ROSSEL PARTY WINS SVERDLOVSK ELECTIONS.
Sverdlovsk Governor Eduard
Rossel's party, Transformation of the Urals, led the field in the competition
for the lower house of the Sverdlovsk Oblast Duma, with 36% of the vote,
ITAR-TASS reported on 16 April. The Communist bloc came in second with 15% of
the vote. Our Home-Our City, the regional affiliate of Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin's Our Home Is Russia, won 13%. About 3% supported Yabloko and the
Liberal Democratic Party of Russia. Both Rossel and Our Home-Our City have
pledged to back Yeltsin in the June presidential election. The Sverdlovsk Duma
elections were held exclusively on party lists. The results of the upper house
and local government votes are still being tabulated. -- Robert Orttung
MORE CANDIDATES TURN IN SIGNATURES.
Kemerovo Oblast legislature Chairman
Aman Tuleev, Democratic Russia leader Galina Starovoitova, and former
Federation Council member Vladimir Podoprigora turned in their nomination
signatures to register for the presidential election ahead of the 6 p.m. 16
April deadline, NTV reported on 15 April. The Central Electoral Commission is
still considering the signatures of Grigorii Yavlinskii, Svyatoslav Fedorov,
Aleksandr Lebed, and Sergei Mavrodi. -- Robert Orttung
YELTSIN RAISES PENSION COMPENSATION PAYMENTS . . .
In an attempt to
boost his standing with Russia's 3.7 million poorest pensioners, President
Boris Yeltsin issued a decree on 15 April raising pension compensation
payments, ITAR-TASS reported. The maximum compensation payment, received by
those on the minimum pension (63,500 rubles a month), will be doubled on 1 May
to 150,000 rubles ($31), bringing the monthly total received by such pensioners
to 213,250 rubles. Compensation payments for those on higher pensions will be
lower, falling to a minimum of 85,000 rubles. Yeltsin also instructed the
government to submit a bill to the Duma raising pensions by 10% a month from 1
May. The Duma has repeatedly sought to raise the minimum pension by 20%--a move
opposed by the government as too expensive. The cost of the president's
initiatives is estimated at 1.7 trillion rubles a month. -- Penny Morvant
. . . PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR SCIENCE. . .
Turning his attention to Russia's
impoverished scientific community, Yeltsin
also pledged on 15 April to
lend greater support to fundamental scientific research and the Russian Academy
of Sciences, NTV reported. Speaking at a meeting marking the 100th anniversary
of the birth of Nobel prize winning scientist Nikolai Semenov, Yeltsin appealed
for support for a second term as president in order to prevent "a political and
social Chornobyl." -- Penny Morvant
. . . AND WAVES RED FLAG.
Yeltsin is preparing to sign a decree allowing
the display of the "red banner of victory" alongside the Russian tricolor flag
when marking state holidays, military events, and other ceremonies, ITAR-TASS
reported, quoting unnamed sources. Yeltsin hopes the decision will honor the
Russian heroes who planted the red flag of the Soviet Union over the Reichstag
in May 1945. -- Robert Orttung
LEBED PROPOSES SHARP REDUCTIONS IN ARMY.
Duma deputy and presidential
candidate Aleksandr Lebed told RFE/RL on 10 April that he would drastically cut
the size of Russian military forces if elected president. Recent Western
estimates say the Russian army now has 91 divisions, although many are severely
undermanned and lacking in combat-readiness. Lebed suggested that Russia now
needs only 15 fully-manned regular armored and infantry divisions supplemented
by 5-6 airborne brigades, plus 15 reserve divisions. Lebed suggested the Air
Force could be reduced from its current level of 6,000 planes to 1,000. Smaller
forces would be more effective and less expensive to maintain, the former
general contended. -- Scott Parrish
GRACHEV ON RUSSIAN TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM CHECHNYA.
Yekaterinburg on 15 April, Defense Minister Pavel Grachev said that Russia
would station 10,000 troops in Chechnya permanently but that the remainder
would be withdrawn in three phases--one to begin immediately, the second in
early May, and the third in November--from those areas controlled by the
Zavgaev leadership, AFP reported, citing Interfax. Chechen President Dzhokhar
Dudaev, however, told Reuters in a telephone interview that he would only agree
to negotiations with the Russian leadership on the condition that all
Russian troops withdraw. In a move that suggests a split in the Dudaev
camp, several of his field commanders, including Chief of Staff Aslan
Maskhadov, met with representatives of various Chechen political parties on 15
April and agreed to convene a forum on 18 April to facilitate direct talks
between Dudaev and President Boris Yeltsin, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Liz Fuller
TURKISH JOURNALISTS SENTENCED IN DAGESTAN.
Two Turkish journalists have
been sentenced to three years imprisonment for attempting to enter Chechnya
from Azerbaijan via Dagestan in violation of Article 83 of Russia's Criminal
Code, according to a 12 April Turkish Radio and Television report monitored by
the BBC. The two men, Mehmet Ali Tekin and Talip Ozcevik, are connected with
the pro-religious conservative daily Selam. The sentence they received
was the maximum possible under Russian law. Russia has repeatedly accused
elements in Turkey of supporting the Chechen rebels. -- Lowell Bezanis
PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: IRAN REACTOR DEAL THREATENS RUSSIA.
Yablokov, head of the Ecological Safety Commission of the Russian Security
Council, told a Moscow press conference on 15 April that the controversial
Russo-Iranian deal to finish the uncompleted nuclear power station at Bushehr
could give Iran access to technology that would allow it to build nuclear
weapons, Russian and Western agencies reported. Yablokov said that training
Iranian specialists to run the plant would permit Iran to make significant
progress "toward the creation of its own nuclear armaments." The remarks, which
come shortly before the 19-20 April G-7 nuclear security summit in Moscow,
directly contradict the official Russian government position. -- Scott
SERGIEV POSAD PROTESTS CHEMICAL DISPOSAL PLANT.
Residents of Sergiev
Posad (formerly Zagorsk), about 70 km north of Moscow, oppose plans to
reprocess toxic liquid missile fuel in the town, NTV reported on 13 April. A
plant there will reprocess up to 10,000 tons of heptyl, much of it removed from
deactivated Russian ballistic missiles, at a new facility there, constructed
with U.S. assistance under the Nunn-Lugar program. Vasilli Goncharov, the mayor
of the town, told NTV that hundreds of local residents had signed petitions
opposing the plant, citing fears of environmental damage. Residents also object
to what they claim are plans to import foreign heptyl for processing. Genrykh
Matysyak, director of the plant, said only Russian heptyl will be processed
there and argued that the facility will boost the local economy by creating new
jobs. -- Scott Parrish
RUSSIA URGES RESTRAINT ON NORTH KOREA.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister
Vitalii Ignatenko said he managed to "somewhat shake North Korea" into
softening its stance on relations with South Korea during his 10-12 April visit
to Pyongyang, Russian and Western agencies reported. Tensions have been high
along the Demilitarized Zone separating the two Koreas since Pyongyang
renounced the 1953 armistice agreement earlier this month. Ignatenko admitted,
however, that North Korean officials had repeatedly said they viewed war
between North and South Korea as "inevitable." Backtracking from earlier
statements, Ignatenko also acknowledged that no progress had been made on
settling North Korea's debts to the former USSR, valued at over 3 billion
transferable rubles, which Russia inherited in 1991. -- Scott Parrish
MYSTERIOUS URALS COMPLEX THREATENS NUNN-LUGAR AID.
The Russian Defense
Ministry is building an underground complex near Beloretsk (Bashkortostan),
that may threaten U.S. disarmament aid to Russia, The New York Times
reported on 16 April. Russian officials refuse to reveal the purpose of the
huge complex, which Clinton administration officials speculate may be anything
from a command-and-control bunker for Russian nuclear forces to a secret
weapons depot. Russia claims financial hardships will hamper the full
implementation of arms control agreements such as START II, but it appears that
the complex in the Urals is swallowing significant funds. Under current U.S.
law, Nunn-Lugar disarmament aid can only be disbursed to Russia if the U.S.
president can certify that Russian military programs do not exceed "legitimate
defense requirements." -- Scott Parrish
RUSSO-ESTONIAN WATER DISPUTE.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei
Krylov delivered a formal protest to Estonian Ambassador Mart Helme on 12
April, complaining that authorities in the Estonian border city of Narva had
cut off water supplies to the neighboring Russian town of Ivangorod, ITAR-TASS
reported. Narva authorities cited unpaid bills as the reason for shutting off
the water. Krylov added that 880 million rubles ($180,000) in back payments had
been made by 12 April, and that all outstanding debts for water would be paid
during the next week. Russian gas supplies to the Baltic states have frequently
been shut off since 1991 because of unpaid bills. -- Scott Parrish
LIVING STANDARDS IMPROVE IN FIRST QUARTER.
Average real income increased
by 2% in the first three months of 1996 in comparison with the same period last
year, Radio Rossii reported on 15 April, citing Goskomstat. The number of
people living below the poverty line fell from 45.1 million (30%) in the first
quarter of 1995 to 35.9 million (24%). Income differentials between the richest
and poorest social groups have shrunk somewhat, with the ratio between the
income of those in the top 10% and the bottom 10% falling from 13.6:1 to
13.5:1. -- Penny Morvant
AIRCRAFT MANUFACTURERS IN CRISIS.
In the first three months of this
year, Russian airlines did not place a single order for a new aircraft from
domestic producers, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 April. Viktor Samokhin, the head
of the aviation department of the Transport Ministry, said that the number of
civilian aircraft commissioned fell from 292 in 1992 to 180 in 1993, 47 in
1994, and 28 in 1995. Russian airlines cannot raise loans to buy replacements
to modernize their aging stock of 8,500 aircraft, while Boeing has leased 15 of
its craft to Russian companies. The Finance Ministry has set aside just $100
million to finance the construction of seven aircraft this year. -- Peter
LACK OF CAPITAL THREATENS RUSSIA'S SECURITY.
A report for the Security
Council prepared by the government's Financial Academy concludes that the
shortage of capital in Russia is a threat to national security,
Izvestiya reported on 16 April. Russia needs $150 billion to restart
economic growth, but this investment capital cannot be generated either
domestically or through foreign investment. The report also warned against the
current practice of funding the budget deficit by issuing GKOs. A financial
crash could provide a pretext for an attempted return to a planned economy,
which would leave Russia "among the lagging economies of the Third World."
Bella Zlatkis, the head of the Securities Department at the Finance Ministry,
denied that GKO emissions amount to a "pyramid scheme," although she admitted
that the government is in danger of "putting all its eggs in one basket." --
YILMAZ IN BAKU.
Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz held talks in Baku
on 14-15 April with Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliyev to discuss the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the export of Azerbaijan's Caspian oil, Turan and
Western agencies reported. Yilmaz also stated Turkey's readiness to offer "all
kinds of assistance" to Azerbaijan in modernizing its armed forces, according
to Turan on 14 April. Aliyev said the views of the two countries' leaders on all
regional and international issues are close if not identical. Yilmaz promised
Aliyev Turkey's Alican border gate with Armenia would not be opened unless
Armenia began to retreat from Azerbaijani territory, Yeni Yuzyil
reported on 15 April. Cumhuriyet on 16 April quoted Aliev's foreign
policy adviser, Vafa Guli-Zade, as saying that although Yilmaz is a "great
politician," he is "an amateur" on the subject of Karabakh. -- Liz Fuller
EU OFFICE OPENS IN ALMATY.
The EU established an official representative
office in Almaty on 12 April, Russian TV reported. EU External Relations
Commissioner Hans van den Broek said that EU measures to consolidate relations
with Kazakhstan will not affect the union's partnership with Russia. The EU has
offered another long term package in addition to the $100 million in technical
aid, which makes it the single largest donor to Kazakhstan. The EU is
especially interested in the construction of pipelines to export Kazakhstan's
oil and gas. -- Bhavna Dave
RUSSIA GAINS KYRGYZ ASSETS IN RETURN FOR DEBTS.
The Kyrgyz government
has agreed to repay part of the country's $132 million debt to Russia in the
form of state-owned shares in 39 industrial and mining enterprises, ITAR-TASS
reported on 15 April. The debts stem from the credits granted to Kyrgyzstan in
1992-1993. Russia has agreed to take 66% and 70% stakes in two tobacco
companies, a 34% stake in the Kyrgyz Electromechanical Plant, and a 70% stake
in the Kyrgyz Chemical-Metallurgical Plant. Russia is also interested in
acquiring shares in electrical energy companies. New owners of the transferred
stakes in Russia will be registered as Russo-Kyrgyz joint ventures. -- Natalia
GERMAN WEEKLY LEAKS INFORMATION ON CZECH-GERMAN DECLARATION.
Spiegel reports in its latest issue that in the Czech-German declaration
currently being drafted by both countries' government representatives, the
Czech Republic will express regrets over the fact that innocent people suffered
during the expulsions of Sudeten Germans after World War II. Such a formulation
would allow the two countries to bypass the question of the expulsions'
legality. However, Mlada fronta Dnes reported last week that the
declaration is to contain a Czech apology for the "wild expulsions" and the
excesses that occurred during the so-called "transferals" of Sudeten Germans
(see the Daily Digest of 9 April 1996). Der Spiegel claims that Germany
will accept the results of World War II in the declaration, making it difficult
for any future German government to defend Sudeten German claims. Czech Prime
Minister Vaclav Klaus stressed last week that the declaration is still under
discussion and its final version will not be ready before the Czech
parliamentary elections in June. -- Jiri Pehe
OPINION POLL ON RUSSIAN-BELARUSIAN AGREEMENT.
An opinion poll conducted
by the Zerkadlo sociological service in Belarus showed that most Minsk
residents support the 2 April agreement forming a Community of Sovereign States
between Russia and Belarus, Belapan reported on 15 April. Out of 300 people
polled, 47% said they completely supported the community's formation, 16%
voiced partial support, while 17% said they did not support it at all. A
further 20% found the question too difficult to answer. When asked about the
effect the community would have on Belarus' sovereignty, 30% responded it would
be strengthened by the community, 28% said it would be lost, 16% felt it would
make no difference, and 26% said they did not know. -- Ustina Markus
NATO SECRETARY GENERAL IN KIEV.
Secretary General Javier Solana arrived
in Kiev on 15 April for an official visit, NTV and Russian Public TV reported.
Solana met with President Leonid Kuchma, Prime Minister Yevhan Marchuk, and
Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko. Kuchma said that Ukraine was in favor of
developing political, not military, ties with NATO. Russian media noted that as
Russian elections approach, the West is becoming more active in developing ties
with the Baltics and Ukraine. -- Ustina Markus
WORLD BANK TO OFFER AGRICULTURAL CREDITS TO UKRAINE.
The World Bank
signed a conditional agreement with Ukraine on extending a $700 million loan to
support the country's agricultural sector, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 April.
Among the conditions attached are that Ukraine lift its moratorium on the sale
of land for six years, and that collective farms are stripped of their
pre-emptive right to buy land. The bank also agreed to extend a $250 million
credit to support structural reforms, and $170 million to set up an export
guarantee fund. The first tranche of a $250 million credit to reform Ukraine's
coal industry should be made available by the World Bank in May. -- Ustina
CRIMEA SETS UP CONSTITUTIONAL COMMITTEE.
Democratic leaders of 38
Crimean public and political organizations set up a committee for the promotion
of the constitutional process in Ukraine, UNIAR reported on 12 April. The
organizations claim the current draft constitution does not guarantee the
rights of Crimean Tatars and has other shortcomings. The committee will insist
that the draft constitution be amended to incorporate their concerns. -- Ustina
PROPOSAL FOR BALTIC SECURITY CIRCULATED.
In the run-up to NATO Secretary
General Javier Solana's visit to the Baltics, a Rand Corporation paper
advocating a security concept short of NATO membership has been circulating in
the Baltic foreign ministries, BNS reported on 14 April. Western officials have
acknowledged that the Baltics are too difficult to defend, and their sizable
Russian minorities do not allow for quick NATO membership. The Rand report
proposes basing Baltic security on "five pillars": strengthening reforms,
solving the minority issues, cooperating with the Nordic countries, EU
membership, and cooperation with Moscow. The report says NATO membership should
not be excluded as a future possibility for the Baltics, but that the "five
pillar" approach would buy time and acknowledge Russian sensitivities in the
region. -- Ustina Markus
LATVIA, ESTONIA REACH TEMPORARY DEAL ON FISHING ZONES.
Minister Andris Skele and his Estonian counterpart Tiit Vahi reached a
temporary agreement valid until 1 August on fishing in their disputed waters,
BNS reported on 15 April. According to the agreement, both sides will have
access to waters near the island of Ruhnu in the Gulf of Riga, and agree not to
hinder each other's fishing vessels. The statement was made in Vilnius where
the Baltic Assembly met on 14 April. Vahi said the two reached an agreement on
sea borders and fishing rights for this year and next. An Estonian government
spokesman said Latvia accepted Estonia's proposals regarding the sea border,
while Estonia compromised on its fishing rights in the region. -- Ustina
LATVIA, CZECH REPUBLIC SIGN FREE-TRADE AGREEMENT.
Czech Industry and
Trade Minister Vladimir Dlouhy and Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Valdis
Birkaus on 15 April signed an agreement establishing a free-trade zone between
the two countries, Czech and Latvian media reported. In 1995 the two countries
traded goods worth $24.1 million; the new agreement is expected to increase
that volume. Dlouhy told Birkaus that the Czech Republic will ask the World
Bank to give Latvia new credits to be used for purchasing Czech-made mass
transportation vehicles. Meanwhile, Czech President Vaclav Havel and his
Latvian counterpart, Guntis Ulmanis, agreed there was no alternative to joining
NATO for future security, but that partnership with Russia was also vital. --
HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL OPENS IN PRAGUE.
A Holocaust memorial, listing all
available names of Czech Jews killed by the Nazis, was shown to reporters in
Prague on 15 April, Czech media report. The memorial is located in the Pinkas
Synagogue that recently reopened after several decades. Some 80,000 names are
listed over 170 sq. m. area of the synagogue's wall. Prague's Rabbi Karol Sidon
will unveil the memorial officially on 16 April which is Holocaust Remembrance
Day. The memorial was first opened in 1959 but closed in 1968 as relations
between Czechoslovakia and Israel deteriorated. During the renovation, names
were removed and added on the basis of new information. -- Jiri Pehe
SLOVAK CONSTITUTIONAL COURT DELEGATION IN U.S.
A group of Slovak
Constitutional Court judges, led by Chairman Milan Cic, arrived in Washington
on 14 April for a 12-day visit. In an interview with Slovakia, Cic said
the main goal of the visit is to find out how the U.S. Supreme Court and lower
courts function. He said the delegation will brief American officials on
Slovakia's Constitutional Court. -- Jiri Pehe
SLOVAK PRESIDENT IN CHINA.
Michal Kovac, on a five-day official visit to
China, met with Chinese leaders on 12 April to discuss economic cooperation
between the two countries, Slovak media report. On 13 and 14 April, Kovac
visited Xi'an, one of China's greatest industrial centers. On 15 April, Kovac
and his entourage traveled to Shenzen, an economic zone in China's Guangdong
province. -- Jiri Pehe
NEW POLISH PUBLIC TV PRESIDENT SPEAKS ON HIS WORK.
Polish public TV's new president, spoke on 15 April on his vision of public TV
and journalism. Miazek, supported by the ruling left-wing coalition, said in an
interview with Zycie Warszawy, "TV should not itself aspire to express
opinions because that is the task of the parliament and other state
representatives." Polish journalists from Rzeczpospolita, the left-wing
Trybuna, and the satirical Nie, were critical of Miazek's
comments. A commentator from Rzeczpospolita said "this is the end of
independent TV's role as a balancing instrument." Miazek replaced Wieslaw
Walendziak who was considered too opposition-minded by the ruling coalition. --
BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER IN POLAND.
Leader of the Belarusian Popular
Front Zyanon Paznyak and the Front's Press Secretary Syarhei Naumchyk said on
15 April during a visit to Wroclaw that they intend to organize support for
Belarusian opposition abroad. Paznyak says he hopes Wroclaw will become a
center of support for Belarusian democracy. Paznyak was critical of Polish
President Aleksander Kwasniewski's recent visit to Belarus, adding Kwasniewski
met in Minsk with individuals who do not represent Belarusian opposition but
support "constructive collaboration" with Belarusian President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka. He went on to say Lukashenka is doing "dirty work" for Russia with
the help of the KGB generals in Belarus, Polish dailies reported on 16 April.
-- Jakub Karpinski
CONTROVERSY OVER ALLEGED GUARANTEES BY HUNGARY'S FORMER GOVERNMENT.
senior coalition Socialist party is at odds with former government
representatives over guarantees to various business organizations that the
present government allegedly inherited from the Boros-government in 1994,
Hungarian media reported. Prime Minister Gyula Horn's unexpected statement two
weeks ago that the present cabinet has to make good on 600 billion forints ($4
billion) sparked a heated debate. On 15 April, Horn accused former governing
parties of financial mismanagement and falsifying files on international
negotiations, and he increased the debated amount to 900 billion forints. The
statement led to an acrimonious debate, with the former ruling parties
disputing Horn's claim. Neither side has revealed any evidence in the case. --
BOSNIA BEGINS FORMAL PAYMENTS TO SOLDIERS.
Bosnian authorities held
official ceremonies to start paying soldiers, invalids, and families of dead
soldiers for their contributions during the war, Oslobodjenje reported
on 16 April. The problem is that the government has little or no money to meet
its obligations, so instead of paying in cash it is issuing "bank books" that
show exactly how much each man earned, Onasa noted. The average salary for
soldiers is DM 400 per month, which is still a princely wage by Bosnian
standards. The authorities expect to distribute up to 3,000 of the bank books
daily. It is not clear exactly when and how the men or their families can
convert the paper payments into hard cash. All three sides in Bosnia face huge
problems connected with the demobilization of tens of thousands of soldiers. --
BIHAC KINGPIN LAUNCHES NEW PARTY.
Fikret Abdic, one of the country's
most controversial figures, has launched a new party, the Democratic People's
Community (DNZ), Nasa Borba reported on 16 April. The Bihac-area kingpin
has been living in Croatia since his Serb-backed empire fell to joint Croatian
and Bosnian government forces last fall. Among his enemies are Bosnian
President Alija Izetbegovic. However, thousands of people from the Bihac
region, refer to Abdic as "Babo," or "Daddy," crediting him with bringing
prosperity and peace. He appears to have exchanged Serbian for Croatian
backing, and some observers have suggested that the Croats' recent arrest of
five Muslims allegedly sent to kill Abdic was merely a publicity stunt on
Abdic's behalf, Novi list and Politika noted. The renegade Muslim
politician himself said that he "was not surprised" that assassins were sent to
kill him, claiming that Izetbegovic cannot tolerate the presence of a politican
who got more votes than he did in the 1990 elections. -- Patrick Moore
BOSNIA'S EX-COMMUNISTS APPEAL FOR ANTI-NATIONALIST VOTE.
The Union of
Bosnian Social Democrats (UBSD) is the successor to the former communist and
reformist party that took only 10% of the vote in the parliamentary elections,
but it held on to the mayor's seat in multi-ethnic Tuzla throughout the war.
Mayor Sejfudin Tokic has launched the UBSD's republic-wide electoral campaign
by stressing that his party seeks to represent all Bosnians, which, he claims,
Izetbegovic never did, Nasa Borba reported on 16 April. Tokic claims
that his party has 40,000 members, including some from Serb-held regions. He
stated that the Serbian and Croatian nationalist parties will fall apart under
internal pressures, but that Izetbegovic's Muslim nationalist party will be a
tougher nut to crack because of its radical populist profile. -- Patrick
PALE LEADERSHIP TEST TERMS OF PEACE TREATY.
Vice President Nikola
Koljevic, whom some see as a possible successor to the indicted war criminal
and civilian leader Radovan Karadzic has publicly stated views that are openly
at variance with the Dayton peace accord. Koljevic told Nasa Borba on 16
April that "boundaries no longer matter" between the Bosnian Serb state and
rump Yugoslavia. He also said that it is not permissible that Muslims and
Croats return to their homes on Serb-held territory until Serbian refugees
there have been settled. Koljevic noted that the major European powers are
coming to accept the Serbian view that Bosnia has no multi-ethnic future.
The Economist also said that Europe is rejecting the American and Dayton
concept of a multi-ethnic state in favor of a more "evenhanded" approach. --
SLOVENIA AND CROATIA PLEDGE AID FOR BOSNIA.
The war-torn republic's two
northern neighbors have promised financial backing for Bosnia through the World
Bank, Onasa noted on 15 April. Ljubljana is offering $3.5 million to repair the
homes of 18,000 Bosnian refugees living in Slovenia on the condition that they
return to Bosnia. Zagreb will make available a total of up to $20 million by
1999 to rebuild the port at Ploce, reconstruct the Sava bridge at Orasje, and
develop waterworks. -- Patrick Moore
SLOVENIAN--RUMP YUGOSLAV RELATIONS REMAIN STRAINED.
A normalization of
mutual relations between Ljubljana and Belgrade remains unlikely. The Slovenian
foreign ministry announced that it is still waiting for a response to its
recognition of rump-Yugoslavia, pointing out that this would be a precondition
for establishing diplomatic ties. -- Fabian Schmidt
MOLDOVA: A CROSSROADS FOR ILLEGAL MIGRATION.
Moldova has detained 500
illegal migrants this year, Reuters reported on 15 April. Moldova's border with
Romania has become a crossroads for illegal migrants from Southeast Asia,
according to a National Security Ministry statement aired on national TV on 14
April. -- Michael Shafir
UPDATE ON EBRD MEETING IN SOFIA.
EBRD President Jaques de Larosiere
urged Eastern European Banks to strengthen banking regulation, Bulgarian
Economic Review reported on 16 April. He said governments should focus on
"macroeconomic stabilization, bank rehabilitation and banking supervision."
Larosiere noted bank debts and failure of private banks to stick to basic
banking principles as the main problems. Meanwhile, Bulgarian Deputy Premier
and Minister of Economic Development Rumen Gechev estimated that Bulgaria may
be legislatively and economically ready for EU membership in eight years.
Gechev added that 106 state-owned companies were listed for liquidation, but
pointed out that Bulgaria attracted $60 million in foreign investment in the
first quarter of this year. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov promised tax
concessions for companies, more than 66% of which are privately owned,
Demokratsiya reported. -- Fabian Schmidt and Miat Sadiku
KIRO GLIGOROV REJECTS EARLY PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS.
In an interview
given to the Croatian daily Vecernji List, Macedonian President Kiro
Gligorov ruled out early parliamentary elections in Macedonia, Politika
reported on 16 April. Politika claims that Gligorov's ruling angered
organizers of a citizen's initiative which collected 220,000 signatures
demanding new elections. Gligorov defended his objections to early elections
arguing that "there is no [democratic] country with regulations that allow
early elections based on a citizens' initiative," MILS reported. Meanwhile,
Gligorov said in an interview to Oslobodjenje on 16 April that he and
Bosnian President Alia Izetbegovic planned to establish an association of the
Yugoslav republics before the breakup of the state, but were blocked by Serbian
President Slobodan Milosevic and his Croatian counterpart Franjo Tudjman's
oppositions. -- Fabian Schmidt
ALBANIAN OPPOSITION CRITICIZES ELECTION COMMISSION.
opposition has criticized the commission which approves candidates for the
upcoming May elections. The commission has banned more than 42 candidates from
running, charging them with either holding high government office in communist
times or with collaboration with the former secret police. Socialist Party
Deputy Leader Namik Dokle accused the Democratic Party government of
arbitrarily changing laws in order to keep party leader Fatos Nano in prison.
He also accused the government of changing electoral districts to increase the
electoral chances of its own party. -- Fabian Schmidt
MONTENEGRIN SUPREME COURT TO REVIEW LAW ON LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT?
Montenegrin Helsinki Committee for Human Rights filed an appeal with the
Constitutional Court, demanding a review of a law on local self-administration,
Beta reported on 15 April. The law was decreed by the Montenegrin
government on 1 April and the Helsinki Committee argues that it
unconstitutionally increases central authorities' power to interfere in local
affairs. The new law practically suspends a number of rights that had been
guaranteed to the mainly ethnic Albanian community of Ulcinj. -- Fabian
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Deborah Michaels