OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 171, 1 September 1995
GOVERNMENT TO SERVE ITS TERM REGARDLESS OF ELECTIONS.
Viktor Chernomyrdin said that his government will serve until the June 1996
presidential election, regardless of the results of the December parliamentary
elections, ITAR-TASS reported on 31 August. According to the Russian
Constitution, the government serves at the will of the president, not the
parliament. Chernomyrdin said that he would seek to win as many seats in the
Duma as possible. His statement reflects the weakness of the legislative branch
in relation to the executive. -- Robert Orttung
ASSOCIATION OF TELEVISION BROADCASTERS FORMS.
A new association of
braodcasters has been formed to push for speedier privatization of television
facilities and lower taxes for private broadcasters. Representatives of 50
independent television companies, including Russian Public Television (51%
state owned), NTV, and 2X2, founded the National Association of Television
Broadcasters on 31 August, ITAR-TASS reported. Eduard Sagalaev, the director of
TV 6, was elected president of the association. He said that during the
campaign the association would support "those forces which favor the
continuation of reform" and that if the association decided to support a
particular party, it would "achieve remarkable results." Central Electoral
Commission head Nikolai Ryabov announced on 31 August that the new regulations
for the media during the campaign would guarantee equal access for parties and
candidates to state-owned mass media. The formation of the new association
gives the broadcasters greater leverage in battling state control. -- Robert
NEW LAW ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT INTENSIFIES DEBATE ABOUT ELECTING GOVERNORS.
The new law on local government mandating the election of city and village
leaders rather than their appointment by krai and oblast governors has
increased calls for the election of the governors themselves, Segodnya
reported on 31 August. The Duma adopted the law at its 12 August special
session, and Yeltsin signed it on 29 August. Anatolii Sliva, chairman of the
Duma Committee on Local Government, believes that the governors should be
elected, while the Yeltsin administration opposes the idea. About 30 krais and
oblasts have taken steps to hold elections to their executive branch,
Rossiiskie vesti noted on 31 August. If the governors are elected on the
same day as Duma deputies, as some propose, they could become members of the
parliament's upper house. The future composition of the Federation Council is
in doubt after Yeltsin vetoed a law calling for its members to be directly
elected. -- Robert Orttung
CHERNOMYRDIN WARNS OF REFERENDUM ON LAND OWNERSHIP.
The prime minister
warned parliament that the government will call a referendum on land ownership
if lawmakers do not rapidly enact new legislation to settle the issue,
ITAR-TASS reported on 31 August. Without a new law, "economic reforms will not
make progress," Chernomyrdin said during a visit to an agricultural fair in St.
Petersburg. "Who will pour money into a factory if he does not own the land on
which it is built?" he questioned. Chernomyrdin also criticized leaders of the
powerful farming lobby, which represents state and collective farms and
food-processing plants, for blocking private land ownership. -- Thomas Sigel
YELTSIN TELLS STUDENTS TO REMEMBER LESSONS OF THE PAST.
In a televised
address to mark the beginning of the new academic year, Yeltsin told school
children to respect the past but not forget the atrocities committed by the
communist regime. Speaking on Russian Public Television on 31 August, the
president said the country's history must be treated with care and respect, but
"at the same time let us not forget what the Communist Party did to Russia, how
many officers, scientists, intellectuals, and peasants perished." -- Penny
SOLZHENITSYN BEGINS ANOTHER TOUR OF THE PROVINCES.
The writer Aleksandr
Solzhenitsyn began a tour of Penza, Samara, and Saratov Oblasts on 31 August,
ITAR-TASS reported. He plans to investigate the problems of local government,
small cities, and refugees from other former Soviet republics. The writer took
a train trip across the country in the summer of 1994 and now hosts a weekly
television show. Although the former dissident does not have much impact on
national politics, his activities are drawing attention to problems outside
Russia's large cities. -- Robert Orttung
MUTUAL ACCUSATIONS IN GROZNY.
Following a session in Grozny on 31 August
of the special observer commission to monitor implementation of the 30 July
ceasefire agreement, the Russian and Chechen co-chairmen told Russian media
that the disarmament process has been extended to 33 villages, with a total of
905 weapons surrendered. The chief Chechen negotiator Hodj-Ahmed Yarikhanov
told Ekho Moskvy, however, that Russian federal troops are violating the
ceasefire agreement by bombarding Chechen villages; he also accused Moscow of
"trying to split the Chechen people." A spokesman for the Russian Defense
Ministry told Interfax that five Russian servicemen were killed over the
previous 24 hours in Chechen attacks on Russian positions. Also on 31 August,
Interfax quoted an official from the Russian Fuel and Energy Ministry as
stating that Chechnya is currently producing 120,000 tons of oil per month and
could resume oil refining at any time. -- Liz Fuller
RUSSIA PROTESTS NATO ATTACKS IN BOSNIA.
On 31 August,
political leaders of all persuasions continued to condemn the ongoing NATO
airstrikes against Bosnian Serb positions. A statement issued by the Russian
Foreign Ministry said that the bombardment "must be stopped," because it "goes
beyond the framework" of existing UN Security Council resolutions, Interfax
reported. Ministry spokesman Grigorii Karasin reiterated Moscow's position that
the Yugoslav conflict can only be resolved through negotiations and criticized
NATO Secretary General Willy Claes for his "tendentious" comments on Yeltsin's
reaction to the airstrikes. -- Scott Parrish
RUSSIA POWERLESS TO INFLUENCE YUGOSLAV EVENTS.
Russia has lost all
influence over events in the former Yugoslavia, according to commentary in the
Russian press over the last two days. Izvestiya on 1 September noted
that the recent NATO airstrikes were launched without even consulting Moscow,
despite the fact that Russia formally remains a member of the international
Contact Group seeking a negotiated settlement of the conflict. Sergei Rogov,
director of the USA/Canada Institute, told The Washington Post that the
airstrikes demonstrate the "complete collapse of the notion of Russian-Western
partnership" and show "how much the West ignores Russia." -- Scott
RUSSO-JAPANESE TALKS END WITHOUT AGREEMENT.
Russian and Japanese
negotiators have again failed to reach agreement over fishing rights off the
disputed south Kuril Islands. Their talks were suspended after two days,
international agencies reported. Russia claims that Japanese fisherman poach in
Russian territorial waters, and Russian border guards have fired on Japanese
vessels in the past, aggravating already shaky relations between the two
countries. On the eve of the talks, comments by Russian Defense Minister Pavel
Grachev describing the disputed islands as "genuine Russian territory," which
had been "returned" to Russia as a result of WW II, provoked a storm of
criticism in the Japanese press. -- Scott Parrish
HIGH LEVEL OF RADIATION IN KOLA GULF . . .
The level of radioactive
contamination in the Kola Gulf is higher than in the area of the Norwegian Sea
where a Russian nuclear submarine sank, according to the director of the Kola
Research Institute of Marine Life, Professor Gennadii Matishev. ITAR-TASS on 31
August summarized an interview with Matishev appearing in Murmanskii
vestnik. The Kola Gulf is the narrow fjord off the Barents Sea on which
Murmansk and the Russian naval base of Severomorsk are located. The report said
that nuclear waste once dumped into the sea had accumulated in hollows on the
bottom of the gulf and posed a serious threat both to marine life and to the
local population. -- Doug Clarke
. . . AND THE URALS NUCLEAR LEGACY.
Nuclear waste at the Mayak Chemical
Complex in the Urals is "an ecological bomb for Russia," Izvestiya
warned on 30 August. It said that the water level is rising in one of three
reservoirs built to hold radioactive water and that contaminated ground water
is spreading under the Karachai Lake, into which all nuclear wastes had been
drained and which is now being filled in. A plan to build a nuclear power
station that would use plutonium accumulated at the Mayak Chemical Complex is
on hold owing to lack of funding, the paper said. -- Penny Morvant
EBRD CREATES $30 MILLION VENTURE FUND IN URALS.
The European Bank for
Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has created a regional venture fund in
Yekaterinburg that will invest $30 million in the charter capital of small and
medium-sized industrial enterprises. The EBRD appointed the U.K.'s Fleming
Investment Ltd., an investment bank, as the fund's managing company. The
venture will invest in enterprises in Sverdlovsk, Chelyabinsk, and Perm Oblasts
over a 10-year period. -- Thomas Sigel
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 171, 1 September 1995
MKHEDRIONI IMPLICATED IN SHEVARDNADZE ASSASSINATION BID.
On 31 August
officials investigating the car bomb in Tbilisi two days earlier discovered
quantities of arms and ammunition, ampoules of morphine, and hard currency in
the parliamentary officies of Mkhedrioni leader Dzhaba Ioseliani, Russian media
reported. Ioseliani has denied involvement in the attack; he also told Ekho
Moskvy that he has no intention of standing as a candidate against Georgian
parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze in the November presidential elections.
-- Liz Fuller
CILLER IN TBILISI.
Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Ciller arrived in
Tbilisi on 31 August for one day's talks with Georgian parliament chairman
Shevardnadze, Interfax reported. The two leaders signed a protocol on
restructuring Georgian repayments of a $50 million Turkish loan granted in 1993
to finance economic development; Ciller subsequently told journalists that
Turkey would advance Georgia new credits totaling $150 million. -- Liz Fuller
NAZARBAEV HAILS VICTORY, DISMISSES CRITICISM . . .
President Nursultan Nazarbaev hailed his victory in the referendum on the new
constitution, international and Russian media reported on 31 August. Nazarbaev
cited the overwhelming support of the people as vivid proof of the
constitution's legitimacy, thereby dismissing Western criticism that the new
constitution violates democratic norms and consolidates his personal power.
According to ITAR-TASS on 31 August, opposition party leaders claimed that less
than half the electorate voted in Almaty, not 90% as officially reported. A
leader of the Slavic movement Lad from eastern Kazakhstan told Reuters that the
voting figures had been "officially falsified." -- Bhavna Dave
. . . PROMISES NEW LEGISLATION.
At his first post-victory press
conference, Nazarbaev promised immediately to pass a new election law and set a
date for parliamentary elections, Western and Russian media reported on 31
August. Nazarbaev confirmed the decision to move the nation's capital from
Almaty to Akmola and indicated that he would make "serious changes to improve"
the team of ministers. -- Bhavna Dave
Turkmenistan's Deputy Prime Minister Boris
Shikhmuradov visited Dushanbe on 31 August in a bid to ensure that Ashgabat is
the venue of the 5th round of inter-Tajik talks scheduled for 18 September and
to make arrangements to open an embassy in Dushanbe. He also laid the
groundwork for a conference which will deal with barter issues involving
Russia's three closest partners in the south--Tajikistan, Iran, and
Turkmenistan, Russian media reported. Isolationist Ashgabat has studiously
avoided involvement in any aspect of the Tajik problem, but when cementing ties
with Russia in May, Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov pledged to do his best
to help resolve the conflict. A trilateral economic arrangement would be
equally groundbreaking but only survive if Russia gives its blessing. -- Lowell
TAJIK OPPOSITION APPLIES PRESSURE BEFORE TALKS BEGIN.
With the next
round of negotiations between the Tajik government and opposition scheduled to
begin on 18 September, the anti-government forces are resorting to their
customary tactic of stepping up military pressure. Aside from attempts by the
rebels to cross the border from Afghanistan, the opposition is waging a terror
campaign within Tajikistan. Civilians have been killed in the Rogun area to the
east of Dushanbe, and opposition leader Said Abdullo Nuri claims that members
of his forces in the Khorog region to the south will remain there, according to
Interfax. The commander of the Russian-led CIS Peacekeeping Force, Lt. Gen.
Valentin Bobryshev, said recently that there are more than 2,000 armed rebels
inside Tajikistan, mainly in the Garm district in the northeast. -- Bruce
MINSK DENIES LUKASHENKA WILL STAND IN DUMA ELECTIONS.
Deputy head of the
Presidential Administration Uladzimir Zamyatalin said reports that Belarusian
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has agreed to run in the Russian Duma elections
are "absurd," Belarusian radio reported on 30 August. Earlier that day reports
said the electoral bloc "Vozrozhdenie" was planning to add Lukashenka to its
list of candidates and quoted bloc leader Valerii Skurlatov as saying the
president had agreed to his inclusion. According to Zamyatalin, Lukashenka had
never heard of the idea. -- Ustina Markus
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 171, 1 September 1995
WALESA SAYS SOLIDARITY REVOLUTION INCOMPLETE.
Polish President Lech
Walesa, speaking on 31 August at ceremonies to mark the 15th anniversary of the
signing of the Gdansk accords that legalized Solidarity, reiterated his
determination to run for president. "The need from which Solidarity arose has
not passed," Walesa said. He called upon the postcommunist forces to conduct an
honest settling of accounts for their past deeds. "A single `I'm sorry' is not
enough," Walesa said, in a reference to Democratic Left Alliance leader
Aleksander Kwasniewski's brief apology for the abuses of communism, which was
submitted to the Sejm after the 1993 elections. Gdansk Archbishop Tadeusz
Goclowski charged that the Solidarity movement went "too far in one aspect of
Christianity" by being too forgiving of the former Communists after they
surrendered power in 1989, Rzeczpospolita reported. -- Louisa Vinton
POLISH COMMISSION SETS 1996 WAGE LIMIT.
The tripartite commission
representing the trade unions, employers, and the state reached agreement on 31
August that the average wage in state firms can increase a maximum of 21.8%
next year, Gazeta Wyborcza reported. The government is predicting annual
average inflation of 19.8%, so the agreement allows a 2% rise in real wages.
The unions initially demanded a 26% limit, fearing that government inflation
forecasts were overly optimistic. The agreement sets guidelines rather than
legally enforceable limits. In other economic news, Deputy Prime Minister and
Finance Minister Grzegorz Kolodko predicted that the inflation rate for August
will amount to only 0.5-0.6%. Prices fell by 0.9% in July, largely owing to
seasonal declines in food prices, yielding a year-on-year rate for that month
of 27.6%. -- Louisa Vinton
CZECH ARMS TRADE FIGURES.
The Czech Republic exported $55 million worth
of arms and military equipment during the first six months of this year,
Reuters reported on 29 August, citing the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
During the same period in 1994, Czech exports totaled $60 million. This year's
exports included L-39 jet trainers to Bangladesh, T-815 heavy utility trucks to
India, and CZ-75 pistols for the Turkish police. Arms imports during the first
half of the year were worth $33.4 million and came mostly from Russia,
Slovakia, and France. -- Doug Clarke
SLOVAKIA CELEBRATES CONSTITUTION DAY.
Slovakia on 1 September celebrates
the third anniversary of the approval of its constitution. Prime Minister
Vladimir Meciar has repeatedly called for changes to the basic law, but he
remains eight votes short of 90 needed to make constitutional changes. Movement
for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) deputy Dusan Slobodnik, speaking with
Pravda on 31 August, said that despite having been worked out "very
quickly," the document is "good" on basic questions and its "basic structure
should not be changed." Robert Fico, legal expert from the opposition Party of
the Democratic Left (SDL), said modifications should be reviewed by a wide
commission of specialists and carried out only if supported by "all
representatives of political life." On the eve of Constitution Day, President
Michal Kovac awarded the Order of Ludovit Stur to a number of prominent
Slovaks, including several Church officials and Julius Binder, director of the
firm that built the Gabcikovo dam. Prague Spring leader Alexander Dubcek, as
well as two generals who led the anti-fascist resistance during World War II,
were given awards posthumously, TASR reported. -- Sharon Fisher
SLOVAK FIRM TO ISSUE BONDS.
According to TASR on 30 August, Slovenske
Elektrarne will issue five-year bonds with a total value of 1.5 billion koruny
in November. The bonds, which are to be administered by the Slovenska
Sporitelna bank, will have a fixed interest rate and are designed mainly for
Slovak firms. It will be the largest issue of corporate bonds thus far in
Slovakia. Slovenske Elektrarne is responsible for the construction of the
Mochovce nuclear power plant. -- Sharon Fisher
HUNGARY RESPONDS TO ROMANIAN PRESIDENT'S PROPOSAL.
Ministry spokesman Gabor Szentivanyi was quoted by Radio Bucharest on 1
September as saying Romanian President Ion Iliescu's call for a "historic
reconciliation" between Hungary and Romania (see OMRI Daily Digest, 31
August 1995) was received "with great interest" in Budapest. Szentivanyi told
the official news agency MTI that Hungary is now waiting for "concrete
proposals," which he said will be carefully studied. He commented that only a
historic reconciliation can lead to attaining the two countries' common
objective of "integration into Euro-Atlantic structures [and] consolidation of
stability and security in the region and in Europe." However, he added, any
historic reconciliation cannot ignore unresolved issues, including "solving the
problems of national minorities in accordance with international norms." --
ROMANI FESTIVAL BEGINS IN BUDAPEST.
An international festival of Romani
culture officially opened in Budapest on 31 August, international media
reported. In a keynote speech, Hungarian President Arpad Goncz emphasized the
importance of the Roma's contribution to world heritage. He noted that Roma
live in many countries but are without their own country and thus often feel
they "do not belong." Goncz noted that the Budapest festival would show that
they and their culture are part of the world's heritage. Organizers of the
festival, called "Rom Som" (which means both "I am a human being" and "I am a
Rom") said the aim was to show the wealth of Romani culture. -- Jiri Pehe
CONFUSION OVER BELARUSIAN DECREES.
ITAR-TASS and Interfax on 31 August
reported confusion over whether President Alyaksandr Lukashenka signed a decree
stripping deputies of their immunity, thereby allowing deputy Syarhei Antonchyk
and local council deputy and head of the Independent Trade Unions Henadz Bykau
to be arrested. Officials at Lukashenka's headquarters say the president never
signed such a decree. Chairman of the Supreme Soviet Mechyslau Hryb reportedly
met with the president and changed some articles relating to the status of
deputies, but not the article dealing with deputies' immunity. Adding to the
confusion, Segodnya reported that Lukashenka signed a decree on 31
August that both suspended the activities of the Independent Trade Unions and
allowed for the arrest of deputies. -- Ustina Markus
INDIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN BELARUS.
Belarusian TV on 30 August reported
that Salman Khursheed has concluded an official visit to Belarus. Khursheed met
with Prime Minister Mikhail Chyhir, head of the President's Administration
Leanid Sinitsyn, and Minister for Foreign Economic Relations Mikhail Marynich.
Discussions focused on trade potential and economic ties between the two
countries. Belarusian-Indian trade stood at only $8 million in the first half
of this year. In an effort to spur trade, it was decided to set up an
international committee on trade, economy, and technical cooperation. Marynich
said India was interested in Belarusian technology, while Belarus wanted to
obtain medicine from India. -- Ustina Markus
MEETING OF BALTIC, NORDIC FOREIGN MINISTERS.
The foreign ministers of
the Baltic States and the Nordic Council countries met on 30-31 August in
Kolding, Denmark, to discuss cooperation between the two groups, BNS reported.
The Nordic ministers welcomed the associate membership agreements of the Baltic
States with the EU. The two groups agreed that a future European security
structure should be developed in cooperation with Russia. Latvian Foreign
Minister Valdis Birkavs signed a free trade agreement with Iceland, an accord
with Denmark on mutual assistance in customs, and a protocol with Sweden on the
establishment of an economic committee. -- Saulius Girnius
ESTONIA, POLAND SIGN DEFENSE COOPERATION AGREEMENT.
Andrus Oovel and Zbigniew Okonski signed a bilateral agreement on defense
cooperation on 31 August in Tallinn, BNS reported. The ministries will join
forces to work out defense concepts, build up defense structures, and eliminate
environmental damage at former Russian military bases. Poland will also train
Estonian officers. In a surprise remark after the signing, Oovel said that
Estonia would support Poland's becoming the first former Warsaw Pact country to
join NATO. -- Saulius Girnius
LATVIAN PARLIAMENT RATIFIES EU ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT.
The Saeima on 31
August ratified the associate membership agreement with the European Union, BNS
reported. The agreement, signed on 12 June, still has to be ratified by the
parliaments of the 16 EU countries. -- Saulius Girnius
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 171, 1 September 1995
OPERATION DELIBERATE FORCE SWINGS INTO THIRD DAY.
International media on
1 September reported that the UN and NATO attacks on Bosnian Serb positions are
continuing. Planes have completed more than 500 sorties, and artillery on Mt.
Igman blasted Serbian guns and other targets. Bad weather caused a temporary
let-up in operations the previous day. A NATO spokeswoman in Naples told
reporters that the operation is nonetheless taking place in stages and that
"things are going on" even if this is not readily apparent. The Serbs claimed
that their "capital" in the ski resort of Pale was being hit as well, and
reporters there said a loud boom caused windows to rattle. UN spokesmen said
press reports that UN commander General Bernard Janvier would meet with the
Serbs' General Ratko Mladic were "premature." -- Patrick Moore
CLINTON BLASTS SERBIAN "SAVAGERY."
U.S. President Bill Clinton told
reporters in Hawaii that Operation Deliberate Force is "the right response to
savagery." He said that the Serbs have "everything to lose and nothing to gain"
by continuing the war and that "NATO is delivering that message loud and
clear." International media on 1 September also noted that NATO spokesmen
stressed that the attacks will continue until the Serbs end their stranglehold
on Sarajevo, Tuzla, and Gorazde. NATO efforts continue to be popular in
Sarajevo, where one policeman told Reuters that the alliance should "bomb them
and bomb them some more until these Chetnik [Serbian] bastards beg for the
mercy they never showed anybody in this war." -- Patrick Moore
KARADZIC CALLS RAIDS UNNECESSARY . . .
Bosnian Serb leader Radovan
Karadzic said that military action against his side is unwarranted because the
Serbs have signed on to the peace process. AFP on 1 September reported that he
wrote UN special envoy Yasushi Akashi that the attacks' purpose is "to weaken
our power and our negotiating position." Karadzic added that further raids
"would accelerate preparations for a long conflict that the international
community would not be able to win." The internationally wanted war criminal
concluded that "if NATO continues its attacks, that means it wants to put an
end to the peace process." -- Patrick Moore
. . . WHILE MLADIC URGES RESISTANCE.
General Mladic took a different
tone from that of his civilian rival, Nasa Borba reported on 1
September. He called on both the army and the general population to resist the
attacks. Novi list said that the Serbs fired rockets at the besieged
town of Gradacac and other areas of northern Bosnia. The Serbs claimed to have
captured the two French pilots shot down on 30 August, but it appears that the
men are at large and hiding on Bosnian Serb territory. The BBC said that they
had sent radio signals to that effect. Meanwhile, the five EU monitors that the
Serbs originally reported as dead were taken to Visegrad, once a mainly Muslim
town on the Drina that was the site of some of the first massacres and "ethnic
cleansing" in 1992. After some hesitation, the Serbs released them to go to
Zagreb, Reuters reported. In Pale, there was great anger over the air attacks
among Bosnian Serb military personnel and civilians, while some "spoke about
taking revenge on any foreigners they could get their hands on." -- Patrick
HOLBROOKE PRAISES BELGRADE-PALE AGREEMENT . . .
U.S. special envoy
Richard Holbrooke, before leaving Belgrade for Zagreb on 31 August, said that
"serious substantive negotiations" could begin after Serbian President Slobodan
Milosevic and the Bosnian Serbs formed a joint negotiating team, Reuters
reported on 31 August. Holbrooke is quoted as saying: "We consider President
Milosevic's announcement that he can now negotiate for the Bosnian Serbs
something of a procedural breakthrough." Milosevic announced that the Bosnian
Serbs will give him a veto over the terms of a peace deal. -- Fabian Schmidt
...WHILE NEGOTIATIONS MAY END IN DEADLOCK.
Milosevic, however, is
reported to have guaranteed the Bosnian Serbs that he will achieve certain
"minimums," such as the division of Sarajevo, the widening of the Brcko
corridor, and the delineation of a "compact territory" that would include the
handing over of Gorazde to the Serbs. The Bosnian government and Croats would
doubtless reject such proposals. Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Klaus
Kinkel met with Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic in Bonn and encouraged
him not to accept any solution violating the territorial integrity of Bosnia.
French President Jacques Chirac also insisted Bosnia should retain its
integrity as a state, adding that "any other solution would be an insult to our
values and to the future." -- Fabian Schmidt
ROMANIAN REACTION TO NATO AIR STRIKES AGAINST BOSNIAN SERBS.
Presidential spokesman Traian Chebeleu told a press conference on 31 August
that the NATO air strikes against the Bosnian Serbs were a "natural
consequence" of the determination to "take all necessary measures for
implementing the Security Council decisions about the protection of civilians,"
Radio Bucharest reported the same day. Chebeleu added that political
decision-makers should not, however, become "entangled in the logic of force,
which can by no means lead to a solution." Foreign Ministry spokesman Mircea
Geoana the previous day called the shelling of Sarajevo by the Bosnian Serbs a
"criminal act." -- Michael Shafir
ROMANIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH VAN DER STOEL.
OSCE High Commissioner for
National Minorities Max van der Stoel on 31 August met with President Ion
Iliescu, Radio Bucharest reported. Van der Stoel praised Iliescu's appeal the
previous day for a historic reconciliation with Hungary, saying he hoped it
will have positive echoes in both Hungary and the EU. Van der Stoel also met
with leaders of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR). UDMR
chairman Marko Bela told Romanian TV that President Iliescu's appeal is "an
important declaration of intention, but one that flagrantly contradicts
reality." -- Michael Shafir
SNEGUR WANTS PRESIDENTIAL SYSTEM.
President Mircea Snegur, speaking as
chairman of the new Party of Revival and Conciliation of Moldova (PRAM), on 30
August denied accusations by his political adversaries that he has already
launched his campaign for the elections due in December 1996. Infotag reported
Snegur as saying his party proposes to replace the present parliamentary system
with a presidential one because the existing system has led to "nothing but
endless debates." He added that the changeover should be evolutionary, not
revolutionary. Snegur also commented that the proposal should not be seen as an
attempt to set up a "presidential dictatorship" but as advancing the idea of a
presidential republic where "all democratic norms are duly observed" but
problems "are solved much faster and efficiently." His party also wants to
replace the present single-chamber parliament with a bicameral one. -- Michael
MOLDOVA MARKS ROMANIAN LANGUAGE DAY.
Moldova on 31 August marked the
"Day of Our Romanian Language," an official national holiday. Government
officials and President Mircea Snegur participated in ceremonies near the
burial sites of individuals linked to the struggle for cultural rights of
Romanian-language poets and writers as well as Romanians in general. -- Michael
ELECTRICITY HIKES IN BULGARIA.
Electricity for private households
increased by 25% and for industry by 38% on 1 September, Kontinent
reported the same day. Prices for central heating, warm water, and coal
remain the same for households and have increased by 20% for industry.
Pensioners will receive monthly compensation of 140 leva ($2.10), far less than
originally announced by the government (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 August
1995). Compensation for the hikes is estimated to cost the state about 600
million leva ($8.84 million) per month. -- Stefan Krause
ALBANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN GREECE.
Alfred Serreqi arrived in Athens on
31 August for a two-day official visit aimed at improving Albanian Greek ties,
Reuters reported the same day. He met with his Greek counterpart, Karolos
Papoulias, before official talks began. Greek Foreign Ministry officials said
the talks will focus on the status of Albania's ethnic Greek community and the
estimated 300,000 Albanians living and working illegally in Greece. Greece has
linked the question of legalizing an unspecified number of Albanian seasonal
workers to establishing more Greek minority schools in Albania. Athens also
wants the return of property seized by the former communist regime from the
Albanian Orthodox Church and the lifting of visa requirements for Greek
citizens traveling to Albania. Serreqi rejected the establishment of
independent Greek schools in Albania and walked out of a meeting on 1
September, Greek officials were quoted as saying. -- Stefan Krause
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Penny Morvant and Jan Cleave