|Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal. - John F. Kennedy|
No. 58, 24 March 1994
RUSSIA MILITANT COMMUNIST CALLS FOR REMOVAL OF PRESIDENT AND GOVERNMENT. At least one of the political prisoners released under the controversial amnesty declared by the State Duma in February has resumed activities that doubtlessly will be regarded subversive by those opposing the amnesty. Interfax of 23 March said Viktor Anpilov called in Novosibirsk for the removal from power of the president and government of Russia. Anpilov had been arrested for resistance to the decree disbanding the parliament. His "Working Russia" movement is widely blamed for the violent character of the opposition rallies held in Moscow in 1991-93. He is also the leader of the Russian Communist Workers' Party which was banned by another presidential decree soon after the September-October events. Deputies representing a more moderate Communist Party of the Russian Federation, according to Russian TV's "Vesti," on the same day, voted alongside the democrats against the motion of no-confidence in the Chernomyrdin government. Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL, Inc. GERMANY, RUSSIA CLASH OVER ART TREASURES. Russia has bluntly rejected a request from German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel for a speedy exchange of art treasures plundered during World War II by German and Soviet military forces, Reuters reported on 23 March. Kinkel had earlier in the day characterized the restitution of art works to Germany as a "key test" of relations between the two countries in the new post-Cold War environment, but Russian Culture Minister Evgenii Sidorov was quoted by Reuters as saying that every claim and counter-claim would have to be carefully considered by experts from both sides. On 22 March Interfax had quoted a Russian diplomat as saying "the Germans would like to receive everything, giving nothing . . . in exchange." Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. . . . BUT GOOD RELATIONS PREVAIL IN OTHER AREAS. Meanwhile, after a meeting that same day with Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, the two sides proclaimed that there are no major disagreements between Germany and Russia on the major international issues of the day. German agencies said Kinkel reaffirmed that Bonn will continue to support "the signing of a long-overdue cooperation agreement between the European Union and Russia." Western agencies also reported on 23 March that German Chancellor Helmut Kohl has invited Boris Yeltsin to Berlin on 31 August to attend the farewell parade for Russian military forces leaving Germany. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. DETAILS OF THE AGREEMENT WITH THE IMF. Some details have emerged of the conditions accepted by the Russian government on 22 March prior to the announced agreement in principle on the granting of the second tranche of the IMF's systemic transformation facility. Interfax and Western agencies of 23 March said the government is committed to prepare and forward a package of legislative initiatives to the State Duma by 15 April. These will amount to a revision or suspension of several presidential and government decrees that would incur higher budgetary expenditure. Other initiatives would be aimed at boosting revenues. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin told journalists that the 1994 budget deficit is expected to be "somewhat larger" than 9 percent--the target aired in recent weeks--but less than in 1993. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. 1994 BUDGET PRESENTED TO PARLIAMENT. On 23 March Acting Finance Minister Sergei Dubinin presented his draft budget for 1994 and for the second quarter of 1994 to the parliament, Interfax reported. What appears to be a new feature is a 3 percent tax to finance priority industrial sectors, with two-thirds of the money raised to go to the federal budget. (It was not made clear on what the tax would be levied). The planned deficit of 62.4 trillion rubles was described as being equivalent to 10 percent of GDP. Most recent pronouncements have given a 9 percent figure, which suggests that estimates for the GDP in 1994 have been lowered. The State Duma approved the law on federal budget expenditure in the second quarter, and the hope was expressed that the Federation Council would pass it on 24 March. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. REGIONAL ELECTION RESULTS. In three out of seventeen Russia's regions which held elections to regional and local legislatures on 20 March the vote was pronounced invalid because of the low turnout, Segodnya reported on 22 March. (The minimum turnout to validate the elections is 25 percent.) It has not yet been decided whether to deem valid the elections to the city assembly in St. Petersburg. At 25 out of 50 polling stations in the city, less than 25 percent of eligible voters turned up. A controversy is also raging about whether the city mayor Anatolii Sobchak acted within his powers when he prolonged the elections for one day. The Central Electoral Commission is to decide on whether to validate elections in St. Petersburg, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 March. Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc. OSTANKINO AND REUTERS TO PRODUCE JOINT TV NEWS. Russian state TV and radio company Ostankino and Reuters television have signed an agreement to produce a joint TV news program, ITAR-TASS and Ostankino's "Novosti" reported on 23 March. The new show will be broadcast weekly starting early in April. The joint production will be based in Russia and anchored by the prominent local TV commentator Vladimir Molchanov. Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL, Inc. ORDER FOR WITHDRAWAL FROM KURILS? The Chairman of the Duma's Security Committee, Viktor Ilyukhin, charged on 23 February that the Russian Defense Ministry has received a secret instruction ordering it to prepare a plan for Russia's military withdrawal from the disputed Kuril Islands. According to Interfax, Ilyukhin characterized the instruction as the beginning of a process that would return the islands to Japan. Ivan Rybkin, Speaker of the lower house, suggested that the Defense Minister be questioned on the issue during a scheduled appearance before parliament on 25 March. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. GRACHEV OPPOSES TRANSFER OF PEACEKEEPING FORCES. Interfax reported on 23 March that Defense Minister Pavel Grachev has criticized a proposal put forward on 17 March by the Minister for Emergency Situations, that would transfer control over Russia's peacekeeping forces from the Defense Ministry to the Ministry for Emergency Situations. Grachev told newsmen that peacekeeping forces everywhere are subordinated to the national armed forces, and said that the Ministry for Emergency Situations has no experience in commanding peace-keeping operations. Grachev added that, to date, the legal status of Russia's peace-keeping forces has not been defined, and suggested that the parliament would pass a law to that effect later this spring. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. FAR EAST SPACEPORT PLANS DENIED. First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets said that the widely-reported plans to build a new spaceport in the Far East have not even been discussed by the Russian government, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 March. The Russian Military Space Forces appear to be the key advocates of this plan but the proposal has been criticized by the Russian space agency Glavkosmos for being far too expensive. Interfax reported on the same day that talks between Russia and Kazakhstan on leasing the Baikonur spaceport are expected to continue until 28 March, the primary issue being the cost of the lease. AFP reported on 23 March that US Congressman James Sensenbrenner has released a report based on a congressional visit to Baikonur that casts doubt on the facility's ability to support Russia's participation in the joint space station project. John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc. PERRY COMMENTS ON NUCLEAR SECURITY. Completing his tour of the former Soviet republics with nuclear weapons on their territory, US Secretary of Defense William Perry on 23 March told Western press agencies that he was reassured concerning the level of weapons security. An RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reports that Senator Richard Lugar stated that, according to information sent him by Perry, Russia has already dismantled up to half of its tactical nuclear weapons. On March 24 The New York Times reported that the US is now planning to place some of its plutonium and highly enriched uranium under IAEA safeguards in order to encourage Russia to do the same, while a US government safety board reportedly warned about possible safety problems concerning the dismantling process in the US. John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc. REPORT: LOW READINESS, STAFFING LEVELS IN RUSSIAN ARMY. A report prepared by Swedish military intelligence concludes that the Russian armed forces were nearly a million men short in 1993 (with total staffing levels estimated at only 1.2 million) and that readiness, except in elite units, had plummeted to a very low level. A Radio Sweden report on 23 March said training time for Russian pilots was way down, while regular naval and army units rarely exercised. As a result of the reduced capabilities of its conventional forces, the report concluded, Moscow has come increasingly to rely on its strategic forces as the primary means for countering external threats. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA GEORGIA SIGNS UP FOR PARTNERSHIP FOR PEACE, ARMENIA MAY DO LIKEWISE. On 23 March Georgia became the 13th former East bloc country to join NATO's "Partnership for Peace" program, ITAR-TASS and Western agencies reported. Georgian Foreign Minister Aleksandr Chikvaidze expressed the hope that membership would enable Georgia "to avoid future mistakes" and stressed his country's determination to preserve its territorial integrity. Also on 23 March a NATO delegation discussed Armenia's possible membership of PFP with first deputy foreign minister Zhirair Liparitian in Erevan, according to Interfax. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. ABKHAZIA SETS CONDITIONS FOR RESUMING TALKS. Abkhaz parliament chairman Vladislav Ardzinba told Interfax on 23 March that Abkhazia is prepared to resume the UN-sponsored talks with Georgia on the nature of future bilateral relations if the Georgian parliament repeals its decision of 10 March to disband the Abkhaz Supreme Soviet. In an interview with Georgian Television on 22 March, parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze argued that since UN Secretary-General Boutros Ghali stated on 21 March that the time is not yet ripe for deploying a UN peacekeeping force in Abkhazia, if necessary Russia should send peacekeeping troops to the region without UN approval, according to Interfax of 23 March. Abkhaz Prime Minister Sokrat Dzhindzholia told Interfax, however, that only a UN contingent could successfully stabilize the situation in Abkhazia. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. EBRD TO FINANCE SAFETY PROGRAM FOR ARMENIAN NUCLEAR POWER STATION. Following talks in Erevan with Prime Minister Hrant Bagratyan, EBRD representative Sven Chelstroem told Interfax on 23 March that his organization will finance work on resolving security issues connected with the decision to reactivate the mothballed Medzamor nuclear power station. BIZNESS-TASS on 23 March quoted Russian Deputy Minister for Atomic Energy Nikolai Egorov as stating that the actual costs of reactivating Medzamor with Russian technical help will be borne by Armenia. The EBRD has also drawn up a program of financial assistance for privatization in Armenia. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. GEORGIAN STATE OF EMERGENCY EXTENDED. On 22 March, the Georgian parliament extended the state of emergency in 14 Western regions until 20 May, Interfax reported. It was first imposed for all of Georgia in September 1993 because of fighting involving separatists in Abkhazia and a separate conflict involving supporters of former President Zviad Gamsakhurdia. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE A NEW ERA FOR UNPROFOR IN CROATIA? Before returning to Zagreb at the start of the week, President Franjo Tudjman held talks at the UN with Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali about the future of the 14,500 peace-keepers stationed in his republic, whose mandate is slated to expire at the end of the month. Tudjman said that more troops are not needed, but those present should be placed on Croatia's borders with Serbia and, presumably, with the Bosnian Serbs rather than remain primarily to separate Croat and rebel Serb forces within Croatia itself. Tudjman said this would be a precondition for Zagreb's agreeing to the UN's request to extend the mandate for one year instead of for just six months. In any event, Boutros-Ghali agreed to Tudjman's request to extend NATO air cover to Croatia. At a press conference, Tudjman expressed certainty that he now has international backing to reintegrate the Serb-held lands making up 30% of the republic's territory with the rest of Croatia, even if the process takes time. Borba and Vjesnik reported the story on 22 March, while Vecernji list covered the press conference on 23 March. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. BRIDGE IN SARAJEVO REOPENS. On 23 March international media reported that a bridge in Sarajevo's city center, the "Bridge of Brotherhood and Unity, " had reopened to human traffic on 23 March as a result of a UN-brokered agreement between the Bosnian Muslim government and the Serb side. Reuters reports that the opening of the bridge, which was one of several routes re-opened, is regarded as an important step in lifting the siege of Sarajevo. The structure had separated Muslim and Serb residents of Sarajevo. In other news, on 24 March both Reuters and AFP report that the UN Security Council has agreed, after noting Greek and Bosnian Serb objections, to accept Turkish forces for peacekeeping duties in Bosnia. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. KOSOVAR CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS AWAIT TRIALS IN SERBIA. About 7,000 ethnic Albanians await trials in Serbian courts for refusing to serve in the army, while about 800 young men received their draft letters in Djakovica and Malisevo, Vjesnik reports on 22 March. According to the president of the self-proclaimed Republic of Kosovo, Ibrahim Rugova, the recent draft aims at "bringing fear and insecurity" to the region, and to tempt young Albanians into fleeing Kosovo. Meanwhile, Rilindja on 22 March reports on police raids and arrests in several Kosovar towns and on the opening day of the trial of 11 Albanians, who allegedly planned to build up an "army of the Republic of Kosovo." The accused allegedly received their orders from the leading Democratic League of Kosovo and also from the Albanian Foreign Ministry, the charges read. Fabian Schmidt, RFE/RL, Inc. MACEDONIA AND THE GREEK TRADE EMBARGO. Jacques Delors, European Commission President, has requested that Greece, which now occupies the rotating EU presidency, place the matter of its trade embargo against the Republic of Macedonia on the agenda of the 26-27 March EU meeting in Ioannina, Greece. The embargo is having a serious negative impact on the economy of Macedonia, which is landlocked, and whose economy was far from healthy before the Greek action. In an effort to aid the nascent country, international philanthropist George Soros has awarded Macedonia a $2.5 million loan to purchase feed for livestock and a gift of $1.5 million to help defray transport costs of the feed according to MIC. It is an emergency effort to help sustain Macedonia's economy. Duncan Perry, RFE/RL, Inc. POLAND AWAITS APPOINTMENT OF FINANCE MINISTER. After almost two months since the resignation of Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Marek Borowski, Poland still awaits the appointment of his replacement. According to media reports, the delay reflects political differences within the left-wing ruling coalition as well as President Lech Walesa's apparent reluctance to accept the top economic official from the post-communist party. In the latest twist in the protracted process, on 23 March Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak went back on his earlier promise to send the name of Dariusz Rosati, an economist supported by post-communist Union of Democratic Left, for Walesa's approval. "I still have to talk to him about organizational matters," said Pawlak in a radio interview on 23 March, although he had talked to Rosati many times before. There was no comment from Walesa's office. Jan de Weydenthal, RFE/RL, Inc. CZECH PARLIAMENT PASSES LABOR LAW AMENDMENT. Disregarding protests by trade unions, which culminated in a 20,000-person demonstration in Prague on 22 March, the Czech parliament passed an amendment to the country's labor law on 23 March, CTK reports. The amendment, among other things, bans trade unions in state services, raises the retirement age, allows employers to hire on short-term contracts, and bans night-work by pregnant women. Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. DANUBE TRAFFIC AT GABCIKOVO HALTED, IS TO RESUME SOON. According to officials of Slovakia's Gabcikovo hydroelectric project, Danube shipping at Gabcikovo should resume in a few days. It was halted on 20 March after one of the two locks in the Gabcikovo project's shipping channel was damaged. The other lock has been blocked since February when a Ukrainian tugboat sank in it. Hungary has complained about the shipping disruption and said it holds Slovakia responsible. On 23 March, the Slovak Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a sharply-worded statement rejecting Hungarian complaints and saying that the Gabcikovo project had in fact improved passage on Slovakia's section of the Danube. Also on the 23rd, Julius Binder, a Gabcikovo project official, suggested that the damage to one of the locks, that halted Danube shipping on 20 March, might have been an act of sabotage, Slovak media report. Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. THE SLOVAK PARLIAMENT OUSTS DEPUTY NATIONAL BANK GOVERNOR. On 23 March, the Slovak parliament overwhelmingly voted the vice governor of the Slovak National Bank, Marian Tkac, out of office. The proposal to remove Tkac was initiated by the previous government of former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar. Tkac has been accused of several failings in his post, incompetence, and of having collaborated with the former secret police. Slovak media reported on 23 March that Tkac rejected the accusations, claiming that he had interior ministry documents showing that he had not collaborated with the former secret police. In the 24 March issue of Sme, Tkac argues that "a political plot" initiated by Meciar is responsible for his removal. According to Tkac, his troubles started when Meciar and former Slovak National Party Chairman Ludovit Cernak became political enemies; Tkac is Cernak's brother-in-law. Tkac's removal must still be approved by President Michal Kovac. Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. MINORITIES IN HUNGARY COMPLAIN. According to the "minority roundtable," a group comprising minority representatives, there has been no substantial improvement in the situation of Hungary's minorities following the adoption of a law on minorities last July, MTI reports. Acting "minority roundtable" chairman Pero Lasztity told a press conference on 23 March that the main reason for this was that minorities failed to gain parliamentary representation. (A recent amendment to the electoral law that would have granted minorities parliamentary representation failed to pass in parliament.) Lasztity also complained that there was still no ombudsman for minorities, and that minorities still lacked self-governing bodies that would have granted them wide-ranging autonomy at the local level. The chairman of the Federation of Germans in Hungary Geza Hambuch said that Hungary's minorities are disillusioned, and urged basic changes in Hungary's minority policy. Edith Oltay, RFE/RL, Inc. HUNGARIAN, ROMANIAN, UKRAINIAN BORDER GUARDS MEET. Border guard representatives agreed following two days of negotiations in Vasarosnameny to coordinate their efforts to stem illegal migration from the East to the West, and to jointly fight international crime, MTI reports. Hungarian Brigadier General Balazs Novaky told the press on 23 March that the three sides agreed to set up a committee to coordinate their work. He said that this was needed because border guards found it more and more difficult to cope, and illegal migration increasingly brought with it smuggling, drug trade, and illegal weapons trade. Edith Oltay, RFE/RL, Inc. DEMIREL IN ROMANIA. On 23 March Turkish President Suleyman Demirel started a three-day visit to Romania, Radio Bucharest reports. Demirel and his Romanian counterpart, Ion Iliescu, discussed bilateral relations, and especially prospects for growing economic cooperation, as well as international issues, including the situation in former Yugoslavia. Turkey is a significant foreign investor in Romania. Last year's trade volume between the two countries stood at more than $450 million. Demirel, who is accompanied by a delegation of about 100 Turkish businessmen, is also scheduled to visit Romania's Black Sea coastal area where the Turkish minority lives. Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc. BULGARIA TO HALT OIL TRANSPORT ON DANUBE. In an effort to end violations of the UN's trade embargo against the former Yugoslavia, Sofia plans to halt the transit and export of petroleum products on the Danube River. According to AFP on 22 March, the object is to avoid violations of the kind that occurred on 6 March when 5,000 tons of oil reached Serbia because the crew members threatened that otherwise, they would burn the oil they were transporting. Duncan Perry, RFE/RL, Inc. BULGARIA ACTS TO BOLSTER LEV. Todor Vulchev, President of the Bulgarian Central Bank, announced on 22 March that his institution was seeking to bolster the lev by attempting to limit the amount Bulgarian banks lend, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Vulchev informed a news conference in Sofia that all large foreign exchange transactions conducted recently would be reviewed and that rules regulating brokerage firms would be tightened. He noted that Bulgaria's reserves, including gold, had fallen to the equivalent of about $1,000 million. Bulgaria's foreign debt totals about $9,000 million. Nick Kaltchev and Duncan Perry, RFE/RL, Inc. FINAL PREPARATIONS IN UKRAINE FOR ELECTIONS. Foreign observers of Ukraine's parliamentary election on 27 March are streaming into Kiev. According to the Chairman of the Central Election Commission, Ivan Yemets, 480 had already arrived at the beginning of this week, UNIAN reported on 22 March, and more were expected. Yemets announced that 5,833 registered candidates are competing for the 450 seats in the new parliament, and that only 171 of the incumbents are seeking reelection. Only 26% of the candidates have identified their affiliation to one of the country's 28 officially registered political parties: 388 supporting the Communist Party of Ukraine, 241--Rukh, 180--the Socialist Party of Ukraine, and 137--the Ukrainian Republican Party. Preparations have been marred by protests by some democratic activists about harassment during the election campaign and the case of the mysterious disappearance on 15 January of the Chairman of Rukh's secretariat, Mykhailo Boychyshyn, has still not been solved. Meanwhile, in an interview on 23 March for Izvestiya, former prime minister Leonid Kuchma, whose centrist Interregional Reform Bloc is expected to do well in eastern Ukraine, lashed out against Ukraine's current leadership claiming that it "is dangerous for the country." Bohdan Nahaylo, RFE/RL, Inc. MORE ON UKRAINE'S PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT WITH EU. The agreement on partnership and cooperation between Ukraine and the EU, signed in Brussels on 23 March, underlines democratic values, progress towards a market economy, and the need for more regional cooperation between the countries of the former Soviet Union. Its terms cover formal political dialogue, better trade and investment opportunities, freely convertible currencies, the phasing out of competition laws, and the protection of intellectual property rights. It also offers Ukraine MFN status with some restrictions on the export of coal, steel and nuclear materials. According to EU trade commissioner, Sir Leon Brittan, the EU's main goal in cooperating with former eastern bloc countries is to prevent a return to east-west polarization. While the accord contains no reference to the possibility of Ukraine joining the EU, Ukraine's foreign minister, Anatolii Zlenko, made it clear that it was Ukraine's goal to eventually join the EU, UNIAN and Western agencies reported. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. PERRY IN BELARUS. The US secretary of defense, William Perry, arrived in Minsk on 23 March and held talks with the prime minister, Vyacheslau Kebich, and defense minister, Piotr Kazlouski, various agencies reported. Among the topics discussed were US assistance in Belarusian conversion, the creation of working groups to coordinate military cooperation, and control over the export of radioactive materials. Perry offered Belarus $30 million for defense conversion and announced the award of three contracts for defense conversion projects to three American firms. Although it was also reported that Kebich would probably announce Belarus's intention of joining NATO's Partnership for Peace Program, this did not happen. Belarusian officials reportedly said they wanted to wait and see if Russia joins first. According to Uladzimir Zamyatalin, the press secretary for Kebich, Belarus does not want to take on the role of a buffer between east and west. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. BELARUSIAN-RUSSIAN MONETARY UNION SAID TO BE AT HAND. Radiofakt reported on 23 March that Zamyatalin announced that the terms for the monetary union between Russia and Belarus have almost been agreed on. According to Interfax, Zamyatalin said there was agreement on equalizing the price of fuel, setting a 1:1 cash exchange rate for the Russian and Belarusian currencies, and granting the National Bank of Belarus the status of the main bank of a sovereign state. At the same time, both countries will have their own budgets, though some programs such as military conversion or the elimination of the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster will be financed from a single centralized fund. The document is to be debated by the Russian State Duma on 24 March. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. LITHUANIAN-RUSSIAN NEGOTIATIONS. On 23 March Virgilijus Bulovas, the head of the negotiating team with Russia, told a press conference in Vilnius that Russia was taking a tougher line at their talks, Radio Lithuania reports. Russia refuses to return Lithuanian archives previously taken from Lithuania, and no progress was made for the return of hard currency held by Lithuanians in the former Vneshekononbank. Russian negotiating team head Viktor Isakov, however, told Interfax that the talks on 21-22 March were constructive. He explained that Russia had not ratified the most-favored nation trade agreement with Lithuania signed in November because issues with Kaliningrad had not been resolved. He criticized Lithuania's plans not to sign a separate military transit agreement with Russia, as well as the country's plan to pass a statute regulating all military and dangerous cargoes going through the country. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. BALTIC FOREIGN MINISTERS IN RIGA. On 23 March Estonian and Lithuanian Foreign Ministers Juri Luik and Povilas Gylys went to Riga for the regular monthly meeting. Due to illness, their Latvian counterpart Georgs Andrejevs was replaced by State Minister on Baltic and Nordic Affairs Gunars Meierovics. The ministers stressed their strong conviction that Russian troops must withdraw by 31 August and expressed the hope that a draft agreement on their withdrawal from Estonia would be initialed at the next round of meetings on 5-6 April in Moscow, BNS reports. The ministers noted that they had sent a joint letter to the 12 states of the European Union and its six associate members expressing their desire to be included in their political consultations, noting that they, along with Slovenia, should have the same prospects as the associate members for eventual EU membership. They also signed a consular protocol that will later lead to a consular agreement that will allow consular posts to provide economic, cultural, and other information, to protect the rights and rights of Baltic citizens, and to issue certificates of return in case identification documents are lost. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. CORRECTION: In the 23 March DAILY REPORT the headline "UKRAINE TO JOIN EUROPEAN UNION" should read: "UKRAINE TO SIGN AGREEMENT ON PARTNERSHIP AND COOPERATION." [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Keith Bush and Stan Markotich The RFE/RL Daily Report is produced by the RFE/RL Research Institute (a division of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Inc.) with the assistance of the RFE/RL News and Current Affairs Division (NCA). The report is available by electronic mail by subscribing to RFERL-L at LISTSERV@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU, on the Sovset' computer bulletin board, by fax, and by postal mail. Requests for permission to reprint or retransmit this material should be addressed to PD@RFERL.ORG. Such requests will generally be granted on the condition that the material is clearly attributed to the RFE/RL Daily Report. 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