DUMA COUNCIL DISCUSSES IMPEACHING YELTSIN FOR POOR HEALTH.
initiative of Security Council Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin, the Duma Council on 14
January debated the possibility of removing President Boris Yeltsin for health
reasons. Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev noted, however, that the constitution
is very vague on how such a process would be implemented, and that it was not
clear if a majority of the Duma or Federation Council would support such a
move, ITAR-TASS reported. Seleznev said that neither he nor the other members
of the legislature had any information on the president's health beyond what
his press service has released. -- Robert Orttung
YELTSIN HEALTH UPDATE.
Presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii said
Yeltsin's condition was stable on 13 January but did not specify when the
president might be released from the hospital, Russian and Western agencies
reported. Yastrzhembskii added that the president's health is no longer a
"taboo" subject, thanks to Yeltsin's decision in September to end the practice
of covering up the illnesses of state leaders. However, the director of Ekho
Moskvy's news department, Aleksei Venediktov, complained to AFP that there is
still "an almost total blackout on information" related to Yeltsin's current
condition. Meanwhile, Yeltsin's wife Naina was also admitted to the Central
Clinical Hospital with an "infection," but Yastrzhembskii indicated that her
unspecified illness was not serious. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov,
who has called for Yeltsin's resignation, predicted that friends and relatives
will soon tell the president, "Boris Nikolaevich, it is time to have a rest,"
Reuters reported. -- Laura Belin
FALLOUT CONTINUES OVER STROEV'S REMARKS ON CONSTITUTION.
noted that it was "surprising" that Federation Council Chairman Yegor Stroev
had not mentioned his desire to amend the Russian constitution to President
Boris Yeltsin in their last meeting before the new year, NTV reported on 13
January (See OMRI Daily Digest 13 January 1997). His remarks indicated
that the president was not pleased with Stroev's initiative. The same day,
Kareliyan President Viktor Stepanov announced that he supported Stroev's
opinion, ITAR-TASS reported. He argued that while the president may have needed
strong powers to resolve the political crisis in 1993, now it was time to share
those powers with the parliament. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, however, has
spoken out against making any changes to the constitution. -- Robert Orttung
YELTSIN PROPOSES REFERENDUM ON MERGER WITH BELARUS.
announced on 13 January that Yeltsin had sent a letter to his Belarusian
counterpart Alyaksandr Lukashenka suggesting that measures be taken to
accelerate Russo-Belarusian integration, including a referendum on the
unification of the two countries "in one way or another," Russian and Western
media reported. Yeltsin said steps should be taken to synchronize the economic
reform, tax, budgetary, energy, and customs policies of the two states, while
also developing a common currency. Although the idea of a referendum on
unification is something of a departure for Yeltsin, the other steps listed
were already called for in the April 1996 Russo-Belarusian community agreement.
Despite the fanfare which accompanied its signing, that agreement has
languished largely unimplemented. -- Scott Parrish
REACTION TO YELTSIN'S BELARUS INITIATIVE.
Lukashenka hailed Yeltsin's move, as did Russian communist politicians.
Lukashenka said accelerated integration "is our baby, mine and the Russian
president's." CIS Affairs Minister Aman Tuleev, the only opposition
representative in Yeltsin's cabinet, called Yeltsin's move "the only real step
to counter NATO" yet taken by Moscow. Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor
Ilyukhin also welcomed the announcement, although he assessed it as an attempt
to boost Yeltsin's sagging popularity. NTV argued that the announcement was
Yeltsin's latest response to the impending eastward expansion of NATO. But
proposing unification with Belarus is a "risky game," the network added, since
the authoritarian Lukashenka could become leader of a new unified state. It
concluded that Eastern European states should consider whether NATO expansion
might compel Russia to take steps which place both its own future, and that of
its neighbors, at risk. -- Scott Parrish
PRIMAKOV ON FOREIGN POLICY, BALTICS.
Trying to soften the hard-line
impression which his recent declarations on NATO and the Baltic states have
conveyed, Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov said on 13 January that
Moscow wants to protect its interests without provoking confrontation,
ITAR-TASS reported. Primakov contended that Moscow has a "differentiated"
approach to the three states, listing Estonia's treatment of its Russian
minority as Russia's "greatest concern" in the region. He also contended that
the Yeltsin administration's foreign policy is "increasingly acquiring a
consensus character," and has the "support of many political parties." However,
in recent months Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin and Defense Minister
Igor Rodionov have publicly clashed with Primakov, and at a 13 January press
conference in Prague, Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii said he does not
support union with Belarus, and expressed disagreement with Primakov's stance
on the Baltic states. -- Scott Parrish
ATOMIC ENERGY MINISTER ON EXPORTS, SUPERCOMPUTERS.
Russian Minister of
Atomic Energy Viktor Mikhailov told a 13 January press conference that Russia
intends to press ahead with the controversial deal to complete an unfinished
nuclear power station at Bushehr in southern Iran, and install reactors in
China and India, ITAR-TASS reported. He claimed Russian nuclear exports had
totaled about $2 billion in 1996, up 10% from 1995, although he conceded that
Iran and India had payment problems. Mikhailov also said that new
supercomputers to be installed soon at Arzamas-16 and Chelyabinsk-70 would
increase these research institute's computing power tenfold, helping Moscow to
maintain the reliability of its nuclear stockpile while observing the 1996
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. He did not say where the computers came from, as
the U.S. recently denied IBM and Hewlett-Packard licenses to export such
computers to Russia. -- Scott Parrish
RUSSIAN LOSSES IN CHECHEN WAR.
The Memorial association has been keeping
track of Russian soldiers killed during the 21-month long Chechen war,
Moskovskii komsomolets reported on 14 January. Memorial estimates that
4,379 Russian servicemen were killed: a list of all their names will be
published shortly. The number may rise as the fate of the more than 1,000
troops listed as missing is known. The paper notes that estimates from official
Russian sources range from 3,700-4,100 dead, 1,200-1,900 missing, and 18-20,000
wounded. Two-thirds of the casualties are from the Russian Army and one-third
from the Interior Troops. -- Peter Rutland
COSSACKS DEMAND CHECHEN TERRITORY.
Stavropol Krai Cossacks rallied on 10
January in several cities to demand the return of territory transferred to the
Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic in 1957 and now part of Chechnya, Russian
media reported. The area in question includes Naurskii and Shelkovskii raions.
Ataman Yurii Churekov said the Cossack Atamans' Council of the Russian South
supports the territorial demand and is ready to mobilize 100,000 armed men to
protect Russian-speakers in Chechnya. On 13 January ITAR-TASS quoted the
Council of Atamans of the Cossack Forces of Russia as saying it would refrain
from any actions that could destabilize the North Caucasus, but the council
added that if the post-election leadership in Chechnya altered the status of
the republic it would ask the Constitutional Court to review the 1957 land
transfer. Russian Security Council Deputy Secretary Leonid Maiorov said the
annexation of part of Chechen territory is not feasible. -- Anna Paretskaya in
Moscow and Penny Morvant
ZYUGANOV ADDRESSES TEACHERS' PICKET.
Teachers from about 70 Russian
regions took part in strikes and demonstrations to protest wage arrears on 13
January, according to figures from the Education and Science Workers' Union
quoted by NTV. Union leader Vladimir Yakovlev said more than 3 million children
are being affected by the protests, which in some regions will last five days.
A teachers' picket outside the White House in Moscow was addressed by Communist
leader Gennadii Zyuganov, who said "Teachers are the last in line, the most
unprotected and deprived," Reuters reported. The average wage for teachers is
about 540,000 rubles a month, far lower than the national average wage, which
was 850,000 rubles in November. First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Ilyushin
said during a meeting with a delegation of teachers that the government will
debate its debt to the education sector at a session on 16 January. -- Penny
ELECTION MONEY SCANDAL: CASE RECLASSIFIED.
In line with the new Criminal
Code, the Procurator's Office has altered the parameters of the criminal case
resulting from the notorious 19 June detention of two Yeltsin campaign aides as
they left the White House with a box containing $500,000, Russian Television
(RTR) reported on 12 January. Sergei Lisovskii and Arkadii Yevstafev were
initially accused of illegal hard-currency operations, but such operations are
no longer a crime under the new Criminal Code, which went into effect on 1
January. The incident is now treated as a case of theft. However, as no one has
claimed ownership of the money or notified the police of its theft, it is
unlikely that the new charge can be made to stick. Thus, this latest
development may allow the incident, which raised awkward questions about
campaign financing, to be swept under the carpet. -- Penny Morvant
GEORGIA READY TO WAIVE IMMUNITY FOR DIPLOMAT.
Shevardnadze said on 12 January that he is ready to waive diplomatic immunity
for Georgi Makharadze, the Georgian envoy in Washington involved in the 3
January car accident that caused the death of a 16-year-old American girl, so
that he can face charges in the U.S., international agencies reported.
Shevardnadze said he took the decision with a "heavy heart" while arguing that
"moral principles" were more important than international conventions. U.S.
State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns hailed the move as "courageous and
unusual in modern diplomacy." Shevardnadze's decision followed a letter from
U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher (see OMRI Daily Digest, 10
January 1997), who asked him to allow for Makharadze's prosecution. Burns
denied that the U.S. made any threats of sanctions against Georgia. -- Emil
OIL DEAL SIGNED DURING ALIEV'S VISIT TO FRANCE.
French oil companies Elf
Aquitaine and Total have reached agreement with Azerbaijan's State Oil Company,
Socar, to develop two offshore fields in the Caspian Sea, Western and Russian
media reported on 13 January. The deal, with an estimated value of $1.5
billion, involves the exploitation of a roughly 420 square km area, known as
the Lenkoran and Talysh Deniz fields, some 300 km from Baku. Elf Aquitaine,
with a 65% share of the deal, will operate the consortium; Socar retains a 25%
interest while Total will take 10%. Other firms, possibly the U.S. company
Mobil and Germany's Deminex, are expected to join them. Estimates of the size
of the deposit range from 50 to 100 million metric tons of oil. The landmark
deal was signed during the visit to France of Azerbaijani President Haidar
Aliev. -- Lowell Bezanis
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH APPEALS TO KYRGYZ PRESIDENT.
Human Rights Watch sent
a letter to Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev on 13 January, asking him to overturn
a court decision jailing Topchubek Turgunaliyev and Timur Stamkulov. In the
letter, obtained by OMRI, HRW argues that the $10,000 Turgunaliyev allegedly
embezzled from the Bishkek University for the Humanities was in fact a loan
which Turgunaliyev promised to return with interest. The university's chief
accountant said the university has no financial claims against Turgunaliyev.
HRW noted that the procurator's office insisted this trial be held in a
criminal court, and the case was reopened six times since 1994. Previous
attempts to hold a criminal trial were struck down by the investigators'
insistence that the case be handled in a civil court. HRW considers the 10-year
jail sentence on Turgunaliyev as "wholly disproportionate" to the alleged crime
and that the timing represented "the government's desire to silence Mr.
Turgunaliyev's reinvigorated political dissent." -- Bruce Pannier
UZBEKISTAN, TURKMENISTAN UPDATE.
Japan's Mitsui and NEC companies will
build a modern telephone network in Uzbekistan, ITAR-TASS reported on 13
January. The $138 million deal was described as the largest project with
Japanese participation in Central Asia. In other news, the European Union is
planning to provide Turkmenistan with 10 million ECU in structural food aid
annually over the next three years, according to a 9 January Turkmen radio
report as monitored by the BBC. The monies are to be used for agricultural
reform and to create strategic reserves of grain and flour. -- Lowell Bezanis
AGREEMENT TO REPATRIATE TAJIK REFUGEES.
Tajik government and opposition
representatives signed an agreement on 13 January aimed at repatriating
thousands of Tajik refugees, Western and Russian press reported. It was the
first agreement signed between the two sides at peace talks in Tehran. UN
Special Envoy to Tajikistan Gerd Merrem called it a "happy occasion" and said
it was "another building stone to create a multi-faceted national accord." By
some estimates there are up to 700,000 Tajik refugees, most living in
Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan. Responding to a question about those refugees who
may have criminal records, Nazarov said "if the agreement is implemented
appropriately the Tajik government will declare a general amnesty." -- Bruce
BELARUSIAN SPECIAL STATUS IN COUNCIL OF EUROPE SUSPENDED.
The Council of
Europe suspended Belarus's special guest status in the organization on 13
January, international agencies reported. Council President Leni Fischer said
the new Belarusian constitution does not respect human rights. The pan-European
body is geared toward promoting democracy and human rights. Fischer added that
the council cannot recognize the new Belarusian parliament, which was not
elected under the new constitution but formed on the basis of the deputies'
loyalty to the president. As Belarus has become more alienated from the West
and its East European neighbors, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has
been pushing for tighter ties with Russia. -- Ustina Markus
BELARUSIAN UPPER HOUSE MEETS.
The Council of the Republic met for the
first time on 13 January, ITAR-TASS and NTV reported. The new body consists of
64 senators--eight from each of the six regions as well as Minsk with the
remaining eight appointed by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. So far, 58
senators have been elected. During the session, deputies unanimously elected
Paval Shypuk to head the new chamber. Lukashenka said the role of the new upper
house is to review laws drafted by the lower house rather than to draft them.
He added that the parliament should busy itself with bringing Belarus's
legislation into line with Russia's to facilitate integration (see "Yeltsin
Proposes Referendum on Merger With Belarus," in Russian section) . -- Ustina
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT MEETS SACHS, WIFE IN CRIMEA.
Leonid Kuchma met with
the U.S. economist and architect of Poland's economic reforms, Jeffrey Sachs,
Ukrainian Radio reported on 13 January. Sachs noted that foreign investment in
Ukraine has been low and said the parliament must pass a new budget based on a
reformed tax system in order to attract more investment. He also said the
National Bank of Ukraine must continue with its tight monetary policy. The same
day, the president's wife, Lyudmilla Mykolaivna, visited children's homes in
Simferopol, Sevastopol, and Yalta to familiarize herself with the conditions
there. She donated vitamins worth $2,000 to local pharmacies. -- Ustina
ENERGY SITUATION IN UKRAINE.
Energy Minister Yurii Bochkarov made a
special appeal to the Ukrainian public on 13 January, Ukrainian Radio reported.
He warned that energy supplies are at a critical level and called on everyone
to lower their consumption of energy by 20%. The energy production potential of
the Dnipropetrovsh hydroelectric station, which supplies water to one-third of
Ukraine's territory, has been almost completely used up. Bochakov said one of
the biggest problems has been the indebtedness of consumers. Ukrainians owe
2.5-2.7 billion hryvnyas ($1.4 billion) for energy, and Bochakov warned that
those who do not pay will not receive energy supplies. -- Ustina Markus
CRIME IN BALTIC STATES IN 1996.
The number of crimes in Lithuania in
1996 increased by 11.9% compared with the previous year but fell by 2.4% in
Latvia and 10.5% in Estonia, ELTA reported on 13 January. Estonia, however, had
the highest per capita crime rate with 239.9 crimes per 10,000 population,
while Lithuania and Latvia had rates of 183.3 and 151.8, respectively. The
crime-resolution rate in Estonia was only 32.5%, while it was 41.3% in
Lithuania and 44.2% in Latvia. -- Saulius Girnius
NORWEGIAN FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS LATVIA.
Bjorn Tore Godal held talks
with Prime Minister Andris Skele, Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs, Saeima
Chairman Alfreds Cepanis, and other officials in Riga on 13 January, BNS
reported. He stressed that NATO and the EU should start membership talks with
the Baltic states simultaneously and that Scandinavia is not distinguishing
between the three countries. He criticized attempts to give any of them
precedence in membership, describing efforts to see Lithuania as closer to
CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE and Estonia as almost a part of Finland as
"rubbish." Godal noted that Europe cannot have a common security system without
the involvement of Russia, but he added that Russia does not have a right to
veto NATO enlargement. -- Saulius Girnius
ROMANIAN PRESIDENT IN POLAND.
Emil Constantinescu and his Polish
counterpart, Aleksander Kwasniewski, agreed in Poland on 13 January that their
two countries would boost economic and political relations and cooperate in
their efforts to join the EU and NATO, international agencies reported.
Kwasniewski said experts from both countries would meet to work out concrete
measures. He also promised that Poland would back Romania's efforts to join the
Central European Free Trade Agreement. Both presidents said that Ukraine has a
special role in their foreign policies. It is Constantinescu's first official
trip abroad since his election in November last year. -- Jakub Karpinski
POLISH CONSTITUTIONAL UPDATE.
Representatives of the four biggest party
caucuses in the Sejm--the Democratic Left Alliance, Polish Peasant Party, the
Freedom Union, and the Labor Union--on 13 January met for the third time to
discuss the draft constitution. Former Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki (UW)
said they were in such agreement "on the basic problems" and "the rest can be
discussed at the meeting of the Constitutional Commission." Some controversies
remain: whether to introduce a three-tier territorial administration or stick
with the current two-level version; whether a so-called "social rights"
provision should be included that would guarantee housing, education, and
health care for all citizens; how many votes it would take in the Sejm to
override a presidential veto; what categories of Constitutional Tribunal
decisions are final. The Constitutional Commission will meet on 15 January. --
YAVLINSKII IN PRAGUE.
Grigorii Yavlinskii, chairman of Russia's Yabloko
political faction and a recent presidential candidate, said at a seminar
organized by a private foundation in Prague that Russia has natural and
economic resources but lacks experience with democracy, Czech media reported.
Yavlinskii emphasized that 1996 was an important year in Russia's history
because "it was the first time that 75% of people took part in democratic
presidential and parliamentary elections." According to Yavlinskii, no country,
including Russia, has a right to lecture other countries on who should become a
NATO member. But he warned that NATO's expansion would worsen the domestic
political situation in Russia and could lead to the collapse of Russian foreign
policy as it has developed over the last five years. -- Jiri Pehe
SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER CALLS FOR NATO REFERENDUM.
Slovak Prime Minister
Vladimir Meciar has confirmed his view that a referendum must be held on
Slovakia's membership in NATO, TASR and CTK reported on 13 January. In
interview for Slovak Radio, Meciar stressed that the government will discuss
the issue at a 14 January meeting. Meciar said the referendum campaign should
last three months and said experts from various countries, including the U.S.
and Russia, would be invited to participate in the campaign. Opposition
Christian Democratic Movement Chairman Jan Carnogursky said Slovakia should
exercise restraint in its attempt to join NATO in order to buy time for
maneuvering between East and West. -- Anna Siskova
SLOVAK RULING PARTY REJECTS REFERENDUM ON PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS.
governing Movement for Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) called on its supporters and
members to not support the referendum on direct presidential elections, which
is being organized by the opposition parties, CTK reported on 14 January. In a
statement, the HZDS accused the opposition of "demagogy" and unconstitutional
maneuvering. Slovak President Michal Kovac signed a parliamentary petition to
hold a referendum on 13 January. Kovac said he is not interested in running for
another term as president. -- Anna Siskova
HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER CRITICIZES SERB, BULGARIAN HARDLINE SOCIALISTS.
Gyula Horn on 13 January fiercely criticized the Belgrade and Sofia
governments, blaming the current wave of mass unrest on the fact that the two
Socialist governments have delayed democratic reforms. He noted that while his
Hungarian Socialist Party has been accepted into the worldwide Socialist
International, the Serbian and Bulgarian Socialist parties have not. Horn's
remarks follow a 12 January government statement voicing concern over recent
developments in Serbia and a Hungarian deputy's speech that was critical of
Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic at an opposition rally in Belgrade. --
NEW DEMONSTRATIONS, UPCOMING GENERAL STRIKE IN BULGARIA.
and 100,000 people took to the streets in Sofia on 13 January to support
opposition demands for early elections, Bulgarian media and AFP reported. Their
rally was preceded by a student's demonstration that passed by the embassies of
Italy, Austria, and the U.S. The students handed out appeals to the diplomats
asking them not to support a new Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) government.
"We don't want to fill the immigration lists of your countries," students said
in the appeal. Meanwhile, the Confederation of Labor "Podkrepa" announced that
it had scheduled a nationwide strike for 15 January. Members of the "Promyana"
alliance have already started striking in the Burgas and Varna harbors and in
Bulgaria's largest fuel plant, Neftohim Burgas. The Confederation of
Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria was the last major union to join the
general strike. All striking activities will be coordinated by the opposition.
-- Maria Koinova in Sofia
BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS AGREE "IN PRINCIPLE" TO EARLY ELECTIONS.
Executive Bureau on 13 January "agreed in principle to the idea of holding
early parliamentary elections in the context of the implementation of a
national anti-crisis program," Bulgarian and Western media reported. The
Socialists said they are ready to start talks with the opposition on early
elections and on the "character and composition" of a new government which they
insist must be led by the BSP. The BSP said its premier-designate, Interior
Minister Nikolay Dobrev, is non-negotiable. BSP leaders also said that early
elections should not be held before the end of the year. The Union of
Democratic Forces (SDS) leadership will meet on 14 January to discuss the
offer. SDS Chairman Ivan Kostov accused the Socialists of tactical delays since
only the BSP Supreme Council--rather than Executive Bureau--is authorized to
make a final decision on the issues at stake. -- Stefan Krause
BELGRADE MASS PROTEST USHERS IN NEW YEAR.
Demonstrators gathered in
Belgrade for one of the largest protest marches so far on 13 January as the
country celebrated the Christian Orthodox New Year's Eve, Nasa Borba
reported. According to some estimates, as many as 500,000 demonstrators flooded
into Belgrade's streets to protest against the regime of Serbian President
Slobodan Milosevic and to demand that the authorities recognize opposition
victories in the 17 November runoff of the municipal elections. Riot police,
who had assumed a high public profile in recent weeks, remained for the most
part in their barracks, international media reported. Mass demonstrations also
took place in other cities across Serbia, marking the 55th consecutive day of
the ongoing protest. -- Stan Markotich
IS SERBIA'S PRESIDENT SINCERE ABOUT MAKING CONCESSIONS?
According to a
14 January report in Dnevni Telegraf, Serbian President Slobodan
Milosevic is preparing to recognize the Zajedno opposition coalition's
electoral victories in 13 municipalities. He is not expected, however, to make
concessions on the Belgrade Municipal Assembly but may recognize opposition
wins in a handful of Belgrade's municipal districts. The newspaper speculates
that Milosevic may attempt such a move as a way of putting a stop to the
ongoing mass demonstrations across Serbia. It would also provide him with a
pretext for resorting to force should the demonstrations continue. -- Stan
BOSNIAN FEDERAL ARMY TAKES SHAPE.
The planned structure of the new
mainly Croatian and Muslim joint army was announced in Sarajevo on 13 January,
two days after presidency members Kresimir Zubak and Alija Izetbegovic signed
an agreement. The new force will include 14 brigades divided among four
corps--three [Muslim] and one Croat--plus two rapid-reaction battalions. There
will also be a combined artillery division and other combined units for
air-defense, logistics, training, and helicopters, AFP reported. The two
nominal allies fought a brief but vicious war in 1993, which was ended only
thanks to vigorous U.S. political and economic pressure on both sides. A major
problem has subsequently been to overcome mutual mistrust and local power
interests in order to make the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina a reality.
Nowhere has real cooperation proven more difficult than in military and police
affairs. -- Patrick Moore
BRITAIN WARNS BOSNIA ON RECONSTRUCTION AID.
U.K. Defense Minister
Michael Portillo said in Banja Luka on 12 January that aid will be contingent
on the implementation of the Dayton agreement, Onasa wrote. He added that war
criminals must be brought to justice if a lasting peace is to take root but
pointed out that the present peace is no guarantee that war will not break out
again some months hence. In contrast to many Western official visitors to the
region, he spoke bluntly and refused to paint a rosy picture: "Despite
political progress, I don't think there is much progress in reconciliation...
There is precious little sign of the population wishing to tolerate each
other." The following day, Portillo warned that SFOR's mandate will not be
extended after it runs out in mid-1998. He added that all sides should now
concentrate on restoring basis infrastructure links. -- Patrick Moore
Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic, a Muslim,
warned against attempts to resettle ethnic Serbs from eastern Slavonia into
Bosnia when eastern Slavonia returns to Croatian control this summer. He said
that such a migration would endanger peace in Bosnia, Oslobodjenje on 11
January quoted him as saying. U.S. Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith
meanwhile told eastern Slavonian Serbs that the Croatian army will be stationed
in Vukovar and elsewhere in the area after Croatian officials return on 17
July, Vecernji list reported. The international community has been urging the
Serbs to stay put, but they have been seeking guarantees that go beyond
existing agreements as a prerequisite to do so. Croatian authorities on 13
January presented a document to the UN outlining future rights for the Serbs,
which the UN administrator Jacques Klein said was very positive and does indeed
go well beyond existing agreements, AFP reported. -- Patrick Moore
KOSOVO LIBERATION ARMY CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY FOR KILLING ALBANIAN.
secretive Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) has claimed responsibility for the 9
January killing of Maliq Sheholli, international agencies reported on 13
January. Sheholli was a member of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's
Socialist Party of Serbia and a member of the Podujevo City Council. The UCK
said in a statement that the killing "is a warning to all other collaborators
and national traitors." The group called the murder an "execution," adding it
had warned Sheholli to "stop cooperating with enemies." The group killed eight
Serbs and one ethnic Albanian police officer last year. -- Fabian Schmidt
CONSERVATIVE LEADER OPEN TO COOPERATION WITH SLOVENIAN PRIME MINISTER.
Slovenian People's Party leader Marjan Podobnik 13 January said he is
considering the idea of joining a coalition led by Liberal Democratic Party
leader Janez Drnovsek, who was recently re-elected prime minister. "We support
a government of national unity in which all or most parliamentary parties would
be included," Reuters quoted Podobnik as saying. Podobnik, whose party controls
19 of the parliament's 90 seats, had previously ruled out any cooperation with
the legislature's 25 Liberal Democrats. The parliamentary elections were held
on 10 November 1996. -- Stan Markotich
TENSION IN ROMANIA'S RULING COALITION.
Constantin Ticu Dumitrescu, head
of the Former Political Detainees' Association which is affiliated to the
coalition party Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR), suggested on 13 January
that Senate Chairman Petre Roman, the head of the coalition party Social
Democratic Union (USD), shares responsibility with former President Ion Iliescu
for the miners' violent marches on Bucharest in 1990, Romanian media reported.
Ion Diaconescu, chairman of the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic,
said it was "natural" that Roman, who was prime minister at the time, had to be
"on Iliescu's side." Another CDR member, Romania's Alternative Party, proposed
the creation of a technical secretariat to prevent future "misunderstandings"
between the CDR and USD. Meanwhile, the CDR might exclude the National Liberal
Party-Democratic Convention, because its chairman, lawyer Niculae Cerveni, took
over the defense in corruption cases. -- Dan Ionescu
ROMANIAN NATIONALISTS OPPOSE HUNGARIAN CONSULATE IN CLUJ.
Council of Cluj on 13 January issued a statement calling the decision to reopen
a Hungarian consulate there as "unwelcome and lacking any pragmatic basis,"
Radio Bucharest reported. Cluj Mayor Gheorghe Funar, who heads the extremist
Party of Romanian National Unity, said that he would use all democratic means
to fight against what he described as an "irresponsible" decision. The
government coalition councilors walked out of the extraordinary council meeting
in protest. The council's statement came after news that Foreign Minister
Adrian Severin had agreed to the consulate's reopening during a visit to
Budapest in late December. Last week, all parliamentary opposition parties
objected to the reopening. The consulate was closed down in 1988 under Nicolae
Ceausescu. -- Zsolt Mato
ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT GIVES IN TO STUDENTS' DEMANDS.
government has responded to a student strike that began on 6 January by
pledging to take a series of measures to improve the living and working
conditions of university students. The Independent Students Union has called of
the strike, Republika reported on 13 January. The government will
establish a special governmental body to look after the students' problems, the
students will be allowed to administer cultural and sports facilities at their
campus, and living conditions at the dormitories will be improved. Talks with
the government are scheduled for 14 January and will focus on questions of
financial support for students and a shorter compulsory military duty. The
government had already allocated special funds in the 1997 budget to improve
living and teaching conditions for students, international agencies reported.
-- Fabian Schmidt
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Steve Kettle and Victor Gomez