OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 175, 8 September 1995
RYBKIN BLOC GARNERS PROMINENT INDIVIDUALS, SUFFERS ANOTHER DEFECTION.
The top three candidates of Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin's left-center bloc
will be Rybkin, reform economist Stanislav Shatalin, and Col.-Gen. Boris
Gromov, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 September. Gromov was the last commander of
Soviet forces in Afghanistan and left the Defense Ministry after clashing with
Defense Minister Pavel Grachev. Other prominent members of the bloc, which will
campaign under the slogan "My Homeland," include former presidential chief of
staff Yurii Petrov, chairman of the Russian Television Radio Company Oleg
Poptsov, and Imperial Bank President Sergei Rodionov. One of the bloc's
founding members, Duma deputy Vyacheslav Nikonov, announced his departure
because he was unhappy with his rank on the party's list and said other Duma
members were likely to follow suit, NTV reported on 7 September. -- Robert
Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
CHRISTIAN-DEMOCRATIC UNION ANNOUNCES CAMPAIGN PLANS.
Christian-Democratic Union will campaign to remove criminals and corruption
from the State Duma, party leader Vitalii Savitskii announced in Moscow. He
expressed concern that the Duma had rejected attempts to limit deputies'
immunity, creating a situation where the next Duma could have as many as 50% of
its members, according to his estimation, under criminal investigation, Russian
Public Television reported 7 September. The Orthodox church has said it will
not support any Christian parties. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
COSSACK ATAMANS MEET IN MOSCOW.
More than 300 Cossack Atamans from
across Russia attended a Moscow congress to discuss the 9 August presidential
decree establishing a state register for Cossack groups, NTV and Radio Rossii
reported on 7 September. Presidential chief of staff Sergei Filatov read
President Boris Yeltsin's address, which called on Cossacks to participate in
civil and military service. The congress asked the president and government to
create legal conditions for Cossack land ownership and self-government,
Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on 8 September. However, Izvestiya
warned the same day that creating formal Cossack institutions would lead to
"dual power" and inevitably to conflict between Cossacks and local authorities.
-- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
SOLZHENITSYN: "ONLY THE ZEMSTVO CAN SAVE US."
Former dissident writer
and Nobel laureate Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said Russia's problems can only be
solved by reviving the zemstvo system, elected councils that handled
most local administration from 1864 until 1917, ITAR-TASS reported on 7
September. Appearing at a Samara conference on the zemstvo, Solzhenitsyn
called for the State Duma to complete and pass a law currently being drafted on
local self-government. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
CALLS FOR REFERENDUM TO ABOLISH PRESIDENCY IN CHUVASHIYA.
Chuvash President Nikolai Fedorov have collected 25,000 signatures in favor of
a referendum to abolish the presidency in Chuvashiya, Russian TV reported on 6
September. The Chuvash State Soviet will now decide whether to call a
referendum, ITAR-TASS reported. Fedorov was elected the first post-Soviet
president of Chuvashiya in December 1993 with less than 30% of the vote. He has
frequently clashed with the anti-reformist majority in the soviet (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 11 and 14 July 1995). -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
SUPPORT FOR ZHIRINOVSKY IN ARMY STILL STRONG.
Roughly 15% of Russian
soldiers surveyed in August said they trusted Liberal-Democratic Party leader
Vladimir Zhirinovsky more than any other politician, according to the 3-10
September edition of Moskovskie novosti. Zhirinovsky finished first in a
similar poll in March 1995. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii finished second
in the August poll, up from eighth place in March, while Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin dropped from second to fifth place. Communist Party leader
Gennadii Zyuganov's support in the military was more stable; he finished third
in both surveys. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
MOSCOW WANTS TO SCRAP TREATY WITH NORTH KOREA.
Moscow has proposed to
North Korea that the 1961 treaty committing Russia to come to North Korea's aid
in case of an attack be scrapped and replaced by a new friendship agreement,
the Russian Foreign Ministry announced on 7 September. ITAR-TASS reported that
the new agreement would contain no provisions regarding military assistance
should either party become the object of an armed attack. The treaty was due
for renewal later this month., and expires in September 1996. Russian-North
Korean relations have been strained since the Soviet Union recognized South
Korea in 1990.
-- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
YELTSIN SIGNS LAW ON HUMANITARIAN AID FOR YUGOSLAVIA.
on 7 September signed a law allowing Russian firms to trade with rump
Yugoslavia, so long as the deals involve only "humanitarian" goods, ITAR-TASS
reported. The law, designed to facilitate the delivery of Russian food and
medicine to rump Yugoslavia while UN economic sanctions are in effect, was
passed by the State Duma during its 12 August special session. The new law
could bring Russia into conflict with the UN sanctions regime, however, as it
includes fuel among the commodities that can be shipped. Yeltsin's
parliamentary critics are calling for Russia to withdraw entirely from UN
sanctions against rump Yugoslavia. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.
DEFECTOR: IRAQ HAS ORDERED 4,000 RUSSIAN TANKS.
Iraqi defector General
Hussein Kamel Hassan claimed that Iraq has ordered 4,000 modern tanks from
Russia to replace those lost during the 1991 Gulf War, Western agencies
reported on 6 September. The agency said Hassan told that to UN disarmament
chief Rolf Ekeus when the two met in Jordan in late August. Hassan reportedly
said that Iraq was hoping to buy both T-80 tanks and the new T-90, to be
delivered over several years once the UN arms embargo is lifted. The defector
reasserted his claim on 8 August in the wake of denials by Rosvooruzhenie, the
state-owned Russian military export firm. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
POWER CUT OFF AT NORTHERN, BALTIC MILITARY DEPOTS.
Energy supplies to
several mine and torpedo storage depots of the Russian Northern Fleet were cut
off by Arkhangelsk authorities following the fleet's failure to pay its bills,
ITAR-TASS reported on 7 September. Earlier the same day, the city
administration in the Crimean port of Sevastopol threatened to cut off power
supplies to the Black Sea Fleet for the same reason. On 4 September, the power
was turned off at 24 facilities of the Baltic Fleet Air Force because of unpaid
bills, Russian Public Television reported. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
SARATOV DEFENSE-INDUSTRY WORKERS PROTEST.
Employees of the Saratov
military-industrial complex held a rally on 5 September to draw attention to
the plight of the defense industry in the city. Izvestiya on 8 September
said the protest was initiated by the Saratov Aircraft Plant, which has been
idle for two years and has debts of more than 100 billion rubles ($22 million),
including 7 billion ($1.5 million) in unpaid wages. Presumably hoping to boost
their electoral prospects, Communist Party officials took an active part in the
demonstration. No other political party has taken up the cause of the region's
defense workers. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
PENSIONS TO BE INDEXED IN 1996.
Pension Fund head Vasilii Barchuk
told a cabinet meeting on 7 September that, despite the fund's financial
difficulties, in 1996 pensions will be indexed every quarter to take account of
inflation. According to ITAR-TASS, the minimum pension will rise by about 36%
during the year and the average pension by about 28%, to 313,500 rubles a month
by December 1996. The minimum pension is currently 55,000 rubles, but
pensioners also receive a monthly compensation payment of 50,000 rubles, which
will be discontinued. Barchuk said that the fund's budget is under strain
because of a shortfall in contributions from enterprises, the increase in the
minimum pension, and the one-time
payments to World War II veterans on
the 50th anniversary of V-E Day. Many pensioners have been receiving their
payments late as a result of the fund's difficulties. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI,
GOVERNMENT TO TACKLE TAX ARREARS PROBLEM.
Russian firms by early August
owed 23.5 trillion rubles ($520 million) in late tax payments, according to
Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais, Segodnya reported
on 7 September. Since July 1994, the government has allowed enterprises to
reserve 30% of their incomes for paying employee wages; that serves as a legal
loophole to evade federal taxes. Segodnya indicated that this "30-70"
scheme accounts for 60% of the tax arrears. The same day, the Commission on
Streamlining the System of Payments and Settlements identified 46 large
companies guilty of tax arrears and demanded that they begin paying,
Kommersant-Daily reported on 7 September. The commission also called for
the Railways Ministry and Fuel and Energy Ministry to cut their tax debts in
half by 1 January 1996. The State Tax Service and tax police were ordered to
ensure that tax delinquent firms meet their payments. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI,
FOREIGN INVESTMENT UP.
Foreign investors have infused more than $700
million into the Russian economy in the first half of 1995, Ekho Moskvy
reported on 6 September. According to government statistics, the figure is 25%
more than the same period one year ago. Around $200 million has gone to Moscow
projects. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
INDUSTRIAL OUTPUT DOWN IN KHABAROVSK.
Industrial production in the
Khabarovsk krai in Russia's far east has declined 19% in the first seven months
of 1995 compared with the same period last year, Segodnya reported on 5
September. Steel production is down by more than 50%, and consumer-goods
production shrank by 25%. In July, workers had to take leave without pay or
with only partial wage payment, the report said. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 175, 8 September 1995
TAJIK, RUSSIAN PRESIDENTS MEET IN MOSCOW.
Tajik President Imomali
Rakhmonov met with Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin and signed agreements on bilateral cooperation as well as a
protocol on dual citizenship, according to Western sources. Tajikistan is only
the second country, after Turkmenistan, to sign a dual citizenship accord with
Russia. Discussion centered on the 17 September peace talks between the Tajik
government and the opposition. The Tajik government remains in power largely
because of the presence of Russian troops along the Afghan border and financial
support from Moscow. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.
SHARP FALL IN KAZAKHSTAN GRAIN HARVEST EXPECTED.
Kazakhstan, a major
source of grain exports to neighboring states, is facing a sharply reduced
grain harvest this year because of drought and fuel shortages, Interfax
reported on 7 September. Specialists at the Agriculture and Food Ministry
estimate a harvest of 12-14 million metric tons this year--which still exceeds
Kazakhstan's domestic demand for grain, estimated at 5-7 million metric tons,
but sharply hurts its exports. Kazakhstan harvested 18 million metric tons of
grain in 1994 and 22 million metric tons in 1993. Russia is also expecting its
worst grain harvest in 30 years because of dry weather. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI,
IRAN TO BUILD GAS PIPELINE FROM TURKMENISTAN.
Iran and Turkmenistan
concluded a deal on the construction of a 140-km gas pipeline to supply Turkmen
gas to northern Iran, IRNA reported on 6 September. Iranian Oil Minister
Golamreza Aghazadeh, returning from Ashgabat, said the pipeline will cost $190
billion, with Iran offering 80% of the financing, AFP reported on 7 September.
Construction will start soon and is expected to be completed in two years. The
pipeline is part of a major project signed last summer between Iran and
Turkmenistan to transport Turkmen gas to Europe via Iran and Turkey. The
extended pipeline, 4,000 km long, is estimated to be constructed in five years.
The financing for the project, estimated to cost around $9 billion, is yet to
be concluded. In contrast, there appears to be no progress on Turkmen plans to
build a pipeline to Pakistan via Afghanistan. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc.
KYRGYZ-PAKISTANI POWER DEAL FACES FINANCIAL PROBLEMS.
between Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan, in which Kyrgyzstan is to provide Pakistan
with 3-6 billion kilowatts of electricity annually, has run into financial
problems, Kyrgyz Radio reported on 6 September. The agreement was signed during
Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's visit to Kyrgyzstan last month. The
deal could generate much-needed cash for the Kyrgyz Energy Holding Company.
Domestic electricity rates within Kyrgyzstan are heavily subsidized, yet
consumers still owe the electricity company 380 million som ($40 million). A
new power line, for which the government is seeking financing, will have to be
built to carry the electricity to Pakistan. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc.
ATMS IN TURKMENISTAN.
Turkmenistan is preparing to introduce electronic
cash cards before the end of the year, according to the Turkmen press as cited
by the BBC. Turkmenistan's Bank for Foreign Economic Activity is said to be
negotiating with an unnamed French company to produce the automatic teller
machine cards. The cards will first be issued in Ashgabat, where there will be
14 machines. The plan will be gradually extended to other regions of the
republic. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 175, 8 September 1995
UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT MAY RETAIN MONOPOLY IN KEY SECTORS.
Leonid Kuchma's chief economic adviser, Anatolii Halchynskyi, told Uryadovyi
Kuryer on 7 September that the Ukrainian leader is ready to issue two
important economic decrees. One decree would allow the government to retain
100% ownership of enterprises deemed strategically important, including those
that manufacture arms and "environmentally hazardous" products, and to maintain
a government monopoly in key economic sectors, such as transportation,
communications, energy, ports, pipelines, postal services, and the
manufacturing of spirits. The second decree would give the state the
controlling package of shares--51% or more--in enterprises transformed into
joint-stock companies but barred from total privatization by the Ukrainian
parliament. The restructuring of all those enterprises is to be completed by
the end of the year. The decrees mark a shift in Kuchma's reform policies. --
Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
UPDATE ON BELARUSIAN POLITICAL CRISIS.
Russian TV on 7 September
reported that the conflict between Belarus's parliament and president
continues. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has ordered government officials not
to have any contact with the old parliament, which began its session on 6
September. He also avowed that he himself would not have anything to do with
the outgoing legislature. Following Lukashenka's instructions, Minister of
Finance Stsyapan Yanchuk refused to give an account of the budget before the
parliament. In turn, the legislature issued a declaration blaming the president
for inflaming the situation. The deputies also lowered the minimum voter
turnout from 50% to 25% in order for parliamentary elections to be valid.
Voters failed to elect enough deputies to form a new parliament in May, and
there are fears that owing to the turnout requirement, no new legislature will
ever be elected. Parliamentary by-elections are scheduled for 29 November. --
Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
BALTIC PRESIDENTS MEET IN TALLINN.
Presidents Lennart Meri (Estonia),
Guntis Ulmanis (Latvia), and Algirdas Brazauskas (Lithuania) on 7 September
discussed economic relations, trade problems, and relations with NATO, the EU,
and Russia, BNS reported. In a joint communique issued after the meeting, they
stressed their states' desire to join NATO as soon as possible. They backed
Poland's proposal to have a summit meeting of EU members and associate members
to discuss concrete questions on the union's expansion. And they also agreed to
facilitate transit through their territories and bolster control over their
eastern borders. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
MEETING OF LATVIAN, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS.
Valdis Birkavs held talks
with Andrei Kozyrev in Moscow on 7 September, BNS reported. The discussions
focused on economic questions, with the two foreign ministers agreeing to
create a joint committee to solve bilateral economic issues. Kozyrev promised
to speed up the departure of Russian officers who should have left Latvia last
year. Birkavs said European security and NATO expansion was barely discussed.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Krylov, who attended the meeting, appeared to
modify his reported assertion that Russia could not accept the Baltic States'
membership in NATO by saying that the question of NATO expansion was an
internal matter of that organization. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
TV TIME SET FOR POLISH ELECTIONS.
The National Election Commission on 7
September announced that each candidate for the presidential elections will
receive two hours on public TV and four hours on public radio free of charge,
Gazeta Wyborcza reported. The sum total of election programming cannot
exceed 16 hours on public TV and 32 hours on public radio, the commission
decided. If more than eight candidates register, programming time will be
shortened. Candidates, rather than public TV and radio, bear exclusive
responsibility for the contents of their programming. The commission statement
said nothing about paid TV election spots, but a member of the National
Broadcasting Council, which supervises Polish broadcasting, told reporters that
paid advertisements will be banned. In related news, the Defense Ministry on 7
September prohibited election campaigning and the collection of supporting
signatures at all military institutions. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.
UPDATE ON SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S SON.
Maj. Jaroslav Simunic, the police
investigator leading the inquiry into the recent kidnapping of President Michal
Kovac's son (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5 and 6 September 1995), received
news in the middle of a press conference on 7 September that he had been taken
off the case, Slovak and international media reported. According to Simunic,
there had been interference in his work and witnesses were being intimidated.
He also said he had delivered letters to Slovak Information Service director
Ivan Lexa, Interior Minister Ludovit Hudek, and parliament chairman Ivan
Gasparovic informing them that SIS agents were possibly connected to the case.
Although the government has denied official involvement in the case, opposition
politicians think otherwise. Lexa is a close ally of Premier Vladimir Meciar,
who has been embroiled in a long-term dispute with the president. Simunic told
Sme on 7 September that he already had a list of four suspects, the
names of whom made him "feel a certain unease." -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI,
SLOVAK ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTS.
The Slovak parliament on 7 September
reapproved laws on investment funds and state control over "strategic"
industries that had been vetoed by President Michal Kovac, Narodna obroda
reported. Kovac objected to the law on investment funds because it prevents
them from serving on the board of firms in which they have shares. The
opposition has said it will take the two laws, along with one on bond
privatization reapproved the previous day, to the Constitutional Court. In
other news, Premier Vladimir Meciar announced at a party gathering on 7
September that the Slovak koruna will be fully convertible from 1 October. He
also promised that the cabinet will neither raise energy prices in 1995 nor
increase apartment rents until 1997, TASR reported. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI,
JOINT MILITARY EXERCISE BEGINS IN SLOVAKIA.
A joint military exercise on
7 September began in the central Slovak military training area at Lest, TASR
reported. Some 1,000 soldiers from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland,
Ukraine, Romania, and Slovakia are participating, while Austria is attending as
an observer. This is the first international military exercise to be held in
Slovakia. The Hungarian contingent the previous day was detained for three
hours at the Slovak border as customs officials were reluctant to let the
soldiers cross the border with weapons in hand. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
IMF TO DISCUSS STAND-BY DEAL WITH HUNGARY.
An IMF delegation has begun
talks in Budapest on a stand-by agreement with Hungary, international media
reported on 6 September. The agreement would involve two separate loans
totaling $800 million, which Hungary plans to spend on budget reform and
structural changes. The delegation is to review Hungary's economic
stabilization program, a three-year economic strategy plan, and next year's
budget. Preliminary reports say that the IMF is satisfied with Hungary's
stabilization plan and its proposed budget deficit for 1996 of 258 billion
forints ($1.9 billion), which would represent 3.9% of GDP. One of the
preconditions for a stand-by loan was setting the deficit at a maximum of 3% of
GDP. The IMF also wants monetary and wage reform as well as further austerity
measures in addition to those adopted by the government in March 1995. --
Zsofia Szilagyi, OMRI, Inc.
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 175, 8 September 1995
CONTACT GROUP PREPARES PEACE PLAN . . .
The international Contact Group
has finalized outline proposals for a Bosnian peace settlement, which are to be
presented at the first meeting of the foreign ministers of Bosnia, rump
Yugoslavia, and Croatia in more than 18 months, international agencies reported
on 8 September. The preparatory meeting was attended by EU mediator Carl Bildt
and his UN counterpart, Thorvald Stoltenberg. U.S. special envoy Richard
Holbrooke said the foreign ministers' talks on 8 September will include
constitutional arrangements but no territorial issues. He refused to predict
the outcome of the negotiations, saying that failure of the talks would be "an
absolute disaster." Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher
played down differences with Russia over recent NATO air strikes. He said
Russia supported the Holbrooke peace initiative and added he believed that
"we'll be able to work and stay together with the Russians." -- Fabian Schmidt,
. . . BUT PEACE MAY BE HARD TO ACHIEVE.
Holbrooke, after meeting with
rump Yugoslav Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic late on 7 September, said "we
had some problems" but gave no details, international media reported. The
meeting was requested by the Yugoslav delegation. Other delegates also agreed
that peace will be hard to achieve. Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic is
quoted as saying that he would be satisfied if "only one piece of paper
concerning some basic element about constitutional arrangements" were produced.
Negotiations between Granic, Milutinovic, and their Bosnian counterpart,
Muhamed Sacirbey, began at the U.S. mission in Geneva on 8 September under
Holbrooke's chairmanship. The new proposal has not yet been published but is
reported to be based on a 51%--49% division of Bosnia between the Muslim-Croat
federation and the Serbs. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
NATO AIR RAIDS CONTINUE.
NATO warplanes using night vision gear continue
to bomb Bosnian Serb positions around the clock, Reuters reported on 8
September. NATO said night attacks on military barracks and ammunition dumps
near Sarajevo and other strategic targets, including bridges and radar posts in
Foca and west Bosnia, were a "success." NATO pilots have so far flown about
2,000 sorties. The Serbs said civilian targets were also being hit. U.S.
Secretary of State Christopher said the strikes will not cease, adding that
"this campaign can continue for some time." Another U.S. official is quoted as
saying "we've advised the Bosnian government to be restrained militarily . . .
[and] not to initiate their own military operations under cover of the NATO-UN
operations." Elsewhere, a Yugoslav government statement called on the UN
Security Council to rein in NATO, saying "unacceptable and unreasonable" air
strikes put the peace process in jeopardy, international agencies reported. --
Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
SERBS REFUSE TO WITHDRAW.
Bosnian Serbs on 7 September insisted that
more NATO air strikes will not make them pull back their big guns from the 20
km exclusion zone around Sarajevo, international agencies reported the next
day. UN spokesman Alexander Ivanko said there was no evidence the Serbs were
about to comply with the UN demand that big guns be pulled back. "We have
checked and no heavy weapons have moved out of the exclusion zone." Ivanko
said. He added that "the Bosnian Serbs continue to defy the will of the
international community." -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMNS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS.
The UN Security
Council issued two separate statements rapping Croatia for the mass exodus of
150,000 Serbs and condemning the lack of Bosnian Serb cooperation in allowing
access to Muslim prisoners, Reuters reported on 7 September. It demanded that
access be provided to sites deemed important by the International War Crimes
Tribunal for its investigations. The U.S. has produced evidence that between
2,000 and 2,700 Bosnian civilians were machine-gunned to death soon after
Srebrenica fell in July. UN investigators have not been allowed to visit those
sites. About 10,000 civilians from Srebrenica and 3,000 from Zepa are
unaccounted for. The second statement on Croatia expressed "deep concern" at
the mass exodus of local Serbs. The council demands that Croatia "immediately
investigate . . . report [on the burning of houses, looting of Serbian
property, and killings], and take appropriate measure to put an end to such
acts." The council also demanded respect for the rights of local Serbs,
including their return in safety. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
MACEDONIA TO RECEIVE $200 MILLION IN FOREIGN AID.
Donor countries and
international organizations belonging to a consultative group chaired by the
World Bank have agreed on new aid for Macedonia worth $200 million, Reuters
reported on 7 September. Together with some $400 million saved through a debt
rescheduling accord reached with the Paris Club in July 1995, the new credit
will cover Macedonia's 1995 external financing gap of about $600 million. World
Bank Director Rachel Lomax said financial support for Macedonia in 1996 looked
strong, since the country has made great progress in economic reforms since
1994, despite "adverse external circumstances." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI,
ROMANIA'S AUDIO-VISUAL COUNCIL BANS BBC NEWS ON STATE TV.
Audio-Visual Council, in a communique broadcast by Romanian TV on 6 September,
demanded that Romanian TV stop broadcasting a special BBC Romanian-language
newscast, claiming that the broadcast breaches public television rules.
According to its statutes, the council is not empowered to influence the
contents of newscasts by public and private broadcasters. Reuters on 7
September reported that the demand amounts to banning the program, launched
last week and sent by satellite to Romanian TV and several private television
companies. The council said that "international rules that hold in both Britain
and Romania" prohibit public stations from "airing news programs made by
foreign public stations in the language of the recipient." The ban was echoed
in an editorial in the government daily Vocea Romaniei accusing the BBC
of disseminating news that is "openly hostile to the Romanian government." --
Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
ILIESCU ON ANTI-SEMITISM, MARSHAL ANTONESCU.
Romanian President Ion
Iliescu pledged in a letter to members of the U.S. Congress, published in the
daily Adevarul on 8 September, that he would be "the first" to oppose
anti-Semitism "if there were any real threat" of its resurgence in Romania.
U.S. politicians had expressed concern about attempts to rehabilitate war-time
leader Marshal Ion Antonescu and the government's failure to react to the
desecration of a Jewish cemetery in Bucharest. Iliescu said the rehabilitation
demands "have no anti-Semitic connotation," since they are "disparate attempts"
by war veterans who fought under Antonescu's command. He claimed nobody denied
the "negative role" played by Antonescu in pitting Romania against the Allies
during World War II and his "responsibility for the crimes committed against
Jews." Meanwhile, Radio Bucharest on 7 September reported that Senate Chairman
Oliviu Gherman told a visiting Israeli delegation that compensation for the
property confiscated from the Jews by the fascist and communist governments was
not "a matter that can be settled from one day to the next or in a year or
two." Chamber of Deputies chairman Adrian Nastase told the delegation that the
restitution of property owned by the Jewish community must be dealt with in a
law on restitution of property to other national communities as well in order
to avoid "discrimination." -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON RESOLUTION OF TRANSDNIESTRIAN CONFLICT.
Snegur told Hungary's Duna TV that he is confident the Transdniestrian conflict
will "sooner or later" be solved by political means. He said the Moldovan side
will display "as much patience and persistence" as is needed in order for
Tiraspol to understand that "their intentions to set up a confederation do not
have a chance." Snegur said granting Gagauz-type autonomy status to the
Transdniestrian region would be "a fair solution," Infotag reported on 7
September. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN SOFIA.
Andrei Kozyrev arrived in Sofia on 7
September for his first official visit to Bulgaria, AFP reported the same day.
He met with his Bulgarian counterpart, Georgi Pirinski, and President Zhelyu
Zhelev. Talks focused on the situation in the former Yugoslavia and a possible
eastward expansion of NATO. Kozyrev said the Yugoslav conflict has to be solved
by the warring sides, rather than outside forces. He also repeated Russia's
position against a NATO expansion, while Zhelev said the decision to apply for
membership was Bulgaria's sovereign choice and was not directed against Russia.
The two sides also signed a new consular treaty. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
BULGARIAN PRESIDENT, PREMIER ON EUROPEAN INTEGRATION.
Zhelyu Zhelev and
Zhan Videnov on 7 September addressed the National Assembly to mark the
creation of a Bulgarian-EU parliamentary committee, Bulgarian newspapers
reported the following day. Both stressed the importance of closer ties with
the EU. Zhelev said Bulgaria will be able to present its request for EU
membership within months. He called integration into European structures the
best guarantee "for [Bulgaria's] democratic and stable development." Videnov
said his government is preparing a strategy for beginning negotiations on full
EU membership, which he described as Bulgaria's main foreign policy priority.
-- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
AFP on 8 September reported that the foreign
ministers of Greece and Macedonia, Karolos Papoulias and Stevo Crvenkovski,
will meet in New York on 12 or 13 September to sign an agreement between their
two countries. The Greek Foreign Ministry said the accord "should enable mutual
recognition." Tanjug, citing Macedonian press reports, reported that Greece and
Macedonia will sign a seven-year friendship treaty, drafted by the U.S., the
EU, and the UN, that will require Macedonia to change its flag and clarify
certain articles of its constitution. Greece, for its part, will lift the
embargo on Macedonia and stop blocking Macedonia's admission to certain
international bodies. Only the name issue will remain frozen for the time
being. Reuters on 7 September cited Macedonian Finance Minister Jane Miljovski
as saying that a name change was not realistic and that the dispute over it had
not been rational from the start. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Susan Caskie and Jan Cleave