HIJACKED FERRY HEADS FOR ISTANBUL.
The ferry Eurasia, hijacked in
Trabzon by pro-Chechen fighters, continued steaming toward Istanbul, Russian
and Western agencies reported on 18 January. Reports identified the leader of
the hijackers as Mohammed Tokcan, an ethnic Abkhazian who fought with Shamil
Basaev in the Chechen and Abkhaz conflicts. Although the hijackers earlier
threatened to blow up the vessel unless Russian forces ceased their attack on
Pervomaiskoe, the Turkish news agency Anatolia reported that a deal had been
reached under which the hijackers would surrender in return for being allowed
to hold a news conference on their arrival in Istanbul. On 17 January, Russian
officials complained that although they had repeatedly warned the Turkish
government about the activities of Chechen extremists in Turkey, they had been
"lightheartedly" ignored, a charge the Turkish Foreign Ministry denied.
Estimates of the number of ethnic Chechens living in Turkey range from 5,000 to
40,000. -- Scott Parrish
RUSSIAN FORCES POUND PERVOMAISKOE. . .
Russian Federal Security Service
(FSB) spokesman Aleksandr Mikhailov announced on 17 January that since there
"are no hostages left" in Pervomaiskoe, federal troops would give up trying to
rescue them and would launch an intensive bombardment of the village in order
to eliminate the band of Chechen fighters led by Salman Raduev, Russian and
Western agencies reported. However, at the time, only 28 of an estimated 70-150
hostages had been freed, although Mikhailov yet again claimed that Raduev was
executing hostages. GRAD multiple-rocket launchers then began a withering
bombardment of the village. Heavy fighting amid flaming buildings continued
overnight as ITAR-TASS reported that federal troops had repulsed an attempt by
Raduev's fighters to break out of the village and also turned back an attack by
pro-Dudaev fighters who had crossed the border from Chechnya and attempted to
break through the forces encircling the village. -- Scott Parrish
. . .WHILE TIGHTENING CONTROL OF PRESS.
As the bombardment of
Pervomaiskoe continued, the FSB ordered journalists in the neighboring village
of Sovetskoe to leave the area, AFP reported on 17 January. The expulsion left
journalists without a direct view of the buildings in Pervomaiskoe.
Nonetheless, Izvestiya correspondent Valerii Yarov, who had been out of
touch with the paper for four days, (see OMRI Daily Digest, 17 January
1995) filed a report detailing the botched storming of the village, which he
said had been reduced to rubble. Yakov added that if any hostages survived, it
would not be because they had been "saved" but because they were "lucky." He
condemned the entire operation as a failure, saying that its only "clear
success" was the muzzling of journalists trying to cover it. Ekho Moskvy and
NTV offered similar negative appraisals of the operation. -- Scott Parrish
INTERNATIONAL REACTION TO PERVOMAISKOE.
While condemning the taking of
hostages by Chechen fighters, Western governments and international
organizations have also cautioned the Russian government against a
disproportionate use of force, Russian and Western agencies reported on 17
January. Council of Europe officials, whose Parliamentary Assembly will
consider Russia's application for membership on 25 January, warned that
Moscow's harsh military actions might reduce the chances of Russia gaining
admission. A German Foreign Ministry spokesman condemned the hostage-taking as
terrorism but urged Russia to use "commensurate means" to combat it, a view
seconded by the U.S. and Ukraine. Danish Defense Minister Hans Haekkerup openly
denounced Moscow's military actions, however, and spokesmen for the opposition
German Social Democratic Party slammed Western governments for a "lack of
principle and cynicism" in failing to openly criticize Russia's massive use of
military force. -- Scott Parrish
HOSTAGE-TAKING IN SIBERIA THWARTED.
Interior Ministry special forces
used force to free more than 20 oil workers taken hostage on a bus in the town
of Surgut in Tyumen Oblast on 17 January, ITAR-TASS reported. None of the
hostages was hurt, but the armed assailant, a young Russian, was fatally
wounded during the storming of the bus. Early TASS reports said the hijacker
had demanded to be taken by plane to the Kizlyar region in Dagestan, where
Russian troops have been battling Chechen forces. -- Penny Morvant
DUMA ADOPTS STATEMENT ON TERRORISM.
The Duma adopted a statement on 17
January calling on the government to adopt adequate measures to stop the
terrorist activities of Chechen separatists, ITAR-TASS reported. However, the
statement pointed out that the previous Duma had repeatedly called for a
peaceful solution to the conflict but that "practically none" of these appeals
were taken into account by the president and government. The same day, Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin asked the Duma to support the government's policy
in Chechnya. He warned against those who deliberately or unconsciously
exacerbate the situation by demanding the "separation of Chechnya from Russia,
division of Chechnya, preservation of inter-Chechen confrontation, or the
immediate withdrawal of Russian troops." -- Robert Orttung
DUMA ELECTS COMMUNIST SPEAKER.
The Duma elected Gennadii Seleznev, a
Communist-backed candidate, as its speaker in the third round of voting on 17
January with 231 votes, just above the 226 required for victory, ITAR-TASS
reported. Former Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin, supported by Our Home Is Russia, won
150 votes and Yabloko's Vladimir Lukin won 50. The Agrarian and Popular Power
factions and some members of the Liberal Democratic Party supported Seleznev,
NTV reported. Russian Regions did not reveal its position before the voting.
The new speaker began his career as a reporter in 1974 at the youth paper
Smena. He edited Komsomolskaya pravda from 1980-1988, later
moving to Uchitelskaya gazeta and ultimately becoming editor of
Pravda. A member of the previous Duma, he became deputy speaker in
January 1995. Seleznev, 48, said his first task will be to review and act on
more than 500 proposed laws leftover from the previous Duma and to adopt
decisions on the violence in the Caucasus. -- Robert Orttung
COMMUNISTS DO NOT PLAN NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE.
In discussing future
relations between the president and the Duma, Seleznev approved Yeltsin's
recent cabinet reshuffle and efforts to give workers their unpaid wages, as
well as Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's decision to reevaluate his social
policy, all demands previously made by the Communists. Seleznev told reporters
that he does not plan any no-confidence votes in the government "tomorrow,"
ITAR-TASS reported. However, Yabloko deputy Yelena Mizulina called a
no-confidence vote to be taken soon. Presidential adviser Georgii Satarov said
that he would have preferred Rybkin as speaker but added that it is possible to
work with Seleznev, Radio Rossii reported. -- Robert Orttung
YABLOKO KEY TO SPEAKER VOTE.
Yabloko's maneuvering in the vote for the
speakership allowed the Communists to win by preventing the election of Rybkin
as an anti-communist speaker. Yabloko initially made a deal with the Communists
that they would not support a united non-communist candidate for speaker. Under
the deal the Communists would nominate Seleznev as speaker instead of Valentin
Kuptsov, while Yabloko, the smallest of the four factions to cross the 5%
barrier, would be allowed to preserve its chairmanship of the budget and
international affairs committees, Izvestiya reported on 18 January.
After the initial stalemate, the Communists were able to collect the few more
votes than they needed in the absence of a united opposition candidate. The
failure of Our Home Is Russia, Yabloko, and the LDPR to work together before
the Duma session began will cost them committee assignments, since at this
point the committees must be divided among the seven deputy factions currently
registered rather than the initial four. -- Robert Orttung
UNITED COMMUNIST CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENCY?
Nikolai Ryzhkov, former
Soviet prime minister and leader of the Popular Power faction in the new Duma,
said he probably will not stand for the presidency in June, RIA-Novosti
reported on 17 January. Ryzhkov said he was not going to copy former Soviet
President Mikhail Gorbachev by running for the presidency without national
support. Ryzhkov said he would change his position only if he receives the
backing of a serious public movement. His refusal to join the race will
increase the chances of other Communist candidates. Although the Communists are
considering nominating one candidate for the presidency, it is unlikely that
they will have a single candidate in the first round of elections,
Segodnya reported on 17 January. The Central Electoral Commission has
already registered three initiative groups which nominated the leftist
candidates Gennadii Zyuganov, Aman Tuleev, and Viktor Anpilov. Communist Duma
member Petr Romanov has also announced plans to run. -- Anna Paretskaya
NEW DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF CENTRAL BANK APPOINTED.
Russian Central Bank
Chairman Sergei Dubinin appointed Aleksandr Turbanov as his deputy on 16
January, Interfax reported the same day. A source at the bank said that there
had been no reshuffling of responsibilities among members of the bank's board
of directors yet, and a final decision on the matter will be made after the
composition of the board is confirmed by the government. However, Turbanov is
likely to take over the bank's legal department and deal with security issues
at the bank's various branches. -- Natalia Gurushina
ENERGY CONSUMERS' DEBTS TOP $9.4 BILLION.
Only 77% of all the energy
delivered to Russian consumers in 1995 has been paid for, ITAR-TASS reported on
17 January, citing Anatolii Dyakov, president of the United Energy System of
Russia Company. As of 1 January 1996, Russian fuel and energy producing
companies were owed about 44 trillion rubles ($9.4 billion), a 76% increase
over the amount owed on 1 January 1995. Whereas in the third quarter of the
year the level of overdue payments was comparatively low (4-11% of total
deliveries), in November-December it soared to 30-55%, amounting to 17 trillion
rubles ($3.63 billion) in that period. According to Dyakov, the fact that many
consumers are not paying has resulted in a substantial increase in the debt
owed by energy-producers to the budget and fuel suppliers. The debt is now 35
trillion rubles ($7.48 billion), of which 17 trillion is owed to the federal
budget and 11 trillion to fuel suppliers. -- Natalia Gurushina
GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT RATIFIES FRIENDSHIP TREATY WITH RUSSIA.
parliament voted by 141-34 on 17 January to ratify the treaty on friendship and
cooperation with the Russian Federation which was signed in February 1994.
Deputies from the opposition National Democratic Party voted against ratifying
the treaty on the grounds that its ratification by the Russian State Duma was
questionable and that it provides for an "unacceptable" military union between
the two countries, according to Interfax. -- Liz Fuller
EBRD, DEUTSCHE BANK CREDITS TO TURKMENISTAN.
The EBRD will invest $17.8
million in joint venture involving Turkmenistan's Textile Industry Ministry and
the Turkish firm GAP-Iplik Sanayi ve Ticaret, Interfax reported on 17 January.
The funds will be used to upgrade an existing denim producing factory outside
Ashgabat. Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank will extend Turkmenistan a $24 million
credit to import food, Interfax reported the same day. The bank earlier
provided a $54 million credit to Turkmenistan to construct a runway for
Ashgabat international airport. -- Lowell Bezanis
Uzbek President Islam Karimov arrived in
Chardzhou, Turkmenistan on 16 January to sign a package of agreements with his
Turkmen counterpart, Saparmurad Niyazov, Turkey's Zaman newspaper
reported the same day. The paper called the meeting a "historic summit,"
pointing out that a consensus on outstanding problems over borders and the
sharing of the waters of the Amu Darya River was reached. Relations between
Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan have been icy in the post-independence period;
lately tension along the Chardzhou-Bukhara Oblast border has reportedly been on
the rise. -- Lowell Bezanis
TAJIK OPPOSITION FIGURE REJECTS PARDON.
Oynihol Bobonazarova, deputy
chairman of the Democratic Party of Tajikistan, has rejected a pardon granted
to her by the Tajik government, calling it "an absurd act," according to a
Radio Voice of Free Tajikistan report cited by the BBC on 18 January. On 12
January, Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov granted pardons to three opposition
figures, Bobonazarova, Shodmon Yusuf, and Bozor Sobir--effectively ending the
government's legal actions against the three begun in 1993. -- Roger Kangas
UKRAINE'S NUCLEAR AUTHORITY STRAPPED FOR CASH.
Officials from Ukraine's
State Atomic Energy Committee have said that despite a 2.5% increase in
electricity generation last year, the agency responsible for the country's five
nuclear power plants is strapped for cash, Ukrainian TV and Infobank reported
on 17 January. Committee officials said consumer debt totaling 98 trillion
karbovantsi ($54 million) meant the agency has only half the funds needed to
purchase enough nuclear fuel from Russia to keep its stations operational. The
lack of money may also prevent repairs being carried out at the Rivne and
Pivdennyi plants and outmoded equipment being replaced at Ukraine's five atomic
energy stations. -- Chrystyna Lapychak
DRAFT CRIMEAN CONSTITUTION NEEDS REVISION, LAWMAKER SAYS.
Stretovych, chairman of the Ukrainian parliament's commission on legislative
affairs, said the draft of a new Crimean Constitution, passed by the Crimean
legislature on 1 November, will not be considered for approval by his body
until several provisions deemed too "separatist" are removed, Ukrainian TV
reported 16 January. He said the articles on property rights, citizenship, and
state symbols contravene Ukrainian law and must be amended. The new Crimean
constitution must be approved by the Ukrainian legislature before it can be
adopted by Crimean lawmakers. -- Chrystyna Lapychak
BELARUS SETS UP CURRENCY CORRIDOR.
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has
created a "currency corridor" limiting the Belarusian ruble's value to
11,300-13,100 to $1, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 January. This regulation is to
remain in place until 1 June. The exchange rate against the Russian ruble is
regulated the same way. Also on 17 January, Interfax reported that the National
Bank of Belarus has limited the amount of Russian and Belarusian rubles that
individuals can take out of the country to 500 times the minimum wage, which
stands at 100,000 Belarusian rubles ($8.70). -- Ustina Markus
ESTONIA TO RECEIVE FOREIGN SUPPORT FOR REGISTERING NON-CITIZENS.
Estonian Interior Minister Mart Rask, Deputy Director of the Citizenship and
Migration Department Ulo Laanoja, and UN representative Jan Wahlberg on 17
January signed a UN Development Program project giving Estonia 8 million kroons
($686,000) to register and issue residence permits to its 300,000 non-citizens,
ETA reported. Seven million kroons are to be supplied by Nordic countries. The
parliament authorized the Citizenship and Migration Department, which also
receives 25 million kroons from the state budget, to complete issuing passports
by 12 July. -- Saulius Girnius
FINNISH PRESIDENT IN LITHUANIA.
Martti Ahtisaari on 17 January held
talks in Vilnius with his Lithuanian counterpart, Algirdas Brazauskas, on
Lithuania's banking problems and integration into the EU, BNS reported.
Ahtisaari said he favored abolishing visas between the two countries, and he
offered Finnish assistance in improving border control. He later met with
Seimas chairman Ceslovas Jursenas. The next day Ahtisaari met with the
representatives of the local Finnish community before returning home. --
POLISH PRESIDENT IN BRUSSELS.
Aleksander Kwasniewski, visiting NATO
headquarters in Brussels on 17 January, said he hoped Poland will be invited to
join NATO by the end of the year and that it will become a member of the
alliance by 2000, Polish and international media reported. He said he did not
believe that Poland's membership in NATO would represent a threat to Russia "or
any other country." NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said NATO has full
confidence in Poland, and he praised the Polish contribution to the NATO-led
peace operations in Bosnia. Kwasniewski on 18 January is to meet with officials
from the European Commission and the Belgian government. -- Jakub Karpinski
FORMER POLISH PRESIDENT PROPOSES NEW ROUNDTABLE NEGOTIATIONS.
Walesa on 17 January called for closed-door roundtable talks in an effort to
resolve the crisis over spying allegations against Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy,
Polish dailies reported on 18 January. Walesa said that about 20 of the
country's largest political parties should be invited to the talks. He added
that the talks should be initiated by Primate Jozef Glemp and should resemble
the 1989 roundtable meetings at which Poland's communist authorities negotiated
the transfer of power to the "constructive opposition." Government spokesperson
Aleksandra Jakubowska welcomed Walesa's proposal, while opposition deputies
were less enthusiastic, favoring instead that special Sejm commission
investigation into the Oleksy affair be made public. -- Jakub
SLOVAK OPPOSITION EXPRESSES CONCERN ABOUT TREATY WITH HUNGARY.
the Democratic Left (SDL) deputy chairman Milan Ftacnik on 17 January said that
the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) has confirmed it is "in
the tow of the nationalists." Ftacnik's statement comes in the wake of the
HZDS's decision to meet the conditions set by its coalition partner, the Slovak
National Party (SNS), for the ratification of the Slovak-Hungarian treaty.
Ftacnik noted that those conditions could "devalue" the aim of the treaty,
which was meant to calm and stabilize relations with Budapest. Hungarian
Christian Democratic Movement deputy chairman Pal Csaky said the SNS's demand
for a bill on the protection of the republic was a "dangerous step" that would
remove Slovakia from "the family of democratic countries," Slovak Radio
reported. -- Sharon Fisher
SLOVAK PARLIAMENT CHAIRMAN MOST POPULAR POLITICIAN.
A FOCUS agency poll
conducted in December showed that Ivan Gasparovicis is the country's most
popular politician, with 24.7% support, TASR reported on 17 January. Opposition
SDL deputy chairwoman Brigita Schmoegnerova received (23.3%) and President
Michal Kovac (22.6%). Ethnic Hungarian Coexistence chairman Miklos Duray drew
the most negative responses (64.0%), followed by Slovak Information Service
director Ivan Lexa (50.2%), and Association of Workers of Slovakia chairman Jan
Luptak (48.7%). -- Sharon Fisher
HUNGARY TO JOIN OECD BY APRIL?
Istvan Major, head of the Hungarian team
negotiating with the OECD, said Hungary may join the organization in April,
Hungarian media reported on 18 January. Negotiations over the next few weeks
will focus on questions of taxation, foreign exchange regulations,
international tax agreements, and exchange of tax information. According to
OECD officials, the issue of withholding banking information in Hungary has to
be resolved. OECD countries expect banks of member countries to exchange
information on clients suspected of fraud; access to such information in
Hungary is prohibited. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
HUNGARIAN CABINET DISCUSSES SURPLUS PRIVATIZATION REVENUES.
Privatization Minister Tamas Suchman is urging the government to allocate
some of the surplus privatization revenues to infrastructure development. The
parliament in late December approved spending all surplus revenues--some 285
billion forints ($2 billion)--on repaying the foreign debt. But Hungary's
coalition parties have been split over the issue since last November; Finance
Minister Lajos Bokros and Alliance of Free Democrats are in favor of using the
money to pay off the debt, while most socialist deputies, including Prime
Minister Gyula Horn, are opposed. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
DEADLOCK ON MOSTAR, PRISONER EXCHANGES.
The EU told AFP on 17 January
that plans for the reunification of Mostar have "de facto been put back." The
town has been the focus of severe Croatian-Muslim tensions in recent weeks,
despite efforts by the international community to ease matters in order to
shore up the federation, which is an essential component of the Dayton system.
Elsewhere, the U.S. State Department has urged the Bosnian government to
respect the 20 January deadline for the prisoner exchange, but Sarajevo still
wants the question of missing persons cleared up as part of the arrangement.
Oslobodjenje on 18 January reported Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey as
saying the government wants the truth about the dead and demands that all
prisoners be released without exception. Sacirbey noted that more than 1,000
prisoners do not appear on the lists provided by the Serbs. -- Patrick Moore
SARAJEVO SERBS STRESS NEED FOR OWN ADMINISTRATION.
The Bosnian Serbs are
following up on their switch in tactics to accept the transfer of their suburbs
to government control under certain conditions (see OMRI Daily Digest,
17 January 1996). The BBC on 18 January said that they were now willing to back
the terms of the Dayton agreement and that their representatives were meeting
with the international community's Michael Steiner to discuss cooperation.
Reuters reported that the Serbs want a local administration that will guarantee
their rights. Steiner said that he and the Serbs agreed that the agreement
would be implemented without any changes but that Serbian concerns would be
taken into account. -- Patrick Moore
BOSNIAN SERB SOLDIERS DESERTING TO GOVERNMENT SIDE.
Concern about the
future for themselves and their families has prompted "several dozen" Bosnian
Serbs to desert their units and report to government authorities. AFP said on
18 January that the men were especially concerned that their families living in
the Sarajevo suburbs not join any exodus. The government authorities jokingly
greeted one man with "Welcome to the Muslim fundamentalist side." The
government officials said they were obliged to make sure the deserters were not
wanted for war crimes but added that "those who come over have a clear
conscience." -- Patrick Moore
IFOR SEIZES SECRET GOVERNMENT AIR BASE.
French IFOR troops seized a
secret Bosnian government air base on 17 January after repeatedly being denied
access to it, international agencies reported. The Visoko airstrip, about 20
kilometers from Sarajevo, was reportedly used to store weapons smuggled into
the country in contravention of the UN arms embargo. IFOR was asserting its
right to unrestricted freedom of movement under the Dayton peace accords. --
BILDT TALKS WITH NATO.
International community representative Carl Bildt
on 17 January met with the North Atlantic Council, NATO's executive body,
international agencies reported. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana expressed
full support for Bildt's efforts, saying "peace is reconciliation and...the
main task...is in the hands of Carl Bildt." Relations between Bildt and NATO
have been strained because of continuing NATO grumbling over the slow pace of
the civilian peace effort. Bildt, for his part, has complained that the U.S.
has prevented him from using UN facilities and that he has received funding
only from the EU. Bildt said he expected a substantial contribution from the
U.S. in the near future. -- Michael Mihalka
SERBIA PROPOSES AMNESTY.
The rump Yugoslavia's Supreme Defense Council
has advocated the drafting of a law granting an amnesty to 12,455 people
indicted by military authorities for failing to serve in the regions' wars over
the past few years, Nasa Borba, citing Tanjug, reported on 18 January.
The council is the country's highest military executive authority. Serbian
President Slobodan Milosevic, Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic, and
federal rump Yugoslav President Zoran Lilic are among its members. -- Stan
BOSNIAN REFUGEES IN CROATIA FORCED TO MOVE AGAIN.
18 January reported that some 900 Bosnian refugees in Zagreb collective centers
are being forcibly moved to the Gasinci refugee camp. Croatia has requested
that refugees not be moved before 1 March, when the Bosnian government is
expected to have completed preparations for accommodating the refugees. In
another development, Bosnian refugees from Srebrenica and Zepa have begun to
leave the rump Yugoslavia for third countries, Nasa Borba reported on 18
January. UNHCR officials explained that the refugees were leaving because of
poor living conditions and the mistreatment of refugees, who are reluctant to
return to Bosnia due to the lack of safety there. -- Daria Sito Sucic
CROATIAN, BULGARIAN PRESIDENTS SIGN AGREEMENT ON FRIENDSHIP.
Tudjman and Zhelyu Zhelev signed an agreement on friendship and cooperation in
Zagreb on 17 January, Vecernji list reported. Zhelev emphasized that
Bulgaria was interested in participating in the reconstruction of Croatia and
was ready to support Croatia's applications for admission to the Council of
Europe and Black Sea Alliance, Hina reported. Tudjman said that the
agreement "will lay a foundation for overall cooperation." -- Daria Sito
INVESTIGATIONS INTO CEAUSESCU'S CHILDREN DROPPED.
Prosecutors on 17
January announced that they have dropped investigations into the three children
of late Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, Reuters reported. Zoe, Valentin,
and Nicu Ceausescu have been cleared of "undermining the national economy" by
using their privileged position to exploit the assets of the former Communist
Party. The authorities also lifted a foreign travel ban on the three. -- Dan
ROMANIA SETS BROADCASTING RULES FOR ELECTIONS.
The National Audiovisual
Council (CNA) on 16 January released broadcasting guidelines for the April
local elections, Romanian and Western media reported. Free and equal time on
state media will be given to all candidates, irrespective of their political
affiliation. "Audio or video material that slanders opponents" is prohibited,
and no opinion polls may be published in the run-up to the elections. Private
radio and TV stations can charge for air time. Similar regulations are expected
to apply to the general and presidential elections, due to take place by the
end of the year. The opposition has often accused the state-controlled media of
favoring candidates from the ruling party in election campaigns. -- Dan
TV JOURNALIST KIDNAPPED IN MOLDOVA.
Five men in police uniforms have
kidnapped the deputy head of a private television company in Moldova,
BASA-press reported on 17 January. Ion Frunza was beaten up and abducted in a
Chisinau street on 13 January. He works for the Catalan TV company, which began
broadcasting last year. Police rejected claims that the kidnappers might be
members of the police force. This is the third attack on Moldovan journalists
since late December. -- Dan Ionescu
BULGARIAN PRESIDENT ON RELATIONS WITH NATO.
Zhelyu Zhelev warned the
Socialist government of Prime Minister Zhan Videnov that reluctance to join
NATO could have adverse effects on Bulgaria's economic and political relations
with the West, international agencies reported on 17 January, citing an
interview with the weekly Sega. Zhelev said Bulgarian reservations about
full membership in NATO could lead NATO to look at Bulgaria "with suspicion."
He also said Bulgaria has a "moral and political" right to take greater part in
the reconstruction of the former Yugoslavia since it "incurred great
losses...without being guilty." But he added that the government's foreign
policy could affect Bulgaria's participation in reconstruction programs. --
ALBANIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT REVIEWS GENOCIDE LAW.
Constitutional Court is reviewing the Law on Genocide and Crimes against
Humanity Committed in Albania During Communist Rule Out of Political,
Ideological, and Religious Motives, the Albanian-language service of Deutsche
Welle reported on 17 January. Deputies from the Socialist Party, the Social
Democrats, and the Democratic Alliance
requested a ruling on the
constitutionality of the law, which bans communist-era high ranking officials
as well as members or collaborators of the security service from holding public
office until December 2001. The opposition argues the law is designed to ban
its politicians from running in the upcoming elections. -- Fabian Schmidt
GREECE, MACEDONIA OPEN LIAISON OFFICES.
Greece and Macedonia on 17
January opened liaison offices in each other's capitals, as stipulated by the
interim accord signed in September 1995, Nova Makedonija reported the
following day. The Greek office is headed by Alexandros Malias. Macedonia is
expected to name the head of its delegation by 1 February. -- Stefan Krause
RULING GREEK PARTY SETS PROCEDURES FOR PAPANDREOU SUCCESSION.
Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) on 17 January issued the procedures for
the succession of Andreas Papandreou as Greek prime minister, international
media reported. The new prime minister will be elected by the 168 PASOK
parliamentary deputies from among four candidates: former Industry Minister
Kostas Simitis; Defense Minister Gerasimos Arsenis; Interior, Public
Administration, and Decentralization Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos; and former
Foreign and Defense Minister Jannis Charalambopoulos. The election is to take
place on 18 January. -- Stefan Krause
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave