OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 188, 27 September 1995
RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT DEBATES ECONOMIC POLICY TOWARDS CIS.
emerged at a government meeting called to discuss President Boris Yeltsin's 14
September decree on the need for closer economic ties with the CIS,
Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on 26 September. Some ministers argued in
favor of extending credits to CIS firms to enable them to buy Russian
machinery. First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais objected, arguing that
this would undermine Russian budgetary stability, but he was overruled by Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. The head of the State Committee for Metallurgy,
Serafim Afonin, revealed that Russian had threatened to cut off electricity
supplies to Kazakhstan if it went ahead with a deal to lease chromium deposits
to a Japanese mining company. -- Peter Rutland, OMRI, Inc.
WOMEN OF RUSSIA PUSH FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
The Women of Russia bloc set its main legislative goal for 1996 as
amending the constitution to give the Duma the power to name and remove
ministers. Duma faction leader Yekaterina Lakhova said the purpose of the
amendment is to "free Russia of ministers like [Defense Minister] Pavel
Grachev," ITAR-TASS reported. The movement's list includes approximately 100
names for the 225 spots to be determined by party list and 50 candidates
running in single-member districts. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
YAKOVLEV TO FIGHT FOR SOLZHENITSYN'S TV SHOW.
chairman of the Russian Public TV (ORT) board of directors, said he will fight
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's talk show on Channel 1, Russian and
Western agencies reported on 26 September. The show was dropped in a
controversial reshuffling of ORT programming, to take effect on 1 October (see
OMRI Daily Digest, 25 September 1995). Sergei Blagovolin, the ORT
director general, has reportedly invited Solzhenitsyn to appear on different
Channel 1 programs or host his own less frequent show, according to Reuters. --
Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
NIZHNII NOVGOROD TO ELECT GOVERNOR, MAYOR IN DECEMBER.
Novgorod Oblast Legislative Assembly decided on 26 September that the oblast
will elect its governor and Nizhnii Novgorod will elect its mayor on 17
December, the same day as the Duma elections, ITAR-TASS reported. President
Boris Yeltsin authorized the elections as an exception to his decree that
ordered all local elections to be held after the presidential elections in June
1996. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
COMMUNICATIONS WORKERS THREATEN TO DISRUPT ELECTIONS.
stations in some parts of Russia are threatening to stop broadcasting
television programs on 1 October and even to disrupt technical services during
the December elections, if wage arrears to communications workers are not paid.
According to Russian media reports on 26 September, communication workers are
owed 70 billion rubles ($15.6 million) in back pay. Communications enterprises
are owed about 700 billion rubles by Russian TV and Russian Public TV (ORT),
and transmitter stations have already stopped broadcasting some programs in the
Far East and parts of Tver Oblast. The communications enterprises, in turn, owe
power stations about 130 billion rubles ($28.9 million). ITAR-TASS on 27
September said total debts to the energy industry exceed 25 trillion rubles
($5.5 billion). -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIA ASKS BELGIUM TO LET IN ZHIRINOVSKY.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman
said Russian authorities are taking "all possible steps" to convince Brussels
to reverse its decision to deny an entry visa to Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader
of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), ITAR-TASS reported on 26
September. Belgium cited a possible "threat to public order" in denying
Zhirinovsky permission to enter the country. While recognizing Belgium's right
to refuse entry to private citizens, the ministry argues that the LDPR leader
was requesting a visa as a member of an official State Duma delegation to the
European Parliament. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
KOZYREV ADDRESSES UNITED NATIONS.
Speaking at the UN on 26 September,
Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, in a clear reference to the U.S. and
NATO, accused "one state or a group of states" of unilaterally dividing the
world into "friends and foes." Kozyrev lashed out at an August agreement
between the UN Secretariat and NATO on the use of force in Bosnia, which was
not explicitly cleared by the Security Council.
In a speech to the 50th
UN General Assembly, Kozyrev called upon the UN to "radically change its
attitude" by offering more support for Russian peacekeeping operations in the
-- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.
COUNCIL OF EUROPE REACTIVATES RUSSIAN APPLICATION.
assembly of the Council of Europe voted on 26 September to reactivate Russia's
application for membership in the 36-member body, which had been suspended in
January because of Chechnya, Russian and Western agencies reported. Council
officials said Russia could become a full member by next January. Russian
commentators, including Vladimir Lukin, chairman of the Duma International
Affairs Committee, have complained that Russia has been held to different
standards than other former Soviet republics, and even suggested that Russia
should forego membership in a body that treats it unfairly. -- Scott Parrish,
SOUTH KOREA TO GET RUSSIAN TANKS THIS YEAR.
Russia will deliver T-80U
tanks, BMP-3 armored fighting vehicles, and "Igla" anti-tank missiles to South
Korea this year, the head of the state-owned Rosvooruzhenie arms export company
told ITAR-TASS on 26 September. The deliveries, which will run for three years,
are part of a deal signed earlier this year in which South Korea agreed to
accept weapons in partial payment for Russia's debt to that country. -- Doug
Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
SIX ARRESTED IN CITIBANK COMPUTER THEFT.
Police in St. Petersburg have
made six more arrests in connection with the theft by computer of $10 million
from Citibank, ITAR-TASS reported. Bank and law enforcement officials say a
gang based in St. Petersburg broke into the bank's computerized cash-management
system on numerous occasions and transferred money into their own accounts.
Several people have already been arrested outside Russia and are facing charges
in the U.S. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
SWEDISH POLICE OFFICER SUSPECTED OF GIVING RUSSIA SECRET INFORMATION.
Swedish police officer has been accused of giving out secret information on
Russians seeking political asylum in Sweden, Western agencies reported on 26
September. The man is suspected of accepting bribes to pass information on
asylum-seekers' passports to Russian security officers.
A Swedish state
prosecutor said the officer has been accused of misconduct and breaking police
regulations but no formal charges have yet been filed. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI,
REBURIAL OF THE IMPERIAL FAMILY.
The remains of Russia's last Tsar,
Nicholas II, and his family will be reburied in the imperial family vault of
the St. Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg on 25 February 1996, the
Orthodox feast of Absolution, Reuters reported on 26 September, quoting Mayor
Anatolii Sobchak. The bones of the tsar, his wife, and three of their five
children who were killed by Bolsheviks in 1918 near Yekaterinburg, were
recently identified by DNA tests; the remains of the other two children have
not been found. -- Anna Paretskaya, OMRI, Inc.
DUMA BLASTS PRIVATIZATION PROGRAM.
Russia's State Duma denounced the
government's program to sell state-owned shares in major companies, calling it
"illegal," Russian agencies reported on 26 September. The Duma earlier refused
to endorse the program, which is now being implemented by presidential decree.
Deputy Speaker Gennadii Seleznev warned investors that their purchases could be
revoked by the Duma in the future, Interfax reported. The scheme, initiated by
First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais, aims to sell banks the right to
run major state companies in exchange for loans to cover the budget deficit,
which reached 73 trillion rubles ($16 billion) this year. The government hopes
to generate 9 trillion rubles in loans by the end of the year. -- Thomas Sigel,
GOVERNMENT BEGINS ISSUANCE OF SAVINGS BONDS.
In an effort to tap public
savings to help close the budget deficit, the Russian government will begin
issuing savings bonds worth 964 billion rubles ($215 million) on 27 September,
Russian and Western agencies reported. The three-month bonds will carry an
annual return of 103%, which is twice that offered by Sberbank, the national
savings bank, and 15% more than the rates of commercial banks, Moskovskii
komsomolets reported on 26 September. Russians who entrusted their savings
to financial institutions have seen them eroded by high inflation, low interest
payments and the collapse of risky investment funds. They now hold an estimated
$20 billion savings in cash, primarily dollar bills. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI,
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 188, 27 September 1995
RUSSIA NOT READY TO LIFT CUSTOMS CONTROL ON KAZAKHSTANI BORDER.
is not yet ready to lift customs control on its border with Kazakhstan, a
high-ranking officer of the Russian State Customs Committee told Interfax on 26
September. Kazakhstan unilaterally decided to close its customs offices on the
border. The official said Kazakhstan is not yet ready to harmonize its system
of regulating foreign economic relations with that of Russia and Belarus, which
is the major condition for effectiveness in the customs union formed by the
three countries in January 1995. Also, the closure of Russian customs offices
on the 7,000 km. Russia-Kazakhstan border would mean "an open road for drugs
from Central Asian republics, with which Kazakhstan has transparent borders,"
and an inflow of Chinese goods that are already abundant on the Russian market.
-- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc.
CASPIAN STATES MEET IN ALMATY WITHOUT RUSSIA.
The second meeting of
foreign ministry from four of the five Caspian states--Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan,
Turkmenistan, and Iran--opened in Almaty on 26 September, Interfax reported the
same day. Kazakhstani Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Gizzatov lamented
Russia's conspicuous absence "for unforeseen reasons." Russia and Iran prefer
to define the Caspian Sea as a lake with resources that should be shared
equally by coastal states; while Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan argue
it is a sea that should be carved into sectors. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc.
KYRGYZ LOWER HOUSE APPROVES PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.
The Kyrgyz People's
Assembly on 26 September voted 63-2 in favor of holding the presidential
election on 24 December of this year, RFE/RL reported. The legislative assembly
approved the election on 21 September. The constitutionality of this move is
unclear, however. The constitution sets the president's term at five years, and
President Askar Akaev was elected in October 1990 by the communist-era Supreme
Soviet and then again following independence in October 1991. The announcement
followed the defeat of a proposed referendum to extend Akaev's term until 2001.
-- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.
TAJIKISTAN'S NEW ECONOMIC REFORM PROGRAM.
Tajikistan plans a radical
privatization program in order to revive its war-ravaged economy, according to
a BBC report, citing a 19 August article in Tajikistan's Narodnaya
gazeta. Privatization will begin in the areas of agriculture and services,
later moving on to large industry. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.
RIVAL TAJIK UNITS REACH COMPROMISE.
A Tajik government commission in the
Kurgan-Tyube area has met with representatives of the 1st and 11th brigades and
concluded an agreement on 25 September for the two sides to withdraw their
heavy guns from the district center, according to ITAR-TASS. However, the
commander of the 1st brigade, Makhmud Khudoyberdyev, refused to hand over
weapons captured from the 11th during the fighting. The BBC reports that the
death toll from the week's fighting has risen to 350, with 500 wounded,
according to the BBC. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIAN ROLE IN CENTRAL ASIA QUESTIONED.
Anvar Rashidov, program anchor
for the state-run Uzbek TV, sharply criticized Russia's trade and fiscal
policies toward the Central Asian states, Interfax reported on 26 September. He
said that the introduction of such measures as a currency corridor will only
weaken Russia's ability to maintain its economic presence in the region. Those
measures, coupled with an increased role for outside trading partners, will
probably result in Russia being cut out of the region's strategic materials and
cotton markets. -- Roger Kangas, OMRI, Inc.
KAZAKHSTAN, RUSSIA EXCHANGE BAIKONUR LEASING DOCUMENTS.
Foreign Minister Kasymzhomart Tokayev and Vyacheslav Dolgov, the Russian
ambassador to Kazakhstan, exchanged ratification papers on the lease of
Baikonur cosmodrome in Almaty on 25 September, ITAR-TASS reported. The lease
agreement, signed in December 1994, was ratified by the Kazakhstan in April
1995 and by Russia in May 1995. Under the treaty, Russia will rent Baikonur for
20 years at $115 million annually. The treaty will be followed by 20
supplementary agreements, including one on the joint administration of the
adjacent town of Leninsk which will be largely financed by Russia (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 12 September 1995). -- Vyacheslav Kozlov, OMRI, Inc.
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 188, 27 September 1995
UKRAINE MAKES PROGRESS TOWARD COUNCIL OF EUROPE MEMBERSHIP.
26 September moved one step closer to entry into the Council of Europe after
the body's parliamentary assembly voted unanimously to approve its membership
application, RFE/RL and Reuters reported the same day. Final approval is
expected to be given on 19 October. Ukraine formally applied for membership in
July 1992, but its entry was delayed because it did not meet many of the
council's conditions for membership. But since then, legal experts advising the
council have said that Ukraine has made "spectacular progress" in political
reform and that it now complies with the organization's principles on democracy
and human rights. Ukraine is obliged to ratify a series of international
conventions within one year, including the European Convention on Human Rights
and a convention on protection of minorities. It must also abolish the death
penalty within three years and introduce an immediate moratorium on executions.
-- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
UKRAINE TO MAKE FURTHER CUTS IN ARMED FORCES.
Ukraine intends to
establish a 350,000-strong military, Interfax reported on 25 September. This
goal was said to be in the government's plan of action submitted recently to
the parliament. The report said that at present, there are slightly more than
400,000 personnel in the armed forces. The government document was also said to
call for giving priority to servicemen's "social well-being" and for urgent
measures to provide more housing and higher salaries. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI,
RUSSIA HANDS OVER PALDISKI BASE TO ESTONIA.
Russian Rear Admiral
Aleksandr Olkhovikov on 26 September signed a document officially handing over
the former Soviet submarine base at Paldiski to Estonia, BNS reported. The
Russian military officially left Estonia on 31 August 1994, but the 208
personnel who remained at Paldiski to dismantle the base's two nuclear reactors
are to leave the country by 30 September. Estonian President Lennart Meri said
the signing of the document marked the real end of Soviet occupation and that
he hoped Paldiski would become a normal Estonian port. -- Saulius Girnius,
POPULAR SUPPORT FOR LITHUANIAN POLITICIANS, PARTIES.
A poll of 1,014
residents taken on 12-19 September by the Lithuanian-British company Baltic
Surveys showed a sharp decrease in the popularity of Adolfas Slezevicius, BNS
reported on 26 September. The share of respondents viewing him favorably has
declined by 10 percentage points since August, to 14%. Center Union Chairman
Romualdas Ozolas, who has accused the premier of corruption, is currently the
most popular political figure, having increased his favorable rating by seven
points to 51%. The Homeland Union was the most popular party, overtaking both
the Christian Democratic and Democratic Labor Parties. -- Saulius Girnius,
LITHUANIAN PREMIER IN PHILIPPINES.
Adolfas Slezevicius, after meeting
with high-ranking officials in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and China, arrived in
Manila on 24 September for an official visit, Western agencies reported the
next day. He discussed political, economic, and cultural cooperation with
President Fidel Ramos. Officials from the two countries signed a treaty
granting each other most-favored-nation trade status and a science and
technology agreement calling for joint research and the exchange of students.
Slezevicius on 26 September visited the former U.S. military base at Subic Bay,
saying its conversion to a free economic zone could be a model for turning
former Soviet military bases in Lithuania into special economic zones. --
Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT IN POLAND.
Jacques Santer met with Polish
President Lech Walesa and Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy on 26 September, Polish
and international media reported. He also held talks with Cardinal Jozef Glemp,
the Polish primate. Santer said that European integration has a spiritual
character and that entering the EU does not mean relinquishing national
identity. Oleksy said that Santers confirmed all past declarations that the EU
will eventually admit Poland as a member. Leaders of those countries with EU
associate agreements, including Poland, will be invited to the EU December
summit meeting in Madrid. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc.
POLISH PRESIDENT, PREMIER ON PENSIONS.
President Lech Walesa on 26
September said it is highly unlikely that he will sign the bill on pensions,
which foresees only one increase in pensions next year that is 2.5% above the
inflation level. Polish Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy asked Walesa not to veto
the bill, since this may increase the 1996 budget deficit by another 5 billion
zloty ($2.1 billion). According to Oleksy, the bill is misunderstood and is
being used to spread misinformation during the presidential election campaign,
Polish dailies reported on 27 September. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz, OMRI, Inc.
POLISH GOVERNMENT APRROVES INCREASE IN MILITARY EXPENDITURES.
government has approved a 3% increase in military expenditures. Oleksy noted
that "conditions in the army are very unsatisfactory from the point of view of
the standards that would be obligatory for Poland if it were to join NATO." The
premier also announced a five-year plan for the modernization of the army,
Polish dailies reported on 27 September. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz, OMRI, Inc.
CZECH PARLIAMENT PASSES HARD CURRENCY LAW.
The Czech parliament on 26
September passed a hard currency law that will make the Czech koruna fully
convertible, Czech and international media reported. Under the law, limits on
the amounts of Czech koruny individuals can exchange for other currencies will
be abolished. Czechs will also be allowed to directly invest abroad and will no
longer be obliged to offer their hard currency to Czech banks. Both Czech
citizens and companies will be allowed to buy real estate abroad without
limitations. The law also liberalizes the system under which foreign banks can
lend to Czech companies. The International Monetary Fund is expected to soon
confirm the full convertibility of the koruna with a statement that the Czech
Republic has fullfilled the conditions of full convertibility, while Western
banks are expected to gradually start accepting Czech koruny in exchange for
other hard currencies. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVAK SECRET SERVICE ACCUSES POLICE OF PRESSURING ITS AGENTS.
Information Service (SIS) director Ivan Lexa on 26 September sent a letter to
Attorney-General Michal Valo accusing police investigating the kidnapping of
President Michal Kovac's son of "using criminal methods" in their
investigation, Slovenska Republika reported. Lexa argued that Bratislava
police have used "psychological pressure" against SIS agents and revealed state
secrets by publicizing names of two SIS employees suspected of involvement in
the kidnapping. He demanded that the Bratislava police department be taken off
the case. Lexa has also filed charges against Jaroslav Simunic, the police
investigator originally assigned to the case, who was removed after revealing
possible SIS involvement. Lexa is a close ally of Prime Minister Vladimir
Meciar, who has been involved in a long-running dispute with President Kovac.
Also on 26 September, police released a suspect in the case at the request of
the regional prosecutor for Bratislava. Police investigator Peter Vacok has
asked Lexa to reveal whether the man is an SIS employee. -- Sharon Fisher,
SLOVAK POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS.
The Slovak Constitutional Court on 26
September rejected a proposal by 30 opposition deputies that the
constitutionality of a law on the organization of ministries and other central
organs of the state administration be examined. According to Constitutional
Court Chairman Milan Cic, "the law is in harmony with the constitution because
it is not in conflict with it." Meanwhile, Sme reported on 27 September
that 47 opposition deputies have asked the court to review the amendment to the
large-scale privatization law passed on 6 September, which cancels coupon
privatization. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 188, 27 September 1995
BOSNIAN POLITICAL AGREEMENT REACHED . . .
The foreign ministers of
Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and rump Yugoslavia approved a plan in New York on
26 September to provide a postwar constitutional framework for Bosnia. The
republic will have free and democratic elections under OSCE supervision 30 days
after monitors in major towns confirm that freedom of movement, speech, and the
media have been restored, as well as basic human rights and the right of the
refugees to return home or receive compensation for their property. Voting will
take place in both the Croat-Muslim federation and the Bosnian Serb republic,
Hina reported. A parliament, presidency, and Constitutional Court will be set
up, with two-thirds of the legislature and presidency elected from the
federation and the remaining third from among the Serbs. -- Patrick Moore,
. . . BUT PROBLEMS GALORE REMAIN.
The agreement leaves open a host of
questions, including the composition of the government and the control of
foreign policy, defense, and the police. It also sounds very similar to the
arrangement that was in place when the Serbs launched the war in 1992 and that
was a recipe for gridlock. The question of territorial divisions remains
unsolved, and the Bosnian government has been charged by some of its own
citizens with having agreed to partition the country with war criminals. It is
also unclear who will represent the 150,000 or so "forgotten Serbs," who refuse
to recognize Radovan Karadzic's authority and remain loyal to a multiethnic
Bosnia. U.S. President Bill Clinton nonetheless said "we are making progress
and we are determined to succeed," the International Herald Tribune
reported on 27 September. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
GENERAL MLADIC REAPPEARS.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on
27 September said that Croatian and Bosnian Serb forces exchanged artillery
fire across the border region between Slavonski Brod and Novska. The
International Herald Tribune and Nasa Borba reported that the
Bosnian Serb commander, General Ratko Mladic, resurfaced at a press conference
in Banja Luka after having been out of public view for some time. He said that
he feels "better than most people my age" and endorsed solving "disputed
questions by diplomatic means." But he warned that "if war continues, even
greater suffering will be produced, not only in this area but wider as well."
The indicted war criminal also blasted an "armed media and diplomatic war going
on against the Serb people, the purpose of which is to demonize and deprive
them of their legitimate rights." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
TUDJMAN INSISTS ON REFUGEE REPATRIATION.
Croatian President Franjo
Tudjman has announced that Croatia will continue repatriating refugees on
territories recaptured from Bosnian Serbs during the recent Croatian-Bosnian
government offensive in western Bosnia, despite UN warnings not to do so,
Reuters reported on 25 September. Under Tudjman's plan, out of a total of
200,000 Bosnian Croat and Muslim refugees in Croatia, 100,000 will be returned
to "liberated" areas of Bosnia. Croatian officials claim that the Bosnian
government has agreed to this decision, but Bosnian Minister for Refugees
Muhamed Ceric told the Onasa news agency that his government was not consulted
on the issue. UNHCR officials in Zagreb say that if refugees are repatriated
close to the current front lines, their safety cannot be guaranteed. -- Daria
Sito Sucic, OMRI, Inc.
BOSNIAN PREMIER ON NEED FOR BETTER RELATIONS BETWEEN MUSLIMS AND CROATS.
Haris Silajdzic has stressed the importance of improving relations between
Bosnia's Muslims and Croats to facilitate the distribution of territories taken
by the allies. He said that differences are being overcome through dialogue,
Nasa Borba reported on 25 September. International media say the
relationship between the allies is tense due to the lack of agreement over who
will control which territories. Meanwhile, Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic
has written a letter to Tudjman protesting that the Bosnian Muslim minority in
Croatia--which was the second largest national minority there after the Serbs,
according to the 1991 census--does not have guaranteed representatives in the
parliament, unlike some other minority groups. -- Daria Sito Sucic, OMRI,
SLOVENIAN PREMIER ON EUROPEAN UNION ISSUES.
Slovenian Prime Minister
Janez Drnovsek, in an interview with Vienna's Der Standard on 23-24
September, reaffirmed Slovenia's commitment to joining and backing the EU,
observing that membership is a priority for Slovenia. But he added that "we are
trying to broaden our trade relations with other groups of countries." He also
discussed Italian-Slovenian bilateral ties, suggesting that what appear to be
Rome's efforts to impede, if not altogether block, Slovenian moves to join the
EU may be placing renewed strain on relations that have seemed to be improving
since early 1995. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
ROMANIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH CLINTON.
Ion Iliescu met with U.S.
President Bill Clinton in the White House on 26 September, international
agencies reported. They discussed, among other things, bilateral economic
relations, the granting of permanent most-favored-nation status to Romania, and
the prospects for its admission to NATO. Iliescu said after the talks that
Clinton praised Romania's economic reforms so far, its democratization process,
and its initiative for a "historic reconciliation" with Hungary. But a senior
U.S. official was quoted by Reuters as saying that while the White House's
attitude on MFN was "positive," the granting of permanent status was still
conditional on continued progress on several issues, including fair treatment
of the country's Hungarian minority. Defense Secretary William Perry stressed
after meeting with Iliescu that one of the five conditions for the former
communist countries' admission to NATO was the settlement of conflicts with
neighbors. -- Michael Shafir and Matyas Szabo, OMRI, Inc.
ROMANIA LAYS DOWN CONDITIONS FOR RUSSIA'S ADMISSION TO COUNCIL OF EUROPE.
The Romanian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of
Europe has laid down three conditions for Russia's admission to the council,
Radio Bucharest reported on 25 September. It said that Russia should return
Romanian state treasures that Russia failed to return after WW I; the former
14th army contingents should be withdrawn from Moldova; and the European
Parliament should declare the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact of 1939 "null and void."
That agreement led to the annexation of large chunks of Romanian territories
that are now part of Ukraine and the Moldovan Republic. -- Michael Shafir,
ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT TO AMEND PROPERTY RESTITUTION LAW.
The Chamber of
Deputies on 26 September voted to accept a Constitutional Court ruling that two
articles of the property restitution law passed by the parliament earlier this
year violate the country's basic law. Radio Bucharest reported that the Liberal
Party `93 and the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania did not vote in
protest at what they called the Constitutional Court's muted criticism of the
law. The court ruled that the article limiting restitution to Romanian citizens
resident in the country restricted the freedom of movement. It also objected to
an article that made no distinction between property legally or illegally
confiscated. In the case of the latter, the property would have to be returned
to the owner after the parliament reformulated the law. While the legislation
now extends the right of compensation to all Romanian citizens, regardless of
where they reside, it limits restitution to one apartment and provides only
minimal compensation for other confiscated property. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI,
MOLDOVA PROTESTS RUSSIAN-BACKED ARRESTS IN TIRASPOL.
delegation to the Joint Control Commission for Transdniestrian Conflict
Settlement protested on 26 September that Lt.-Gen. Valerii Yevnevich, commander
of the Russian forces, had supported the arrest of two Moldovan policemen,
Infotag reported the same day. The delegation termed the arrest an "undisguised
provocation by the Tiraspol secret services" aimed at "undermining the
negotiation process and destabilizing the situation in the region." Yevnevich
declared that the two were arrested "as Transdniestrian citizens for crimes
committed while serving in the region's militia." The Moldovan delegation
responded that the statement indicated the Russian commander's support for the
"illegal, groundless and provocative action." -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
AMMUNITION DESTRUCTION TO RESUME IN MOLDOVA.
The Russian Group of Forces
in Moldova (formerly the 14th army) will resume destroying obsolete ammunition
next week, Lt.-Gen. Valerii Yevnevich told ITAR-TASS on 26 September. The
destruction was suspended on 17 August after local authorities complained about
the danger the operation posed to the local environment. Yevnevich indicated
that money was now the local authorities' most pressing concern and said if the
situation continued to develop along these lines "the only thing left for me to
do will be to send a bill to the local authorities for the blasting
operations." He indicated that 5,600 pre-WWII mines and shells have been
destroyed and that another 4,000 await destruction. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI,
GERMANY SAYS BULGARIAN NUCLEAR REACTOR MUST NOT REOPEN.
Environment Minister Angela Merkel on 26 September urged Bulgaria not to put
back into service Unit 1 of the Kozloduy nuclear reactor, Reuters reported the
same day. Merkel said everything must be done "to prevent this reactor starting
up without sufficient safety precautions." Unit 1 was shut down in February for
refueling, repairs, and inspections; it is scheduled to be brought back on line
in the next few weeks. Bulgaria so far has rejected pleas to close down any of
the four units at Kozloduy because the reactor provides around 40% of
Bulgaria's electricity. Merkel said that "Bulgaria's energy worries ahead of
the forthcoming winter are understandable but safety must have priority." --
Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave