased by 11.5%
and goods transport by 5.5% percent. The unemployment rate fell in March to
14.59%, down from 15.12% the previous month. Unemployment was highest in the
district of Rimavska Sobota (28.04%) and lowest in Bratislava (4.74%). Average
monthly nominal wages in industrial firms with 25 or more employees fell by
6.4% to 6,199 koruny, Sme reported on 25 April. -- Sharon Fisher,
WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL MOVES AGAINST BOSNIAN SERB LEADERS.
media reported on 25 April that the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague
issued a statement the previous day naming suspected war criminals, including
Bosnian Serb civilian leader Radovan Karadzic, his military counterpart,
General Ratko Mladic, and former special police chief Mico Stanisic. Charges
include genocide, torture, and rape. Chief Justice Richard Goldstone told a
press conference that steps toward a formal indictment are now under way. Also
named are Bosnian Croat forces for the deliberate murder of innocent Muslim
civilians in the Lasva valley in 1992 and 1993. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
U.S. WILL KEEP CONTACTS TO SUSPECTED WAR CRIMINALS.
A State Department
spokesman told news agencies on 24 April that Washington welcomes the
investigation of war criminals but that it will keep diplomatic channels open
to the Bosnian Serb leadership. The 25 April Frankfurter Allgemeine
Zeitung added that UN officials in Bosnia criticized the announcement from
The Hague, which they said would make their relations with the Bosnian Serbs
more difficult and hurt chances for an extension of the current cease-fire. AFP
points out that Bosnian Serb media are ignoring the entire story. -- Patrick
Moore, OMRI, Inc.
BOSNIAN PRIME MINISTER UNIMPRESSED BY INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY.
Silajdzic has said the closure of Sarajevo airport by Karadzic's men shows that
the international community is allowing the Serbs to "humiliate them at will."
He said the international community is "extremely impressionable" and its
tolerance "unbelievable." Meanwhile a State Department spokesman said that
Washington wants UN intervention to reopen the airport. He added that "we are
not prepared to let the Serbs dictate the activities of our diplomats," AFP
reported on 24 April. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
KRAJINA SERBS END BLOCKADE OF HIGHWAY.
Croatian Serb rebels have ended
their brief attempt to close the Zagreb-Belgrade highway at two points.
President Franjo Tudjman's chief of staff, Hrvoje Sarinic, said earlier that
Croatian forces would reopen the route if the Serbs did not do so voluntarily.
Nasa Borba on 25 April reported that the Krajina Serbs will refuse to
allow UN vehicles displaying the new name UNCRO, rather than the former
UNPROFOR, to enter their territory. The Serbs reject any suggestion that they
remain part of Croatia and are not an independent state. -- Patrick Moore,
Serbian Patriarch Pavle on 24 April dedicated a new
church in the west Serbian city of Valjevo. The patriarch, in his address,
alluded to the situation in the former Yugoslavia, noting that true believers
have "brotherly love for all and even for enemies who know not what they do."
Meanwhile, a new communist party has been founded in the rump Yugoslav republic
of Montenegro. Serbia's opposition Democratic Party has sent a delegation to
Germany headed by party leader Zoran Djindjic, Nasa Borba reported. --
Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
ALBANIAN KILLED AT MONTENEGRIN BORDER.
An Albanian has been killed by
Yugoslav border guards near a village between Podgorica and Shkoder, Koha
Jone reported on 25 April. The 27-year-old Kol Lek Ivanaj was crossing the
border to Montenegro on 23 April, together with two other Albanians, when they
were stopped by border guards. According to the Albanian Interior Ministry, the
three men were trying to reach Albanian territory when the guards shot Ivanaj
in the back, seven meters inside rump Yugoslavia. Montenegrin and Albanian
experts are expected to investigate the site on 25 April. -- Fabian Schmidt,
MACEDONIAN ALBANIANS ANNOUNCE RALLIES.
The ethnic Albanian Democratic
People's Party and a group that split away from the Party for Democratic
Prosperity (PPD) in April 1994 have said they will stage protest rallies on 26
April, Reuters reported on 24 April. The trial of Fadil Sulejmani, director of
the self-declared Albanian-language university in Tetovo, is to begin on that
date. Sulejmani is charged with instigating mass rebellion at the inauguration
of the university in February 1995. The police prevented the university from
opening, arguing that it was illegal and provoking clashes in which one
Albanian was killed. Sulejmani had earlier warned the authorities not to attack
the university, saying that "200,000 Albanians will rise to our defense, and
they have guns and grenades." The PPD, the leading ethnic Albanian party in
Macedonia, is not officially supporting the rallies. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI,
STOLEN JEWISH ART RETURNED TO BUDAPEST MUSEUM.
Gen. Ion Pitulescu, head
of the Romanian General Police Inspectorate, on 23 April handed over the
remainder of a collection of Jewish art treasures stolen from a Budapest
synagogue in December 1993, Radio Bucharest reported. Most of the artifacts
were found in Romania
and returned in August 1994. According to
Hungarian National Police Chief Sandor Pinter, more than 30 gold and silver
artworks and religious objects from the 16th to 18th centuries were returned on
23 April alone. Hungarian Jewish leader Gusztav Zoltai said the treasures,
worth hundreds of millions of dollars, have to be restored before going on
display in the Budapest Jewish Museum later this year. Pitulescu, at a ceremony
in Budapest marking the return of the stolen artworks, seized the opportunity
to praise cooperation between the Romanian and Hungarian police in general. --
Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN BUCHAREST.
Georgi Pirinski on 24 April
paid a working visit to the Romanian capital, Radio Bucharest reported. He
discussed with his Romanian counterpart, Teodor Melescanu, how to boost
bilateral relations and regional cooperation. The two leaders agreed that the
top priority was to improve the infrastructure, including roads and border
crossing points. Melescanu said after the meeting that the two countries plan
to build up to 10 new crossing points across the Danube. He noted that the
traffic through the two states has dramatically increased in recent years owing
to the situation in the former Yugoslavia. Melescanu also said that Romania and
Bulgaria will ask the European Union for assistance to improve travel routes
between the two countries. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER DENIES ATTEMPTS AT RECOMMUNIZATION.
Videnov, addressing the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly on 24 April,
said there are no attempts to reestablish communist structures in Bulgaria's
administration and economy, 24 chasa reported the following day. Videnov
warned of the consequences the sanctions against rump Yugoslavia may have for
neighboring countries. He said the economic losses caused by the embargo
threaten the political stability of these countries, and he called for a
gradual lifting of the sanctions. Videnov stressed that Bulgaria will not
participate in any military action in the Balkans, even under the auspices of
international organizations. Also on 24 April, former Prime Minister Filip
Dimitrov told RFE/RL that Videnov's position on Serbia was "scandalous and
cynical." He urged the parliament and government "to express [Bulgaria's] will
to join NATO." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
FRENCH NEGOTIATOR WILL NOT BE HEARD AT ALBANIAN TRIAL.
Nicola Arsidi, a
French citizen who was hired by the Albanian government in 1991 to negotiate
forgiveness of Albania's foreign debts, will not be heard at a trial against
former Prime Minister Vilson Ahmeti, former National Bank Governor Ilir Hoti,
former Trade Bank Directors Ardian Xhyheri and Agron Saliu, and Trade Bank
Deputy Director Agim Tartari. The five officials are charged with
misappropriating $1.2 million intended as payment to Arsidi. In all, Arsidi was
to have received $1.6 million. Andi Celiku, head of a Tirana court, said all
efforts to summon Arsidi and his colleagues have failed, Gazeta
Shqiptare reported on 23 April. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Carla Atkinson and Jan Cleave