|The only certainty is that nothing is certain. - Pliny the Elder|
No. 76, 21 April 1994
RUSSIA RUSSIAN OFFICIALS DISCUSS BOSNIA. How Russia should respond to what some in the West are already terming a humiliation for Russian diplomacy in Bosnia was being discussed in Moscow on 20 April. The State Duma decided to send a delegation to the former Yugoslavia immediately to look into the situation first hand. Indicating that the Duma does not wish to rely on information and analysis provided by the Foreign Ministry (which is sending mixed signals), Duma chairman Ivan Rybkin said that "conclusions reached by State Duma representatives following the visit will be discussed at a closed sitting of the chamber and will form the basis for the Duma's stand on the situation in former Yugoslavia," ITAR-TASS reported. Meanwhile, suggesting that Russia's policy might already be set, some Russian media reported that the Security Council session of 20 April focused on problems in the Caucasus and Russian support for the Cossacks rather than on Bosnia. Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL, Inc. KOZYREV ON BOSNIA. Speaking to journalists prior to talks with international mediators involved with the Bosnia crisis on 20 April, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said that Russia did not agree that increasing NATO air strikes against Bosnian Serb targets was a good option as this would run the risk of escalation. (NATO ambassadors said on 20 April that they considered in a favorable light the request by UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali to widen the use of air strikes.) Kozyrev said it would be a mistake for Western states not to combine a coordinated military approach with a coordinated political solution to the conflict. On the question of lifting sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia, the report carried by ITAR-TASS paraphrased Kozyrev as saying that "the Serbian side must understand that each step along the path of a comprehensive cessation of hostilities will be accompanied by a corresponding lifting of sanctions." This would mean that Russia may be backing away from its position that sanctions cannot be lifted until a ceasefire has been achieved. Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL, Inc. CHURKIN INTERVIEW ON BOSNIA. The differences between Deputy Foreign Minister Churkin's views on the Bosnian Serbs and the stance of Yeltsin and Kozyrev remained in evidence on 20 April. In an interview with Russian Television's "Details" program, Churkin said that his experience led him to "the quite distinct feeling that the Serbs are on the brink of a catastrophe--not only the Bosnian Serbs, but all the Serbs." Churkin did not disavow his statement of 18 April that "the time has come for Russia to stop all discussion with the Bosnian Serbs," but he did say that Russia should make it clear to the Bosnian Serbs that Russia's support is limited by their cooperation. As his other statements continue to make clear, though, Churkin does not expect the Bosnian Serbs to cooperate. Other Russian officials still apparently hold out hope for this. Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL, Inc. SHUMEIKO'S PRESS CONFERENCE. Vladimir Shumeiko, chairman of the Council of the Federation, told journalists on 19 April that the ministers of foreign affairs and defense of the CIS countries will design a plan for a new integration of the CIS by 9 September of this year, Russian TV "Vesti" reported. Shumeiko said that he believes the result will be "a political and inter-state integration." He remarked that the Council of the Federation should meet on a permanent basis and suggested changes to the Constitution so that deputies of the upper chamber would be elected and not appointed by the President. Shumeiko also said that the new "centrists" which are emerging on the political scene and are united in the new movement "Concord In the Name of Russia" are driven by anti-reformist considerations. Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc. ZHIRINOVSKY FAILED TO GET ELECTED. Extremist Vladimir Zhirinovsky failed to get elected to the post of fifth deputy chairman of the State Duma, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 April. Since none of the candidates received a majority of votes, the position continues to remain vacant. Zhirinovsky stated that he may sign the civic peace agreement suggested by President Boris Yeltsin only if the latter removes Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, Interior Minister Viktor Erin, and Deputy Prime Minister in charge of privatization Anatolii Chubais from office. Zhirinovsky's faction also decided to send its own delegation, separate from that of the State Duma, to investigate the political situation in Bosnia. Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIA AND TURKEY SIGN MILITARY COOPERATION ACCORD. On 20 April, the Russian and Turkish defense ministers, Pavel Grachev and Mehmet Gelhan, signed an agreement on military cooperation in Moscow. The Turkish side characterized the accord as an opportunity to consolidate the two countries' friendly relations. During disucssions, the question of southern flank restrictions imposed by the CFE treaty was discussed but with no apparent movement on the Russian side to allay Turkey's concerns. Grachev continued to voice concern about NATO's Partnership for Peace program, but said that he would make a statement during his visit to Brussels in May, Interfax reported. Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL, Inc. YELTSIN SENDS GET WELL TELEGRAM TO NIXON. On 20 April, Interfax quoted Yeltin's letter to Richard Nixon, who has been taken to a hospital with a stroke. In it, Yeltsin pays tribute to Nixon's contribution to the gradual improvement of relations between Russia and the United States. The letter could also be taken as an apology of sorts for Yeltsin's outburst that followed Nixon's meeting with the leaders of the Russian opposition in March. Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL, Inc. CIS GRACHEV IN SEVASTOPOL. The Russian defense minister, Pavel Grachev, began an official visit to Sevastopol on 20 April, Ukrainian radio reported. The purpose of the visit is to work out details on dividing the Black Sea Fleet in accordance with the agreement signed on 15 April. During the visit, Grachev is to meet with the fleet's command as well as Crimean government officials. One of the issues to be resolved is the fleet's headquarters. Ukraine has claimed all shore facilities and many Ukrainians have been opposed to allowing any Russian forces to be stationed in the country. At the same time, Russia is against sharing the Black Sea Fleet headquarters with the Ukrainian navy and feels that Sevastopol should remain the fleet's main base. ITAR-TASS reported that the Ukrainian defense minister, Vitalii Radetsky, sent a telegram to the Black Sea Fleet command in which he proposed that Sevastopol serve as the joint headquarters of both the Ukrainian navy and the Black Sea Fleet. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA KAZAKHSTANI PARLIAMENT ELECTS CHAIRMAN. After two rounds of voting in Kazakhstan's new professional parliament, writer Abish Kekilbaev was elected chairman, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 April. Kekilbaev is a close associate of President Nursultan Nazarbaev, whose supporters dominate the legislature. Nazarbaev has proposed that Kazakhstan's legislature consist of two chambers, a change that would require a constitutional amendment. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc. DRAFT CONSTITUTION APPEARS IN TAJIKISTAN. The draft of a post-independence constitution for Tajikistan has been distributed by the official Tajik news agency Khovar, the agency reported on 19 April. Tajikistan is the only Central Asian state that has been unable to adopt a new constitution; plans to prepare one were interrupted by the civil war in 1992. The draft distributed by Khovar restores the executive presidency abolished in December 1992 and renames the national legislature Majlisi milli (National Assembly). The draft is to be discussed by the public and sent to international organizations for evaluation. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc. YET ANOTHER GEORGIAN SECURITY OFFICIAL MURDERED. Georgian Deputy Interior Minister Giorgi Gulua, his driver, and a further Interior Ministry official were killed by machinegun fire in Tbilisi while driving to work on the morning of 20 April, Russian news agencies reported. The killers escaped by car. According to ITAR-TASS, this was the eighth such terrorist act directed against a senior Georgian security official in recent months. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. GEORGIA, TURKMENISTAN REACH AGREEMENT ON GAS DEBT. Meeting with a delegation of Turkmen businessmen in Tbilisi on 20 April, Georgian parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze confirmed that an agreement had been reached with the Turkmen government whereby Georgia will supply consumer goods in lieu of paying its $200 million debt for supplies of natural gas in hard currency, Interfax reported. Turkmenistan had previously threatened to cut gas supplies to Georgia on 1 May if the debt remained unpaid. Ivan Zazashvili, head of Gruztransgaz, was quoted by Interfax on 14 April as stating that virtually no one in Georgia can afford to pay gas bills, and that Georgia was considering Iran as a potential alternative supplier. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE CLINTON WANTS SERBS TO "PAY A HIGHER PRICE FOR CONTINUED VIOLENCE." International media report on 21 April that President Bill Clinton the previous day called for stronger NATO air protection to include all six UN-declared "safe areas" in Bosnia-Herzegovina, not just Sarajevo. The New York Times quotes him as saying: "NATO's air power alone cannot prevent further Serb aggressions or advances . . . but it can deny the Serbs the opportunity to shell safe areas with impunity." The five such areas besides Sarajevo are Gorazde, Srebrenica, Zepa, Tuzla, and Bihac. Clinton also wants tougher economic sanctions on Serbia to encourage the government of President Slobodan Milosevic to stop supporting the Bosnian Serbs. Meanwhile in Brussels, NATO agreed in principle to provide greater use of air power in Bosnia, the Los Angeles Times reports. The British ambassador said "it may take a day or two" to work out the particulars, but another NATO official noted that "we want to do something that really hurts. . . . We're talking about going after ammunition dumps and communications centers." Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. "THIS IS A DISGRACE FOR THE ENTIRE WORLD. IT IS A MASSACRE." This is how Dr. Alija Begovic, the director of Gorazde's hospital, described the situation there. The New York Times of 21 April also said that the Serb shelling of the hospital the previous day killed 44 and wounded 137. A UN military official noted that "there is absolutely no reason for bombarding a city other than to create terror and panic. . . . The imposition of a total-exclusion zone is the best way to secure the safe areas. We can do it quite fast, but we do need troops on the ground." UN High Commission for Refugees spokesman Kris Janowski told the Washington Post that the Serbs had engaged in "outrageous behavior" in "killing people and at random." This is a tactic they first developed in their war with Croatia in 1991, when they obliterated the baroque Danubian town of Vukovar, among others. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. TUDJMAN'S PARTY SPLITS. Western news agencies reported from Zagreb on 20 April that eighteen legislators belonging to the governing Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) have set up a new party, the Independent Democrats. They are led by upper house speaker Josip Manolic and his lower house counterpart Stipe Mesic in a move that will cost the HDZ its liberal wing, which was angry over President Franjo Tudjman's autocratic style and his former policy of partitioning Bosnia with the Serbs at the expense of the Muslims. In the course of April, following the ham-fisted ouster of Manolic from his party jobs by Tudjman's lieutenants, momentum built up for a formal split in the party, but there had been rumors that Tudjman had somehow managed to do a deal with Mesic to prevent the liberal exodus. Depending on how many legislators actually do go over to the new party, the HDZ stands to lose its parliamentary majority, which could force early elections. With at least 18 deputies, the new organization is already the largest opposition party in parliament. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. BULGARIA AND UNPROFOR. Agencies report that, except for one truckload, all supplies destined for UN troops stationed in Macedonia left Bulgarian territory on the evening of 20 April. Reuters quotes officials of the Bulgarian State Railways as confirming that the Dutch cargo firm organizing the transport has agreed to pay a higher transit fee, as demanded by the BSR, and that all supplies will be in Macedonia on 21 April at the latest. In another development, BTA says the UNPROFOR command in Zagreb on 15 April asked Bulgaria on 20 April to open an air corridor over its territory to facilitate the passage of a Ukrainian air transport of Finnish Peace keepers, but later withdrew the request. Demokratsiya of 21 April quotes UDF lawmakers as arguing that Bulgaria as a UN member needs to assume certain responsibilities despite its policy of non-interference in the Balkan conflict. The pro-BSP Kontinent says that recent requests to use Bulgaria's territory for delicate transports seem designed to tie the country closer to the anti-Serbian activities of Western governments. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. ALBANIAN-GREEK PROBLEMS ESCALATE? Leaders of Omonia, the Greek minority organization in Albania, in Sarande and Gjiorkastra were detained by authorities on 20 April according to Gazeta Shqiptare. No explanation has yet been given for the action. Meantime, Reuters reports that Greek Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias, who is visiting Washington with Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou, issued a stinging statement regarding the alleged Albanian treatment of its Greek minority. Papoulias said in part that Athens " condemns and denounces. . .the unprecedented and continuing persecution of the Greek minority by Albanian authorities." The comments were evidently at least in part a reaction to the arrests of Omonia figures. Duncan Perry, RFE/RL, Inc. MACEDONIAN TALKS IN NEW YORK. Macedonian Foreign Minister Stevo Crvenkovski is currently engaged in ongoing discussions with UN mediator Cyrus Vance over a resolution of the Greek-Macedonian dispute. While little concrete information about the deliberations has emerged, observers speculate that Vance will suggest a three stage solution according to MILS. Papandreou will not be pressed by US President Bill Clinton to lift the embargo against Macedonia officials noted. The US Department of State is at odds with Clinton over the US's position concerning Macedonia according to the New York Times News Service of 19 April. Duncan Perry, RFE/RL, Inc. CEASE-FIRE IN POLISH POLITICS. After a lively meeting with deputies from the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) on 20 April, a contented President Lech Walesa told reporters that "we all admitted errors; we are resuming cooperation." During the meeting, the SLD agreed to withdraw a proposed constitutional amendment that would have allowed the Sejm to overrule presidential rejections of ministerial changes. SLD leader Aleksander Kwasniewski also acknowledged that the coalition had erred in voting to reject Walesa's proposal to permit groups of citizens to submit their own constitutional drafts. Walesa treated this admission as an apology. The two sides agreed that no constitutional changes will be made without mutual agreement. Despite a declaration that he will "not allow the political system to be changed without elections," Walesa distanced himself from his own threats to dissolve the parliament, stressing that he accepts "all of democracy's verdicts." Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. PAWLAK FOR AND EVEN AGAINST. Despite continuing confusion as to the prime minister's stance on wage controls, the Sejm voted on 20 April to give further consideration to revised draft legislation designed to prevent excessive wage growth in state firms. The vote was 258 to 88, PAP reports. The bill, submitted by deputies from the ruling coalition, is identical to the draft that was accepted by the government on 12 April and then shelved. Acting Finance Minister Henryk Chmielak told the Sejm that the government opposes complete wage liberalization and supports the "temporary maintenance of wage controls." Earlier the same day, however, Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak told trade union leaders that wage controls are not necessary, provided the unions pledge to act in a "calm, responsible" fashion. Pawlak said the new legislation includes a clause allowing the government to suspend wage controls if they prove not to be needed. Pawlak's ambiguous stance drew protests from members of his own party, who charged him with setting them up to take the blame for unpopular wage controls. An economist interviewed by Polish TV said the official chaos surrounding this and other policies may be a bigger threat to the economy than the lack of wage controls. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER IN CANADA. Eduard Kukan wrapped up a week-long visit to the US and Canada on 20 April, meeting with Canadian Premier Jean Chretien and Foreign Minister Andre Ouillet. Kukan said he appreciated Canada's positive attitude towards NATO membership for Central and East European nations. Concerning minority issues, Kukan and Chretien agreed that emphasis should be on individual rather than collective rights, TASR reports. Meeting with Ouillet, Kukan suggested that a Canadian embassy be opened in Bratislava or that the Canadian embassy in Vienna be charged to cover Slovakia since the location is more convenient than Prague. Kukan ended his visit by meeting with representatives of the Canadian Slovak community. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAKIA SOON TO HAVE PRIVATE TELEVISION? On 19 April the Slovak Board for Radio and Television Broadcasting voted on a new candidate to undertake the partial privatization of the second national television station, STV 2. The new commercial station would broadcast daily from 5:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. The Bratislava-based ESPE Studio, which has promised to cooperate with other firms, won the competition, although the parliament still has to approve the motion. The first candidate, chosen by the board on 29 December, was later rejected by the parliament. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. ETHNIC HUNGARIAN PARTIES AND SLOVAK ELECTIONS. Slovakia's ethnic Hungarian parties are bracing for the forthcoming general elections, the Budapest daily Magyar Nemzet reported on 19 April. The liberal Hungarian Civic Party, which did not win parliamentary representation in the 1992 elections, has been stressing the need for a coalition of all four Hungarian parties. The recent announcement that the HCP would drop the word "Hungarian" from its name and set up a new Slovak liberal party thus came as a surprise. According to Arpad Duka-Zolyomi, deputy chairman of the Coexistence Political Movement, his party and the Hungarian Christian Democratic Movement, which jointly have 14 deputies in the Slovak parliament, can be expected to forge a new coalition agreement for the forthcoming elections, with a program based on the demands approved at a January 1994 gathering of southern Slovakia's ethnic Magyar mayors and local government representatives. Alfred Reisch, RFE/RL, Inc. ISRAEL'S STATE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE VISITS HUNGARY. General David Ivry began a three-day visit to Hungary, MTI reported on 20 April. He will discuss cooperation in the fields of security policy and military technology with representatives of the Hungary's ministries of industry, defense, transportation, and foreign affairs. Hungarian Defense Minister Lajos Fur signed in October 1993 in Israel a bilateral military cooperation accord and a joint committee is to be set up soon to work out cooperation modalities in the war industry sphere, including the possible modernization by Israel of Hungary's obsolete MiG-21 and MiG-23 fighter aircraft. Alfred Reisch, RFE/RL, Inc. HUNGARY SENDS OBSERVERS TO SOUTH AFRICA. A six-member Hungarian observers' group made up of foreign and interior ministry personnel left on 19 April for Johannesburg to join the 1,800-strong United Nations mission which will observe the 27 April South African general elections, MTI announced. Another four-member Hungarian observers' group is already in the country. Alfred Reisch, RFE/RL, Inc. CRANS MONTANA FORUM CONFERENCE IN BUCHAREST. A four-days conference of the Swiss-base Crans Montana Forum foundation opened in Bucharest on 21 April, Radio Bucharest and Western media report. The meeting, which is the first big international conference to be hosted by post-communist Romania, will focus on the emerging free markets in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union and the Middle East. Some 1,100 top politicians and businessmen from more than 70 countries, including several heads of state and prime ministers, were listed as participants in the conference. Some high-ranking officials, however, called off their participation at the last moment. Among them, the most prominent are the president of the rump Yugoslav federation, Zoran Lilic, and Jordanian Prime Minister Abdul-Salam Al-Majali. Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc. CONTROVERSIAL SIGNALS IN ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT. In a joint session held on 19 April, the two chambers of Romania's parliament approved a controversial law on the organization of the state radio and television societies, Radio Bucharest reports. The vote ended months of wrangling over the draft law, which the opposition criticized for allegedly trying to step up state control over the media. On 20 April, Ion Ratiu, deputy for the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic and a leader of the centrist opposition, called the new law a step back toward the communist era and said that it may help force off the air independent television stations. Also on 19 April, the parliament overwhelmingly voted in favor of setting up a panel to investigate the illegal acquisition of formerly state-owned homes by members of the government, presidency and parliament after December 1989. The 239 to 5 vote with 58 abstentions was described by Reuters as the first setback in parliament for the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania. Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc. INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY TO HOLD SESSION ON CHORNOBYL. On 21 April the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is to hold a meeting in Vienna to discuss the future of Ukraine's Chornobyl nuclear power plant. The session follows an IAEA report last month which found numerous safety deficiencies and called for closing the plant. In the run-up to the meeting there were two mishaps in a row at the facility. ITAR-TASS reported that on 18 April the number three reactor had to be shut down due to a problem with its cooling system. Reuters reported that on 19 April that mechanical unit used to move nuclear fuel failed and banged a container of fuel against adjacent installations. IAEA experts were inspecting the plant when the accidents happened. Nuclear experts from thirteen countries are participating at the meeting and will be looking at alternative energy options for Ukraine so that the Chornobyl plant may be closed. Besides the safety deficiencies, it has been reported that the sarcophagus around the fourth reactor (which was destroyed in the 1986 fire) was in danger collapsing, and that around 20% of the qualified staff had left last year, making safety even more difficult to ensure, Reuters reported on 20 April. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. REGISTRATION OF INITIATIVE GROUPS FOR BELARUSIAN PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN. On 15 April the registration of initiative groups planning to collect signatures for presidential nominees began in Belarus, Belarusian radio reported on 19 and 20 April. The groups must collect 70 signatures from deputies to support their candidates' nomination or 100,000 signatures from Belarusian citizens within 55 days. To date six nominees have been registered. Among the candidates are the former chairman of the Supreme Soviet, Stanislau Shushkevich, who is supported by the Social Democratic Party; Prime Minister Vyacheslau Kebich whose campaign will be led by the director of the "Horizont" plant, Aleksandr Senchukouski; Vasil Novikav from the Belarusian Communist Party; the BPF opposition leader, Zyanon Paznyak; Aleksandr Lukashenka, whose campaign will be run by Dzmitriy Bulakhau; and Henadz Karpenka from the Party of People's Accord, whose campaign will be led by Alyaksey Dydarau. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. YELTSIN-ULMANIS MEETING POSTPONED. The meeting that had been tentatively planned for 21 April between Russian president Boris Yeltsin and his Latvian counterpart Guntis Ulmanis has been postponed, Diena and ITAR-TASS indicated on 20 April. In a statement issued to the press on 20 April, Yeltsin said that "the agreements on military matters, which were initialed this March, create a contractual and legal basis for the completion of the withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of Latvia, and for a civilized solution to the issues connected with it." He stressed that Russia was not and is "not going to create military bases on the territory of Latvia. It is a matter only of the temporary functioning of one Russian military establishment under civilian control--the radar station in the town of Skrunda." Yeltsin also expressed a desire to meet in the very near future with Ulmanis and said that during the meeting "a package of initialed agreements will be signed." RFE/RL correspondent in Riga reported on 21 April that a date for the meeting may be set by the two presidents today. The extraordinary parliamentary meeting in Riga on 20 April concerning the Latvian-Russian accords ended inconclusively with members of Latvia's National Independence Movement--they opposed the accords--walking out, thus ending the session for lack of quorum. Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc. US LEADERS MEET ESTONIAN PRIME MINISTER. On 20 April Vice President Al Gore met with Prime Minister Mart Laar to discuss economic and security issues. The two leaders signed agreements on the protection and promotion of investments, trade relations and the protection of intellectual property, BNS reported on 20 April. Gore expressed support for Estonia's membership in GATT and the US Baltic Entrepreneurship Foundation. Gore also promised US support for completing the withdrawal of Russian troops from Estonia by 31 August. On 19 April Laar met with Secretary of Defense William Perry to discuss defense issues and Estonia's membership in NATO's Partnership for Peace program. Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc. 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