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Newsline - July 1, 1996

President Boris Yeltsin has not been seen in public since 26 June, Reuters reported as the last day of campaigning began in Russia on 1 July. In an interview published on 1 July in Rossiiskaya gazeta, Yeltsin said that he had lost his voice. The Kremlin canceled a 1 July meeting between Yeltsin and the presidents of Moldova and Ukraine, ITAR-TASS reported on the same day. The Russian media has provided no detailed information about the president's health, sparking speculation from his rival, Gennadii Zyuganov, and others that his illness is serious. Finally, on the afternoon of 1 July Russian Television broadcast a short address by Yeltsin, which they said was recorded at 10:00 a.m. GMT on 1 July. Yeltsin's voice was hoarse but otherwise his appearance was normal. -- Robert Orttung

The president confirmed his rejection of the idea of a coalition government, stressing that his government would be made up of professionals whose main priorities were "order and care," reflecting an emphasis on cracking down on crime and bolstering social policy, Rossiskaya gazeta reported on 1 July. Yeltsin described the "whole world" as the sphere of Russian national interests, but stressed developing cooperation within the CIS, strengthening Russia's position with the West, and "seriously stepping up" policy toward the East. He said that Russia would strengthen its military base in Kaliningrad. Yeltsin described Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii as his ally, but rejected Yavlinskii's proposal to amend the Constitution to weaken the presidency as "extremely dangerous." -- Robert Orttung

Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed on 29 June called for the recreation of the vice presidency and proposed himself for the job, ITAR-TASS reported the following day. He called on his supporters to back Yeltsin in the runoff, saying that his alliance with the president was not a betrayal of his ideals, but the union of two politicians who believe that "a non-communist future is possible for Russia." In contrast to Yeltsin, Lebed foresees a coalition government, possibly including Gennadii Zyuganov and Vladimir Zhirinovsky, NTV reported on 30 June. -- Robert Orttung

President Yeltsin turned down yet another challenge from Gennadii Zyuganov to a live television debate, Russian media reported on 28 June. According to NTV, the president explained: "I have nothing to discuss with him ... I know all these former and current party functionaries well. They are all failures from the ranks of the nomenklatura, who haven't learned anything during these long years." Meanwhile, Zyuganov and his team are making a campaign issue out of the president's refusal to debate. During a 26 June free air time appearance on ORT, Zyuganov criticized Yeltsin for refusing to adhere to a practice he said was normal in all "civilized countries." -- Laura Belin in Moscow

Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky on 28 June dealt a blow to Gennadii Zyuganov's prospects by advising LDPR supporters not to vote for a Communist, Russian media reported. While he stopped short of endorsing President Yeltsin openly, Zhirinovsky lashed out at pro-Communist hecklers, shouting angrily: "You degraded us for 40 years...You decided where I would go for vacation. You decided where I would study, where I would live...." However, Zhirinovsky said the LDPR will not accept any cabinet posts and will "constantly criticize" both the president and government after the election, NTV reported on 28 June. -- Laura Belin in Moscow

Yeltsin's campaign head Sergei Filatov suggested on 29 June that there may have been mass fraud during the first round of the presidential election, Ekho Moskvy and Reuters reported. Filatov said the number of people claiming to be ill and casting votes at mobile polling stations was abnormally high--3.5 million--and that most voting in such fashion had cast their ballots against Yeltsin. "This all makes you think that falsifications by Boris Yeltsin's opponents occurred during the voting," he added. According to Filatov, in some areas up to 25% of voters had claimed to be unable to go to polling stations. Yeltsin's camp earlier said no major violations were recorded during the voting. -- Penny Morvant

Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on 28 June flew to Lyon, France to attend the G7 summit, international media reported. Yeltsin announced the previous week he would not be attending the summit. Russia was not invited to talk part in the G7 economic talks, and French President Jacques Chirac said there was no question of admitting Russia as a full member of G7, Reuters reported. Russia's NTV erroneously reported on 29 June that Russia had been promised membership in "G8." Chernomyrdin does not seem to have achieved anything concrete at the summit, although IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus said that Russia's economic performance was "a good one," and promised to open talks on possible Russian membership in the Paris Club of official creditors. -- Peter Rutland

Chernomyrdin took part in the political talks at the G7 summit, where he discussed Bosnia, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and the Middle East peace process. Commenting on the pre-election mood in the Russian government, he said: "We are not in the grip of euphoria at all. There is a general feeling of concern." In a meeting with Chernomyrdin on 29 June, U.S. President Bill Clinton expressed his concern over remarks about Mormons made by Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed (see OMRI Daily Digest 28 June 1996). Five U.S. senators formally protested Lebed's remarks the previous day. -- Peter Rutland

Russian Nationalities Minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov and Chechen chief of staff Aslan Maskhadov met on 28 June in the village of Novie Atagi to discuss the failure to implement the peace agreements signed on 10 June, Russian and Western media reported. The following day, acting Chechen president Zelimkhan Yandarbiev accused the Russians of deliberately undermining the agreement, and called for the dissolution of the pro-Moscow Chechen government and the annulment of the 16 June elections to a new Chechen parliament, the first session of which opened on 29 June, according to Radio Rossii. Mikhailov responded on 30 June by accusing the Chechen side of "crude blackmail" and of "dragging out the talks indefinitely," AFP reported. Also on 30 June, President Yeltsin stated that 4,000 Russian troops will withdraw from Chechnya over the next two weeks, according to AFP quoting Interfax. Reuters on 1 July quoted Chechen field commander Shamil Basaev as arguing that hostilities in Chechnya will continue: in his opinion, the Russians do not want peace and are simply using the Russian presidential election "to buy time." -- Liz Fuller

The Russian Foreign Ministry has circulated a memorandum to the UN, the Council of Europe, and the members of the OSCE "expressing deep concern that from 12 July, hundreds of thousands of Russian residents of Estonia will remain without basic identification papers or legal residence permits," BNS reported on 28 June. Russia claims that only about 1,500 aliens' passports have been issued while applications number about 335,000. Estonian officials say that more than 50,000 aliens' passports have been issued. Estonia's Interior Minister Mart Rask explained on 21 June that while the former Soviet passports will not be valid for crossing the border and visas or residence permit stickers cannot be attached to them, they will continue to serve as identification documents. -- Saulius Girnius

The Council of Europe on 28 June condemned Russia, Ukraine, and Latvia for continuing to carry out executions of criminals, RFE/RL reported. The council's Parliamentary Assembly issued a resolution warning the three countries that they could risk expulsion if they did not meet commitments to place a moratorium on executions and abolish the death penalty. The council also called on Lithuania to institute a moratorium on executions without delay. Moldova was praised for abolishing capital punishment shortly after it joined the council last year. The resolution was the second warning to Russia and Ukraine over capital punishment in under a month (see OMRI Daily Digest, 12 June 1996). According to a report discussed at the assembly in Strasbourg, President Yeltsin has rejected 46 appeals for pardons from prisoners on death row this year. -- Penny Morvant

Five people were killed and another 20 injured when a bomb exploded on 28 June on a bus in Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino-Balkariya, Russian media reported. The bus was en route from Mineralnye vody to Vladikavkaz in North Ossetiya. Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov said after the blast that his forces had been put on a heightened state of alert throughout the North Caucasus. Sergei Filatov, President Yeltsin's election campaign head, argued that the explosion could be linked to the presidential election, noting that Kabardino-Balkariya was the only Muslim republic where Yeltsin won a plurality of the vote in the first round of the presidential election. -- Penny Morvant

Workers protesting wage arrears at the Sosnovy Bor nuclear power plant have suspended their strike until after the second round of the presidential election, Radio Rossii reported on 30 June. The workers, who have been protesting since 24 June (see OMRI Daily Digest, 25 June 1996), suspended their action to avoid "politically coloring" the action and fanning social tension on the eve of the election, according to a local union representative. If steps are not taken to meet their demands, which include the resignation of the plant director, protests will resume on 4 July. -- Penny Morvant

President Yeltsin issued a decree on 29 June on funeral services, Russian and Western agencies reported. The decree called for full compliance with the law on funeral services, which guarantees free issuance of death certificates, provision and transportation of coffins, and burial or cremation. There have been press reports of families abandoning corpses because they are unable to pay funeral bills. In another last-minute hand-out before the second round of the presidential election, Yeltsin ordered all-expenses paid holidays in Spain for 250 Russian soldiers wounded in Chechnya. And a local branch of Yeltsin's campaign fund in Tver Oblast used a $24,000 contribution from a local company to buy clothes for the poor. -- Penny Morvant

Askar Akayev told an emergency meeting of the cabinet that "negative tendencies in the economy" could lead to "a budget, energy, and social crisis by this autumn," the BBC reported on 27 June. Akayev questioned the 2.4 % budget deficit indicated by the state statistics committee, saying the real figure "may be 10-15 % of GNP." Akayev said there was "complete corruption of the tax police from top to bottom." He also noted that agricultural production was down to one-fifth of 1995 figures, "making Kyrgyzstan the only country in the CIS where exports have decreased by four times in the past years, while imports have doubled." -- Bruce Pannier

Results of a public opinion poll conducted by the Almaty-based Giller Institute, reported by ITAR-TASS on 28 June, reveal that about 65% of the 1,000 respondents would prefer to live in a single integrated state within the framework of the CIS. Although over two-thirds of respondents said that the highest stage of CIS integration is unlikely at the moment, 27% favor closer cooperation with Russia, Belarus, and Kyrgyzstan in the framework of the recently concluded quadripartite agreement on deepening integration. About 17% said they would like the integration process to involve all the CIS states, while 14% favored the formation of a political union similar to the one between Russia and Belarus. Over 87% emphasized the need for integration between Kazakhstan and Russia, whereas only 3.7% prefer an alliance with Uzbekistan, 1.7% favor integration with Kyrgyzstan, and 1.6% favor closer ties with remaining CIS states. -- Bhavna Dave

Maksut Narikbayev, Kazakhstan's Prosecutor-General, has been appointed the new Supreme Court chairman in place of Mikhail Malakhov, who was dismissed in early June on bribery charges, according to BBC monitoring of Kazakhstani TV on 28 June. Kazakhstan's Senate approved Narikbayev's appointment after he was nominated by President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Anatolii Konstantinov, Narikbayev's deputy, is to replace him in an acting capacity. -- Bhavna Dave

Senior posts in Turkmenistan's Ministry of Defense have been reallocated, according to a 29 June Turkmen Press report monitored by the BBC. Under a presidential decree, Maj.-Gen. Agageldy Mamedgeldyyev, formerly commander of ground forces, was appointed head of the Main Directorate for Supplies and the Rear. Lt.-Gen. Rinat Meretdurdyyev was named as the new commander of ground forces. Lt.-Gen. Serdar Charyyarov, formerly commander of air forces and air defense forces, has been appointed head of the Directorate for Training Specialists for the Armed Forces, the agency said. -- Lowell Bezanis

An estimated 3,000 refugees have made their way to the Tajik-Afghan border cities of Kalai-Khumb and Khorog, adding to displaced masses already there, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 June. Fighting in the Tavil-Dara region has already forced some 15,000 people from their homes since the beginning of 1996 and accounts of those arriving claim another 25,000 may soon be on the march. Kalai-Khumb and Khorog are garrisoned by soldiers from the CIS border guards and so offer relative safety from the battles in central Tajikistan. -- Bruce Pannier

Crimean parliamentary speaker Yevhen Suprynyuk said the new Ukrainian constitution, which passed last week, was not ideal but rather a compromise between all sides, Ukrainian Radio reported on 29 June. He added that he was pleased that it defines Crimea's status as that of an autonomous republic, which, he noted, allows the peninsula to work out its own constitution in accordance with the new Ukrainian basic law. Some 20 articles in Crimea's draft constitution have to be reworked to harmonize with the new national constitution. Meanwhile, Black Sea Fleet personnel have expressed pleasure at the clause allowing for a transitional period during which Russian fleet bases can be stationed in Crimea, Ukrainian TV reported on 30 June. They described the clause as an expression of good-will on Ukraine's part aimed at establishing good-neighborly relations with Russia. Fleet personnel added that it will facilitate a settlement of the ongoing dispute between Russia and Ukraine over the fleet. -- Ustina Markus

Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko on 29 June announced that there has been almost no improvement in Ukraine's economic situation over the past month, UNIAN reported. He said a key problem was increasing wage arrears, which on 1 June amounted to 81 trillion karbovantsy ($444 million) in the state sector. By 28 June, this figure had risen to 86 trillion ($472 million). Lazarenko said the government was using 80% of external and internal revenues to clear the wage debt. -- Ustina Markus

The Belarusian parliament has ruled that the national flag and emblem adopted in 1991 are no longer valid state symbols, Radio Rossii reported on 28 June. This decision is in accordance with the May 1995 referendum, in which 75% of voters were in favor of changing the state symbols to Soviet-style ones. The new official Belarusian national flag is red and green with an embroidered border but without the hammer and sickle. The national emblem is also a replica of the Soviet emblem but replaces the hammer and sickle with an outline of Belarus. -- Ustina Markus

Belarusian Radio on 28 June reported that Belarus has the highest per capita agricultural output of all CIS states, producing 722 kilograms of grain, 398 kilograms of potatoes, and 571 kilograms of milk per head. At the beginning of the year, around half a million people were involved in private business. But 27 banks were found not to have sufficient capital and only 26 financial establishments had the minimal charter capital of 2 million ECU. Only 20% of young families have their own homes, and it is estimated that by the end of the year, some 15% of Minsk's work-eligible population will be unemployed. More than 90% of property remains in state hands. -- Ustina Markus

Estonian Foreign Ministry Vice Chancellor Raul Malk and Latvian Foreign Ministry State Secretary Maris Riekstins initialed an agreement on sea borders at their meeting in Stockholm on 28 June, ETA reported. The accord still has to be signed by the respective governments and approved by a majority of Latvia's Saeima and two-thirds of Estonia's deputies. Sweden hosted seven secret meetings of Latvian and Estonian officials during which the details of the agreement were worked out. -- Saulius Girnius

Finance Minister Aivars Kreituss told BNS on 29 June that next year, Latvia will draft a balanced budget for the first time. The draft will be based on the assumption that inflation will be 15.9% in 1996 and 13% in 1997 and that GDP will increase by 0.3% and 1.2%, respectively. Kreituss also noted that while the 1996 budget foresees a deficit totaling 59.4 million lati ($107 million), the government will seek to reduce it to 38.9 million lati in accordance with an IMF recommendation. He added that on 26 June, the budget deficit stood at 27.3 million lati. -- Saulius Girnius

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Povilas Gylys and Austrian Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schuessel, meeting in Vienna on 28 June, signed a bilateral treaty on investment promotion and protection as well as an aviation accord initialed in 1992. They also put their signature to an agreement on the abolition of visas for people with diplomatic passports, BNS reported. During his two-day visit, Gylys met with National Council President Heinz Fischer to discuss prospects for cooperation in EU integration. -- Saulius Girnius

Solidarity's Eighth National Congress, which ended on 28 June, decided that the union will run in next year's parliamentary elections, Polish media reported. Last month, Solidarity and several rightist parties formed a coalition called Solidarity Electoral Action. The union asked all organizations that agree with its program to join the coalition. This invitation is targeted in particular at the Movement for Poland's Reconstruction, led by former Prime Minister Jan Olszewski, which has placed second--after the co-ruling Democratic Left Alliance--in recent opinion polls. Solidarity also proposed a "non-aggression pact" with other parties, singling out the Polish Peasant Alliance, a junior coalition partner in the ruling coalition, and the opposition Freedom Union. Former Solidarity leader and Polish President Lech Walesa was present at the congress but was not invited to speak. -- Jakub Karpinski

Izabella Sierakowska, vice president of the Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland, told the SdRP Supreme Council on 29 June that the party must have more "social sensitivity," Polish media reported. The SdRP has been a ruling coalition party since the 1993 parliamentary elections. The party stressed that it is in favor of a parliamentary democracy, Church-state separation, a market economy "oriented toward the fulfillment of social needs," privatization, and joining NATO and the EU. A program based on these principles could be adopted at the SdRP congress scheduled next year, according to the media. -- Jakub Karpinski

Vaclav Havel, arriving in Ireland on 28 June for an official visit, met with President Mary Robinson and other Irish officials to discuss, among other things, European integration, Czech media reported. He also discussed the role of the UN with Robinson, who has been proposed to head the organization. On the way back to Prague, Havel stopped off in London to watch the finals of the European Soccer Championship, in which the Czech team lost to Germany by 2:1. He met briefly with Queen Elizabeth II, British Prime Minister John Major, and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, all of whom also attended the match. -- Jiri Pehe

Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar announced that at talks on 28 June, the leaders of the three ruling parties agreed that the composition of the boards overseeing the National Property Fund (FNM) will not be changed at the parliamentary session scheduled to continue on 1 July, Slovak media reported. Meciar said the governing coalition will now remain in place. It is uncertain whether the FNM, the secret service, and the TV and radio boards will ever be expanded to include opposition representatives. The opposition said an opportunity had been lost, blaming the Party of the Democratic Left (SDL), which broke an opposition agreement on the expansion of the boards overseeing the FNM and the secret service and offered to back a minority government led by Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia under certain conditions. Meanwhile, the SDL took credit for averting the fall of Meciar's government and ensuring that the premier takes responsibility for his policies. -- Sharon Fisher

The Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) has suggested that the final vote on the new constitution be postponed until September, Hungarian dailies reported on 1 July. While the coalition Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) and the opposition both supported the much-discussed draft constitution in the ballot on 27 June (see OMRI Daily Digest, 28 June 1996) several MSZP deputies voted against it, despite having signed an all-party agreement in favor of the draft basic law. The vote, which SZDSZ leader Ivan Peto described as a "scandalous fiasco," came as a surprise, since the governing parties seemed to agree on basic principles. Opponents of the draft constitution, among whom are several ministers, want references to a "social state" to be included, as well as a provision stipulating that the president be elected directly. They also want to ensure "interest coordination" among the governing parties. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

The government has proposed to lower the top rate of personal income tax from the record-high of 48% to 44%, Hungarian media reported on 1 July. It also intends to implement further reform measures in the tax system in 1997, including increasing capital gains payments and introducing a new tax on tobacco, alcohol, and oil products. The proposal is scheduled to be debated by the parliament in August. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

Bosnian Serb civilian leader and indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic on 30 June announced he will delegate all his powers as president of the Republika Srpska (RS) to his hard-line vice president, Biljana Plavsic. He will continue to retain the title of president, the chair of his governing Serbian Democratic Party (SDS), and the option of running in the 14 September Bosnia-wide elections, the BBC reported. The move comes in connection with the SDS's election convention and following threats by representatives of the international community and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic that Karadzic must go or the republic will face renewed sanctions (see OMRI Daily Digest, 26 June 1996). The Dayton agreement states that there is no place in public life for war criminals. Karadzic had earlier delegated some of his duties to Plavsic, and recently made any resignation conditional on political and territorial concessions to the Republika Srpska. -- Patrick Moore

The major Western allies found Karadzic's conditions unacceptable last week, and it appears that his latest move has not impressed them, either. White House spokesman David Johnson said on 30 June that "Our policy on him remains what we have said in the past: that he needs to be not only out of power but he needs to be out of influence, out of town and in the dock." Reuters also reported that Germany, France, and the U.K. agreed with the U.S. but that Johnson admitted that there has been "some confusion" regarding the Western reaction in general. This stemmed from the initial position taken by some international representatives dealing with Bosnia, such as High Representative Carl Bildt, who seemed to be content with Karadzic's move as "a step in the right direction." The BBC added that the Bosnian government denounced Karadzic's announcement as a sham but that entire affair has served to boost Karadzic's popularity with the Bosnian Serbs. -- Patrick Moore

EU Administrator Ricardo Perez Casado said the Mostar municipal elections on 30 June were well organized and a significant step toward the re-establishment of structures that will enable "political and social coexistence" in the city, international media reported. No significant disruptions were noted during the ballot. While Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic complained that 20% of Muslim names did not appear on the polling stations' registers, an EU spokesman claimed that only some 400 people's names were omitted, even though they were registered centrally. Muratovic called for new elections in some districts. Voter turnout was put at more than 50%, with over 3,000 international troops and hundreds of Bosnian Muslim and Croatian and international police ensuring freedom of movement in the city. Thousands of refugees from Mostar voted in Stockholm, Bonn, Bern, and Oslo. The EU organized bus transfers to these polling stations from other European cities. Final results are expected on 3 June. -- Fabian Schmidt

Momir Bulatovic, in an interview with RFE/RL on 28 June, has once again called for Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic to step down from the presidency of the Republika Srpska. He noted that Karadzic has "refused to meet [conditions] he has already agreed to." But when asked whether rump Yugoslavia would send to The Hague the three Yugoslav army officers accused of involvement in the massacre of at least 260 Croatian civilians near Vukovar in 1991, he said that question was "too sensitive to answer with just a `yes' or a `no.'" Bulatovic also said he believed that the Yugoslav United Left's (JUL) electoral prospects were bleak and that the group "has no chance in Montenegro." -- Stan Markotich

Kiro Gligorov on 30 June concluded a four-day official visit to Turkey, Macedonian and international media reported. Gligorov held talks with his Turkish counterpart, Suleyman Demirel, on strengthening bilateral ties. Other discussions focused on improving bilateral economic and trade relations as well as Turkish investment in Macedonia. Bilateral trade reached $126 million in 1995, a 60% increase over 1994. In an address at Istanbul University on 29 June, Gligorov called for open borders in the Balkans and respect for individual, minority, and religious freedoms, noting that the improvement of norms for democracy and social justice must be a common objective. Meanwhile, the Macedonian Komercijalna Banka and the Turkish Ziraat Bank signed a protocol on the creation of a Turkish-Macedonian bank. -- Stefan Krause

Jiang Zemin on 29 June began a four-day state visit to Romania aimed at boosting bilateral relations, local and Western media reported. Jiang, currently on a one-month tour of Europe and Central Asia, is accompanied by more than 90 officials and experts, including Foreign Minster Qian Qichen. He met with his Romanian counterpart, Ion Iliescu, Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu, and the chairmen of the parliament's two chambers, Oliviu Gherman and Adrian Nastase. The two countries are expected to sign agreements on economic, technical, and scientific cooperation. They concluded a treaty of friendship in 1994. Before the collapse of the communist regime in Romania in 1989, annual bilateral trade amounted to an average of $1 billion; by 1995, that figure had sunk to $300 million. -- Dan Ionescu

Moldovan and Dniester officials, meeting in Chisinau on 28 June, initialed the final version of a memorandum "On the Basic Principles for Normalizing Moldovan-Dniester Relations," BASA-press and Infotag reported. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Pastukhov attended the talks, which were brokered by envoys of the Russian and Ukrainian presidents as well as OSCE representatives. He was quoted as saying that the document was "a constructive step toward a final, full-fledged settlement of the Dniester conflict." According to ITAR-TASS, Boris Yeltsin has invited Moldovan President Mircea Snegur, president of the self-styled "Dniester republic" Igor Smirnov, and Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma to attend the signing ceremony at the Kremlin on 1 July. -- Dan Ionescu

Dimitar Moskov, head of the Bulgarian economic police force, has revealed that the state lost 17.9 billion leva ($115 million) in the first five months of 1996 because of white-collar crime, according to Standart. Moskov said 4,344 cases of white-collar crime were registered during that period, up 300% on the same period last year. Moskov said nobody knows just how widespread corruption is within the state apparatus, but he admitted that it takes place at all levels. In other news, prices for fuel, cigarettes, alcohol, public transport, and other goods and services went up on 1 July, Trud reported. A number of taxes, including VAT, also increased. Bulgarian economists predict that inflation will go up in July, possibly reaching 20%. -- Stefan Krause

Albanian Socialists on 29 June boycotted a round table that President Sali Berisha had invited them to attend, Reuters reported. Only parties represented in the new parliament were invited to the talks. The Socialists said they would only take part if all parties were represented. They also explained that Berisha had wanted to discuss only the formation of a new government, whereas they had demanded that new election regulations be included on the agenda. The Council of Europe has called for new regulations to be drawn up following an outcry over massive ballot irregularities. Meanwhile, the new parliament is due to convene on 1 July to elect a new government. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle and Jan Cleave