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No. 2, 4 January 1994
RUSSIA ZHIRINOVSKY DEMANDS CABINET CHANGES. Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of the extreme right Liberal Democratic Party which gained 70 of the 450 seats in the lower house of the new parliament, said on 3 January that five or six members of the current Russian government should be replaced, together with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. (A cabinet reshuffle is expected to be announced soon by President Yeltsin). As Prime Minister, Zhirinovsky suggested the little-known head of administration of Omsk oblast, Leonid Polezhaev, who was elected to the Federation Council as an independent in the two-mandate Omsk constituency. At a press conference on 14 December, Aleksandr Vengerovsky had been introduced as the Prime Minister in the LDP's "shadow cabinet." Zhirinovsky, whose remarks were reported by Reuters, also said that his party would act as "a third force" in the parliament, bridging the gap between radical reformers and communists. Wendy Slater, RFE/RL, Inc. ZHIRINOVSKY TO VISIT ARMENIA. The leader of Russia's Liberal-Democratic Party, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, is to visit Armenia in mid-January at the invitation of the Council of Armenian Intellectuals, Interfax reported on 30 December quoting Armenian press sources. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIAN TROOPS COSTING GERMAN GOVERNMENT BILLIONS. According to German authorities, the illegal activities of Russian soldiers based in Germany "have cost the German government billions of marks in the past two years," AFP reported on 1 January. Although German authorities were reported to be well aware of what was going on, the extra-territorial status that the Russian troops enjoy and the unwillingness of Russian military commanders to cooperate were said to have impeded efforts at investigation and prosecution. Cheating on the VAT (value-added tax), from which Russian troops are exempt, was said to be by far the most common means of defrauding the German state. The AFP report also claimed that some of the 70,000 Russian soldiers still stationed in Germany had formed ties with Russian mafia groups, and that instances have been reported of sales of weapons to German criminals and to neo-Nazi groups. The report also suggested that it is not uncommon for Russian soldiers to bribe their commanding officers in an effort to avoid being sent back to Russia. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. DEFENSE PERSONNEL DIRECTORATE TO BE REDUCED. The Russian Defense Ministry decided on 30 December to reduce radically the number of generals currently working in the Defense Ministry department responsible for work with military personnel and to downgrade the status of the department as a whole, ITAR-TASS reported. Forty such generals were said to be in the department. According to the same report, Defense Minister Pavel Grachev had criticized the leadership of the department in comments made on 29 December, although he praised the work of rank-and-file personnel officers and said that the changes would not affect them. The department for work with military personnel was in many ways a successor to the Soviet Army's Main Political Administration (abolished following the August 1991 coup), and continued to serve as a home for former political officers. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. TREATIES AT RISK? A long article in Nezavisimaya gazeta of 29 December written by Vladimir Trofinov, a newly-elected delegate to the Russian Federation Council, contains a critical review of the many treaties that may be brought before the new Russian parliament for ratification. (Under the new constitution, treaties need only a majority vote to be passed but, given the new balance of forces in the parliament, such a majority may be difficult to muster.) Trofinov is particularly critical of the START-2 and Open Skies treaties, as well as agreements with the US intended to fund Russian scientists and to assist in nuclear weapons dismantling. In addition to these treaties, which he considers to be both undesirable and unlikely to pass, he notes that parliament may again consider a law empowering it unilaterally to renounce international treaties. This law passed its first reading in July 1993. If passed it would no doubt be vetoed by President Yeltsin, and it may also be unconstitutional. Nevertheless the article highlights the potential for the new parliament to disrupt the development of Russian foreign relations through its ability to block agreements. John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc. FIRST CASES ON OCTOBER 1993 BLOODSHED IN MOSCOW SENT TO COURT. The office of the Russian Prosecutor General has completed investigating the first two cases in connection with the events of 34 October in Moscow, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 December. The cases are those of two minor supporters of the rebel parliament, Ivan Loshchilin (41) and Andrei Belikov (34), both of whom were reportedly arrested on 3 October during the armed assault on the headquarters of the Moscow Mayor and Ostankino TV tower. According to ITAR-TASS, Belikov and Loshchilin have been denied release on bail and are awaiting trial in confinement under Article 218 of the Russian Criminal Code ("Illegal Possession of Arms"). Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL, Inc. LEADER OF NEO-NAZI STORM-TROOPERS ARRESTED. According to Interfax of 2 January, the Moscow police have arrested Aleksandr Barkashov, the leader of the paramilitary Russian National Unity grouping, who had been in hiding since the fall of the Russian parliament in October 1993. The Russian media have depicted the RNU as a neo-Nazi group of armed storm-troopers, and quoted Barkashov as having frequently voiced his admiration of "Adolf Aloizovich" Hitler. Wearing black uniforms with the swastika emblem, members of the RNU were sighted during the bloody attack on Ostankino TV tower and the office of the Moscow Mayor on 3 October. Along with other RNU members, Barkashov went underground after the fall of the Russian White House two days later. In December, Barkashov was fired at from a passing car while walking on a Moscow street. Interfax said that he had been arrested in hospital, where he is undergoing treatment for his wounds. Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL, Inc. BORDER TROOPS ARE SEPARATED FROM STATE SECURITY SYSTEM AND SUBORDINATED TO PRESIDENT. President Yeltsin has signed a decree on the creation of the Federal Border Service-Chief Command of the Russian Federation Border Troops, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 December. The new Service will be subordinated directly to the Russian President and will be headed by the present Commander-in-Chief of the Border Troops, Andrei Nikolaev. After the disbanding of the KGB in 1991, the Border Troops, which for seventy years had been an element of the state security organs, became a separate entity; in 1992, however, they were reincorporated into the Ministry of Security. Now, following the dissolution of the Ministry of Security, the border troops have regained their independent status. The latest re-organization is seemingly modeled on the Independent Corps of Border Guards created by Tsar Aleksandr III in 1893. In October, 1993, the Russian Border Troops celebrated the date of creation of their tsarist predecessors as their own jubilee. Victor Yasmann, RFE/RL, Inc. BAKATIN, YAVLINSKY CRITICIZE DISSOLUTION OF MINISTRY OF SECURITY. Vadim Bakatin, who was briefly head of the USSR KGB in 1991, has expressed his doubts concerning Yeltsin's decree dissolving the Ministry of Security. In an article published in Novaya ezhednevnaya gazeta on 28 December, Bakatin rejects as wishful thinking the argument cited in favor of abolition, pointing out that the lack of a concept of national security was not the fault of the agency, but of the present political leadership. He also stated that without additional political decisions it will be impossible to draft the structure and functions of the newly created counterintelligence service. Grigorii Yavlinsky, the leader of the "Boldyrev-Yavlinsky-Lukin" bloc, termed Yeltsin's measure a "propagandistic move." Writing in Nezavisimaya gazeta on 25 December, Yavlinsky stressed that the successor to the Ministry of Security will be subordinated directly to the Russian President. Yavlinsky rejected claims of involvement in political surveillance as a valid reason for dissolving the old Ministry, arguing that the monitoring of political opponents by security services can be authorized by the leadership of any country. Victor Yasmann, RFE/RL, Inc. CIS CLINTON-KRAVCHUK MEETING IN THE OFFING? Citing an "informed source," Interfax of 3 January reported that President Clinton has written to Ukrainian president Leonid Kravchuk inviting him to meet with the US and Russian presidents during their upcoming summit in Moscow in mid-January. If the current trilateral talks in Washington between Ukraine, Russia and the US on Ukrainian nuclear disarmament (see the RFE/RL Daily Report of 3 January 1994) are successful, such a meeting would provide the opportunity for the signing of an agreement "on basic questions of nuclear disarmament." Ukraine's insistence that Moscow and Washington address Kiev's crucial interests concerning security and compensation before it disposes of the nuclear arsenal on its territory have strained US-Ukrainian relations and led to the cancellation of meetings between Clinton and Kravchuk. Reuters, also of 3 January, however, quotes "a Ukrainian official" as commenting that it would be inappropriate for Kravchuk to go to Moscow for such a meeting, that a meeting between Clinton and Kravchuk in Minsk would be "a more acceptable option," and, that "the best means of proceeding would be for Clinton to come to Kiev." Bohdan Nahaylo, RFE/RL, Inc. SHUSHKEVICH YIELDS ON CIS COLLECTIVE SECURITY TREATY. The speaker of the Belarusian parliament, Stanislau Shushkevich, has apparently finally signed the CIS collective security treaty, Interfax reported on 3 January, citing the executive secretary of the CIS, Ivan Korotchenya. Shushkevich had strongly opposed Belarus' accession to the treaty on the grounds that it endangered his country's sovereignty even after the dominantly conservative Belarusian parliament voted for it in April 1993. Interfax, which implied that harsh economic realities are forcing Shushkevich to modify his position on relations with Russia and within the CIS, also reported that Shushkevich plans a visit to Moscow shortly to meet with President Yeltsin. Bohdan Nahaylo, RFE/RL, Inc. CENTRAL ASIA & TRANSCAUCASUS KARIMOV IN INDIA. Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov began a three-day visit to India on 3 January, during which a series of agreements, primarily on trade and economic relations, is to be signed, Russian and Western news agencies reported. An Indian source close to the government was quoted by ITAR-TASS as commenting that that inclusion of heads of recently privatized industries in Karimov's delegation indicated that Uzbekistan regards cooperation with India as part of the process of privatization. Soon after independence Uzbekistan sought to strengthen its traditional ties with India as a trading partner. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc. AZERBAIJAN ASKS TURKEY TO TRAIN MORE OFFICERS. During a visit to Ankara in late December Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Hasan Hasanov asked Turkish Chief of Staff General Dogan Gures for greater Turkish assistance in training officers for the Azerbaijani army, according to Reuters citing Azerbaijan's Ambassador to Turkey, Mehmet Aliev. Aliev disclosed that a limited number of Azerbaijani officers and cadets are already being trained in Turkey. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE SHELLING OF SARAJEVO CONTINUES. On 4 January Western agencies report that the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo continues to be the target of heavy shelling. According to estimates, at least 15 people, including children, died and 30 were wounded on 3 January in what appeared to be a major Bosnian Serb offensive against Muslims. AFP reported on 3 January that the UN commander of forces in former Yugoslavia, General Jean Cot, speaking on French TV, said his forces are prepared for defensive military action, if the UN grants consent. Cot was particularly critical of the Bosnian Serb side, which, he said, is causing the greatest problems for international troops in the area. On 4 January Borba noted that Croatia's foreign minister Mate Granic and Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic meet in Vienna on 4 January to discuss territorial disagreements and humanitarian questions. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. OLECHOWSKI LOBBIES BONN ON NATO. Polish Foreign Minister Andrzej Olechowski made a one-day working visit to Germany on 3 January to present Poland's case in advance of the upcoming NATO summit. Olechowski's private meeting with foreign minister Klaus Kinkel lasted over an hour, PAP reports. Olechowski stressed that Poland expects the NATO summit to give the Visegrad countries a clear signal that membership in the alliance is possible. Even if it cannot come quickly, Olechowski said, the West should specify the conditions and a timetable for NATO membership. Kinkel pledged to act as Poland's advocate during the summit but was circumspect about the prospects for success. While NATO is in principle open to new members, Kinkel said, in practice membership will be extended to the new democracies of Eastern Europe much more slowly than these countries desire. Kinkel insisted that Moscow holds no veto power over NATO but added that Russia must not be made to feel isolated. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. POLAND STEPS UP NATO OFFENSIVE. In response to the apparent US policy shift on NATO expansion and new Western empathy for Russian interests, Olechowski and President Lech Walesa have intensified their campaign to win international support for Poland's position. In an article in Frankfurter Rundschau, Olechowski warned that, by refusing the Visegrad countries full membership, NATO will encourage the belief "that the West wants to keep them indefinitely in a тgray area' of insecurity." In an interview with the Washington Post on 4 January, Walesa drew parallels with the interwar appeasement of Nazi Germany, calling the West's approach "short-sighted and irresponsible." "Fifty years ago when we were shouting about the crimes at Katyn, no one wanted to listen because it was more comfortable that way, to sip coffee and make pacts with Stalin." Walesa said the "partnership for peace" proposal is a good idea but for a different era. He called on NATO to take decisive steps and extend security guarantees eastward, in order to avoid leaving an enticing vacuum in the heart of Europe. The very fact that Russian officials express irritation at the idea of NATO expansion, Walesa added, is proof that Russia does not genuinely accept its neighbors' sovereignty and independence. A Demoskop poll conducted in Poland in December showed that 70% of those surveyed feel Russia presents a military threat to Poland; 18% do not. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. PAWLAK BEGINS REMOVING LOCAL OFFICIALS. Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak dismissed voivods in five of Poland's 49 voivodships on 31 December, PAP reports. The five voivods (the government's local representatives) belonged to or sympathized with parties that are now in the opposition or did not gain seats in the Sejm. Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 3 January that Pawlak plans to replace at least thirty-one voivods, largely to satisfy pressure from local organizations of the two ruling parties, the Polish Peasant Party and the Democratic Left Alliance. Such personnel changes are politically sensitive, as the opposition argues that the voivodship appointments should be apolitical and immune from upheaval with every change in government. The coalition counters that personnel changes are inevitable, as the elections reflected a dramatic shift in political support at the voivodship level. The SLD finished first in 29 districts and the PSL won 20 (of a total 52 districts, most of them with the same boundaries as the voivodships). Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAKIA EXCEEDS CREDIT LIMIT IN TRADE WITH CZECHS. CTK reported on 3 January that Slovakia has exceeded the credit limit of 130 million ecu set under the payments clearing agreement between the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The clearing system for payments between the two countries was established in February 1993 when the Czech Republic and Slovakia abandoned their joint currency and established separate ones. Under the system, if one country's trade deficit with the other exceeds 130 million ecu, the debtor country has to cover the amount in excess of the limit in hard currency. The interest rate for the 130 million ecu credit line is 5%; credits over this amount are subject to a 10% interest rate if the amount in excess of 130 million ecu is paid within 15 days of exceeding the limit; after 15 days the interest rate is increased to 15%. According to Czech officials, Slovakia had exceeded the 130 million ecu credit line by some 40 million ecu by the end of December and has until 15 January to pay back the 40 million ecu in hard currency. Czech and Slovak trade and financial experts meet in the next few days to discuss the situation. Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS ISRAEL. On 3 January Jozef Moravcik arrived in Israel at the invitation of his Israeli counterpart Shimon Peres. Before leaving, Moravcik told Slovak Radio that the visit constitutes "the first step towards normalization of bilateral ties." Moravcik is accompanied by Economy Minister Jan Ducky and National Bank Governor Vladimir Masar, in addition to parliamentary deputies, businessmen and bank officials. The delegation will discuss increased cooperation in the economic, agricultural and scientific spheres. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. CERNAK FAVORS BROAD COALITION. On 3 January Slovak National Party Chairman Ludovit Cernak told CTK that he favors creating a broad coalition government over "trimming" the present government, which includes Premier Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia and the SNP. Cernak said that the Christian Democratic Movement's proposed dismissal of transport minister Roman Hofbauer over the RFE controversy is "only a partial solution" and that his party supports President Michal Kovac's proposal for a broad coalition. Last month the SNP split into two factions, the national democratic faction, led by Cernak, and another, led by Marian Andel, which supports Meciar. Meanwhile, Alliance of Democrats Deputy Chairman Rudolf Filkus told CTK that his party also supports a broad coalition government. Filkus said the best candidates for premier would be Foreign Minister Jozef Moravcik or Deputy Premier Roman Kovac. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAKIA'S ETHNIC HUNGARIAN LEADER ON AUTONOMY. In the 29 December issue of Slovensky Denik, Bela Bugar, chairman of the Hungarian Christian Democratic Movement in Slovakia, rejected suspicions that representatives of the Hungarian ethnic minority in Slovakia are striving for new borders or secession. "It is not possible to create ethnic borders in Slovakia because southern Slovakia is ethnically mixed," said Bugar. He expressed concern that the regions where most Hungarians live could be "artificially diluted" through the planned administrative reforms. He warned that attaching areas inhabited mostly by Hungarians to "purely Slovak" regions could lead to the creation of administrative units in which the Hungarian minority would account for less than 20% of the population. Bugar also reacted to recent statements by Miklos Duray, chairman of Coexistence, the largest ethnic Hungarian party in Slovakia, who expressed interest in "regional autonomy." Bugar said such an idea was acceptable if Duray meant that powers will be given to all new administrative regions--regardless of whether they are purely Slovak or mixed. But if Duray "has in mind the kind of regional autonomy practiced in South Tyrol, there is no sense in even talking about it because the Slovak side and various European institutions lack the political will for such a step." Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. SURANY SLOVAKS PROTEST HUNGARIAN AUTONOMY DRIVE. On 2 January Slovaks from the southern town of Surany, a Slovak enclave in a region dominated by ethnic Hungarians, held a meeting to protest the Hungarian's demands for territorial autonomy. The meeting, which was attended by more than 500 people, including three deputy prime ministers, was held in advance of an assembly of ethnic Hungarians in southern Slovakia, which will be held on 8 January, and will discuss the autonomy issue. Chairman of the Matica Slovenska cultural organization, Jozef Markus, said Slovakia "cannot exist happily" unless its territorial integrity is preserved. He called the creation of an autonomous territory for a single nationality a "sick and impossible idea." The meeting adopted a "Memorandum of Slovaks from Southern Slovakia," calling on state authorities to prevent "the illegal consequences" of the 8 January assembly. It asked the Slovak parliament to pass a law protecting the state language and the republic's integrity. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. BULGARIA FACES COAL SHORTAGE. On 3 January a government official confirmed that Bulgaria will need an additional two million tons of coal in 1994 to make up for a shortfall caused by Ukraine's recent decision to suspend deliveries. Dyanko Dobrev of the National Electric Company (NEC) told Reuters that current plans are to replace the Ukrainian high-quality coal by increased imports from Russia, and, possibly, from South Africa. Ukraine, which ceased coal exports because of a domestic energy crisis, cut power supplies in November for the same reason. Last year a similar agreement between Kiev and Sofia was abandoned and Bulgaria was forced to purchase large amounts of coal on the world market. This time Ukraine has promised to resume deliveries when its own needs have been met. In Sofia, AFP quoted the NEC as announcing that tenders for modernizing four 440 megawatt reactors at the Kozloduy nuclear power plant will be opened on 4 March. The program is being funded by the nuclear safety fund of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. FORMER SECURITATE HEAD RELEASED FROM PRISON. The Romanian Prosecutor General's office announced on 3 January that Iulian Vlad, former head of the Securitate secret police, had been released from prison a week earlier, an RFE/RL correspondent in Bucharest reports. The official said Vlad was released, after serving one third of his twelve-year sentence, on grounds of age, health and good conduct during his imprisonment. Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. ROMANIAN PARLIAMENTARY DISPUTE. The special session of the Chamber of Deputies convened at the request of the opposition will not debate the legality of the law empowering the government to rule by decree during the January parliamentary recess. Radio Bucharest said on 3 January that the government-backing majority decided the debate cannot take place before the Constitutional Court rules on the matter on 11 January. In an open letter to President Ion Iliescu released to the press on the same day, the Democratic Party--National Salvation Front protested against rule by decree. The party also asked the president to mediate a pact between political parties, trade unions and other organizations. The party's deputy leader Adrian Severin said the pact must exclude all extremist parties and promise social peace for a year or two, to help complete market reforms. Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. KING MICHAEL: ROMANIAN PEOPLE HAVE BEEN BETRAYED. In a New Year message broadcast by RFE's Romanian service, former king Michael said the hopes of the Romanian people have been betrayed in the aftermath of the revolution that toppled Nicolae Ceausescu. "Despite efforts from abroad to help you fight for dignity, freedom and prosperity, our country continues to wallow in misery," the king said. He added that he wants to return to Romania to "build a better future together." Michael Shafir., RFE/RL, Inc. ESTONIA'S INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION. The 1993-1994 economic survey of the Estonian Economics Ministry showed that in the first nine months of 1993 the country's industrial production amounted to 10.36 billion kroons ($762 million), BNS reported on 30 December. This represents a 32.4% decline, compared to the same period in 1992, and a 60% decline, compared to 1989. State and municipal enterprises produced 6.55 billion kroons (63.2% of the total). As of 15 October the Estonian enterprise register listed 7,434 manufacturing companies and 72 mining enterprises of which only about 4,000 were actually working. Investments in new and existing enterprises amounted to 5.59 billion kroons of which less than 900 million kroons came from abroad. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. OPINIONS DIFFER ON ESTONIA'S BORDERS. A poll commissioned in December 1993 by the Tartu daily Postimees shows that 53% of the Estonian respondents support the restoration of Estonia's pre-World War II borders with Russia, while 40% are prepared to accept a compromise. The attitudes of non-Estonian respondents differed significantly: 69% felt that Estonia might accept a compromise and only 15% backed the restoration of the border as set in the Tartu Peace Treaty. The poll indicated that, should the question of borders be put to a referendum and all residents of Estonia over the age of 16 allowed to vote, 39% would support the restoration of the pre-war borders while 52% would accept a compromise. The poll used a sample of 1000 respondents of whom 62% were Estonians, 31% Russians, and 7% members of other nationalities. Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc. NEW COMMANDER AT ESTONIAN BASE. Colonel Raul Luks was appointed commander of the Paldiski submarine training base on 1 January, BNS reported on 3 January. Luks was formerly deputy chief of staff of the Estonian Defense Forces. The Russian 93rd naval training base and its two nuclear reactors, as well as about 500 Russian soldiers still remain in Paldiski. The commander's task is to promote the withdrawal of the Russian forces and nuclear reactors; secure cooperation between Estonian defense forces, border guards, and the police at Paldiski; prevent the looting of vacated Russian military facilities; and oversee the establishment of Estonian laws in Paldiski, whose population consists mainly of aliens and the Russian military. Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc. INTERNATIONAL RUSSIAN TRAINS TO GO AROUND LITHUANIA. At the end of December Russian authorities redirected the Moscow-Bialystok rail link to by-pass Lithuania, Radio Lithuania reported on 3 January. From 1 February trains running between St. Petersburg and Berlin or Warsaw were also redirected via Belarus. The primary reason for the change appears to be the unscheduled delays (often lasting several hours) caused by Lithuanian Border Guards and customs officials. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. OIL REFINING IN LITHUANIA. Gediminas Kiesus, deputy director of the Mazeikiai oil refinery, announced a contract with the Russian oil company, Lukoil, for 6 million tons of crude oil in 1994, BNS reported on 3 January. A similar contract was signed for 1993 but the refinery received only 3 million tons from Lukoil and refined slightly over 5 million tons during the year, above the record low of 4.9 million tons in 1992, but less than half its annual refining capacity of 12 million tons . The refinery hopes to receive about 8 million tons of oil in 1994. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. LATVIA REDUCES GAS TARIFFS. Diena reported on 29 December that natural gas prices to consumers have been reduced by 15%, according to the Energy Department of the Economics Ministry. The reduced prices are retroactive to 1 October 1993. Heating costs, however, will go up in the Latvian capital; Riga city authorities announced that consumers will be charged 32 santimi per square meter of residential space, up from the rate of 20 santimi per square meter that had been set in October. Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc. LATVIA, DENMARK SIGN MILITARY COOPERATION PACT. Latvian Defense Minister Valdis Pavlovskis and his Danish counterpart Hans Haekkerup signed a bilateral military cooperation agreement in Riga on 3 January, BNS reports. The pact is for an indefinite period of time and takes effect immediately. It will promote mutual consultations and the exchange of information and knowhow in tackling defense and security issues, including strategic planning, peacekeeping, and civil control over the military. This pact is the first between Latvia and a NATO state and the first between Denmark and a Baltic state. Haekkerup expects to visit Lithuania in March and Estonia in June. Commenting on the continued presence of Russian forces in Latvia, Haekkerup told the press that no country should leave its troops in a foreign territory against the will of the people. Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc. [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Elizabeth Fuller & Anna Swidlicka
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