LEBED MEETS YANDARBIEV . . .
Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed
held talks in the Chechen village of Starye Atagi on the afternoon of 15 August
with acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev and Chechen Chief of Staff
Aslan Maskhadov, Russian and Western agencies reported. Lebed described the
talks as "constructive" and "hopeful," saying that both sides had agreed that
the conflict should be resolved by "exclusively peaceful means" but that
"purely military issues" must be resolved before discussing the issue of
Chechnya's status. Lebed also announced the creation of a supervisory
commission to monitor "the strict observance of ceasefire conditions," saying
it would include representatives from the neighboring republics of Dagestan,
Kabardino-Balkariya, and Ingushetiya. Yandarbiev said Lebed's peace efforts
"deserve the highest praise," while separatist spokesmen later said that Lebed
had "confirmed his intention to withdraw troops from the territory of
Chechnya," after an unspecified "transitional period." -- Scott Parrish
. . . AND PROMISES TO REVEAL THOSE "RESPONSIBLE" FOR THE CHECHEN CONFLICT.
At a press conference following his arrival in Grozny on the morning of 15
August, Lebed promised to disclose the names of the "heroes" responsible for
both beginning and perpetuating the Chechen conflict, Russian media reported.
He then expressed the opinion that the continuation of fighting in the republic
is "profitable" for some unnamed groups. "Nobody knows if this is a war or not.
Nobody knows who started it, what caused it," Lebed complained. Before his
afternoon meeting with Yandarbiev, Lebed met at the federal forces headquarters
in Khankala with Ruslan Aushev, president of neighboring Ingushetiya. Aushev, a
frequent critic of federal government policy in Chechnya, said he fully backs
Lebed's peace initiative. -- Scott Parrish
GROZNY RELATIVELY QUIET.
Despite sporadic gunfire, the night of 15-16
August was quieter than any in the past 10 days, ITAR-TASS reported. Russian
military spokesmen said two federal servicemen were killed and 12 wounded
overnight. One reason for the relative lack of fighting, according to NTV, is
that separatist fighters now virtually control the entire city, with federal
troops isolated in a few barracks and bunkers. The network reported that
instead of federal troops, separatist fighters now run check points in central
Grozny. Despite the current truce, the fighters are digging fortifications in
anticipation of Russian efforts to storm the city. At a Moscow press
conference, Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov said 2,000 Chechen fighters
confront 7,000 federal troops in the city. -- Scott Parrish
FOREIGN MINISTRY CRITICIZES OSCE ON CHECHNYA.
Foreign Ministry spokesman
Mikhail Demurin lambasted the OSCE for making statements that he claimed
attributed "equal responsibility" to federal forces and Chechen separatist
fighters for the recent intensification of the conflict. Demurin complained
that current OSCE chairman Flavio Cotti's references to "the sides in the
conflict" and "the warring parties" contradict the OSCE's position that
Chechnya is an internal matter of the Russian Federation. He added that Cotti
unjustifiably treated as equals the separatist fighters, whom he described as
"unconstitutional armed formations," and federal troops, which he termed
"government law enforcement organs." Meanwhile, Tim Guldimann, head of the OSCE
assistance group in Chechnya, said he stands ready to mediate in any new
negotiations aimed at resolving the conflict. -- Scott Parrish
BOLSHAKOV: "A NORMAL SOVIET APPARATCHIK."
First Deputy Prime Minister
Aleksei Bolshakov will be Chernomyrdin's main deputy in the new government.
Former Finance Minister Boris Fedorov has labeled him "a normal Soviet
apparatchik, not a radical reformer," Reuters reported. Izvestiya on 16
August described his rise as a "surprise," while Kommersant-Daily noted
that he is the least known of the new first deputy prime ministers. He worked
in the military industrial enterprises of Leningrad for more than 20 years. As
deputy prime minister for the CIS from 1994-1996, he succeeded in restoring
some economic ties between Russian and CIS enterprises and in creating a new
financial network to stimulate trade and the payment of debts to Russia. His
appointment indicates Yeltsin's priority on strengthening CIS ties,
Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on 16 August. -- Robert Orttung
REACTION TO GOVERNMENT FORMATION.
Former Fuel and Energy Minister Yurii
Shafranik was apparently one of the main losers in the government reshuffle as
his ministerial post remains vacant. He may be paying for his inability to
pacify the country's miners and his opposition to the IMF's proposals to
replace export duties on oil and gas with excise taxes, which also fall on
domestic customers, Kommersant-Daily reported. The deputy leader of the
Communist Party Duma faction Valentin Kuptsov said that the new government will
not change the social-economic situation in the country in any substantial way,
NTV reported on 15 August. Former acting Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar said that
there are too many deputy prime ministers in the new cabinet. Chernomyrdin said
that some of the current vacancies could still go to members of the opposition.
-- Robert Orttung
ILYUSHIN MOVES INTO GOVERNMENT.
As expected, President Yeltsin's senior
aide, Viktor Ilyushin, was appointed first deputy prime minister in charge of
"social affairs." Ilyushin is a former Komsomol organizer who had worked as
Yeltsin's personal secretary since 1980, when Yeltsin was party chief in
Sverdlovsk. There is much speculation over why Ilyushin has given up his
crucial job as the "gatekeeper" who controls access to the president for the
thankless task of dealing with Russia's bankrupt health, pension, and social
welfare systems. He could have been pushed out at Chief of Staff Chubais's
insistence; he could be trying to serve as "Yeltsin's man" inside the
government; or he might be positioning himself for the post-Yeltsin succession
struggle. -- Peter Rutland
VLADIMIR POTANIN PROFILE.
Vladimir Potanin, the 35-year-old chairman of
Oneksimbank, was appointed on 13 August to the post of first deputy prime
minister in charge of economic affairs. Potanin is seen as having close ties
with a wide spectrum of Russia's political elite, from reformer Anatolii
Chubais to conservative Oleg Soskovets. Although he describes himself as a
banker and entrepreneur, he has spent most of his career in state and
state-owned foreign trade organizations: the Soviet Foreign Trade Ministry, the
Interros foreign trade association (1991), and the International Financial
Company (1992). In 1993, he became president of Oneksimbank, one of the five
leading banks of Russia which has close ties to the state. In March 1995,
Potanin was instrumental in creating the consortium of seven banks that
suggested the controversial loans-for-shares auction scheme to the government.
His bank subsequently played an active role in the auctions, acquiring a 38%
stake in the world's largest nickel producer, Norilsk Nickel. Potanin's task
will be to improve tax collection while simultaneously reviving capital
investment. -- Natalia Gurushina and Peter Rutland
ALEKSANDR LIVSHITS PROFILE.
The former economic adviser to President
Yeltsin, Aleksandr Livshits, has been appointed the new finance minister and
deputy prime minister, international media reported. His main task is to
concentrate on increasing taxes. Livshits spent most of his professional career
(1974-1992) in academic circles, and is known for his liberal and monetarist
economic views. Still, he accepts that the country needs a social safety-net.
He was behind the government's pre-election campaign in March to repay wage
arrears. Livshits was also one of the first officials to draw attention to
unfair tax benefits enjoyed by sport organizations and organizations for the
disabled, which allowed them to make money on alcohol imports. -- Natalia
Miners at five coal pits in the Kemerovo Oblast have
joined their colleagues in Tula and Rostov by walking off the job due to wage
arrears, ITAR-TASS reported on 16 August. By the end of July, the wage debts in
the sector totaled 2 billion rubles ($400,000). It is highly unlikely that the
government will be able to pay such a large amount of money by 25 August, the
day on which miners plan to strike across the country. Workers at the Leningrad
nuclear power plant are threatening to strike unless they are paid their wages
for the March-July period, Segodnya reported on 13 August. Meanwhile,
the federation leader of the Independent Trade Unions, Andrei Isaev, has
announced that Russian trade unions are preparing a joint strike for this fall.
He added that workers in all industries are owed a total of 34 trillion rubles
in back wages. -- Anna Paretskaya
RYAZAN CITY DEPUTY KIDNAPPED.
A deputy of the Ryazan city legislature,
Aleksandr Nazarov, was kidnapped by four masked men while he was on his way to
work on 15 August, Radio Rossii reported the same day. Nazarov's car was
stopped by a group of men with machine guns who claimed they were with the tax
police. They took him to a nearby forest , where they beat him and threatened
to kill him if he did not quit his deputy job. Nazarov remains hospitalized.
The Ryazan legislature chairman, Pavel Mamatov, said that many deputies and
their families have been threatened. Most local deputies are Communist Party
members. -- Anna Paretskaya
FORCED HOLIDAYS FOR SATELLITE MANUFACTURER.
Some 8,000 workers at the
Applied Mechanics Association company (OPM) in Zheleznogorsk (the former
Krasnoyarsk-26), which manufactures space satellite communications systems,
were sent on forced leave until 1 October, ITAR-TASS reported on 16 August. OPM
lacks the money to pay wages and continue production, due to the fact that in
1996 its customers--the Defense Ministry, the Russian Space Agency, and the
Moscow--based association Informkosmos--only paid 10% of the money they owed.
The company was in part paid with bills of exchange issued by the recently
collapsed Tveruniversalbank. -- Natalia Gurushina
SHEVARDNADZE CLIPS WINGS OF ANTI-SEMITE.
Georgian President Eduard
Shevardnadze reacted indignantly to an anti-Semitic article printed in the
paper Noy, Segodnya reported on 15 August. Shevardnadze took the
article, which described Jews as "vampires and sadists," to task during his
weekly radio address. Western agencies reported that the paper's editor has
been charged with inciting hatred, a crime which carries a maximum three-year
prison sentence. He has also been fined, and the paper has been suspended from
publication. -- Lowell Bezanis
DASHNAK ATTEMPTS TO REGISTER.
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation,
Dashnaktsutyun (ARF), has applied to be registered once again as a political
party with the Justice Ministry, Noyan Tapan reported on 14 August. The ARF,
Armenia's largest opposition party, was banned in January 1995, following
allegations that it had a clandestine wing, known as Dro, which was involved in
drug trafficking and political assassinations. The ARF's candidate in the
presidential election, Vahan Hovannessyan, has been arrested on charges of
organizing a coup and acts of terrorism, according to Noyan Tapan on 15 August.
Efforts to demonstrate that the Armenian ARFF is independent of its diaspora
strongholds are likely to be met with skepticism in Yerevan and abroad. --
ARMENIAN EMBASSY IN GERMANY UNDER SCRUTINY.
Armenian Foreign Minister
Vahan Papazian has announced plans to establish a commission that will examine
the work of the consular section of Yerevan's embassy in Bonn following
allegations raised in the German journal Focus that it was involved in
extorting money from Armenians in Germany, ITAR-TASS reported on 15 August. The
Armenian ambassador in Germany denied the accusations. -- Lowell Bezanis
BELGIAN FIRM BUYS FORMER KAZAKHSTANI STATE ENERGY COMPANY.
Kazakhstani government has sold Almatyenergo, the former state energy company
and the main provider of both electricity and heat to Almaty, to the Belgian
company Tractebel for $5 million, Kazakhstanskaya pravda reported on 14
August. Tractebel also pledged to boost output by 30% and spend $270 million to
upgrade Almatyenergo's several power stations and electricity grid. The
government had feared that the indebted and capital-starved Almatyenergo would
be unable to provide the capital with electricity and heat during the coming
winter. The same day, ITAR-TASS reported that the U.S. company A.E.S. had
concluded a similar deal for the Ekibastuz power station. -- Slava Kozlov in
RUSSIA CUTS OFF ENERGY TO NORTHERN KAZAKHSTAN.
Citing unpaid bills,
Boris Syutkin of Russia's Unified Energy System announced on 15 August that his
company has temporarily ceased delivering electricity to certain regions of
northern Kazakhstan, ITAR-TASS and Radio Rossii reported the same day. Syutkin
said Kazakhstan owes the company $420 million for earlier deliveries. Syutkin
also criticized Kazakhstan for failing to fulfill its part of a deal to deliver
coal to a Russian power station, claiming that no more than 40% of contacted
coal had reached the Troitsk power station this year. Western Kazakhstan will
not be cut off as regions in that part of the country have been making regular
payments to Russian power stations. -- Bruce Pannier
In an item in OMRI Daily Digest, issue no. 158, vol.
2, Natik Aliev, president of the Azerbaijani oil company SOCAR, was incorrectly
identified as President Heidar Aliev's son. Ilham Aliev, vice president of
SOCAR is President Aliev's son.
UKRAINIAN CENTRAL BANK GOVERNOR ON MONETARY REFORM.
said that he believes the hryvna, the country's new currency, may be introduced
by the end of the year, Ukrainian agencies reported on 15 August. He noted that
his bank is close to completing a package of bills outlining the principles and
parameters of monetary reform in Ukraine. Yushchenko has been meeting with an
IMF delegation in Kyiv to negotiate a $1.5 billion stabilization fund for the
hryvna. IMF officials said their biggest concern is the size of Ukraine's
budget deficit. In other news, Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Kinakh has noted
that consumer debt for energy has continued to rise, despite the fact the
government earlier this month cut off electricity to thousands of delinquent
customers. He said the total debt now amounts to 226 trillion karbovantsi ($1.2
billion). -- Chrystyna Lapychak
UKRAINIAN DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER RESIGNS.
President Leonid Kuchma has
accepted the resignation of Oleksander Yemets, the deputy prime minister for
political and legal issues, Ukrainian TV reported on 14 August. Yemets resigned
in order to keep his seat in the national legislature. Under the new Ukrainian
Constitution, government officials cannot serve simultaneously as lawmakers. --
BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT SAYS NO RUN-OFF PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS.
Lukashenka, speaking in Hrodna on 15 August, announced elections will not be
held in the upcoming months to fill the 61 vacant seats in the 260-member
parliament, Reuters reported. He also declared that he was adding a fifth
question to the 7 November referendum "to ask for a vote of confidence in the
president." The referendum will also include questions on increasing the powers
of the president and creating a new parliament with a second chamber. He said
that his new proposed constitution will be published in a national newspaper
early next month. -- Saulius Girnius
ESTONIA RATIFIES BALTIC AGREEMENT ON AGRICULTURAL FREE TRADE.
Estonian parliament on 15 August ratified a free trade agreement with Latvia
and Lithuania on agricultural products, ETA reported. The three countries'
prime ministers signed the agreement in Vilnius in June. Lithuania has already
ratified the agreement, and the Latvian parliament will probably do so later
this month. Estonian lawmakers also discussed the Estonian-Latvian sea border
agreement, signed on 12 July. Foreign Minister Siim Kallas said the failure to
ratify the agreement would result in the loss of credibility in the West and
would be a serious obstacle to EU and NATO membership. -- Saulius Girnius
LITHUANIAN MINISTER REJECTS LATVIAN ACCUSATIONS OVER OIL TERMINAL.
Environmental Protection Minister Bronius Bradauskas issued a statement on 14
August rejecting charges by his Latvian counterpart, Indulis Emsis, on the
location and safety of the Butinge oil terminal (see OMRI Daily Digest,
13 August 1996), BNS reported. Bradauskas noted that Norwegian and local
experts had found it to be reliable. Bradauskas said Emsis's statement was an
attempt to resolve political and economic problems that have nothing in common
with environmental protection. -- Saulius Girnius
POLISH CARDINAL ON POST-COMMUNISM.
Polish Primate Jozef Glemp, in a
homily on 15 August at the Jasna Gora monastery celebrating the ascension of
the Virgin Mary, described Poland's existing political system as a transitional
"post-communist" mixture of communism and liberalism, Polish dailies reported.
According to Glemp, this system has replaced the persecution of the Church with
a "superficially Western" morality that emphasizes freedom but also downplays
the role of God, the Church, and spirituality. Poland's true rebirth, Glemp
declared, requires a more thorough "settling of scores" with Poland's communist
past. Glemp was giving expression to the views of a significant portion of
Poland's political forces, especially the right-of-center parties not
represented in the parliament. -- Ben Slay
CZECH SOCIAL DEMOCRATS BEGIN CAMPAIGNING FOR SENATE.
Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD) on 15 August launched its campaign for the
November Senate elections, Czech media reported. Beginning in the southern
Bohemian town of Cesky Krumlov, CSSD Chairman Milos Zeman plans to tour the
country in the "Zemak" bus, as he did before the May-June parliamentary
elections. Zeman did not exclude the possibility of trade union sponsorship for
CSSD candidates. Christian Democratic leader Josef Lux on 15 August said
tensions within Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party should not
affect the government and relations within the ruling coalition. But Mlada
fronta Dnes the following day commented that the CSSD "could hardly have
imagined better conditions for starting the Senate campaign." -- Sharon
GERMAN, CZECH PRESIDENTS TO MEET.
German President Roman Herzog will
visit the Czech Republic on 4 September to meet with his Czech counterpart,
Vaclav Havel, CTK reported on 15 August. The two presidents will take part in
meeting of German and Czech young people in Policka, in eastern Bohemia. German
opposition parties--particularly the Greens--have been urging German Chancellor
Helmut Kohl to complete the Czech-German parliamentary declaration as soon as
possible. That document has been blocked by the Christian Social Union of
Bavaria, which supports the interests of the Sudeten Germans, who were expelled
from Czechoslovakia after World War II. In an interview with RTL TV last week,
Kohl said he is "not under any time pressure." He noted that he has "great
understanding for the Czech side" but added that, as the German chancellor, he
must "represent German interests." -- Sharon Fisher
RUSSIA HELPS SLOVAKIA LAUNCH NATIONAL AIRLINE.
Igor Dula, director of
Slovakia's Airport Authority, announced on 15 August that representatives of
Russia's Aeroflot are helping to start a national carrier in Slovakia, RFE/RL
reported. Since the Czech-Slovak split, Slovakia has been left without a
national airline, although a number of small carriers do exist. Aeroflot
official Yevgenii Shaposhnikov met in Bratislava earlier this month with Slovak
government officials, including Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar. The Russians
are reportedly prepared to provide four to six planes for the new airline. Dula
said it is too early to say when the airline will begin operations. Nearly
200,000 passengers used Bratislava's airport in 1995, a 33% increase over the
previous year. Because of Bratislava's proximity to Vienna, many Slovaks fly
from that city's airport. -- Sharon Fisher
CONFLICT BREWING AMONG PRO-GOVERNMENT JOURNALISTS IN SLOVAKIA.
Strelinger, deputy editor in chief of Slovenska Republika, on 15 August
rejected the Ludovit Stur prize for journalism, Narodna obroda reported.
In a letter to Slovak TV director Jozef Darmo, Strelinger said the reason for
his refusal was the "personal and moral situation" at Slovenska
Republika. The prize was awarded by the Association of Slovak Journalists
in cooperation with the government. It recipients to date have been only
pro-government journalists and newspapers. Slovenska Republika reported
on 15 August that besides Strelinger, the winners include the weekly
Literarny tyzdennik and the state press agency TASR. -- Sharon Fisher
The Academic Senate of Bratislava's Comenius University
on 15 August made clear its opposition to the government's draft law on
universities, TASR reported. Particular concern was expressed over limitations
of academic freedom by jeopardizing the universities' autonomy. Also on 15
August, Meciar attended ceremonies in Zilina, the first of Slovakia's eight new
administrative regions to be inaugurated. In other news, the opposition
Democratic Union called for the dismissal of Slovak TV (STV) Director Jozef
Darmo and Prosecutor-General Michal Valo. The former has been accused of
illegal labor practices, such as the firing of STV staff, while the latter has
come under attack for violating the constitution (see OMRI Daily Digest,
9 August 1996). -- Sharon Fisher
HUNGARIAN INDUSTRY MINISTER RESIGNS.
Imre Dunai, a non-party technocrat,
resigned from his post on 15 August, Hungarian dailies reported. Dunai seems
likely to be replaced by current Privatization Minister Tamas Suchman of the
Hungarian Socialist Party, the coalition government's senior partner. Dunai, in
his resignation letter to Prime Minister Gyula Horn, cited ill health as the
reason for his departure. However, he has been at odds with other ministers
over several economic policy measures. For example, he has been a leading
proponent of energy price increases scheduled for this fall, which the
government decided to scale back for "social" reasons. Dunai has promised to
refrain from public comment for at least six months after his resignation, and
he is not expected to leave the government until the fall. -- Ben Slay
WILL KEY PLAYERS BOYCOTT BOSNIAN ELECTIONS?
U.S. officials said that
Haris Silajdzic, former Bosnian prime minister and leader of the Party for
Bosnia and Herzegovina, plans to boycott the 14 September vote. He fears that
the ballot will be manipulated by the dominant nationalist parties of the
Muslims, Serbs, and Croats and will serve to legitimize the partition of the
country along ethnic lines. Silajdzic called it "ratification of genocide," AFP
reported on 15 August. The previous day, parliamentary speaker Miro Lazovic
said his Social Democratic Party and its anti-nationalist coalition of five
parties is also considering a boycott. Meanwhile, in Sarajevo, the
International Crisis Group, composed of former prime ministers, foreign
ministers, and other public figures, called for the elections to be postponed
and for a new Dayton-style agreement to be worked out, Oslobodjenje
wrote on 16 August. President Alija Izetbegovic condemned attacks by his
supporters on opposition rallies, Dnevni avaz said. Belgrade's
Vreme added that the most recent such incident, in Gradacac, could
trigger a mass boycott of the vote by the opposition. -- Patrick Moore
OSCE PENALIZES RULING BOSNIAN SERB PARTY.
The OSCE Election Appeals
Subcommittee on 13 August decided that the ruling Serb Democratic Party (SDS)
in Doboj, Republika Srpska, is guilty of having denied humanitarian aid to
refugees unless they agree to vote in their new settlements in the upcoming
Bosnian elections, Reuters reported on 15 August. The subcommittee levied a
$25,000 fine against the SDS and demanded a public apology from its list of
candidates in Doboj. It also noted that election rules had been violated in the
Serb-held town of Modrica. Meanwhile, OSCE Chairman Flavio Cotti has cast
serious doubt on how free and fair the Bosnian elections will be, AFP reported
on 14 August. Cotti expressed his "greatest concern" over freedom of movement,
the return of refugees, and prevailing attempts to create ethnically pure
states. -- Daria Sito Sucic
SARAJEVO AIRPORT REOPENS FOR COMMERCIAL FLIGHTS.
U.S. Secretary of State
Warren Christopher and Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic on 15 August
presided over the opening of the Sarajevo airport to commercial flights for the
first time since 1992, international and local media reported. The first such
flight was to Turkey. The airport was a major battlefield during the Bosnian
war and hundreds of lives were lost there. Christopher said he had come to
Sarajevo to witness "Bosnia's summer of hope" ahead of the September general
elections, AFP quoted him as saying. In an televised address to the nation, he
appealed to Bosnian voters to support the landmark elections. -- Daria Sito
IS AN "OIL WAR" LOOMING BETWEEN SERBIA, MONTENEGRO?
on 15 August blocked a convoy of 53 Serbian trucks transporting oil to
Montenegro, local media reported. This move seemed to be in retaliation for an
earlier incident in which Serbian police officials blocked oil shipments from
private Montenegrin firms. At issue was likely oil prices. Montenegro has
protested that local refineries--notably at Pancevo, in Serbia--are dictating
prices higher than those demanded by facilities in other countries. The
political consequences of an "oil war" between the two republics are difficult
to predict. -- Stan Markotich
BELGRADE, BUDAPEST RESTORE DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS.
relations have been restored between Belgrade and Budapest, Nepszabadsag
reported on 16 August. Hungarian Ambassador Janos Toth presented his
credentials to federal President Zoran Lilic on 15 August. Belgrade's
ambassador, Balsha Shpadiyer, had presented his credentials earlier this year.
Hungary withdrew its ambassador following the 1992 imposition of sanctions
against Serbia-Montenegro but had maintained contacts at the level of
chargé d'affaires. -- Stan Markotich
KOSOVO LOCAL AUTHORITIES SEEK TO ENFORCE LAW BANNING SALES OF LAND TO
Tanjug reported on 13 August that the ban on the sale of real
estate to ethnic Albanians in Kosovo is widely being ignored. This prompted
local politicians in Istok to put the issue on the agenda of the local
municipal assembly and to appoint a commission to investigate sales of land.
Malisa Perovic, president of the Istok Municipal Assembly, has now decided to
publicize the names of Serbs who have sold land to Albanians and to call on the
Serbian government to assist in enforcing the law that stipulates the ban. She
also alleged that senior military officials, former and present government
ministers, and other high ranking officials have been involved in selling land
to Albanians. -- Fabian Schmidt
MACEDONIA SAYS CANCELED MEETING WITH GREECE WAS NOT PLANNED.
within the Macedonian Foreign Ministry said that a meeting between the foreign
ministers of Macedonia and Greece, Ljubomir Frckovski and Theodoros Pangalos,
in September in New York, was not planned "so there is nothing to cancel," MIC
reported on 15 August. Pangalos on 13 August had canceled what he described as
a scheduled meeting after Frckovski said Macedonia would refuse to negotiate
its name. The Macedonian source said there had been the possibility of a
meeting between Frckovski and Pangalos but "it was not formally prearranged."
Meanwhile in Greece, Antonis Samaras, leader of the small nationalist Political
Spring party, called on the government to stop all negotiations with Macedonia.
He claimed that the government was about to reach a compromise on the name
issue and was causing a fuss that "convinces nobody." -- Stefan Krause
FURTHER REACTIONS TO AGREEMENT ON HUNGARIAN-ROMANIAN TREATY AGREEMENT.
The Hungarian government, responding to the announcement that Bucharest and
Budapest is ready to sign the bilateral treaty, said on 15 August that an
improvement in Hungarian-Romanian relations would be beneficial for Hungary.
But former Hungarian Foreign Minister Geza Jeszenszky was quoted by Reuters as
describing the treaty as "meaningless." The Hungarian Democratic Forum
commented that the treaty agreement runs counter to the interests of Hungarians
in both Hungary and Romania. Meanwhile, in an interview with Adevarul,
Romanian President Ion Iliescu said that including a mention of Council of
Europe Recommendation No. 1201 in an annex to the treaty is not tantamount to
recognizing collective rights or territorial autonomy based on ethnicity.
However, the Socialist Labor Party, a former member of the ruling coalition,
rejected any reference to the controversial recommendation. -- Dan
MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON INTEGRATION INTO EUROPEAN STRUCTURES.
Snegur has called again for his country's integration into European structures,
local agencies reported on 15 August, quoting an interview with a British
publication. Snegur said that joining those structures would provide guarantees
for consolidating Moldovan statehood and implementing democratic and economic
reforms. He promised that his administration would work out a coherent program
for cooperation with the EU, the Council of Europe, and the Western European
Union. Snegur's main opponents in the fall presidential election--Prime
Minister Andrei Sangheli and Parliamentary Speaker Petru Lucinschi--are widely
seen as favoring closer relations with the CIS and Russia rather than with
Western Europe. -- Dan Ionescu
BULGARIANS GET INFO FROM STATE MEDIA BUT DON'T TRUST IT.
According to a
poll published in Standart on 16 August, the vast majority of Bulgarians
living in Sofia and Plovdiv receive information on domestic affairs from the
state media. Some 74% of respondents said state TV was their main source of
information on events in Bulgaria and another 10% said state radio. Only 9% get
their information from newspapers and 3% from private radio stations. At the
same time, 56% of respondents said the news coverage and commentary of the
state media is politically biased. -- Stefan Krause
ALBANIAN SOCIALIST LEADER CALLS FOR "CIVIL BOYCOTT."
Fatos Nano, in an
interview with Koha Jone on 15 August, called for a "civil boycott of
President Sali Berisha's illegal regime." Nano said he hoped that Berisha could
be forced to the negotiating table, thereby increasing the chances of a change
of government. He called on other opposition parties to continue their boycott
of the parliament, adding that his goals are to approve a new constitution and
to reach agreement on a date for early parliamentary elections. Nano also said
that there are serious disagreements within the Socialist leadership over
reform of the party's statute and program. He has demanded that all references
to Marxism be dropped from the program and that long-time communist officials
be removed from the party leadership. A Socialists party congress is scheduled
for 24 August. -- Fabian Schmidt