OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No.194, 5 October 1995
TRANSCAUCASIA & CENTRAL ASIA
SOUTH OSSETIAN PRIME MINISTER ESCAPES BOMB ATTACK.
The prime minister of
the self-proclaimed Republic of South Ossetia, Vladislav Gabaraev, and his
family escaped uninjured when an explosive device severely damaged their home
in Tskhinvali during the evening of 4 October, Interfax reported. Local police
suspect that former South Ossetian officials involved in the misappropriation
of humanitarian aid to the breakaway region were responsible. -- Liz Fuller
SHIFTING SANDS ENCOURAGES IPC TO LEAVE TURKMENISTAN.
Petroleum Corporation (IPC) of Canada has withdrawn from the LARMAG-Chelekan
joint venture, thereby ending its involvement in Turkmenistan, AFP reported on
3 October. In compensation for its shareholdings, accrued interest, and costs,
IPC received $13.2 million from two key participants in the venture, LARMAG
Energy NV and LARMAG Energy Assets Ltd. In mid-September, IPC requested
repayment from LARMAG because the Turkmen government refused to approve the
assignment of an interest in the joint venture; IPC also claimed the government
refused to renew the joint venture's license to export oil and was seeking to
renegotiate the financial terms of the joint venture. -- Lowell Bezanis
KAZAKHSTAN DEFENDS NUCLEAR ARMS CONTROL RECORD.
Minister Kassymjomart Tokaev denied rumors that materials dismantled from
nuclear weapons are being smuggled abroad, Reuters reported on 4 October.
Tokaev was on a visit to the U.S. where he signed an agreement to seal the
Degelen Mountain nuclear weapons test tunnel complex located in Semipalatinsk.
He said that "de facto Kazakhstan is a non-nuclear state" as it has rid itself
of all nuclear weapons formerly on its territory and exploded its last silo
structure in September. -- Bhavna Dave
KAZAKHSTANI PROPOSAL OVER CASPIAN SEA DIVISION.
In the interview with
the Petroleum Information Agency (PIA) on 4 October, Kazakhstani President
Nursultan Nazarbaev reiterated his country's position that the Caspian Sea
should be divided into well-demarcated sovereign territorial water zones.
Speaking at the international conference "Oil and Gas `95" in Almaty,
Kazakhstani Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Gizzatov proposed that all five
littoral states (Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and Iran) should
have their own 12-mile wide territorial zones and exclusive rights to use the
seabed, its mineral resources, and lay underwater pipelines in national
sectors. Kazakhstan opposes the common seabed ownership preferred by Russia.
Kazakhstan abides by the 1982 UN Maritime Convention that deep sea water zones
be jointly used by all Caspian nations and believes that clearing up the legal
status of the sea will bring more foreign investments to the region, Gizzatov
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No.194, 5 October 1995
UKRAINIAN GAS DEBT.
Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Foreign Economic
Relations Viktor Halushka has said that Ukraine's debt to Gazprom for this year
will reach $1 billion and can be repaid only with credits from international
financial institutions, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 October. Ukraine's debt to
Gazprom stood at $173.9 million at the end of last month. It was reported over
that summer that Ukraine was meeting its obligations with the help of
international credits, but this latest report means it is once again slipping
into debt. In order to forestall any drastic increases in the debt, Ukrhazprom
President Mykhailo Matsyalko ordered regional gas distributors not to begin
issuing supplies until past debts have been settled. -- Ustina Markus
BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT EXPRESSES CONDOLENCES OVER BALLOON DEATHS.
ITAR-TASS reported that Alyaksandr Lukashenka appeared on Belarusian
Television on 3 October saying "we are very sorry and share the bereavement of
the relatives of the American fliers who lost their lives in Belarusian air
space." The statement came a day after Lukashenka claimed the military was not
responsible for the incident (see OMRI Daily Digest, 4 October 1994).
Lukashenka also said that while Belarus did not deny responsibility, much of
the blame lay with the balloon competition organizers for failing to properly
inform Belarusian air control services of the possibility of balloons flying
over Belarusian air space. -- Ustina Markus
LATVIA'S WAY GAINS ADDITIONAL PARLIAMENT SEAT.
The Central Election
Commission told RFE/RL on 4 October that after counting votes from abroad,
there has been a slight change in the composition of the Latvian Saeima.
Latvia's Way has another seat, raising its total to 18, and thus occupies first
place with the Democratic Party Saimnieks. Latvia's Socialist Party lost
one seat, reducing its share to five. The same day, the left of center DPS, the
National Concord Party, and Latvia's Unity Party agreed to form a coalition
(with 32 deputies) and proposed DPS leader Ziedonis Cevers as prime minister,
BNS reported. -- Saulius Girnius
LITHUANIA WANTS NEW WAR CRIMES TREATY WITH U.S.
A spokesman for
Lithuanian President Algirdas Brazauskas said on 4 October that lawyers will
travel to the US next month to discuss a new treaty providing for the
extradition of war crime suspects, Reuters reported. The matter was prompted by
a recent Lithuanian government cable asserting that the 70-year-old extradition
treaty with the U.S. is "not legally effective" in the case of 88-year-old
Aleksandras Lileikis. Federal prosecutors are attempting to strip Lileikis of
U.S. citizenship and deport him to Lithuania to face charges of turning over
thousands of Jews to Nazi executioners from 1941-1944 when he was a secret
police chief in Vilnius. -- Saulius Girnius
POLAND NO LONGER NEEDS IMF SUPPORT.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance
Minister Grzegorz Kolodko, at a press conference on 4 October, said Poland no
longer needs financial support from the IMF because its economy is doing well.
He said he believed that the budget deficit will not exceed the level for EU
member states stipulated by the Maastricht Treaty. Head of IMF Representative
Office in Poland Markus Rodlauer says that although the Poland's economy is
improving, the chief threat to stabilization is inflation (which increased by
23.8% over the past twelve months) and its large foreign debt. The IMF is
willing to help Poland by offering consultations and advise on how to keep down
inflation, Polish dailies reported on 5 October. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz
CZECH GOVERNMENT APPROVES CHANGES TO BANKRUPTCY LAW.
government on 4 October approved changes to the country's bankruptcy law that
are intended to speed up liquidation proceedings, Hospodarske noviny
reported. Justice Minister Jiri Novak said the present law, adopted in 1993, is
too rigid. Under the new proposals, fewer indebted firms will be able to
request protection against creditors' demands than at present. In 1993, some
1,100 creditors requested that a firm to be declared bankrupt; in 1,994, the
figure was 1800 and up to the end of July this year, 1,350. But the number of
companies declared bankrupt, though rising, is small: 60 in 1993, 288 in 1994,
and this year 393. Thousands of cases are still being processed by the courts.
-- Steve Kettle
REACTIONS TO STATEMENT ON SLOVAK NEUTRALITY.
Miroslav Spejl of the
opposition Social Democratic Party, at a press conference on 4 October, reacted
to statements by Slovak National Party (SNS) Chairman Jan Slota rejecting NATO
membership (see OMRI Daily Digest, 4 October 1995). Spejl said that
because "no one knows what will happen to the east of our border or to the
south of the Hungarian border," Slovakia has no choice but to look for partners
who "would help [the country] to ensure its security." Defense Ministry
spokesman Frantisek Kosicky also discounted Slota's statements. "Slovakia does
not have historical experiences with neutrality, and the government clearly
stated in its program declaration its aim to gain membership in NATO," Kosicky
told Pravda. According to Kosicky, NATO is the "most effective existing
security organization." Likewise, Foreign Ministry spokesman Juraj Matejovsky
said "Slovakia's foreign policy orientation toward membership in NATO is
unchangeable." -- Sharon Fisher
SLOVAK ECONOMIC UPDATE.
A Statistical Office report published in TASR on
3 October showed that inflation rose 0.5% in August, reaching an annual rate of
9.8%. The unemployment rate was 13.3% at the end of August, and the trade
surplus grew to 1.4 billion koruny. The state budget deficit was 943 million
koruny. In other news, according to Sme on 3 October, 31,743 of the
approximately 3.5 million Slovaks who registered to participate in the second
wave of coupon privatization asked for a refund by the 30 September deadline.
The coupon program, which had been organized by the previous government, was
canceled by the parliament in September. The new program involves bonds that
will be redeemable in five years. Meanwhile, Slovak arms producers on 4 October
held their first meeting under the new entity Holding, which was established to
help rejuvenate the industry. Former Finance Minister Julius Toth was elected
president of Holding's board of directors, TASR reported. -- Sharon Fisher
HUNGARY TO SUPPORT ROMANIA'S NATO MEMBERSHIP.
Hungarian Defense Minister
Gyorgy Keleti, at a joint news conference with his visiting Romanian
counterpart, Gheorghe Tinca, said Hungary will support Romania's membership in
NATO if Romania meets NATO conditions, including the settlement of minority
issues, Hungarian and international media reported on 5 October. President
Arpad Goncz said it was in Hungary's interests that Romania joins the EU and
that both countries join at the same "historical moment," Magyar Nemzet
reported. The defense ministers two days previously signed a joint statement on
progress achieved to date in East European military cooperation and agreed to
further strengthen their military ties, which they hope will contribute to
consolidating relations between the two countries. A key treaty between
Budapest and Bucharest has been delayed due to differences over the minority
rights of the more than 1.6 million ethnic Hungarians in Transylvania. --
Zsofia Szilagyi and Matyas Szabo
HUNGARIAN STUDENTS PROTEST OUTSIDE PARLIAMENT.
An estimated 10,000
university students on 4 October took part in an all-night vigil outside the
parliament building to protest the introduction of additional tuition fees,
Hungarian newspapers reported the next day. The students originally demanded
that the new monthly 2,000 forint ($15) tuition fees be postponed for one year,
but following talks with the education authorities, they withdrew that demand.
At the same time, they remain firmly opposed to any additional tuition fees.
According to a ministry decree, institutions of higher education can charge up
to 8,000 forint ($60) a month. When the government announced the fees in March
as part of a controversial austerity package, officials said the country could
no longer afford free higher education. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No.194, 5 October 1995
UPDATE ON MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT'S CONDITION.
Two days after the attempt
on his life, Kiro Gligorov is still in a serious and "delicate" condition,
according to international agencies. An official statement says his situation
is stable but he remains in intensive care following a six-hour operation in
which shrapnel and two blood clots were removed from his brain. According to
unconfirmed reports, Gligorov lost his right eye. Macedonian Radio on 4 October
said surgeons were fighting to save his sight. Western diplomats were cited as
saying they do not expect Gligorov to return to office even if he recovers.
Meanwhile, about 150 people have been questioned in connection with the
assassination attempt and some detained, AFP reported. There is speculation
that extreme Macedonian nationalists may have planted the bomb to protest the
Greek-Macedonian accord, which provides for a change of the Macedonian flag and
parts of the constitution. -- Stefan Krause
ACTING MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT NAMED.
Parliamentary chairman Stojan
Andov--who is also head of the Liberal Party, the second largest force in the
governing coalition--was named acting president of Macedonia on 4 October,
Flaka reported the following day. According to the Macedonian
Constitution, the parliamentary chairman takes over as acting president if the
elected president dies, resigns, or is incapacitated. The constitution also
stipulates that presidential elections must take place within 40 days if the
elected president's mandate is terminated for whatever reason. The New York
Times on 5 October cited U.S. diplomat Victor Comas as saying Andov is
pro-Western and committed to a market economy. The same report, however, quotes
unnamed diplomats and Macedonian sources as saying that Andov lacks Gligorov's
"political wisdom, flexibility, and popularity." -- Stefan Krause
MACEDONIAN POLITICIANS PLEDGE CONTINUITY.
Macedonian Foreign Minister
Stevo Crvenkovski on 4 October said the attempt on Gligorov will not mean a
change in Macedonian politics, AFP reported the same day. Crvenkovski,
addressing the UN General Assembly, called the attempt a "deliberate political
act" aimed at destabilizing the country. He said it would not "under any
circumstances force us to change our course" of democratization and good
relations with all neighbors. Meanwhile, the first round of direct
Greek-Macedonian talks ended in Athens on 4 October without concrete results
but in a "constructive atmosphere," according to both sides. Talks will resume
in Skopje on 10 October. -- Stefan Krause
NATO JETS HIT SERBIAN MISSILE SITES.
International media reported on 4
October that NATO jets hit Bosnian Serb radar and SAM sites in southern and
central Bosnia in the first such action since air strikes were suspended on 20
September. The pilots found that the Serbs had locked onto them while the jets
were on a routine patrol to enforce the "no-fly zone." Nikola Koljevic, the
Bosnian Serb "vice president," told Reuters that the attacks were "a definite
step back in the peace process." Meanwhile on the diplomatic front, U.S. envoy
Richard Holbrooke said he had a "serious proposal" from the Bosnian government
for a ceasefire but gave no details. Sarajevo and Pale have very different
understandings of what a truce would involve. -- Patrick Moore
Both the Serbs and the Bosnian government reported
success at the front on 4 October. Slobodna Dalmacija the following day
said that Serbian forces were continuing their counteroffensive in western
Bosnia and that fighting was particularly intense around Otoka and Bosanska
Krupa along the Una River between Bihac and the Croatian border. Bosnian
government troops of the Mostar-based Fourth Corps reported that they had
driven the Serbs off key heights near the Sarajevo-Trnovo road and were
controlling the road between Konjic and Kalinovik, the home town of Bosnian
Serb commander General Ratko Mladic, news agencies said. -- Patrick Moore
Montena-fax on 4 October reported that the previous
day some 25 tons of humanitarian aid from Russia, consisting largely of medical
supplies, arrived in Podgorica. In other news, ATA reported that Albanian
officials on 1 October detained a tanker carrying some 9,000 liters of
contraband fuel destined for Montenegro. This last seizure brings the total
amount of smuggled fuel seized over the past two months to some 50,000 liters.
-- Stan Markotich
CROATIAN AUTHORITIES CLOSE DOWN BILINGUAL SCHOOLS.
Croatian media have
recently been reporting extensively on the Ministry of Education's decision in
late September to replace the two-language curriculum of three secondary
schools in Zagreb with a one-language curriculum. In explaining this decision,
which encountered bitter reactions from students, parents, and teachers, the
ministry said the schools were "experimental" but that the experiment had
failed. Critics suspect that the real reason for the decision is a myopic
attempt at combatting the brain drain of a country that lives from tourism,
shipping, and emigre remittances. The head of one school who supported the
two-language curriculum was accused of manipulating the students for political
reasons and was fired, Novi list reported on 5 October. Minister of
Education Ljilja Vokic has stressed that the Croatian authorities want to have
strong control over the country's education system. -- Daria Sito Sucic
DIFFICULTIES FACED BY CROATIAN SERB REFUGEES.
According to recent
Serbian media reports, between 6,000 and 7,000 Croatian Serb refugees want to
return home but are prevented from doing so by bureaucratic wranglings. The
Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stopped issuing collective passports
for refugees, while the Croatian Government Office in Belgrade, which handles
humanitarian issues, claims it has no instructions from Zagreb on how to deal
with refugees wanting to return. Meanwhile, the Croatian government has set a
deadline for those who have left to come back and claim their property. In
related news, Croatia's admission into the Council of Europe, as well as EU
post-war aid to Croatia, has been made conditional on the resolution of the
problem of the refugees and their property. The UN Security Council on 4
October expressed its "deepest concern" about the status of Croatian Serb
refugees, Novi List reported on 5 October. -- Daria Sito Sucic
ROMANIAN RULING PARTY RESPONDS TO EXTREMISTS.
The Party of Social
Democracy in Romania (PDSR), in a 4 October letter addressed to the leadership
of the chauvinistic Greater Romania Party (PRM), has denounced the recent
"attacks of unprecedented virulence" launched by PRM Chairman Corneliu Vadim
Tudor against President Ion Iliescu. In a pamphlet published with the PRM
mouthpiece Romania mare, Tudor accused Iliescu of being "a brash
dictator" and a "protector of impertinent Zionists." He also commented that the
president has "delivered the country to the Jews." Tudor's reaction was
provoked by Iliescu's statement during his recent visit to the U.S. that Tudor
and Gheorghe Funar, the leader of the Party of Romanian National Unity, were
"Romanian Zhirinovskys." The PDSR's letter, which was broadcast by Radio
Bucharest, stressed that Tudor's attacks have ""seriously affected" cooperation
between the two parties. -- Dan Ionescu
ROMANIANS SEEK FREE MOVEMENT WITHIN EU.
Lazar Comanescu, a spokesman for
the Romanian Foreign Ministry, has said Romania insists on unrestricted travel
within the EU for its citizens, Radio Bucharest reported on 4 October. He said
Romania will bring up this issue at all talks with EU representatives by
pointing to the principle of equal treatment and opportunities for all EU
associate members. Jacques Santier, president of the European Commission, has
stressed the necessity to find a solution to this problem, Comanescu added.
Comanescu's statement was an indirect response to the EU's recent decision to
extend visa requirements to Romania, along with some other 100 countries
blacklisted as posing a security or immigration threat to the EU. -- Matyas
MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT APPEALS FOR RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS.
Moldovan parliament has asked that diplomatic efforts be stepped up in order to
free the members of the so-called "Ilascu group" from a Tiraspol jail,
BASA-press and Infotag reported on 4 October. The four men were sentenced to
various prison terms for allegedly committing terrorists acts during the 1992
armed conflict between Moldova and the breakaway Dniester region. The
parliament resolution, which denounces the "mediaeval practices" of the
Dniester authorities, was adopted at the initiative of the opposition Christian
Democratic Popular Front. The front's leaders have repeatedly accused the
Chisinau government of failing to drum up international support for liberating
the four political prisoners. -- Dan Ionescu
BULGARIA REAFFIRMS INTENTION TO RESTART NUCLEAR REACTOR.
Bulgarian newspapers report that Bulgaria has officially reaffirmed its
intention to restart the controversial Reactor No. 1 at the Kozloduy nuclear
power plant despite international objections. Director of the Bulgarian Atomic
Energy Agency Yanko Yanev said an agreement has been reached with the
International Atomic Energy Agency to shut off the unit after the winter for
further examination. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade Kiril Tsochev
met with the EU's representative to Bulgaria to deliver Bulgaria's official
position on the issue. The official statement says that Bulgaria is one of the
few countries that has a legal framework regulating the use of atomic energy
and has ratified the convention on nuclear safety. Bulgarian papers cited
Tsochev as saying he wishes France "would not conduct nuclear tests in Muroroa
and then take on problems like our reactor." -- Stefan Krause
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave