TERMS OF RUSSIAN-BELARUSIAN TREATY.
The seven-page "Treaty on Forming a
Community," signed in Moscow on 2 April calls for the formation of an
integrated political and economic community based on the "sovereignty and
equality" of the member-states, ITAR-TASS reported. The two sides agreed to
coordinate their foreign policies and cooperate in policing their common
outside border. They also pledged to form a common economic space with
harmonized labor, pension, customs, taxation, and investment policies by the
end of 1997. The joint activities of the community will be directed by a
Supreme Council, consisting of top government officials. Belarusian President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka will head the council for the next two years, while
Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin will chair its executive committee,
which will implement the agreement. Joint projects initiated by the community
will be financed from its budget, provided by contributions from the two member
states. -- Scott Parrish
QUESTIONS OVER NAME OF RUSSIAN-BELARUSIAN COMMUNITY.
Several Western and
Russian news agencies have been describing the new Russo-Belarusian entity as
the "Community of Sovereign Republics," abbreviated as CSR in English and SSR
in Russian. However, ,Presidential foreign policy aide Dmitrii Ryurikov told
NTV on 2 April that this term should not be used. Ryurikov insisted that the
"SSR" abbreviation is not in the text of the treaty, which he said was titled
"Agreement on the Formation of a Community." A preliminary draft of the
agreement obtained by OMRI said it would form a "union (community)" between the
two states: the final official name of the new entity remains unclear. Russian
media are using the term "Russo-Belarusian Community." -- Scott
REACTION TO RUSSIAN-BELARUSIAN TREATY.
The reaction by Russian
politicians to the agreement signed on 2 April was generally positive. The
leaders of both houses of the Federal Assembly, Gennadii Seleznev and Yegor
Stroev, hailed it and promised speedy ratification, ITAR-TASS reported.
Communist presidential candidate Gennadii Zyuganov praised the agreement,
telling NTV that it outlines "concrete steps" toward strengthening bilateral
economic ties, a view seconded by Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the Liberal Democratic
Party leader. Liberals such as Galina Starovoitova and Boris Federov also
expressed approval of the document. Some others voiced skepticism, however,
with an Ekho Moskvy commentary wondering about the consequences of closer links
to a country in deep economic crisis led by a president who has restricted
independent media, trampled on the political opposition, and praised Adolf
Hitler as a positive role model. -- Scott Parrish
YAVLINSKII SUPPORTERS SPLIT RUSSIA'S DEMOCRATIC CHOICE.
The decision of
Russia's Democratic Choice members Sergei Kovalev and Arkadii Murashev to
support Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii was made in violation of the party
council's instructions, Duma member Sergei Yushenkov told NTV on 2 April.
Yushenkov suggested that Kovalev and Murashev suspend their membership in the
Yavlinskii group until Russia's Democratic Choice decides whom it will back in
the presidential campaign. Murashev replied that he and Kovalev would not
suspend their membership because they decided to support Yavlinskii as "private
citizens," not as party members. -- Robert Orttung
YELTSIN DESIGNATES COSSACK LEADER.
President Yeltsin appointed Anatolii
Semenov as the head of the main department of Cossack units subordinate to the
Russian president, ITAR-TASS reported 2 April. Yeltsin created the department
on 20 January 1996 to improve government-Cossack relations. The department
consists of 35 people and will coordinate with a 2 million-strong force of
Cossack fighters, Reuters reported. The department is part of Yeltsin's effort
to win the backing of various interest groups among the Russian electorate. --
COMMUNISTS LOSE GROUND IN ALTAI LOCAL ELECTIONS.
The Communist faction
in the Altai Krai legislature lost about 10 seats in the 50-seat body, failing
to meet expectations for a left-wing victory in the krai's 31 March elections,
Radio Rossii reported on 2 April. Even a pre-election visit by Communist Party
leader Gennadii Zyuganov did not help. A centrist bloc of Our Home Is Russia
and Yabloko deputies is now about the same size as the leftists. Russia's
Democratic Choice and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia did not win a
single seat. Independent deputies who have yet to announce their political
leanings will probably determine the direction of the legislature. -- Robert
DUDAEV COOL OVER YELTSIN'S PEACE PLAN.
In an interview with Turan on 2
April, Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev dismissed Yeltsin's Chechen peace plan
as "tactical tricks" on the eve of the Russian presidential election campaign,
and stated that talks with Russian representatives at this point would be
tantamount to "surrender." He said talks would be possible only after the
cessation of hostilities and the withdrawal of Russian forces from Chechnya.
Fighting continued in various parts of Chechnya despite the announced ceasefire
by Russian forces that supposedly went into effect at midnight on 31 March, as
Chechen fighters have attacked federal positions. -- Liz Fuller
COSTS OF CHECHEN WAR.
The federal government spent 6 trillion rubles
($1.2 billion) on the economic and social reconstruction of Chechnya in 1995,
ITAR-TASS reported on 31 March. There are no reliable figures for military
outlays, but the operational costs of the 40,000 or so troops in the breakaway
republic can be assumed to have been several times that amount. A UN Human
Rights Commission report released on 2 April estimated the civilian casualties
in the first five months of the war at 26,550, citing a Russian
non-governmental organization source, AFP reported. Tatyana Regent, the head of
the Federal Migration Service, said on Radio Rossii on 1 April that in the past
year her service has registered 437,000 refugees from Chechnya -- about one
third of the pre-war population. Another 1 million refugees and forced migrants
arrived from the former USSR. -- Peter Rutland
CLINTON DENIES TAKING SIDES IN RUSSIAN ELECTIONS.
In response to U.S.
media allegations of a "secret deal" with President Yeltsin, U.S. President
Bill Clinton declared that he is not taking sides in the Russian presidential
elections, Reuters reported on 2 April. On 27 March, The Washington
Times, citing leaked documents, alleged that when Clinton met Yeltsin at
the 13 March anti-terrorism summit in Egypt, he had pledged to support
Yeltsin's re-election in exchange for the Russian president's promise to
resolve "difficult" bilateral disputes, including one involving U.S. poultry
exports to Russia, much of which are produced in the president's home state of
Arkansas. Both Russian and U.S. spokesmen have refuted the report, but the
Russian Foreign Ministry criticized the U.S. Embassy in Moscow for "leaking"
confidential bilateral discussions, and the Clinton administration has opened a
Justice Department investigation into how the paper obtained classified
information. -- Scott Parrish
RUSSIA BALKS AT PROVIDING ARMS SALES DATA.
Russia's refusal to disclose
details of it arms exports has threatened to derail the Vienna talks on
establishing a new control regime for military exports, Reuters reported on 2
April. Talks on inaugurating the so-called Wassenaar Arrangement were to take
place between 31 Western and former communist states. The new apparatus is
designed to replace the old COCOM system set up by NATO to prevent the transfer
of advanced military technology to the former Warsaw Pact. In the preliminary
talks last December, Russia had agreed to provide details of its foreign arms
sales. Apparently afraid that they will lose valuable hard-currency deals, the
Russians have reneged on this pledge according to diplomatic sources in Vienna.
-- Doug Clarke
CIS FOREIGN MINISTERS DISCUSS INTEGRATION MEASURES.
Following on the
heels of the 29 March quadripartite treaty and concurrent with the 2 April
Russian-Belarusian agreement, the CIS foreign ministers met in Moscow to
discuss military cooperation among member states. The ministers are seeking
ways to implement the principles of the May 1992 Tashkent Treaty on Collective
Security, ITAR-TASS reported on 2 April. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii
Primakov underscored the value of integrating military policies. The foreign
ministers also rejected the Georgian call to have peacekeepers in the Abkhaz
region play a more active role, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 2 April. --
GOVERNMENT APPROVES SPACE ROCKET DEAL.
The Russian government has
approved a deal for the Russian aerospace company NPO Energomash to provide
RD-180 rocket engines to Pratt and Whitney that will be used in a
new-generation U.S. space launch vehicle, a senior Russian Space Agency
official told Reuters on 1 April. Aleksandr Kuznetsov said the controversial
deal "has a green light." In January, the U.S. aerospace firm Lockheed Martin
chose the RD-180 to power its new Atlas IIAP vehicle. The Russian military
strongly opposed the deal, warning that the technology transfer involved would
harm Russia's security. -- Doug Clarke
SOCCER PRESIDENT BANNED FOR SEASON.
Nikolai Tolstykh, the head of the
Professional Soccer League and the chairman of Moscow's Dinamo club, was barred
on 2 April from working as club president for the rest of the season, AFP
reported. Tolstykh was accused of punching the referee after a match with
Spartak Alania in which a penalty kick was awarded to Alania. -- Peter
YELTSIN SIGNS DECREE TO SUPPORT FINANCIAL INDUSTRIAL GROUPS.
Yeltsin has signed a decree aimed at stimulating the development of
financial-industrial groups (FPG), Segodnya reported on 2 April. The
decree promises financial assistance from the federal budget for FPGs involved
in federal economic programs. It also facilitates the concentration of assets
in the head company of the FPG, and the transfer of federally-owned shares to
them. As of December 1995, there were 27 FPGs in Russia uniting 414 firms and
65 financial institutions. Continuing cuts in the federal investment program,
however, has put a question mark over the decree's implementation. -- Natalia
GOVERNMENT REPAYS WAGE DEBT . . .
The federal government managed to pay
off its wage debt to budget organizations by the 31 March deadline set by
President Yeltsin, Izvestiya reported on 2 April. Transfers in March
from the federal budget for this purpose totaled 20.7 trillion rubles ($4.3
billion). A total of 7.9 trillion rubles was spent on current wage payments,
8.1 trillion rubles on wage debts, and 4.7 trillion rubles on loans to regions
to cover other wage payments. However, having spent all its available resources
on wage payments, the government does not have money to finance other aspects
of budget organizations' activities, such as fuel and energy bills. -- Natalia
. . . BUT PENSION ARREARS MOUNT.
Despite the highly-publicized campaign
to clear wage arrears, there is a persisting problem of late pension payments.
At the beginning of April, the Federal Pension Fund was short of 3.8 trillion
rubles ($780 million), ITAR-TASS reported on 2 April. The state still owes
pensioners 1.6 trillion rubles for the period from 1992 to 1994, 3 trillion
rubles for 1995, and more than 1.5 trillion rubles for the first three months
of 1996. A spokesman for the fund, which is technically separate from the
federal budget, appealed to the government for financial assistance. -- Natalia
AZERBAIJAN ACCUSES ARMENIA OF ABETTING LEZGIN TERRORISTS.
Azerbaijani Ministry of National Security has released the results of its
investigation into the bomb explosion on a train in the Baku metro in March
1994, in which 14 people were killed, Turan reported on 2 April. The
investigators concluded that the explosion was perpetrated by members of the
Dagestan-based Lezgin separatist organization Sadval, at the instigation of the
Armenian security service, who had provided them with the necessary training at
a base in Armenia in 1992. Five persons directly involved in the Baku bomb
attack and six more who had undergone training in Armenia were subsequently
arrested. Since its creation in 1991, Sadval has campaigned for the creation of
an independent Lezgin state comprising parts of southern Dagestan and northern
Azerbaijan, which is home to 150,000-200,000 ethnic Lezgins. -- Liz Fuller
KYRGYZ INTERIOR MINISTER QUITS AFTER SCANDAL.
Kyrgyz Interior Minister
Madalbek Moldashev offered his resignation following a scandal surrounding his
offer of new jobs to two officials who had been sacked by the Kyrgyz
government, Reuters reported on 2 April. Moldashev tendered his resignation
after the newspaper Vechernii Bishkek published a secretly recorded
conversation in which he made the promise to the two officials. The Kyrgyz
government criticized Moldashev's "two-faced" appointment policy. President
Askar Akayev is expected to sign a decree accepting Moldashev's resignation,
but no successor has been found. -- Bhavna Dave
SHEVARDNADZE IN ANKARA.
Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze arrived
in Ankara on 3 April to sign several unspecified agreements with his Turkish
counterpart, Suleyman Demirel,Yeni Yuzyil reported the same day.
Speaking during his weekly radio address two days earlier, Shevardnadze said he
was surprised that Georgian-Turkish relations had developed at such a "great
pace" in the past two to three years. During his visit, which follows
immediately on the heels of his trip to Moscow, the two sides will likely
discuss Turkey's hope to move Caspian Sea oil through Azerbaijan and Georgia to
Turkey; the timing of Shevardnadze's visit is likely connected to Moscow's
apparent willingness to accept this scenario. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister
Albert Chernyshev said on 3 April that Russia has no objections to the
construction of the planned Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, providing that part of
Azerbaijan's oil is also exported north through Russia, ITAR-TASS reported,
citing the Anatolian News Agency. -- Lowell Bezanis and Liz Fuller
THOUSANDS DEMONSTRATE IN MINSK AGAINST TREATY WITH RUSSIA.
Belarusians demonstrated in Minsk on 2 April against the union treaty signed
earlier that day in Moscow by Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and
his Russian counterpart, Boris Yeltsin, international media reported. A similar
number of Communists had demonstrated in Minsk at the weekend in support of the
treaty, which paves the way for integration with Russia in a number of areas.
The 2 April demonstration took place despite an initial ban on public
gatherings. Police later announced that the demonstration had been authorized
but not in the city center. Unable to reach the parliament building or the main
square, the demonstrators headed for the Russian Embassy but were prevented
from reaching there by more than 1,000 policemen. The protest, organized the
Belarus Popular Front, dispersed after some three hours. -- Jiri Pehe
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ON STATE OF THE NATION.
Leonid Kuchma, in his annual
state of the nation address, said that Ukraine made considerable progress in
1995 in its transformation to democracy and a market economy, Ukrainian
agencies reported on 2 April. He called on lawmakers to help build a consensus
on the nation's "fundamental values" and adopt a new constitution as soon as
possible. He added that the government managed to bring down inflation,
stabilize the national currency, and privatize more state enterprises in one
year than in the previous three combined. Kuchma said his goals for 1996
include further lowering inflation, resolving the industrial payments crisis,
accelerating privatization and restructuring, and tax reform. He called on
deputies to lift a moratorium on the privatization of some 6,000 state-owned
enterprises. -- Chrystyna Lapychak
MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT IN ESTONIA.
Mircea Snegur on 2 April began a two-day
official visit to Estonia, Moldovan agencies and BNS report. Snegur is
scheduled to meet with his Estonian counterpart, Lennart Meri, Premier Tiit
Vahi, Foreign Minister Siim Kallas, and other senior Estonian officials. The
Moldovan delegation includes Foreign Minister Mihai Popov and Economics
Minister Valeriu Bobutac. The two presidents are expected to sign a joint
declaration of friendship and cooperation. Snegur's visit is the first by a
Moldovan president to the Baltic states. He will travel to Lithuania from
Estonia. -- Dan Ionescu
EIGHT FORMER COMMUNISTS INDICTED IN LATVIA.
Eight former members of the
Latvian Communist Party were indicted for lying about their political
activities after the party was outlawed in January 1991, Western agencies
reported on 2 April. The eight, now members of the Socialist Party, have been
charged with concealing communist party activities in order to participate in
parliamentary elections. All of them were crossed off the election list before
last fall's elections. If convicted, they face up to a year in prison or fines
of up to $2,000. -- Dan Ionescu
U.S., LITHUANIAN PARATROOPERS CONDUCT JOINT EXERCISE.
U.S. paratroopers on 2 April started a month-long joint military exercises at a
former Soviet training ground in Lithuania, Western agencies reported.
Lithuanian Defense Minister Linas Linkevicius said the exercise, code-named
Bersteintal and staged in Rukla, will help "strengthen military cooperation"
between the two countries. Lithuania signed a military agreement with the U.S.
in 1994 and has since been participating in NATO's Partnership for Peace
program. A small Lithuanian military unit is part of NATO's IFOR troops in
Bosnia-Herzegovina. -- Dan Ionescu
POLISH ADMINISTRATION TO BE REFORMED.
The Polish government on 2 April
amended its draft law on administration, Polish dailies reported. The amendment
provides for the Internal Affairs Ministry to be transformed into the Internal
Affairs and Administration Ministry. It also transfers control over the State
Protection Office (UOP) from the internal affairs minister to the prime
minister. The same day, Premier Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz met with heads of the
49 provincial authorities. He said the reform of territorial administration is
unlikely to take place before the 1997 parliamentary elections. -- Jakub
TWENTY GROUPS TO CONTEST CZECH ELECTIONS.
A total of 17 parties and
three political movements have met the 1 April deadline to register candidates
for the upcoming Czech parliamentary elections, Czech media reported. Apart
from two Moravian groups, each will put up candidates in all eight electoral
districts. According to recent opinion polls, only six or seven parties are
likely to win the 5% of the total vote needed for parliamentary representation:
the three center-right parties in the current governing coalition, the Social
Democrats, the Communists, the extreme-right Republicans, and, possibly, the
reformed communist Left Bloc. In the June 1992 elections, eight out of the 23
groups that ran won seats in the then Czech National Council, now the
parliament. The elections will be held on 31 May and 1 June. -- Steve Kettle
COUNCIL OF EUROPE CRITICIZES TREATMENT OF ROMA IN CZECH REPUBLIC.
recent Council of Europe report says that the Czech citizenship law does not
violate international legislation, but it criticizes administrative procedures
used against Roma, CTK reported on 2 April. The report singles out courts and
police in northern Moravia, where Roma have been stripped of citizenship
without being properly informed or given time to make contingency plans. The
council expresses surprise that 78% of Roma denied citizenship so far have
lived in Bohemia and Moravia for more than 20 years. According to official
figures, a few hundred Roma have been denied citizenship. But civil rights
organizations say that thousands more have been turned away by bureaucrats or
cannot afford the fees. -- Alaina Lemon
RUSSIAN, UKRAINIAN OFFICIALS IN SLOVAKIA.
Russian Interior Minister
Anatolii Kulikov, at the start of a three-day visit to Slovakia on 2 April,
signed a police cooperation agreement with his Slovak counterpart, Ludovit
Hudek, TASR reported. Hudek stressed that criminal activities among Russian
citizens in Slovakia have not increased since visa-free relations began last
August. Kulikov noted that Russian citizens account for less than 1% of crime
in Slovakia, while Ukrainians account for 7%. In other news, Ukrainian Defense
Minister Valeri Shmarov, who also arrived for an official visit on 2 April,
stressed that the decision of whether to join NATO is up to Slovakia. Christian
Democratic Movement chairman Jan Carnogursky on 2 April criticized Slovak
foreign policy, saying it "verbally claims orientation toward Western
structures but, in fact, is pursuing policy aimed towards the East." -- Sharon
NEW PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION ON ROMA FORMED IN HUNGARY.
The Roma Program
Commission was set up by the parliament on 2 April, MTI reported. Csaba
Tabajdi, political state secretary at the Prime Minister's Office, told the
press after the inaugural session that the commission will consider ways to
improve the situation of Gypsies and will collaborate with relevant ministries
and with the National Gypsy Minority Autonomous Government. The commission will
submit an action program to the government by late May. Prime Minister Gyula
Horn is chairman of the commission, while Tabajdi has been appointed secretary.
-- Alaina Lemon
HUNGARY TO INVITE TENDERS FOR POWER PLANTS.
The Hungarian State
Privatization and Holding Co. (APV Rt.) has opened a tender for two power
plants that were not sold last year, Hungarian dailies reported on 3 April. A
90% stake in Budapesti Eromu, which serves the capital, and 95% of Tiszai
Eromu, in eastern Hungary, are up for sale. APV Rt. said that between 60% and
70% of the country's other three power plants will be sold off by the end of
the year as well as stakes in MVM, the main electricity company. Last year,
stakes in two generators and 12 electricity and gas supply companies were sold
for a total of some $2 billion, mainly to German, French, and Italian
investors. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
SHALIKASHVILI SAYS U.S. TROOPS WILL NOT PURSUE WAR CRIMINALS.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili said he is
"comfortable" with NATO's planned withdrawal from Bosnia at the end of the
year. He added that one year will be enough to tell whether the people in the
area are serious about peace, AFP quoted the Washington Post as saying
on 3 April. A debate is taking place in the U.S. and elsewhere as to whether
the one-year mandate for IFOR will be sufficient. The daily noted that the U.S.
commander on the ground, Adm. Leighton Smith, has not ruled out an extension.
Shalikashvili also opposed any American hunt for Bosnian war criminals. He said
it is the duty of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to bring the indicted
Bosnian Serbs to justice and that people like Radovan Karadzic will be out of
office after the upcoming elections. -- Patrick Moore
KARADZIC PICKED TO NEGOTIATE WITH INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY.
Serb parliament wrapped up its latest session in the early hours of 3 April,
AFP reported. It selected civilian leader Radovan Karadzic to head a committee
representing the Bosnian Serbs in talks with the international community. He
said the committee was "indispensable" due to "the numerous attempts being made
to interpret the Dayton accords to the Serbs' detriment." He added that his
heading the committee was "in line with the constitution of the [Republika
Srpska] under which the president of the republic represents the state." The
international community does not, however, have anything to do with Karadzic,
an indicted war criminal. Under the terms of an agreement between Pale and
Belgrade last August, Milosevic alone represents the Bosnian Serbs in such
talks. -- Patrick Moore
BILDT WARNS ABOUT SOCIAL UNREST.
The international community's High
Representative in Bosnia, Carl Bildt, said economic assistance will be vital to
curb unemployment, especially for tens of thousands of demobilized men, AFP
reported on 2 April. He also said that war criminals must be brought to justice
and the multi-ethnic nature of Bosnia preserved, the International Herald
Tribune and Nasa Borba added on 3 April. In Strbac, Serbs and Croats
exchanged a total of 31 prisoners, Croatian and Serbian radios noted. In
Sarajevo, in a rare display of unity, President Alija Izetbegovic and former
Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic issued a joint declaration saying that Bosnia
must be "a multiethnic community based on human rights and freedoms," Onasa
news agency said on 2 April. They were seconded by five political parties,
Vecernje novine reported. -- Patrick Moore
U.S. OFFICIAL URGES SERBIAN PRESIDENT TO SEND WAR CRIMINALS TO THE
John Kornblum, U.S. envoy to the former Yugoslavia, met with
Slobodan Milosevic on 2 April and urged him to extradite war crimes suspects to
the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Reuters
reported. Kornblum observed that while Serbia has recently sent to the Hague
two suspects implicated in the 1995 massacre of Muslim civilians near
Srebrenica, others remain at large in Serbia, including three officers involved
in the 1991 massacre of civilians in the Croatian city of Vukovar. In a
separate development, the U.S Congress has passed a motion criticizing Belgrade
for its recent clampdown on independent media and humanitarian groups, notably
the Soros Foundation, Nasa Borba reported on 3 April. -- Stan
CROATIAN OPPOSITION PARTIES LAUNCH ELECTORAL PACT.
Seven key parties
opposed to the governing Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) have signed a
declaration on joint action for the expected upcoming elections in Zagreb, Novi
list reported on 3 April. The signatories include the Croatian Social-Liberal
Party, which is the largest opposition grouping and which has been criticized
for its earlier reluctance to present a united electoral front against the HDZ.
The opposition currently has a majority in the city council but its choice of
mayor has been repeatedly rejected by President Franjo Tudjman. Polls suggest
that voters are fed up with Tudjman's behavior and that the opposition will do
even better in the early vote. * Patrick Moore
Nenad Canak, leader of the Social Democratic Party in
Vojvodina, has met with Hungarian President Gyula Horn to discuss autonomy for
the Serbian province, Nasa Borba reported on 2 April. Canak is slated to
present his views to the Hungarian government "in detail." Before the collapse
of socialist Yugoslavia Vojvodina had a population of some 2 million, roughly
22% of whom were ethnic Hungarians. In a separate development, Dragoljub
Micunovic, former president of the Serbian Democratic Party, has offered his
support for Vojvodina's autonomy. Micunovic, however, has stressed that he
promotes cultural and economic autonomy, Nasa Borba reported. -- Stan
MACEDONIAN LIBERALS WANT DISSOLUTION OF PARLIAMENT.
Liberal Party on 2 April announced it will submit a motion asking for the
parliament to be dissolved by 15 September, Nova Makedonija reported.
The Liberals claim that the parliament is no longer representative since the
coalition Union for Macedonia fell apart after the formation a new government
in February. That government does not include the Liberals. The Union for
Macedonia was composed of the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia, the
Liberals, and the Socialist Party. Representatives of the Social Democrats and
Socialists dismissed the Liberals' claim that the parliament is not legitimate.
-- Stefan Krause
ROMANIA APPLIES FOR NATO MEMBERSHIP.
Romania on 2 April submitted
documents to NATO officials in Brussels designed to open discussions on the
country's membership in the alliance, an RFE/RL correspondent in Bucharest and
local media reported. The documents were approved last month by the Supreme
Council for the Country's Defense, chaired by President Ion Iliescu. Romania is
the fourth country--after Latvia, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia--to submit
such documents. It was also the first to sign up for NATO's Partnership for
Peace Program. -- Matyas Szabo
ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT APPOINTS NEW POLICE CHIEF.
Gen. Costica Voicu on 2
April was named the country's new police chief, Romanian media and Reuters
reported. Voicu, who was formerly deputy chief of police, replaces Gen. Ion
Pitulescu, who resigned in mid-February in protest over alleged tolerance among
judicial officials of crime and corruption. Voicu is the seventh chief of
Romania's General Police Inspectorate since the fall of the Ceausescu regime in
December 1989. -- Matyas Szabo
THOUSANDS PROTEST BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT'S RESPONSE TO YELTSIN REMARK.
Thousands of people gathered outside the Bulgarian government building on 2
April to protest the government's failure to clearly distance itself from a
recent remark by Russian President Boris Yeltsin, RFE/RL reported. Yeltsin had
said at the signing last week of the regional integration agreement with
Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan that Bulgaria might also sign an
integration agreement with Russia and other former Soviet republics. Union of
Democratic Forces Chairman Ivan Kostov called on Prime Minister Zhan Videnov to
"clearly and categorically" reject Yeltsin's statement. Bulgarian Socialist
Party caucus leader Krasimir Premyanov accused President Zhelyu Zhelev of
exploiting the situation for his re-election goals. He added that the
opposition's protests might harm relations with Russia. Meanwhile, the
government has said it is trying to balance its foreign policy priorities
between the EU and the CIS. -- Stefan Krause
BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES CHANGES TO LAW ON NATIONAL BANK.
Bulgarian parliament on 2 April amended the law on the national bank giving the
power to appoint and remove the governor and three deputy governors to the
legislature, Bulgarian media reported. The president retains that power
vis-a-vis the other five members of the executive board. Deputies rejected a
clause removing the president's right to veto changes to the board proposed by
the governor. A board member's mandate may be terminated owing to his
resignation, death, criminal conviction, or inability to perform his duties for
more than one year. -- Michael Wyzan
U.S. TO GIVE MILITARY AID TO ALBANIA.
U.S. Defense Secretary William
Perry said Washington will give military equipment worth more than $100 million
to Albania, Reuters reported on 2 April. The package will include anti-tank
missiles, anti-aircraft missiles, and other military supplies. Perry said the
U.S. has no plans to set up a base in Albania but pointed out it would support
the building of a new training center in Bize. Albanian President Sali Berisha
awarded Perry the Order of Skanderbeg, the highest decoration bestowed on
foreigners, at the end of his three-day visit. -- Fabian Schmidt
ALBANIAN CENTRIST PARTIES REGISTER ON JOINT LIST.
Democratic Alliance and the Social Democratic Party have registered as a joint
party for the upcoming elections in late May or early June, Gazeta
Shqiptare reported on 3 April. The two parties' leaders--Neritan Ceka and
Skender Gjinushihe--head the new group, which is called the Pole of the Center.
Neither has ruled out the possibility of a coalition with the Socialist Party
or the Party for Human Rights, which represents the country's ethnic Greeks. --
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave