OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 106. 1 June 1995
YELTSIN RELUCTANT TO ACCEPT JAPANESE AID FOR QUAKE VICTIMS.
Yeltsin rebuffed an offer from Japan to help victims of the earthquake on
Sakhalin, remarking on 31 May that "we are able to deal with this ourselves"
and that "for years afterward, they wouldn't let us forget it and would then
tell us to hand back the Kuril Islands," AFP reported. Japan was quick to offer
supplies and personnel, but Moscow accepted only medicines, food, and water.
Aid has also arrived from South Korea, while the Russian Finance Ministry has
allocated 70 billion rubles ($14 million) to the relief operation. Both
officials and survivors have blamed shoddy Soviet-era construction for the
number of casualties from the quake, which flattened the oil town of
Neftegorsk, leaving 659 dead and 295 injured as of 31 May. Scientists have also
criticized the government for underfunding seismological stations, noting that
30 have been closed in the Far East, ITAR-TASS reported. * Penny Morvant
RUSSIA LAUNCHES NEW SECURITY DIALOGUE WITH NATO.
Russia launched its new
consultative dialogue with NATO on 31 May, international agencies reported on 1
June. In addition to agreeing to pursue its own program in NATO's Partnership
for Peace, Russia also agreed to start a new security dialogue with the
alliance. NATO sources believe such a dialogue will allow NATO expansion to
take place by the end of century. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei
Kozyrev said NATO must be "transformed from a military alliance to a political
organization" if it is to become part of a pan-European security system. If
NATO remains a "purely military bloc," Russia must question "whom NATO is going
to defend itself against." Kozyrev stressed the importance of Russia's new
relationship with NATO and said he looked forward to working out the details of
the arrangement. * Michael Mihalka
OBSERVER: MILITARY BESTS FOREIGN MINISTRY IN NATO POLICY.
Defense Ministry's "principled" stance against NATO expansion has prevailed
over the "time-serving" views of the Foreign Ministry, according to a
high-ranking defense official quoted by Segodnya. "A set of measures
have been approved that should prevent NATO expansion," the official said.
Russia's decision to join the Partnership for Peace (PfP), was conditional on
the NATO Council session's decision not to expand the alliance, Segodnya
reported. Kozyrev expressed Russia's negative views regarding NATO expansion
and suggested that "hasty resolution" of the issue "would threaten" the
usefulness of Russia's involvement in the PfP. The article predicted Russia
would immediately suspend its PfP participation if new members were accepted.
In their communique, NATO foreign ministers repeated their past formulations on
the "evolutionary" process of admitting new members, and expressed satisfaction
on the progress of the study to determine "how NATO will enlarge." * Doug
ILYUKHIN ANNOUNCES TWO APPEALS TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT.
Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin is preparing two appeals to the
Constitutional Court, Radio Rossii reported on 31 May. In his first appeal,
Ilyukhin will charge that the Federation Council violates the separation of
powers, since half its members represent executive branches of Russia's 89
regions. In his second appeal, Ilyukhin will ask the court to nullify the
results of the 12 December 1993 constitutional referendum, arguing that the
voter turnout was less than the 50% required by law. Ilyukhin said he would
submit the appeals despite his doubts about the court's objectivity and
independence, NTV reported. * Laura Belin
POLTORANIN DEFENDS LAW ON MASS MEDIA.
Duma Press and Information
Committee Chairman Mikhail Poltoranin defended the law on the mass media that
the Federation Council rejected on 23 May, Rossiiskaya gazeta reported
on 1 June. The law would replace most media subsidies with tax breaks and lower
customs duties. Poltoranin said the media's political and financial
independence was at stake and criticized journalists who "won't lift a finger
to protect themselves." He added that his committee received very few
suggestions on the draft law, despite sending copies to the Union of
Journalists and editors of more than 200 local newspapers. Poltoranin said the
law would fight "shameless monopolism" and create real competition in vital
areas such as the production of newsprint and publishing equipment. * Laura
REUTERS ACCUSED OF CONTROLLING NEWS MARKET.
The Reuters news agency is
using its financial might to take control of the Russian news market, according
to an article in the 25-31 May edition of Obshchaya gazeta. The author
said Reuters is not a "fair fighter" and accused the agency of offering higher
salaries to the best Russian engineers, photographers, and reporters. He also
charged that the Reuters Moscow bureau, which is oriented primarily towards
financial and economic news, has established "exclusive" relations with
Russia's 50 most powerful banks. The author noted that AFP is also expanding
its presence in Russia. He warned that if laws are not written to protect the
media, all the news in Russia might soon be controlled by "foreign information
empires." * Laura Belin
POLEVANOV CONCENTRATES ON NEW POLITICAL MOVEMENT.
fired on 29 May from his post as deputy head of the president's oversight
department, said his New Russia bloc, which claims 5,000 members in 50 regions,
will work in opposition to the government. According to Moskovsky
komsomolets on 31 May, he had turned his office into a headquarters for the
bloc and assigned his assistant to work for it. Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin and Presidential Chief of Staff Sergei Filatov did not want to
have an opposition bloc operating from within the president's administration
and fired him. Polevanov was deputy prime minister from November 1994 to
January 1995, but lost that position because of disagreements with Anatoly
Chubais over privatization. Moskovsky komsomolets reported that he had
close ties with presidential guard head Alexander Korzhakov and First Deputy
Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets, but Russian TV claimed he did not know them. *
DUMA AMENDS YELTSIN'S PLANS FOR AUTOMATED VOTING SYSTEM.
evening hearings on 30 May, State Duma members questioned whether the
president's proposed electronic vote counting system had a proper legal basis
and whether it would keep information about voters confidential, Interfax
reported. The Duma also questioned the recommendation to buy foreign equipment
when domestic products are available. The plan envisions the use of 5,000
computers and a 160 billion ruble ($32 million) budget to streamline the vote
counting process as a way of reducing the amount of money spent on each
election campaign. Pravda Rossii reported on 1 June that most of its
readers believe the system will be used to manipulate the election results. *
YELTSIN "ALARMED" BY STATUS OF RUSSIAN SPEAKERS.
President Boris Yeltsin
is "very alarmed" by the status of Russian speakers in the "near abroad," his
aide for international affairs, Dmitry Ryurikov told Interfax on 31 May.
Ryurikov said Yeltsin continues to make appeals protesting discrimination
against the Russian-speaking population of other CIS countries to bolster their
confidence and ensure better treatment for them. In this regard, Ryurikov
called the OSCE a "very useful channel for influencing states," although it
does not "always produce the result we expect." On 30 May, Russian Foreign
Ministry spokesman Grigory Karasin told Interfax that his ministry has "so far
failed to considerably improve the situation with regard to the rights of
ethnic Russians in the CIS and the Baltic states." He said the ministry intends
to increase the size and number of consular offices in the "near abroad." *
IRAN, RUSSIA AND OIL.
Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said
Iran wants to coordinate oil and gas policies with Russia, Reuters reported on
31 May, citing IRNA. Rafsanjani also reiterated that Russian President Boris
Yeltsin has been invited to Tehran for wide-ranging talks on political,
military, and economic issues. The same day, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar
Velayati told the daily Iran that Moscow is willing to broaden its
"close" ties with Tehran and the recent talks between Yeltsin and U.S.
President Bill Clinton "proved" it. Relations between Tehran and Moscow have
been increasingly warm of late; Russia agreed, despite concerted U.S.
opposition, to build a nuclear power plant in Iran and to honor a
multi-billion-dollar deal to exchange oil for arms. Iran also supports Russia's
position on the need to negotiate the status of the Caspian Sea and its
resources. * Lowell Bezanis
MONEY CRUNCH HURTING MILITARY.
Due to "inappropriate and untimely
financing" in the first quarter of this year, the Russian armed forces have not
received 720,000 metric tons of fuel and as a result "combat training of land
and naval forces has practically stopped," Interfax reported on 31 May. The
report warned that fuel supplies to federal forces in Chechnya could be
disrupted. In the Far East, several hundred military shipyard workers picketed
the headquarters of the Pacific Fleet demanding their unpaid wages. They were
told by Admiral Igor Khmelnov, the fleet commander, that he did not have the
money to pay the fleet's bills to their enterprises. The fleet press service
told Interfax that the fleet did not even have the money to send several units
of discharged sailors back to their homes. * Doug Clarke
PARAMONOVA INSISTS ON TIGHTER MONETARY POLICY.
As inflation falls, the
Central Bank of Russia (CBR) will gradually cut its refinancing rate currently
running at 195%, acting CBR Chairwoman Tatyana Paramonova said in a speech to
the international forum on the Russian economy on 31 May, Interfax reported.
Due to the bank's tighter monetary policy, money supply ran at only 3% in the
first quarter of 1995, compared to 10% in 1995, an indication that the
inflation rate will continue to fall, Paramonova said. Consumer prices are now
rising at a monthly level of 12%, compared with 14% a year ago. The banker said
a further drop in the inflation rate is a condition for future economic growth
and a flow of foreign investment into the economy. * Thomas Sigel
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 106. 1 June 1995
LATEST TAJIK TALKS END ON POSITIVE NOTE.
As the latest round of
negotiations wrapped up, the Tajik government and opposition agreed on an
exchange of prisoners of war and the repatriation of Tajik refugees in
Afghanistan, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported. The Red Cross is expected to
oversee the repatriation. Nothing was resolved on the issue of power sharing in
the Central Asian republic, but the two sides agreed to hold another round of
talks in Almaty, Kazakhstan, according to Interfax. Kazakh President Nursultan
Nazarbaev was credited with prodding the two sides toward some agreement. He
called for a stop to the bloodshed on the border. Recently, the Kyrgyz and
Uzbek presidents have also applied pressure on the two sides to come to an
agreement. Kazakh peacekeeping troops representing the CIS have suffered more
casualties than any other country this year, excluding Tajik soldiers. At least
17 Kazakh peacekeepers were killed in April. * Bruce Pannier
The last nuclear device in Kazakhstan has been
eliminated. On 31 May, an unstable plutonium charge was destroyed using
conventional explosives at the Semipalatinsk test site, Reuters reported. Boris
Lebedev, in charge of the operation, said there were no changes in radiation
levels above ground. The charge had the equivalent of 300 tons of TNT and the
detonation took place 425 ft. below ground. President Nursultan Nazarbaev has
said it would be the last explosion of its kind in Kazakhstan. * Bruce
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 106. 1 June 1995
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT CALLS NON-BINDING PLEBISCITE TO BREAK POLITICAL
Leonid Kuchma on 31 May ordered a legally non-binding nationwide
plebiscite on confidence in himself and the parliament, international and
Ukrainian news agencies reported the same day. The plebiscite is to be held on
28 June. Kuchma, in an address to the nation on state television, said he
called the poll to break the deadlock between himself and the divided
legislature over his recently approved law on separation of powers, which gives
him increased executive authority to preside over economic reforms. Communists
deputies recently blocked the enactment of the law by voting against changes to
the constitution necessary for it to take effect. Under Ukrainian law, the
president cannot alone decree a legally-binding referendum, so the results of
the poll will carry no legal weight. Kuchma has said he will resign if he fails
to muster the population's support for his political and economic reform
efforts. * Chrystyna Lapychak
CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT CANCELS CONSTITUTIONAL REFERENDUM.
legislature on 31 May voted to cancel a regionwide referendum, scheduled for 25
June, on its banned constitution, thereby avoiding a public showdown with
Ukrainian authorities, international and Ukrainian news agencies reported the
same day. The deputies also charged a parliamentary committee with drafting a
new constitution for the autonomous region in line with a 1992 Ukrainian law on
power-sharing between Kiev and Simferopol. The Ukrainian parliament recently
ordered Crimean deputies to cancel by 1 June the controversial referendum on
the 1992 Crimean Constitution, which Ukraine annulled as too separatist.
Crimean lawmakers have requested that a joint committee be established with
Ukrainian legislators to hammer out differences over their autonomous status. *
BELARUSIAN ELECTIONS CRITICIZED BY DOMESTIC PRESS.
Belarusian newspapers, including Zvyazda, Sovetskaya Belorussiya,
Narodnaya hazeta, and Vyacherni Minsk, have criticized the recent
parliamentary elections in Belarus, which failed to produce a new parliament,
Belarusian Television reported on 30 May. The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet,
meeting the following day to discuss the situation, said one of the main
problems was that under the current electoral law, elections can be repeated
indefinitely. It was decided to call an emergency parliamentary session on 14
June to amend the electoral law. * Ustina Markus
ESTONIAN PRIME MINISTER CRITICIZED FOR STATE OF NATION ADDRESS.
Vahi, in his 31 May state of the nation address, said the 3.2% decline in GDP
in 1994, reported by the Statistics Department, was due to declining demand for
Estonian-made products, BNS reported. He commented that consumers seemed
inclined to purchase imported goods rather than those locally produced, sharply
increasing the trade deficit. Opposition deputies accused Vahi of painting an
unfavorable picture in order to claim greater achievements later. He was
accused of purposefully ignoring a Bank of Estonia report showing GDP in 1994
increasing by 4.7% and an IMF estimate of an even greater increase. * Saulius
LATVIA'S BALTIJA BANK PARTIALLY RESUMES OPERATIONS.
commercial bank, Baltija Bank, resumed partial banking operations on 31 May,
Interfax reported. Bank of Latvia President Einars Repse suspended the bank's
operations on 23 May, and its shares were transferred to the government two
days later to prevent its bankruptcy. Baltija Bank President Uldis Klauss said
the bank resumed accepting deposits from the population, the exchange of cash
and non-cash currency, and the repayment of money transferred to client
accounts after 23 May. * Saulius Girnius
LITHUANIA SEEKS MORE GERMAN INVESTMENT.
Prime Minister Adolfas
Slezevicius, accompanied by several government officials, attended a conference
in Duisburg on 30 May on business and investment possibilities in Lithuania,
BNS reported the next day. The Lithuanian government and Lithuanian Investment
Agency had previously arranged similar conferences in London and Copenhagen to
encourage foreign investments. The conference discussed a project, estimated to
cost about $350 million, to build a European-standard railway line from the
Polish border to Kaunas. The project would be carried out by a German
consortium including Siemens and Krups. Germany is Lithuania's second largest
trading partner. * Saulius Girnius
POLISH ANTIMONOPOLY COURT UPHOLDS VERDICT AGAINST FIAT.
Court in Warsaw on 31 May upheld the verdict against Fiat Auto Poland issued by
the Polish Antimonopoly Office in December 1994. The court ruled that the
Antimonopoly Office acted entirely appropriately in finding that Fiat abused
its dominant position on the Polish auto market by requiring Polish buyers of
small Fiat cars to pay the total amount first and then wait three-six months
for delivery. The court agreed that this meant the involuntary granting of
interest-free loans to Fiat by Polish car buyers worth 30 million zloty ($1.4
million). The Antimonopoly Office fined Fiat the same amount. A Fiat spokesman
told Gazeta Wyborcza on 1 June that his company is "surprised and
disturbed" by the court's ruling which, he said, "restricts both the
development of the free market in Poland and Poland's process of integration
into the EU." * Ben Slay
CZECHS STILL WAITING FOR SLOVAK REPLY ON CLEARING SYSTEM.
Minister Vaclav Klaus on 31 May said he has received no reply from his Slovak
counterpart, Vladimir Meciar, about ending the payments clearing system used
for bilateral trade since the split of Czechoslovakia, Hospodarske
noviny reported. Klaus, in a letter to Meciar on 10 May, proposed ending
the system by 1 September and asked the Slovak premier to respond by the end of
May. Under the system, the Czech Republic has run up a deficit every month for
a year, which has to be made up in hard currency. Slovak Finance Minister
Sergej Kozlik has said the clearing system could be modified, not scrapped.
Slovakia revalued its currency within the clearing system on 19 May, slowing
down the rise of the Czech deficit, which stood at 330 million ECU at the end
of May, Hospodarske noviny quoted Slovak officials as saying. * Steve
AGREEMENT REACHED BETWEEN SLOVAK CONSERVATIVES.
Democratic Party (DS)
chairman Peter Osusky and Permanent Conference of the Civic Institute (SKOI)
leader Jan Langos on 31 May signed an agreement to join forces before the DS's
congress in November, Sme reports. The agreement was referred to as a
first step toward uniting the Right and encouraging cooperation among
Slovakia's "non-socialist and democratic politicians." The SKOI will cease to
function as a political subject but will remain a civic association. A number
of SKOI members ran on the election list of the Christian Democratic Movement
in last fall's elections, and Langos is now a parliamentary deputy. The DS,
which ran as an independent subject, failed to pass the 5% threshold needed to
gain parliamentary representation. * Sharon Fisher
SLOVAK ECONOMIC UPDATE.
Narodna obroda on 1 June reported that
industrial production grew at an annual rate of 7.6% in March, a 1.2% increase
over the figure for 1994. Construction rose at an annual rate of 3% in the same
month, down from 8% in February and 5.3% in 1994. Slovakia's unemployment rate
fell to 14.6%, down from 15.2% in January. Hard currency reserves at the
National Bank of Slovakia reached $1.969 billion, up from $1.745 billion at the
end of 1994. The Slovak currency strengthened to 29.4 koruny to $1 in March, an
improvement over the rate of 32 koruny in 1994. Annual inflation fell from
11.7% in 1994 to 11.3%. Meanwhile, Slovakia's GDP grew at an annual rate of
4.8% in 1994, having dropped 4.1% the previous year. * Sharon Fisher
HUNGARIAN PREMIER CRITICIZES WEST.
Gyula Horn on 31 May told an economic
conference in Budapest that international financial institutions "do not pay
proper attention to the predicament of the Central and East European region,"
international media reported. Horn argued that Western countries are not
showing enough understanding for the difficulties of the transition from a
centrally planned to a free market economy. Horn did not specify which
financial institutions he had in mind, but the IMF and the World Bank have both
said they will not extend further credits or development assistance until
Hungary sharply reduces government spending and its huge current account
deficit. * Jiri Pehe
EAST EUROPEANS APPLAUD RUSSIA-NATO PARTNERSHIP.
East European foreign
ministers, at a meeting of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council in the
Netherlands on 31 May, welcomed Russia's decision to forge a new partnership
with NATO, international agencies reported the same day. Romanian Foreign
Minister Teodor Melescanu expressed the hope that the participation of Russia
will demonstrate that the enlargement of NATO is a "beneficial process." His
Polish counterpart, Wladyslaw Bartoszewki, said that whatever "binds Russia
into the international security system is a very positive development for us."
* Michael Mihalka
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 106. 1 June 1995
BOSNIAN SERBS STEP UP ATTACKS ON SARAJEVO AND GORAZDE.
forces shelled Debelo Brdo on the Sarajevo front on 31 May and increased their
attacks on the mainly Muslim enclave of Gorazde, in eastern Bosnia. Nasa
Borba the following day noted that similar Serb shelling in Sarajevo on 24
May prompted NATO air strikes. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung says
that the Serbs have captured a total of 36 UN vehicles, including six light
tanks. They have begun cruising around government-held portions of Sarajevo
using the vehicles with their original markings and intimidating UN staff. The
Serbs called for direct talks with the Contact Group to discuss freeing the
approximately 370 hostages, but the UN says that the Serbs must unconditionally
release their prisoners now. * Patrick Moore
AKASHI REASSURES IZETBEGOVIC ABOUT BRITISH TROOPS.
Allgemeine Zeitung on 1 June reports that UN special envoy Yasushi Akashi
told the Bosnian president that the approximately 6,000 British soldiers
currently arriving will be under UN command. The Bosnians refused to let the
contingent proceed beyond Gornji Vakuf to the British base at Vitez, in central
Bosnia, until it was made clear that they were not part of any British effort
to withdraw peacekeepers. Meanwhile, the EU mediator in the Yugoslav crisis for
the past three years, Lord Owen, has announced he will step down at the end of
June. He said the move was unrelated to the latest developments but added that
he feared Britain was increasingly being sucked into a Balkan war, the BBC
reported on 31 May. * Patrick Moore
BOUTROS GHALI PRESENTS NEW PLANS FOR BOSNIA.
Boutros Boutros Ghali has issued a paper stating that the present concept for
UNPROFOR is untenable and suggested some alternatives. One proposal would
involve reduced operations and concentrates on humanitarian aid and simply
"monitoring" the UN-declared "safe areas" rather than trying to defend them.
The other proposal would scrap UNPROFOR as an international peace-keeping
mission and replace it with a more active multinational force under individual
national commands, apparently on the model of the Gulf War. The world body is
to debate the suggestions, international media reported on 31 May. * Patrick
CLINTON OFFERS U.S. GROUND TROOPS FOR BOSNIA.
U.S. President Bill
Clinton, addressing the Air Force Academy on 31 May, for the first time raised
the possibility that U.S. ground troops would be sent to Bosnia. The measure
would be "temporary" and only if the allies requested the soldiers to help
UNPROFOR. He attached several additional conditions, including the need to
consult an increasingly isolationist Congress. The VOA quoted Senate Majority
Leader Bob Dole as saying that the U.S. should drop the UNPROFOR concept
entirely and concentrate on arming the Bosnian government instead. * Patrick
NEW TRIALS IN KOSOVO.
The trial of 72 ethnic Albanian former policemen
charged with separatist activities began in Pristina on 29 May, AFP reported
the same day. The policemen are charged with setting up a shadow-state Interior
Ministry, stockpiling large amounts of weapons and equipment, and spying on
Serbian police and the Yugoslav army. They face up to 10 years in prison. The
trial raises the number of former ethnic Albanian policemen tried on the same
charges to 160. Meanwhile, at a trial in Gnjilan of ethnic Albanian policemen
accused of "hostile activities," the prosecutor submitted a "decree of the
government of Kosovo" allegedly signed by Prime Minister in exile Bujar Bukoshi
in 1991. Defense lawyers, however, argued that the document was forged,
pointing out that it was in Serbian and that Bukoshi was not prime minister in
1991, according to Kosova Daily Report on 31 May. * Fabian
INVESTIGATION INTO JOURNALIST ACCUSING ROMANIAN PRESIDENT OF KGB LINKS.
International media reported on 31 May that Romanian police are investigating
Sorin Rosca Stanescu, the editor-in-chief of the independent daily Ziua.
Stanescu is suspected of having committed an "offense against authority" by
writing that President Ion Iliescu was recruited by the KGB in the 1950s while
studying in Moscow. The daily Curierul national on 1 June reported that
Virgil Magureanu, director of the Romanian Intelligence Service, told the
Senate commission supervising the activities of his organization, that the
accusations were "pure invention." * Michael Shafir
REPORT ON DISMISSED ROMANIAN MAYORS.
The European Council's Congress of
Local and Regional Authorities in Europe on 31 May debated the case of recently
dismissed Romanian mayors, Radio Bucharest reported the same day. The debate
followed a visit to Romania by a council delegation earlier this month. The
council recommended that the Romanian parliament and government amend the law
on local administration to curtail the prerogatives of the prefects and
increase the powers of the judiciary to review the cases of mayors who are
dismissed or suspended. It also proposed speeding up the passage of laws
ensuring the financial independence of local government and the better use of
PHARE funds allocated to improve the training of local government officials. *
LUCINSCHI ON U.S. SUPPORT FOR MOLDOVA.
The U.S. fully supports the
independence and statehood of Moldova, parliament chairman Petru Lucinschi said
in Chisinau on 30 May following his week-long trip to the U.S. Infotag reported
the same day that Lucinschi met with senators and State Department and World
Bank officials. Lucinschi said the U.S. shows understanding for Moldovan
attempts to cooperate with Iran, despite the US-imposed embargo, because it
realizes Chisinau must seek alternatives to Russian-imported energy. * Michael
SUSPECT CHARGED IN BULGARIAN INVESTMENT SCANDAL.
An investment fund
clerk was charged with embezzlement on 31 May, international agencies reported
the same day. Desislava Chaneva was arrested on 30 May as she tried to flee to
Greece with 20 million leva ($310,000) belonging to shareholders of the Alba
Bul investment fund, based in Varna. Alba Bul was the fourth fund in Varna
within one week to stop paying dividends and close. At least 15 other such
schemes are still operating in Varna. Investments in Alba Bul are estimated at
$4.5 million. If convicted, Chaneva faces up to 10 years in prison. * Stefan
GREECE RATIFIES UN SEA CONVENTION LAW DESPITE TURKISH OBJECTIONS.
Greek parliament on 1 June unanimously ratified the UN Law of the Sea
Convention, Reuters reported the same day. The treaty allows Greece to extend
its territorial waters from the present six to 12 miles at a moment's notice.
Turkey opposes the treaty, saying an extension of Greece's water would seal off
its Aegean coastline and turn the Aegean into a Greek lake. Ankara has said any
extension will be "cause for war," and Turkish diplomatic sources have been
cited as saying Ankara will send warships down the Aegean if Greece implements
the 12-mile zone. Athens has not said it will enforce the treaty, but Deputy
Foreign Minister Georgios-Alexandros Mangakis commented that "Greece will
exercise its rights whenever its interests dictate." * Stefan Krause
BULGARIA'S LARGEST TRADE UNIONS TO BOYCOTT ILO SESSION.
and the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria will boycott the
82nd session of the International Labor Organization in Geneva, Standart
reported on 31 May. The decision was made after Labor Minister Mincho Koralski
named the Association of Free Trade Union Organization as Bulgaria's official
delegate. According to the two unions, Koralski's move contravenes the ILO
statutes, which state that trade unions are to hold consultations over which
representatives to send to ILO sessions. * Stefan Krause
ALBANIA'S NEW PENAL CODE TAKES EFFECT.
Populli PO reported on 31
May that the new penal code, which takes effect on 1 June, will open "one of
the doors to the Council of Europe." The council demanded that Albania abolish
the death penalty and ratify the European convention on safeguarding minority
rights before it decides on Albanian membership on 29 June. The new penal code
enables communist party leader Fatos Nano to bring his case to an appeals
court. Nano is serving a prison term for embezzlement and forging documents.
His case has been treated as a human rights issue by various opposition
parties. * Fabian Schmidt
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave