YELTSIN SAYS RUSSIAN-NATO CHARTER 98% AGREED
President Boris Yeltsin says a charter between Russia and NATO has been 98% agreed and may be finalized at a meeting next week between Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov and NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana, Russian news agencies reported yesterday. However, he repeated that NATO must not deploy weapons and military hardware, especially nuclear [ones] in new member states. NATO officials have refused to make a binding pledge on deployments in new member states. Yeltsin said he may participate in the sixth round of talks between Primakov and Solana, adding that NATOs expansion plans are the most acute issue in U.S.-Russian relations since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.
RUSSIAN SECURITY COUNCIL ADOPTS NEW NATIONAL SECURITY GUIDELINES
The Russian Security Council on 7 May adopted a four-part security concept detailing perceived potential threats to Russia--including economic crisis, social upheaval, and terrorism--and how to counter them. Yeltsin, who chaired the meeting, raised the possibility of "good cover in the East" as a response to NATO expansion, according to Reuters and AFP. The draft concept, which was summarized in a recent article by Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin in Nezavisimaya gazeta (see "Endnote," RFE/RL Newsline, 30 April 1997) has been criticized as too vague and for "failing to reflect Russia's social and philosophical roots", Izvestiya reported yesterday.
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT HOPEFUL ABOUT YELTSINS UPCOMING VISIT
After meeting with Yeltsin yesterday in Moscow, Leonid Kuchma said the Russian presidents upcoming visit to Kyiv will remove all the remaining obstacles and misunderstanding in our bilateral relations, ITAR-TASS reported. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin is to visit Ukraine on 28 May, and Yeltsin is tentatively scheduled to arrive in Kyiv two days later. Yeltsin has postponed visiting Ukraine repeatedly over the last several years, largely because of the continuing dispute over the division of the Black Sea Fleet. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Valerii Nesterushkin yesterday confirmed that Moscow has no territorial claims on Sevastopol and is not seeking to change the citys status. Last month the Federation Council asked Yeltsin to consider pursuing a special international status for Sevastopol, where the Black Sea Fleet is based (see RFE/RL Newsline, 18 April 1997).
LUZHKOV GIVEN LEEWAY ON HOUSING REFORM
Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov and First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov are to present competing proposals on housing reform at a special cabinet meeting next week, Russian news agencies reported yesterday. That meeting will be chaired by Yeltsin. The announcement follows Yeltsins decision during a 7 May meeting with Luzhkov to allow Moscow to carry out its own version of housing reform. In the early 1990s, Luzhkov was allowed to pursue his own privatization program in the capital, rather than that developed by First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais.
JOURNALISTS CALL FOR INFORMATION BOYCOTT ON ZHIRINOVSKY
Vsevolod Bogdanov, chairman of the Union of Journalists, and Aleksei Simonov, head of the watchdog Glasnost Defense Foundation, have called on journalists to ignore the existence of Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), Russian news agencies reported yesterday. Zhirinovsky attacked two Moscow TV journalists yesterday after he was denied access to a wreath-laying ceremony at the Kremlins Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. He twisted the arms of one of the journalists before shoving her into his car. Luzhkov denounced Zhirinovskys insulting, vulgar behavior and advised the journalists to sue the LDPR leader. Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov vowed to investigate why police on the scene did not intervene on the journalists behalf.
KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA EDITOR REPLACED
Holders of 98% of the shares in the daily Komsomolskaya pravda have voted to replace chief editor Valerii Simonov with Vladimir Sungorkin, previously chairman of the newspapers board of directors, RFE/RLs Moscow bureau reported on 7 May. Sungorkin told RFE/RL that the paper would not be changed significantly and that only one or two journalists would be fired. In March, Sungorkin supported selling a 20% stake in Komsomolskaya pravda to Oneksimbank rather than to the gas monopoly Gazprom, as had been planned. Simonov opposed the measure, warning that the newspaper, one of the most popular Russian dailies, would lose its independence.
ZYUGANOV SAYS BUDGET SEQUESTER IS ORGANIZATION OF FAMINE
Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov says the governments proposal to cut some 108 trillion rubles ($19 billion) in spending this year is tantamount to the organization of famine, Russian news agencies reported on 7 May. In particular, he objected to plans to cut agricultural subsidies by 55%. Zyuganov and some trade union leaders have called for printing more money to fill the budget gap rather than cutting spending. Government officials oppose such a measure, saying it would be inflationary.
STATE OF EMERGENCY DECLARED IN VLADIVOSTOK
The Vladivostok city authorities declared a state of emergency yesterday as power cuts to enterprises and homes reached unprecedented levels, according to RFE/RLs correspondent in Vladivostok. Residents only have electricity for a few hours a day, and the power cuts have hit the Primorskii Krai administration building. The citys sewage system is also not functional, as there is not enough electricity to operate water pumps. Miners stopped shipping coal to power plants in Primore on 1 May (see RFE/RL Newsline, 6 May 1997). Although 43 billion rubles ($7.5 million) has since been paid out to cover their December wages, they have refused to resume coal shipments until wage arrears are paid in full. Primores governor, Yevgenii Nazdratenko, yesterday appealed to the miners to remember their civic duty, ITAR-TASS reported.
SAKHALIN GOVERNOR PROTESTS PLANS TO MOVE U.S. MARINES TO HOKKAIDO
Sakhalin Oblast Governor Igor Farkhutdinov says he will ask the governor of Japans Hokkaido Island not to allow U.S. marines to be stationed there, Interfax reported yesterday. In an interview with the local newspaper Gubernskie novosti, Farkhutdinov described the plans to move some U.S. troops from Okinawa to Hokkaido as an attempt to station clearly offensive units closer to Russian borders. He said Russia has only border troops stationed in the disputed Kuril Islands but warned that if U.S. marines were moved to Hokkaido, we will work for the deployment of alternative Russian military formations in the Kuril Islands and Sakhalin.
GOVERNMENT TO AUDIT NINE MAJOR COMPANIES
The government has ordered audits of nine companies in which it holds a controlling stake or the largest block of shares, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 May. The companies to be audited in 1997 are the gas monopoly Gazprom, the utility Unified Energy System, the coal company Rosugol, the oil companies Rosneft and Transneft, the insurance company Rosgosstrakh, the airline Aeroflot, Moscows Sheremetevo airport, and the shipping company Sovkomflot. Regional branches of the Railways Ministry will also be audited. Government officials have vowed to more actively control state-owned shares in companies, particularly those that have large debts to the federal budget and Pension Fund. Private firms, to be selected by competitive bidding, will carry out the audits.
MAN TO LEAD GOVERNMENT COMMISSION ON WOMEN
Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Sysuev has been appointed chairman of the governments special commission on improving the status of women, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported on 7 May. Sysuevs spokeswoman, Svetlana Krystanovskaya, said he would balance out the women who form a majority on the commission. But a government spokeswoman commented that a woman would be in a better position to address these issues. The only woman in the cabinet is Health Minister Tatyana Dmitrieva.
ATTEMPT TO ASSASSINATE GEORGIAN LEADERS THWARTED?
Georgian security services yesterday defused two anti-personnel land mines planted on the road from Tbilisi to the village of Tskhneta, where Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and parliamentary speaker Zurab Zhvania have summer homes, Russian agencies reported. Several thousand displaced persons from Abkhazia are also quartered in the village. Zhvania termed the placing of the explosives a further attempt on Shevardnadze's life, saying it was comparable to the failed bomb attack of August 1995.
Aliyev ACCUSES TURKEY OF INSUFFICIENT SUPPORT...
Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliyev has accused Turkey of inadequate financial support for Azerbaijan, Interfax and Asbarez reported, citing the Armenian-language Turkish newspaper Marmara. Addressing the Turkish parliament on 6 May, Aliyev complained that Turkey's EximBank was demanding Azerbaijan pay interest on a $70 million credit drawn by the previous Azerbaijani leadership. He added that Ankara has refused a request for $117 million in aid and that Turkish companies are investing in Central Asia but not in Azerbaijan. Aliyev called on Turkey not to expand trade with Armenia. He also implicated unnamed Turkish political figures in the so-called coup attempt of 17 March 1995. Democratic Left Party leader Bulent Ecevit responded by calling for an official investigation, the Turkish Daily News reported yesterday.
...AND THREATENS FORCE TO REGAIN OCCUPIED TERRITORY
Aliyev told a meeting in Izmir on 7 May that if a peaceful settlement to the Karabakh conflict is not reached, "we will definitely take back our lands under occupation, whatever this will cost," AFP reported. (The Azerbaijani-Turkish agreement on military cooperation signed on 5 May does not provide for one side to assist the other during hostilities.) Several Azerbaijani troops were wounded in border clashes with Armenian troops near the town of Kazakh in northwestern Azerbaijan on 6-7 May, according to Turan. Also on 7 May, the director of an Armenian organization for the protection of prisoners of war told journalists in Yerevan that all of the eighteen Armenian prisoners released by Azerbaijan in recent weeks were maltreated or tortured, ARMENPRESS reported.
The UN Security Council has approved Secretary-General Kofi Annan's proposal that, together with Russia, the UN should expand its role in mediating a political settlement to the Abkhaz conflict, ITAR-TASS and dpa reported yesterday. But Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba told Interfax on 7 May that further talks with the Georgian leadership are "impossible" at the present time. Speaking to journalists in Tbilisi the same day, Georgian First Deputy Security Minister Avtandil Ioseliani denied reports that Ardzinba has visited Tbilisi to discuss dividing control of Abkhazia between the central government in Tbilisi and the separatist government in Sukhumi. Also on 7 May, the Georgian army held unannounced military exercises in Senaki Raion, which borders on Abkhazia.
ANOTHER HOSTAGE-TAKING IN TAJIKISTAN
Three men sent to negotiate with an armed group operating east of Dushanbe were taken hostage on 7 May, UN sources told RFE/RLs Tajik service today. Two of the men were members of the Joint Commission monitoring the cease- fire in Tajikistan and the third was from the Tajik Security Council. They went to the village of Rokhati, nine kilometers east of Dushanbe, to discuss re-establishing militia posts there with the armed group's leader, who subsequently took them hostage. Two were released hours after their capture and a third was freed today after UN mediation. The United Tajik Oppositions leadership ordered the release of the final captive, according to UTO deputy leader Ali Akbar Turajonzoda.
DECISION UPHELD AGAINST KYRGYZ NEWSPAPER
A Bishkek appeals court reviewing the case against Kriminal has stood by the original verdict to suspend the newspapers publication, RFE/RL correspondents in Kyrgyzstan reported. The paper was accused of insulting government officials in its only two issues, which appeared at the beginning of this year. The Kyrgyz Justice Ministry filed suit against the newspaper, whose editor says he intends to appeal to the Supreme Court. The trial took place only days after Amnesty International released a report on Kyrgyzstan criticizing the use of Kyrgyz courts to silence political opposition. U.S.-based Freedom House on 3 May changed Kyrgyzstans media status from partially free to not free.
NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL IN UKRAINE
Javier Solana on 7 May handed Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma a draft document on future relations between NATO and Ukraine. Solana expressed hope that it will be ready for signing at the July NATO summit in Madrid. A Ukrainian Foreign Ministry official said the document will need to be amended. But he added that the two sides will sign a "good document" regardless of disagreements. Interfax reported that Solana also expressed the hope that Ukraine will ratify the CFE flank limitations before the 15 May conclusion of ongoing negotiations in Vienna. An Azerbaijani presidential adviser said in Baku on 7 May that it would be "difficult" for Azerbaijan to agree to the CFE flank agreements, but he did not specify Azerbaijan's precise objections, according to TURAN. The 1990 CFE treaty must be endorsed by all signatory states. Georgia and Moldova have also expressed reservations.
GERMANY BACKS BALTICS' BID FOR NATO MEMBERSHIP
German Defense Minister Volker Ruehe says Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are likely to become NATO members within "a foreseeable time frame," Reuters and BNS reported. Ruehe was speaking yesterday at Skagen, Denmark, at the conclusion of a biannual meeting of the German, Danish, and Polish defense ministers, which was also attended by their counterparts from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Ruehe said the Baltic states should cooperate closely so as not to lose time in their efforts to join NATO. He also agreed with his Danish and Polish colleagues to invite the Baltic ministers to annual, informal talks beginning in Germany next February.
LATVIAN PRESIDENT AGREES WITH CRITICISM OF DEFENSE MINISTRY
Guntis Ulmanis says he supports Prime Minister Andris Skele in his criticism of the Defense Ministry, Interfax reported yesterday. Skele demanded Defense Minister Andrejs Krastins's resignation on 7 May. The ministry has allegedly concluded large fuel purchase deals at prices disadvantageous to the state. Those deals create the impression of corruption, Skele suggested, adding that more details will be made public only after an investigation has been conducted. Krastins, who was in Denmark to attend the Baltic defense ministers' meeting, returned to Riga on 7 May. He told a news conference in the Latvian capital that he has to comply with Skele's demand for his resignation "in line with the law." But he denied his involvement in dubious deals, saying he did not discount the possibility that "incorrect" information was passed onto Skele to discredit him.
U.S. REPLACES GERMANY AS LITHUANIA'S TOP FOREIGN INVESTOR
Lithuania's statistics office says the U.S. has overtaken Germany as the country's top foreign investor, BNS reported yesterday. As of 1 January 1997, the U.S. had invested in Lithuania $166 million while Germany's total investment in that country reached $75 million. Sweden is the third-largest investor with $69 million dollars. The statistics office says foreigners tend to invest in food, alcohol and tobacco production, communications, and financial services.
TURKISH PRESIDENT IN WARSAW
Suleyman Demirel says his country will not block Poland's membership in NATO. Following talks in Warsaw on 7 May with his Polish counterpart, Aleksander Kwasniewski, Demirel told journalists that Poland will be a member of NATO and that its biggest supporter will be Turkey. Yesterday, Demirel met with Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz. He is also scheduled to meet with parliamentary leaders and former President Lech Walesa.
BOEING, MCDONNELL BUY INTO CZECH AIRCRAFT MAKER
A consortium consisting of the U.S. companies Boeing Co. and McDonnell Douglas Corp. and the Czech airline CSA has agreed to buy a minority stake in the biggest military aircraft maker in the Czech Republic, Aero Vodochody, for an undisclosed price. The contract is scheduled to be signed by the end of September, Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus told journalists on 7 May. The Czech government issued a tender in January for a 34-40% stake in the indebted Czech aircraft maker for a minimum price of 950 million koruny ($32.4 million).The winners said they will use Aero to make more parts for Boeing's commercial carriers and assemble McDonnell's fighter jets, using some local suppliers.
SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER IN CHINA
Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen says that Chinese-Slovak ties have expanded smoothly since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1993, shortly after the break-up of the former Czechoslovakia, the official Xinhua news agency reported. Qian met with his Slovak counterpart, Pavol Hamzik, in Beijing on 7 May. Among other things, the two ministers discussed international issues.
SLOVAK OPPOSITION LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN FOR NATO MEMBERSHIP, DIRECT PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS
Eight opposition parties on 7 May launched a campaign to convince voters that they should support Slovak membership in NATO and direct presidential elections in the 23-24 May referendum. The eight parties argue that the referendum will offer Slovaks the chance to show they want to remain part of an "advanced and democratic Europe." "We are seeking to strengthen a free society and to reject an authoritarian establishment," a joint statement said. The bloc comprises the Slovak Social Democratic Party, the Christian Democratic Movement, the Democratic Party, the Democratic Union, the Greens, and the ethnic Hungarian parties. The opposition post-communist Democratic Left Party declined to join the campaign.
HUNGARY'S SOCIALISTS LIFT CONSTITUTIONAL AGREEMENT
The Socialist Party's (MSzP) parliamentary faction says it no longer considers valid a long-standing agreement with the opposition stipulating that constitutional amendments need the backing of at least five parliamentary parties, Hungarian media reported today. Deputy faction leader Laszlo Toller said the agreement has ceased to exist because the opposition is unwilling to agree to a compromise on proposed amendments on judicial reform, the status of refugees, referenda, and government appointments. The opposition parties have protested, saying lifting the agreement is a "serious unilateral" step.
CHISINAU, TIRASPOL SIGN MEMORANDUM IN MOSCOW
Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi and Igor Smirnov, the leader of the breakaway region of Transdniester, met yesterday in Moscow to sign the memorandum on ways to settle the conflict in Moldova. Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, and Niels Helveg Petersen, the acting chief of the OSCE mission to Moldova, also signed the memorandum as guarantors. The document states that the two sides will develop ties within a single state existing inside Moldova's January 1990 borders. A document providing for a special status of the Transdniester region has still to be negotiated.
REACTIONS TO SIGNING OF MEMORANDUM
Lucinschi told a press conference after the signing ceremony that the two sides have agreed that Ukrainian peace-keeping forces will join Russian troops in Transdniester, BASA- Press reported. He added that Moldovan and Transdniestrian forces would be left facing each other if the Russians withdrew now. Yeltsin was quoted by Interfax as saying Russia is ready to withdraw its troops but the go-ahead must come from Moldovan and Transdniester leaders. Observers note this means the troops will, in fact, not be withdrawn because Tiraspol bitterly opposes the step. Yeltsin added that although the memorandum was an important "step forward", its conclusion had not solved all problems. Smirnov hailed the fact that "two large countries--Russia and Ukraine-- have become our guarantors."
INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE SEEKS TO BREAK ALBANIAN ELECTION DEADL0CK
Albanian Prime Minister Bashkim Fino is off to Rome this weekend to meet with Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini and other top officials. The Albanian delegation will then go on to Washington. Franz Vranitzky, the OSCE's top envoy to Albania, held talks in Tirana yesterday with President Sali Berisha. The diplomatic activity is aimed at encouraging Berisha's Democratic Party and the Socialist-led opposition coalition to agree on rules for the early elections, tentatively slated for 29 June (see RFE/RL Newsline, 6 May 1997). Italian Defense Minister Beniamino Andreatta said in Rome on 7 May that Italian troops will leave Albania if the June vote does not take place.
ALBANIAN PREMIER WANTS BIGGER ROLE FOR FOREIGN TROOPS
Fino said in Tirana today, however, that he regrets "statements calling for the departure of the foreign troops. Their presence is a necessity for Albania." Fino stressed that Operation Alba has had a major psychological effect in restoring calm and order after weeks of anarchy. He added that he still wants the foreigners to extend their mandate to include guarding arms dumps and frontier crossings. Fino also argued that the troops can play a key role in the elections because "the whole population is armed, and [the authorities] are concerned about security at polling stations."
RUGOVA PUTS OFF KOSOVO ELECTIONS
Kosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova announced in Pristina yesterday that elections for the parliament will take place but only by late December. He also extended by six months the current legislature's mandate, which runs out later this month. His move comes in the wake of pressure from Washington not to hold elections. U.S. and other foreign diplomats have told the Kosovars to forget about independence and to take part in the democratization of Serbian politics instead (see RFE/RL Newsline, 7 May 1997). Various Kosovar politicians and parties are increasingly objecting to the domination of the shadow-state by Rugova and his Democratic League of Kosovo.
Muslim political leaders threatened in Sarajevo yesterday to boycott the September local elections in the disputed town of Brcko. Earlier that day the OSCE had ruled that the Brcko vote will include only central, Serb-held districts and not the outlying areas controlled by the Croatian-Muslim federation, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the capital. Also in Sarajevo, the joint cabinet representing all three nationalities adopted a state budget after months of haggling. The vote removes a major obstacle to holding the frequently- postponed international aid donors' conference. In Kljuc, Bosnian authorities exhumed the bodies of 38 Muslims burned alive in a Serbian offensive in 1992.
ROUNDUP FROM FORMER YUGOSLAVIA
Viktor Ivancic, the editor of the satirical weekly Feral Tribune, went on trial for libel in Split yesterday, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from that Dalmatian city. In Trepca earlier this week, Serbian mining company officials signed a five-year agreement worth $517 million with a Greek company. In Skopje, the Macedonian Constitutional Court gave the green light for the university's Pedagogical Faculty to run teachers' training courses in Albanian, Macedonian media reported yesterday. And in Bitola, the Macedonian authorities began examining the books of the failed TAT pyramid scheme.
GREECE TO TAKE PART IN EXERCISES IN MACEDONIA
Greek officials announced in Athens yesterday that Greece will join Albania, Bulgaria, Italy, Slovenia, Turkey, and Romania in exercises in Macedonia from 11 to 17 May. The project is part of NATO's Partnership for Peace and will simulate providing aid following an earthquake in southern Macedonia. The Greeks agreed to join only after the other participants said they will refer to the host country only as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Greece objects to the name Macedonia, which, Athens argues, implies territorial claims on the northern Greek region of the same name. The government in Skopje denies the Greek charges.
BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES "NATIONAL SALVATION" DECLARATION
Bulgaria's parliament yesterday adopted a "National Salvation" declaration on domestic and foreign policy priorities, RFE/RL's Sofia Bureau reported. Each of the document's seven sections was voted on separately. The document calls for the establishment of a currency board that ties local money supply to foreign currency reserves, the opening of communist secret police files on officials and judges, and the full privatization of agricultural land. The section on joining the EU received unanimous endorsement. The opposition Socialist Party voted for most parts of the declaration but did not support the section calling for NATO membership. President Petar Stoyanov will meet today with leaders of the United Democratic Forces to officially begin the process of forming the government.
RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO BULGARIA PROTESTS MONUMENT DESECRATION
Leonid Kerestedzhiyants has warned the mayor of Plodviv that there may be "negative consequences" if the city authorities fail to remove Nazi swastika signs from a monument to Russian soldiers. The warning was issued on the eve of Victory Day celebrations on 8 May, ITAR-TASS reported. The ambassador said the Plodviv local authorities in the past had triggered angry responses from Russia when they announced plans to pull down the monument.
BELGIAN PREMIER IN ROMANIA
Jean-Luc Dehaene met with Premier Victor Ciorbea and members of his cabinet in Bucharest yesterday, RFE/RL's bureau in the Romanian capital reported. Dehaene told his host that Belgium supports Romania's bid to join an enlarged NATO. He said Romania's integration in the EU would primarily depend on the country's ability to fulfill the "technical, rather than political, criteria" imposed on all states wanting to join the union. He urged Romania to concentrate on implementing economic reform. Dehaene is also scheduled to meet with Senate chairman Petre Roman and President Emil Constantinescu.
ROMANIA ACKNOWLEDGES HOLOCAUST CRIMES
For the first time ever, a Romanian official has acknowledged the crimes committed by his countrymen against Jews in the 1940s. The daily USA Today reported on 8 May that President Constantinescu sent a message to participants in a ceremony marking Holocaust Day at Bucharest's main synagogue saying that some Romanians assisted Jews but others committed crimes against them. He said the "sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of Jews...weighs heavily on all our hearts. The killing of innocent people can neither be forgiven, nor corrected, nor forgotten."
ROMANIA'S MAIN OPPOSITION PARTY IN TURMOIL
At a meeting of the Sibiu branch of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), delegates urged Deputy Chairman Teodor Melescanu to agree to replace Ion Iliescu as party chairman. Mediafax reported that Iliescu has been accused of failing to remove party members "with a dubious public image." In an interview with Radio Bucharest Melescanu said he was "honored" by the trust placed in him. Iliescu said the proposal was "natural" in a democratic party and demonstrated the "sympathy" within the party toward Melescanu. Meanwhile, Adrian Nastase, another PDSR deputy chairman, announced yesterday he will collaborate with the Prosecutor-General's office following press reports that the office is considering opening an investigation against him for suspected fraud.
THE PROBLEMATIC UKRAINIAN-ROMANIAN BASIC TREATY
by Michael Shafir
Predictably, the Ukrainian-Romanian basic treaty and its annexes have been almost unanimously welcomed in Kyiv but have met with opposition from many quarters in Bucharest. The reason for this is simple. Initialed on 3 May in Kyiv by Foreign Ministers Hennadii Udovenko and Adrian Severin, the treaty puts an end to Romanian hopes that a condemnation of the 1939 Ribbentrop-Molotov pact could be squeezed out of Kyiv. The secret appendix to that document paved the way for the 1940 annexation by the Soviet Union of territories that today are part of either Ukraine or the independent Moldovan Republic.
Since 1993, when unofficial talks began on the basic treaty, Kyiv had made clear it would never accept any clause or formulation that questioned its current borders. In April of that year, former Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk told Adrian Nastase, then chairman of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies, that Ukraine was ready to discuss "anything but its human rights policies or questions related to its current borders." Kravchuk's successor, Leonid Kuchma, adhered to the same line on the border issue but was somewhat more amenable on "human rights."
As a result, Ukraine agreed to include in the treaty a large section that includes many references to the rights of the national minorities in either country. References are made to international legislation on minority rights and even to Recommendation 1201 of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly. In view of these developments, Severin's position that the treaty is "a compromise" is largely accurate.
Ironically, in reaching agreement with Kyiv over the basic treaty, Romania found itself in the same position as Hungary when Budapest concluded a bilateral treaty with Romania in September 1996. The Hungarian daily Nepszabadsag pointed out on 7 May that Budapest last year and Bucharest last week agreed to the recognition of "border inviolability" as enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act because they both want to be accepted into an enlarged NATO. The U.S. had made clear to Budapest that its chances of NATO admission would be virtually nil if Hungary's inclusion meant that border conflicts were imported into the alliance. Consequently, Budapest agreed to recognize the Hungarian-Romanian border as inviolable in exchange for mention of Recommendation 1201 in the bilateral treaty. Now, with an eye directed toward the NATO Madrid summit this summer, Bucharest has agreed to recognize the inviolability of its border with Ukraine in exchange for major concessions on minority rights.
As was to be expected, the two extreme nationalist parties in Romania's parliament denounced the renunciation of what Romanians view as their historical territories of northern Bukovina and southern Bessarabia. The Greater Romania Party called the treaty an "act of treason," while the Party of Romanian National Unity demanded a referendum on the document. But, as Severin has pointed out, the Party of Social Democracy in Romania's (PDSR) response was "less than genuine." The PDSR, the former ruling party and now the main opposition formation, wants the Soviet-Nazi pact to be denounced in the treaty's annexes. But in 1990, Ion Iliescu, the former president and the current PDSR leader, had been ready to sign a treaty with the Soviet Union that made no mention of the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact. Gorbachev's Moscow was doubtless more legitimate an "inheritor" of the Soviet legacy than is Kuchma's Kyiv.
By no means are all problems between the two countries resolved in the treaty. But in the annexes to the treaty (scheduled to be exchanged in the form of letters when the accord is signed), the two sides did agree to continue negotiations on demarcating the continental shelf around Serpents Island in the Black Sea, which was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1946 and is now a military fortress. The shelf surrounding the island is believed to be rich in oil reserves. While not agreeing to return the island, Ukraine pledged to deploy no "offensive weapons" on it and agreed to consider it "uninhabited," which, under international maritime legislation, means that Kyiv cannot claim an exclusive economic zone around it. The two sides agreed to take the issue to the Hague International Court of Justice if they fail to reach a compromise within two years.
Finally, although Ukraine did not give into Romania's demands that the joint border on the Chilia branch of the Danube River delta be moved to the middle of the river--in accordance with international practice--Kyiv did agreed to allow free navigation of Romanian vessels on that branch of the river.