Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith. - Christopher Fry

No. 110, 13 June 1994



                                    RUSSIA
   RUSSIA READY TO JOIN NATO PARTNERSHIP? Western agencies offered
   differing interpretations of the 10 June meeting in Istanbul of
   foreign ministers from NATO and the former Warsaw Pact. The New
   York Times and The Washington Post each accented the positive,
   reporting that Moscow had set aside its differences with the
   Western alliance over the NATO Partnership for Peace Program and
   that Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev had reaffirmed
   Moscow's desire to join the program. Both accounts noted that
   there was some disappointment in the West over Kozyrev's failure
   to specify a date for the signing, but they suggested that NATO
   had made "face-saving" concessions to Kozyrev that would shield
   him and the Russian government sufficiently from the criticism of
   nationalists at home. The New York Times said that Kozyrev plans
   to sign simultaneously both the standard "partnership" agreement
   offered to all participating states, and certain additional
   agreements that would be unique to Russia.  Stephen Foye, RFE/RL,
   Inc.

   OR DID ISTANBUL MEETING MASK DIFFERENCES? Reuters in particular
   offered a far less sanguine assessment of events, however, arguing
   that the Istanbul meeting on 10 June had "brutally highlighted the
   disagreements between NATO and Russia on issues ranging from arms
   control to expanding membership of the alliance to Eastern
   Europe." The news agency quoted one NATO diplomat as saying that
   the meeting had been a "pretty bloody affair. It was an absolutely
   Soviet exercise, a disastrous performance by the Russians, and it
   does not augur well." In particular, Russian intransigence forced
   the meeting to drop from its final statement any reference to
   expanding NATO membership into the East, a development that
   reportedly enraged Eastern European and NATO representatives. At
   the same time, in his address to the ministers, Kozyrev again
   emphasized Moscow's view that NATO should become an appendage of
   the CSCE (Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe), a
   policy strongly opposed by NATO members.  Stephen Foye, RFE/RL,
   Inc.

   RUSSIA, US, REACH COMPROMISE ON NORTH KOREA. Consultations between
   Kozyrev and US Secretary of State Warren Christopher in Istanbul
   did apparently yield a compromise and a common policy on the issue
   of dealing with North Korea's suspected nuclear weapons program.
   Reuters and AFP reported on 10 June that the two sides had agreed
   to prepare a motion for submission to the UN Security Council that
   would make the holding of an international conference on North
   Korea part of a broader package calling for sanctions against
   North Korea. The US had earlier been cool toward Moscow's call for
   a conference, while the Russian government had opposed sanctions
   urged by the US. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc.

   PRESIDENT YELTSIN'S PRESS CONFERENCE. During his press conference
   on 10 June to mark the fourth anniversary of Russia's declaration
   of sovereignty, President Boris Yeltsin criticized the government
   for "keeping postponing decisions on economic measures." He
   stressed, however, that Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin had his
   full support and confidence. Last week, Yeltsin's spokesman denied
   reports that Chernomyrdin might resign. During the press
   conference, Yeltsin said that one of the most serious problems in
   Russia was poverty and added that a national program to fight
   poverty must be prepared under the president's control. Yeltsin
   also said he had ordered Security and Interior Ministries to take
   additional steps "to rid the country of criminal slum" in line
   with a new federal crime-fighting program. The president said he
   had also talked to Chernomyrdin about corruption at middle
   government levels and told the prime minister that "a major purge
   is necessary." Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc.

   YELTSIN SIGNS SIX ECONOMIC DECREES. At his press conference on 10
   June, Yeltsin announced that he had just signed a package of six
   new economic decrees designed to accelerate the pace of market
   reforms. The most important of these lifts a November 1993 ban on
   foreign banking operations involving Russian clients, a move
   believed necessary to .clear the way for Russia's agreement with
   the EU. The decree apparently applies only to banks from countries
   offering Russia reciprocal access. Yeltsin said that competition
   will irritate Russian bankers but have a salutary impact on
   interest rates, which are now running at 185%, Interfax reports. A
   second decree instructs the Central Bank to establish a deposit
   insurance fund and to monitor commercial banking activities more
   closely. Housing construction was the focus of other decrees:
   30-year mortgage credits are to be issued to young people upon
   gaining employment; incentives are to be offered to private
   entrepreneurs willing to take over and complete unfinished housing
   projects. A first package of six economic decrees was issued on 23
   May. Yeltsin said that a three more economic decrees are in
   preparation that will increase the powers of enterprise managers;
   protect investors in the securities market; and provide incentives
   for the import of investment goods. Yeltsin expressed optimism
   that a halt in the fall of industrial production is "just around
   the corner." Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc.

   RUSSIA'S CHOICE BECOMES POLITICAL PARTY. Members of the largest
   State Duma faction, Russia's Choice, opened a congress in Moscow
   on 12 June, ITAR-TASS reported. The creation of a political party
   on the basis of Russia's Choice faction was announced. The only
   candidate for the party chairman is former acting prime minister
   Egor Gaidar. In his speech at the congress, Gaidar criticized
   Viktor Chernomyrdin's government for lacking a clear concept of
   reform. Gaidar also called for the creation of a single market on
   the territory of the former USSR. President Yeltsin's press
   secretary Vyacheslav Kostikov said the president's position is
   close to that of the new party. Kostikov added, however, that the
   president was going "to keep a prudent and intelligent distance
   from it." On 13 June, participants in the congress are going to
   elect a 25-member political council of the new party.  Vera Tolz,
   RFE/RL, Inc.

   OPPOSITION MARKS RUSSIA'S INDEPENDENCE DAY BY PROTESTS. 12 June
   was the fourth anniversary of Russia's declaration of state
   sovereignty and the third anniversary of the election of Yeltsin
   as the first Russian president. The day, a public holiday in
   Russia, was marked by rallies in the center of Moscow, organized
   by the National Salvation Front, the Working Russia movement and
   other opposition organizations, ITAR-TASS reported. Demonstrators
   demanded the recreation of the Soviet Union and ouster of
   Yeltsin's government.  Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc.

   YELTSIN ON MILITARY REFORM. At his press conference on 10 June,
   President Yeltsin criticized the slow pace of military reform,
   stating that the military will have to "carry out cuts more
   energetically," and observing that "the lack of decisiveness here
   is incomprehensible." Yeltsin's comments represent a clear
   criticism of Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev's performance
   and may well fuel a new round of rumors concerning Grachev's
   future. Indeed, despite earlier assertions that he was supporting
   the military in its quest for a larger defense budget, Yeltsin was
   very quiet on this issue while it was being debated in the Duma.
   This latest statement may weaken those in the Federation Council
   (such as Vladimir Shumeiko) who are planning to make one more
   attempt to increase defense spending.  John Lepingwell, RFE/RL,
   Inc.

   "OFF-BUDGET" SUPPORT FOR DEFENSE? In the second part of his
   comments on the defense budget, Yeltsin made some rather confusing
   statements to the effect that "reserves" and "non-budgetary
   appropriations" could be used to prop up at least some of the
   defense industries. The only specific project he mentioned was the
   MiG arms deal with Malaysia, stating that the money "will be
   handed over and this will completely cover the gap." To whom the
   money would be given, and to what purpose, is unclear. In any
   case, the $550 million deal would only provide about 1 trillion
   rubles, while the military is requesting an additional 18 trillion
   rubles. A large fraction of the MiG deal is also to be paid in
   palm oil, rather than hard currency, raising the question of how
   the military might utilize this part of the "non-budgetary
   appropriation" if it were to receive it.  John Lepingwell, RFE/RL,
   Inc.

   MALAYSIA DENIES MIG'S WERE "DUMPED." Malaysian Defense Minister
   Najib Abdul Razak has denied a report that the 18 MiG-29 jet
   fighters purchased recently from Russia represented a "dumping" of
   surplus Russian military equipment, Reuters reported on 12 June.
   The accusation of dumping was made by Rustam Narszikulov in the
   Russian newspaper Segodnya on 8 June (according to AFP). Najib
   insisted that Malaysia had made a thorough evaluation of the
   aircraft; he was quoted as saying that Malaysia "would get new
   aircraft and there is no question of dumping arms here to revive
   the so-called ailing Russian defense industry." Stephen Foye,
   RFE/RL, Inc.

                        TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA
   GRACHEV VISITS GEORGIA . . . On 10 June Russian Defense Minister
   Pavel Grachev traveled from Erevan to Tbilisi, where he held talks
   with parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze on the creation of
   three permanent Russian military bases in Georgia in 1995 on
   expiry of the present temporary agreement on the status of the
   Russian troops currently deployed there, ITAR-TASS and Interfax
   reported. On the same day Grachev traveled to Gudauta for talks
   with Abkhaz parliament chairman Vladislav Ardzinba, after which he
   told Interfax that both parties had agreed to the deployment of
   Russian peacekeeping troops in Abkhazia, to which he hoped the
   Russian parliament would accede within the next few days. Liz
   Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc.

   . . . AND AZERBAIJAN. On 11 June Grachev proceeded to Baku for
   talks with Azerbaijani President Geidar Aliev, which culminated in
   agreement on establishing a unified air defense system for the
   Transcaucasus and on preparing an agreement on continued use by
   the Russian military of the strategic radar station at Gebele in
   northern Azerbaijan, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. Grachev
   failed, however, to persuade Aliev to sign his plan for a
   ceasefire and deployment of Russian peacekeeping forces in
   Nagorno-Karabakh; according to Interfax, Aliev continues to insist
   that Russian forces may be deployed in Azerbaijan only with a
   mandate from the CSCE.  Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc.

   NATO DELEGATION IN KYRGYZSTAN. A NATO delegation, under the
   leadership of the chief of staff of its European armed forces,
   Peter Karstens, is on an official visit to Bishkek to discuss
   greater cooperation between the alliance and Kyrgyzstan, which
   recently signed on to the Partnership for Peace program. Karstens
   told a news conference on 11 June that NATO is interested in
   assisting Kyrgyzstan and other states in establishing and
   maintaining stability in Central Asia, but that it sees the
   problems in Tajikistan as being an internal CIS matter; NATO does
   not plan any peacekeeping operations in the region, Karstens was
   quoted by ITAR-TASS as saying. The delegation also discussed
   political questions with the Kyrgyz leadership, as well as
   assistance in the training of Kyrgyz officers; according to
   Interfax, Karstens rejected unspecified rumors, however, that NATO
   might deploy forces in Kyrgyzstan or get involved in military
   conversion there. Along with Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and
   Kazakhstan have also joined the Partnership for Peace program, and
   the NATO delegation's visit can be seen as a first attempt to come
   up with some sort of structure and purpose for the relationship
   between the Central Asian states and NATO.  Keith Martin, RFE/RL,
   Inc.

                          CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE
   BOSNIAN CEASE-FIRE GENERALLY HOLDING. International media reported
   over the weekend of 10-12 June that the latest truce appears to be
   observed for the most part. The 11 June International Herald
   Tribune quotes UN commander Gen. Sir Michael Rose as saying that
   "I think we're seeing the beginning of the end of the war here."
   Elsewhere, there were the usual mutual accusations of violations
   around Brcko and in other areas, but major fighting was reported
   only between government troops and forces loyal to the local
   kingpin Fikret Abdic near Bihac. Abdic, in any event, is not a
   signatory to the agreement. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc.

   MORE MOVEMENT TOWARD A BOSNIAN SETTLEMENT? Western and Russian
   diplomats are preparing for a meeting of their "contact group"
   later this week. They plan to present the Bosnian partners to the
   conflict with what Reuters on 12 June describes as a "take it or
   leave it plan" that would give the Muslim-Croat federation 51% of
   the republic's territory. Negative incentives are in the offing
   for both sides. These reportedly would include a lifting of the
   arms embargo on the Muslims if the Serbs prove stubborn, and a
   partial easing of sanctions on Serbia if the Muslims balk. The
   biggest concessions would have to come from the Serbs, who have
   conquered 70% of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Meanwhile, Reuters on 11 June
   quotes Bosnian Serb parliament speaker Momcilo Krajisnik as
   denying that there is a rift between his people and Belgrade. His
   remarks came in apparent response to a statement by rump Yugoslav
   President Zoran Lilic, who had suggested that Serbia would not
   support the Bosnian Serb cause indefinitely.  Patrick Moore,
   RFE/RL, Inc.

   ALBANIAN UNIVERSITY FOUNDED IN MACEDONIA. On 6 June Flaka reported
   that an Albanian language university is to be founded in Tetovo.
   The idea for the university came from the Intellectual Albanian
   Cultural Forum in Macedonia, which solicited support from the
   district councils of Tetovo, Gostivar, and Debar (towns where
   Albanians constitute the majority of the population). The
   university is slated to open for the 1994-1995 academic year and
   will have three faculties: Philosophy, Law and Theology. An
   executive committee of the university has been formed, consisting
   of 18 members. Official permission to found the organization has
   not been obtained, nor is the source of institutional funding yet
   determined.  Ismije Beshiri, RFE/RL, Inc.

   MIHAJLOVIC BACKS LILIC, ELEVEN EMBASSY OFFICIALS NAMED. On 11-12
   June Borba reported on remarks made by New Democracy (ND) leader
   Dusan Mihajlovic in which he observed that he "supported Lilic to
   the fullest." Mihajlovic, leader of a small caucus in the Serbian
   legislature consisting of only six deputies, broke ranks with the
   Democratic Opposition of Serbia in order to support the Socialist
   Party of Serbia government. Mihajlovic's most recent positive
   comments about Lilic's leadership suggest that the ND and SPS have
   forged a stable working relationship, and follow in the wake of
   Mihajlovic's 8 June Borba interview, in which he criticized major
   opposition party leaders for failing to reach a modus vivendi with
   the SPS. In other news, on 11 June Politika reported that federal
   authorities have named eleven consular and diplomatic chiefs who
   are slated to be posted in capitals around the world.  Stan
   Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc.

   POLISH SEJM VOTES TO LEGALIZE ABORTION. The Sejm voted on 10 June
   to amend the penal code to permit abortions in cases of "difficult
   material conditions or a demanding personal situation," PAP
   reports. The law in force since early 1993 allows abortion only
   when the pregnant woman's life or health is threatened; when the
   fetus is irreparably damaged; or when a prosecutor certifies that
   the pregnancy is the result of a crime. The vote to liberalize the
   law was 241 to 107, with 32 abstentions. The Democratic Left
   Alliance and the Union of Labor were uniformly in favor, while the
   Freedom Union and the Polish Peasant Party were divided on the
   issue. The deputies also voted to allow private clinics to perform
   abortions; they are now restricted to state facilities. The Sejm
   rejected motions from the floor that would have forced women to
   obtain permission from a doctor, psychologist, or judge before
   having an abortion, but voted to impose a three-day waiting period
   and require a medical consultation. President Lech Walesa is
   expected to veto the legislation; the Sejm would then need a
   two-thirds majority to override. Cardinal Jozef Glemp commented on
   12 June that "this Sejm was born in a time of national sickness."
   Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc.

   YELTSIN DECLINES WALESA'S INVITATION. Russian President Boris
   Yeltsin told a press conference in Moscow on 10 June that he will
   be unable to attend ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the
   Warsaw Uprising, PAP reports. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin
   is expected to represent Russia in his place. Yeltsin claimed that
   "the invitation came too late" and that his calendar of
   international visits is already too full. Polish officials noted,
   however, that Polish President Lech Walesa had dispatched
   invitations to world leaders, including Yeltsin, on 9 August 1993.
   Walesa's decision to invite Yeltsin has stirred controversy in
   Poland because of Soviet complicity in the uprising's defeat.
   Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc.

   RUSSIA'S STANCE ON NATO WORRIES POLAND. "We recognize the need for
   a strong partnership between NATO and Russia," Polish Foreign
   Minister Andrzej Olechowski told the North Atlantic Cooperation
   Council (NACC) in Istanbul on 10 June, "but it would be a paradox
   of history if . . . this new partnership were to lead to the
   marginalization of smaller countries." Olechowski told reporters
   in Warsaw after his return from the conference that Russia's
   success in blocking the inclusion in the NACC statement of a
   clause saying that active participation in the Partnership For
   Peace would help lead to future NATO membership signifies that
   Russia has not "fully accepted" a Polish role in the PFP or the
   West European Union, PAP reports. Russian participation in the PFP
   is in Poland's interest, Olechowski said; should Russia fail to
   take this path, it would mean that Russia "is beginning to create
   a world of its own, which would present Poland with a difficult
   dilemma," PAP reports.  Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc.

   BULGARIA TO RECEIVE $1.5 BILLION CREDIT PACKAGE. International
   media say nine Western states and financial institutions pledged
   on 11 June to provide Bulgaria with $940 million in fresh support
   to fill its foreign exchange shortfall for 1994, adding that
   another $620 million would probably be forthcoming in 1995. The
   so-called Consultative Group for Bulgaria, which has been brought
   together by the World Bank, declared after a meeting in Paris that
   Bulgaria's "ambitious reform efforts merit continued international
   assistance." Also attending the meeting, Bulgarian Finance
   Minister Stoyan Aleksandrov told journalists he had informed the
   group about the government's plans to slash subsidies to
   inefficient state enterprises and launch a mass privatization
   scheme to speed up structural reforms. He said Sofia further hopes
   that more foreign investment will flow into the country if an
   agreement to reschedule the bulk of Bulgaria's commercial debt is
   concluded soon. The group stated that it acknowledges the "adverse
   external environment" caused by the debt problem and the effects
   of the United Nations embargo against rump Yugoslavia.  Kjell
   Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc.

   EXPLOSION DAMAGES HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT BUILDING. On 11 June at
   2:40 a.m. the building of the Hungarian Parliament was damaged by
   an explosion, MTI reports. The damaged door and panes of some 120
   windows have already been replaced, but the damage to the wall of
   the building still has to be repaired. The new parliament,
   however, will be able to start its work as scheduled. An
   investigation of the device causing the explosion seems to
   indicate that the explosive was not home-made. There is no sign
   indicating who set it off, although it is generally believed that
   the person or persons behind the action were dissatisfied with the
   outcome of the election in which the ex-communists returned to
   power. Others nonetheless suggest that this event might be
   connected to other detonations set off in cities like Szeged, a
   town close to the Yugoslav border, and could be related to the
   activities of the Serbian mafia. A five million forint reward is
   offered for information leading to the arrest of the criminals.
   Judith Pataki, RFE/RL, Inc.

   SLOVAK GOVERNMENT ON MINORITIES. At the request of the Czech
   minority in Slovakia, on 10 June the Slovak cabinet's council for
   nationalities approved a proposal to offer teaching in Czech
   language, set to begin in certain districts during the next school
   year. Deputy Premier Roman Kovac said it will be possible to
   fulfill requests to offer education in Ruthenian and Romany
   languages following the codification of these languages, which is
   now being prepared. The council also decided that national
   minorities living in Slovakia will be allotted 140 million koruny
   from the 1994 state budget to help promote their cultural
   development, exceeding the total amount allocated to minorities in
   1993 by 10 million koruny. These funds will be used for theaters
   and professional assemblies, as well as for cultural unions and
   the national press, TASR reported. Speaking on Slovak Radio on 10
   June, Premier Jozef Moravcik said that issues concerning the
   Hungarian minority should be addressed in a state treaty between
   Hungary and Slovakia.  Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc.

   ROMANIAN PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESMAN OPPOSES MINORITY DEMAND. President
   Iliescu's spokesman, Traian Chebeleu, said at a press conference
   carried by Radio Bucharest on 10 June that the Hungarian
   Democratic Federation of Romania's demand for "autonomy" and the
   support of this demand by Hungarian politicians is dangerous.
   Chebeleu was asked to comment on a message sent to the HDFR by the
   president of the Hungarian Socialist Party, Gyula Horn, who
   promised to support "the striving for autonomy, which is of vital
   importance" for Hungarians living outside Hungary. The concept of
   autonomy, Chebeleu said, has not been clarified. If by it is meant
   "ethnic autonomy" it must be rejected, since it was likely to lead
   to the setting up of some sort of ethnic homelands of the like
   that used to exist in South Africa. It would also "contradict
   European principles" and would be "dynamite" for the unity of the
   country. If, on the other hand, its proponents mean
   "administrative autonomy," that already exists in those areas
   where national minorities are in majority and elect their own
   local government. Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc.

   ROMANIAN OPPOSITION PARTY SEEKS ILIESCU IMPEACHMENT. In a press
   release broadcast by Romanian Television on 10 June, the
   opposition National Peasant Party Christian Democratic said it
   planned to initiate impeachment procedures against President Ion
   Iliescu in parliament. The NPPCD accuses Iliescu of trying to
   alter the course of justice and of violating the constitutional
   independence of the judiciary. The NPPCD referred to statements
   made by Iliescu last month criticizing court rulings that handed
   back to their original owners houses seized by the communist
   regime and calling for their review. The impeachment motion must
   be signed by one-third of the members of both houses of parliament
   before it can be debated. Though this may be possible, it needs
   endorsement by a majority in order to pass, and this is unlikely
   to be achieved in the present make-up of the legislature. The
   constitution requires that the impeachment be checked for its
   legality by the Constitutional Court before being approved in
   parliament, following which it is to be submitted to a national
   referendum.  Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc.

   CZECH NATIONAL PROPERTY FUND CHAIRMAN RESIGNS. Tomas Jezek,
   chairman of the National Property Fund (NPF), the Czech Republic's
   top privatization agency , resigned on 10 June under pressure from
   the presidium. Roman Ceska, the deputy minister of privatization,
   was appointed to the post, CTK reported. In recent weeks, Jezek
   has been criticized for approving privatization deals that
   appeared to be flawed. In explaining his decision, Jezek said that
   he had decided to resign because of "incessant attempts by some
   NPF's members, especially Privatization Minister Jiri Skalicky, to
   recall him." According to Jezek, this pressure has made the NPF's
   work increasingly difficult. Jezek also pointed out that under the
   draft law on the conflict of interests, which is currently debated
   by the parliament, the post of the NPF chairman will be
   incompatible with the post of chairman of the parliament's budget
   committee, which he also holds.  Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc.

   UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL. Ukrainian
   television reported on presidential campaigning on 9 June.
   Candidates have centered their programs on dealing with economic
   problems. Minister of Education Petro Talanchuk had gone to the
   Lviv oblast, where he said that his priorities as president would
   be to choose a government that would act rather than talk. Valerii
   Babich traveled to the Luhansk oblast where he held a series of
   meetings at which he said he had been prompted to go into politics
   in order to put the economy into order, because so far it has only
   been going into a "blind corner." He said the market economy must
   be oriented towards the social security of the country's citizens,
   since states' policies should focus on their people. It was also
   reported that Volodymyr Lanony had been campaigning in Kryvy Rikh,
   and Leonid Kuchma had been to Dnipopetrovsk and Kiev. Ustina
   Markus, RFE/RL, Inc.

   VOTER DOUBTS OVER BELARUSIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. According to
   an opinion poll carried out by the newspaper Homelskaya prauda,
   14% of those interviewed said they did not believe in was possible
   to have truly democratic presidential elections in the republic,
   Belarusian radio reported on 9 June. On the question of whether
   there were any sufficiently capable candidates running, 12%
   responded that they did not believe there were. Only 4.7% did not
   feel a president was necessary for Belarus, however, while 80%
   said they intended to vote in the coming elections. According to
   Belarusian radio from 10 June, there are 7,349,710 eligible
   voters. In order for elections to be valid 3,674,856 must
   participate in the voting. If no candidate receives over 50% of
   the votes in the first round, runoff elections will be held.
   Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc.

   ESTONIAN PRESIDENT IN KAZAKHSTAN AND CHINA. On 10 June Lennart
   Meri and Foreign Ministry Deputy Chancellor Priit Kolbre flew to
   Almaty, BNS reports. Meri and his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan
   Nazarbayev signed a pact on mutual understanding and cooperation.
   Meri welcomed Nazarbayev's proposal for creating an Euro-Asian
   Union that would be open not only to CIS countries and might
   include China. Priit and Kazakh First Deputy Foreign Minister
   Kassymzhumart Tokayev signed an agreement on cooperation between
   the foreign ministries in a ceremony attended by Prime Minister
   Sergei Tereshchenko. On 12 June Meri flew to Peking for meetings
   with President Jiang Zemin, Prime Minister Li Peng, and Foreign
   Minister Qian Qichen.  Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc.

   ESTONIAN PRIME MINISTER REMAINS PARTY HEAD. At its congress on 11
   June, the Isamaa (also known in English as Pro Patria) political
   party reelected Prime Minister Mart Laar as its chairman; he
   received 191 of the 337 votes. This solidifies Laar's position
   both within the party and the government. One of the reasons for
   holding the congress was to resolve the disputes that had arisen
   among the party members as a consequence of the resignation of the
   justice and defense ministers in May. Laar had stated earlier that
   if he was not reelected as party chairman, he would resign from
   the premiership, BNS reported on 11 June.  Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL,
   Inc.

   CHURKIN CRITICAL OF LATVIA'S DRAFT CITIZENSHIP LAW. Russia's
   Deputy Foreign Minister Vitalii Churkin told Interfax on 10 June
   that if the draft citizenship law, endorsed by the Latvian
   parliament on 9 June, goes into effect, Prime Minister Viktor
   Chernomyrdin may have to postpone his visit to Latvia, scheduled
   for later this month. (In order for the law to come into effect,
   the final draft must still be passed by the Saeima.) He said that
   "in conditions when Latvia adopts discriminatory laws, we must be
   in no haste to sign Russian-Latvian economic agreements" and that
   the possibility exists that Russia would cancel the temporary
   granting of "most favored nation" to Latvia in matters of trade.
   Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc.

   Copyright 1994, RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved.

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