Browse through our Interesting Nodes for Industrial Services in Greece A)? GHT="50">
Compact version
Today's Suggestion
Read The "Macedonian Question" (by Maria Nystazopoulou-Pelekidou)
HomeAbout HR-NetNewsWeb SitesDocumentsOnline HelpUsage InformationContact us
Monday, 1 March 2021
 
News
  Latest News (All)
     From Greece
     From Cyprus
     From Europe
     From Balkans
     From Turkey
     From USA
  Announcements
  World Press
  News Archives
Web Sites
  Hosted
  Mirrored
  Interesting Nodes
Documents
  Special Topics
  Treaties, Conventions
  Constitutions
  U.S. Agencies
  Cyprus Problem
  Other
Services
  Personal NewsPaper
  Greek Fonts
  Tools
  F.A.Q.
 

RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 63, 00-03-29

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Newsline Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>

RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 4, No. 63, 29 March 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN PRESIDENT BEGINS VISIT TO GEORGIA
  • [02] ARMENIAN, RUSSIAN TROOPS LAUNCH JOINT MANEUVERS
  • [03] TWELVE SUSPECTS IN KARABAKH SHOOTING RELEASED
  • [04] AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT CONGRATULATES PUTIN
  • [05] VETERAN GEORGIAN OPPOSITION LEADER CHALLENGES PRESIDENTIAL
  • [06] PARTICIPATION OF GEORGIAN INTELLIGENCE IN MURDER OF ABKHAZ
  • [07] CIA DIRECTOR VISITS KAZAKHSTAN
  • [08] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION SETS CONDITIONS FOR DIALOGUE WITH
  • [09] ETHNIC UIGHUR SHOT DEAD IN KYRGYZ CAPITAL
  • [10] TURKMEN, TURKISH PRESIDENTS DISCUSS GAS EXPORTS

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [11] BALKAN RECONSTRUCTION CONFERENCE OPENS...
  • [12] ...AS DOUBTS ABOUT PACT CONTINUE
  • [13] BOSNIAN LEADER APPEALS FOR BUILDING MATERIALS
  • [14] IZETBEGOVIC SAYS BRCKO COULD BE MODEL FOR BOSNIA
  • [15] BOSNIAN SERB ARMY REJECTS BOSNIA-WIDE FORCE
  • [16] U.S. 'DISAPPOINTED' BY ALBANIAN FAILURE TO DISARM
  • [17] RETURN OF CONTACT GROUP?
  • [18] LAYWER CALLS FOR FREEING FRENCH COLONEL IN KOSOVA AFFAIR
  • [19] CROATIAN BANK SCANDAL WINDING DOWN?
  • [20] MESIC THREATENS REFERENDUM ON PRESIDENCY
  • [21] YET ANOTHER RAILWAY STRIKE IN CROATIA
  • [22] ROMANIAN GOLD MINING COMPANY AGAIN POLLUTES RIVERS
  • [23] U.S. CONGRESSMAN DEFENDS REMARKS ON FORMER ROMANIAN
  • [24] ROMANIAN DEMOCRATS CRITICIZE CONSTANTINESCU
  • [25] OSCE HEAD IN MOLDOVA SAYS PUTIN'S ELECTION TO HELP RESOLVE
  • [26] BULGARIAN RULING PARTY'S POPULARITY WANES
  • [27] KOSTOV SAYS PUTIN'S WIN WILL IMPROVE RELATIONS

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [28] AGREEMENT ADVANCES TRANSPORT CORRIDOR AROUND SERBIA

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN PRESIDENT BEGINS VISIT TO GEORGIA

    Robert Kocharian

    arrived in Tbilisi on 28 March at the head of a delegation

    that also included deputy parliamentary speaker Tigran

    Torosian and five government ministers. During a 90-minute

    meeting, Kocharian and his Georgian counterpart, Eduard

    Shevardnadze, discussed bilateral relations and regional and

    international issues, including Armenia's participation in

    the TRACECA project and the possibility of requesting EU

    funding to upgrade the highway linking Tbilisi and Yerevan,

    Interfax reported. The two presidents also signed a joint

    statement on expanding relations and presented each other

    with state awards. LF

    [02] ARMENIAN, RUSSIAN TROOPS LAUNCH JOINT MANEUVERS

    Motorized

    infantry, tank and aviation units from the Armenian armed

    forces and Russia's military base in Armenia began three days

    of joint maneuvers in Armavir on 28 March under the

    supervision of the commander of the Russian Group of Forces

    in the Transcaucasus, Lieutenant General Vladimir Andreev,

    Noyan Tapan reported. The object of the exercises is to check

    the fighting trim of the troops and teamwork of various

    troops and units of the Russian and Armenian armed forces. LF

    [03] TWELVE SUSPECTS IN KARABAKH SHOOTING RELEASED

    Investigators

    in Stepanakert said on 28 March that 12 persons taken into

    custody last week on suspicion of involvement in the 22 March

    attack on Arkadii Ghukasian, president of the unrecognized

    Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, have been released owing to a lack

    of evidence, RFE/RL's Stepanakert correspondent reported. It

    is unclear whether former Karabakh Defense Minister Samvel

    Babayan, three of whose bodyguards have reportedly confessed

    to the attack, was among those released. An unspecified

    number of suspects have been detained. Speaking in Tbilisi

    the same day, Armenian President Kocharian said that all the

    persons directly involved in the assassination bid are in

    custody, ITAR-TASS reported. He attributed the attack to

    local opposition to Ghukasian's campaign to impose law and

    order. LF

    [04] AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT CONGRATULATES PUTIN

    In a message of

    congratulation to Russian President-elect Putin, Heidar Aliev

    noted that the latter's 26 March election victory reflects

    the support of Russian citizens for democratic reform as well

    as for the strengthening of the state system and law and

    order, Turan reported on 28 March. He expressed confidence

    that the "traditional friendly relations" between Russia and

    Azerbaijan will be developed in the name of regional

    stability. "Dilis gazeti" on 28 March quoted Lyudvig

    Chibirov, president of the unrecognized Republic of South

    Ossetia, as congratulating Putin and expressing the hope that

    after the 9 April Georgian presidential poll, Moscow and

    Tbilisi will devote greater attention to resolving the South

    Ossetian conflict. The same newspaper also quoted Abkhaz

    presidential aide Astamur Tania as saying that Putin regards

    Abkhazia as part of Russia's sphere of strategic interests

    and for that reason will not condone a resumption of

    hostilities in the region. LF

    [05] VETERAN GEORGIAN OPPOSITION LEADER CHALLENGES PRESIDENTIAL

    CANDIDATES

    Irakli Tsereteli, who for 11 years has headed the

    Georgian National Independence Party, which is not

    represented in the present parliament, has challenged

    Shevardnadze, Adjar Supreme Council Chairman Aslan Abashidze,

    and former Communist Party First Secretary Djumber

    Patiashvili, to a televised debate, Caucasus Press reported

    on 28 March. Shevardnadze, Abashidze, and Patiashvili are the

    three main candidates in the 9 April presidential election.

    Tsereteli is also one of the leaders of the Center for

    Georgia's Freedom and Democracy, which is campaigning for a

    nationwide boycott of that poll. LF

    [06] PARTICIPATION OF GEORGIAN INTELLIGENCE IN MURDER OF ABKHAZ

    VICE PREMIER DENIED

    There is no connection between Georgian

    intelligence and the Tsvizhba brothers, who are believed to

    have ordered the murder in September 1995 of Abkhaz Deputy

    Prime Minister Yurii Voronov, Caucasus Press reported on 28

    March, quoting Vitali Mikhelidze, who is deputy security

    minister of the Abkhaz government-in-exile. The Abkhaz

    authorities have recently detained a man in connection with

    the killing who, they claim, acted on instructions from the

    Georgian security services (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 March

    2000). LF

    [07] CIA DIRECTOR VISITS KAZAKHSTAN

    George Tennet held talks with

    Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev in Astana on 28

    March, Reuters reported. No details of those talks were

    revealed. LF

    [08] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION SETS CONDITIONS FOR DIALOGUE WITH

    LEADERSHIP

    Meeting with OSCE representative Jerzy Wenclaw in

    Bishkek on 28 March, opposition party leaders Jypar Jeksheev,

    Daniyar Usenov, and Omurbek Subanaliev said they will accept

    an invitation from President Askar Akaev and government

    leaders to discuss the political situation only after the

    release from custody of Ar-Namys party chairman Feliks Kulov,

    RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported. They also

    said that dialogue should take place under the aegis of the

    OSCE. Meanwhile Kulov is proceeding with the hunger strike he

    declared last week to protest his detention, while some 150

    of his supporters continue their picket in central Bishkek.

    Also on 28 March, a local official in Bishkek's Pervomai

    district rejected a request by five opposition parties to

    convene a meeting on 2 April to protest Kulov's arrest and

    the falsification of the outcome of the recent parliamentary

    elections. LF

    [09] ETHNIC UIGHUR SHOT DEAD IN KYRGYZ CAPITAL

    Businessman

    Aripzhan Zaripov, the head of the Ittipak Society that

    represents Kyrgyzstan's 50,000-strong Uighur minority, was

    shot dead outside his home in Bishkek on 28 March, RFE/RL's

    bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported. LF

    [10] TURKMEN, TURKISH PRESIDENTS DISCUSS GAS EXPORTS

    On the first

    day of an official visit to Turkmenistan, Suleyman Demirel

    told his host, Saparmurat Niyazov, in Ashgabat on 28 March

    that Turkey has already agreed to purchase from Turkmenistan

    30 billion cubic meters of gas per year and thus there is no

    need to reopen discussion of that issue, according to

    Interfax. Niyazov, for his part, said that the planned Trans-

    Caspian pipeline remains Turkmenistan's main choice of export

    route, despite parallel talks on gas sales with Russia and

    Iran. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [11] BALKAN RECONSTRUCTION CONFERENCE OPENS...

    A two-day donors'

    conference opened in Brussels on 29 March as part of the EU's

    Balkan Stability Pact. Representatives of some 44 countries

    and 37 international organizations are taking part. Balkan

    participants are Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia,

    Macedonia, Montenegro, and Romania. Pact Coordinator Bodo

    Hombach told the "Berliner Zeitung" that he hopes to receive

    at least $1 billion in pledges for projects he wants to

    launch immediately. He will need several billion dollars more

    to fund some 100 additional projects slated to start "within

    the next two years," he added. Among projects devoted to

    economic development, some $2.7 billion will be needed for

    infrastructure alone. Other projects range from protecting

    minority rights to supporting independent media. Hombach

    stressed that any money spent on peaceful development in the

    Balkans is a good investment. He argued that supporting

    stability in the region "is cheap in relation to what

    conflicts cost." PM

    [12] ...AS DOUBTS ABOUT PACT CONTINUE

    Hombach will need to use

    all the powers of persuasion that he honed in his German

    political career to convince skeptical governments and other

    donors of the seriousness of his projects, the "Frankfurter

    Allgemeine Zeitung" wrote on 29 March. Many critics charge

    that Hombach is a political appointee unqualified for the

    post and that since his appointment in 1999 he has been more

    concerned with his own salary and perks than with the

    Balkans. Other critics note that the pact has awakened more

    hopes within the Balkans than it can possible fulfill. Its

    ability to fulfill its mission has been further hampered by

    rivalries elsewhere in the EU bureaucracy, the Frankfurt

    daily added. Hombach's office seeks to screen potential

    projects and line the best ones up with sources of funding.

    The pact does not fund projects on its own (see also "End

    Note" below). PM

    [13] BOSNIAN LEADER APPEALS FOR BUILDING MATERIALS

    Mirza Hajric,

    who is an adviser to Bosnian Muslim leader Alija Izetbegovic,

    said in Washington on 28 March that what returning refugees

    "need is not some planning, not endless bureaucracy [but

    rather ample supplies of] building material waiting for them

    upon arrival.... Within two to three weeks they can build

    their own houses themselves," AP reported. He argued that

    unnecessary delays are caused by the current process of

    enlisting construction companies to build the houses. Hajric

    stressed that security remains a concern in only about 20

    percent of Bosnia and that "dozens of thousands of families"

    are ready to return to their homes in the remaining 80

    percent. PM

    [14] IZETBEGOVIC SAYS BRCKO COULD BE MODEL FOR BOSNIA

    Izetbegovic

    said in Brcko that great efforts must be made so that people

    of all nationalities can return to their homes in the Brcko

    district, "Oslobodjenje" reported on 29 March (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 28 March 2000). If a multiethnic administration is

    successful in Brcko, it could serve as a model for all of

    Bosnia, he continued. PM

    [15] BOSNIAN SERB ARMY REJECTS BOSNIA-WIDE FORCE

    Slobodan

    Jelicic, who is deputy defense minister of the Republika

    Srpska, said in Brussels that the Bosnian Serb army (VRS)

    seeks membership in NATO's Partnership for Peace Program,

    "Vesti" reported on 29 March. Jelicic stressed, however, that

    the VRS must join the program as a distinct force and not as

    part of a larger Bosnian army including Croatian and Muslim

    forces. Jelicic argued that the Dayton peace agreement

    clearly recognizes the VRS as a distinct force. NATO has

    repeatedly told the VRS that it is welcome in Partnership for

    Peace only as part of a Bosnia-wide army. PM

    [16] U.S. 'DISAPPOINTED' BY ALBANIAN FAILURE TO DISARM

    State

    Department spokesman James Foley said in Washington on 28

    March that "we continue to stress to the [ethnic] Albanian

    leadership in [Kosova] that we are serious about [earlier]

    messages of zero tolerance for violence and extremism," AP

    reported. He was referring to recent press reports that armed

    ethnic Albanian militants in southwestern Serbia have not

    made good on a promise to wage their struggle by political

    means only (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 March 2000). PM

    [17] RETURN OF CONTACT GROUP?

    Leading officials from the U.S.,

    U.K., France, Germany, Italy, and Russia met in Paris on 28

    March in the first gathering in more than one year of the

    international Contact Group for the former Yugoslavia. The

    officials issued a statement calling for the careful

    preparation of the fall Kosova local elections and for the

    early restoration of civilian administrative structures in

    the province. The officials also expressed support for the

    Serbian opposition and for the government of Montenegro. They

    did not act on a French suggestion that the countries'

    foreign ministers meet soon. PM

    [18] LAYWER CALLS FOR FREEING FRENCH COLONEL IN KOSOVA AFFAIR

    William Bourdon, who is the attorney for Colonel Jean-Michel

    Mechain, filed a formal request in Paris on 28 March for the

    release of his client from police custody. The colonel is

    under investigation for allegedly leaking to the press

    confidential documents about divisions and differences of

    opinions among the French in Kosova. One document said that

    many French officers regard Bernard Kouchner, who is the

    French head of the UN's civilian mission in the province, as

    anti-Serb. In other news, London's "The Times" reported that

    NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson and the alliance's

    Supreme Commander Europe General Wesley Clark recently

    cancelled scheduled visits to Mitrovica after the CIA learned

    that Serbian forces planned to shoot down their helicopter

    (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 March 2000). PM

    [19] CROATIAN BANK SCANDAL WINDING DOWN?

    Some 3,000 angry account-

    holders in Istarska Banka demonstrated in Pula on 28 March to

    demand that the National Bank unfreeze their accounts (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 March 2000). An RFE/RL correspondent

    reported on 29 March from Zagreb that depositors will be

    allowed "limited access" to their accounts. He added that

    Istrian political leader Ivan Jakovcic has meanwhile

    distanced himself from some of his earlier remarks suggesting

    that Prime Minister Ivica Racan is partly responsible for the

    scandal. National Bank Governor Marko Skreb may be forced to

    resign as a result of the imbroglio, which made public

    tensions between the larger and smaller members of the

    governing six-party coalition, the correspondent noted. Skreb

    denied charges from within Jakovcic's party that he

    engineered the collapse of Istarska Banka in order to enable

    the Rijecka Banka to buy it out, "Novi List" reported. Some

    members of Racan's government are rumored to have ties to

    Rijecka Banka, the RFE/RL correspondent added. PM

    [20] MESIC THREATENS REFERENDUM ON PRESIDENCY

    Croatian President

    Stipe Mesic said on 28 March that he will call a referendum

    on whether to limit or "abolish" the powers of the president

    if unnamed members of the government persist with what he

    called moves to "abolish" his powers. Mesic charged that the

    initiatives to limit his authority come from members of the

    larger two-party coalition, who are unhappy that a member of

    the smaller four-party coalition won the presidency. Earlier

    this year, before the presidential vote, all political

    parties agreed on the need to reduce the powers enjoyed by

    the late President Franjo Tudjman. Since his election, Mesic

    has stressed that he will use the presidency as a check on

    the government. PM

    [21] YET ANOTHER RAILWAY STRIKE IN CROATIA

    Railway workers

    stopped trains throughout Croatia for one hour on the morning

    of 29 March to protest management's plans to shut down some

    loss-making local lines. Management argues that Croatian

    Railways must reduce losses and become more efficient. The

    leaders of the three railway workers' unions say that the

    cuts will mean big job losses. The unions add that management

    can reduce waste by fighting corruption within its own ranks.

    PM

    [22] ROMANIAN GOLD MINING COMPANY AGAIN POLLUTES RIVERS

    Some

    10,000 tons of lead residue has spilled into the Rivers Vaser

    and Viseu, tributaries of the Tisa (Tisza) River. The

    incident was caused by the Aurul company in Baia Borsa that

    was responsible for the cyanide spill in early February. The

    company failed to notify the authorities of the spill, which

    occurred on 27 March during heavy rainfalls that resulted in

    the breaking of a five-meter stretch of a dam, RFE/RL's

    Bucharest bureau and Reuters reported. Samples of water from

    the Tisa show lead is 2.7 times over permitted levels.

    Environment Minster Romica Tomescu visited the area on 28

    March, together with World Bank director for Romania Andrew

    Vorkink, who is currently in Romania to see how the bank can

    help that country cope with ecological problems as well as

    improve health care and wildlife conservation. MS

    [23] U.S. CONGRESSMAN DEFENDS REMARKS ON FORMER ROMANIAN

    PRESIDENT

    U.S. Helsinki Commission co-chairman Christopher

    Smith has said he stands by his 23 March remarks about former

    President Ion Iliescu and his Party of Social Democracy in

    Romania, an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported on 28

    March (see "RFE/RL Newsline,' 27 March 2000). Smith said he

    had expressed a "legitimate concern about an issue that

    concerns the national interest of the U.S." During his term

    in office from 1990-1996, Iliescu was "indifferent" to

    corruption, Smith noted. But he added that his remarks must

    not be interpreted as an effort to influence the 2000

    electoral process in Romania. Smith had spoken during a U.S.

    Congress hearing on corruption in former communist countries.

    MS

    [24] ROMANIAN DEMOCRATS CRITICIZE CONSTANTINESCU

    Democratic Party

    Senator Costel Gheorghiu, a member of the house's Defense

    Commission, has harshly criticized President Emil

    Constantinescu for having signed an ordinance on 13 March

    allowing the transit of 5,000 KFOR troops through Romanian

    territory over a three-month period. Gheorghiu said on 27

    March that Constantinescu had acted "in cooperation" with

    former Defense Minister Victor Babiuc. He said that the

    ordinance contravenes the defense law, which stipulates that

    such transit must be approved by the parliament and that the

    government must request such approval. Gheorghiu said the

    president's act established a dangerous precedent," adding

    that NATO "does not appreciate servile attitudes" and

    promotes respect for the rule of law. In other news,

    Democratic Party Senator Cazimir Ionescu on 27 March resigned

    from the party, saying its leadership has "marginalized" him.

    MS

    [25] OSCE HEAD IN MOLDOVA SAYS PUTIN'S ELECTION TO HELP RESOLVE

    SEPARATIST ISSUE

    William Hill said on 28 March that the

    election of Vladimir Putin to the Russian presidency will

    help solve the problem of Moldova's separatist Transdniester

    region, ITAR-TASS reported. Hill said he expects Putin to

    take a more active role in the dispute, adding that the most

    important part of reaching a resolution is finalization of an

    agreement on the region's special status. He said the

    presidents of Moldova, Ukraine, and Russia, as well as

    Transdniesterian separatist leaders, will meet in Kyiv this

    summer to discuss a draft of the agreement. In other news,

    the Moldovan Information and Security Service dismissed as a

    "provocation" Russian reports that a rehabilitation and

    training center for Chechen rebels is being run in Moldova.

    PB

    [26] BULGARIAN RULING PARTY'S POPULARITY WANES

    The results of a

    poll released on 29 March show that the approval rating of

    Bulgarian Premier Ivan Kostov is at a record low, Reuters

    reported. Only 28 percent of respondents said they are

    satisfied with the government, led by Kostov's Union of

    Democratic Forces. This is the party's lowest approval rating

    since taking power nearly three years ago. Nearly 62 percent

    said they were disappointed in the government. BBSS Gallup

    pollster Kancho Stoichev said people are unhappy with "rising

    unemployment, low salaries, lack of transparency in

    privatization, and corruption." The government had a 34

    percent approval rating one year ago. PB

    [27] KOSTOV SAYS PUTIN'S WIN WILL IMPROVE RELATIONS

    Bulgarian

    Premier Kostov said he is hopeful that Vladimir Putin's win

    in the 26 March Russian presidential election will have a

    "positive effect" on bilateral relations, ITAR-TASS reported

    on 27 March. Kostov said Bulgaria wants Russia to continue

    with the democratic process and have "authoritative

    government and authoritative state institutions." He added

    that Sofia hopes to improve lagging bilateral trade because

    "each lost export dollar means lost jobs." PB


    [C] END NOTE

    [28] AGREEMENT ADVANCES TRANSPORT CORRIDOR AROUND SERBIA

    By Ron Synovitz

    After nine years of bickering, Romania and Bulgaria have

    agreed on a site for a Danube River bridge that will allow

    trans-Balkan traffic to bypass Serbia. The agreement, signed

    in Bucharest on 27 March, is one of the first concrete

    results of the Balkan Stability Pact.

    The bridge is a key link in a EU project known as Pan-

    European Transport Corridor Four. That project aims to create

    a major north-south transport route linking Greece and

    western Europe through Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary. Under

    the 27 March agreement, the new bridge will cross the Danube

    about 20 kilometers east of Serbia at the Bulgarian town of

    Vidin and the Romanian river port of Calafat.

    For years, Bucharest had lobbied for a bridge to be

    built further to the east--a move that would have put the

    north-south transport corridor closer to Bucharest as well as

    increasing the amount of transit fees received by Romania.

    Romanian officials finally agreed on the Vidin-Calafat site

    under pressure from the EU.

    Currently, the main road and rail routes between western

    Europe and the Balkans pass through Yugoslavia. But all of

    Serbia's Danube bridges were destroyed in NATO's air campaign

    last year. Serbia's only existing route across the Danube

    today--a tiny road on the "Iron Gates" dam between Serbia and

    Romania--is north of Belgrade.

    Even before NATO's air strikes, the EU had been eager to

    create an alternative transport route bypassing Serbia.

    Belgrade's neighbors suffered trade losses totaling billions

    of dollars when the main transport route was cut by

    international sanctions against Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

    Those sanctions forced much of the trans-Balkan traffic

    to pass along inferior roads in Bulgaria to the Romanian city

    of Giurgiu--the site of the only existing bridge between

    Romania and Bulgaria. In the mid-1990s, truck drivers

    typically faced a border delay of 10 days there, and the

    crossing earned itself the nickname "Bottleneck Bridge."

    Bulgarian Prime Minister Ivan Kostov praised the idea of

    a transportation route to the west that bypasses troubled

    Serbia. "Trans-European Corridor Four is an alternative way

    between southeastern Europe and Central Europe that does not

    pass through Yugoslavia," he commented. "And that is why it

    is very important for our country."

    Kostov says construction of the bridge will start later

    this year and will take about two-and-a-half years to

    complete.

    Romanian Prime Minister Mugur Isarescu is also happy

    about the project. He noted that the new transport corridor

    will pass through what he called "a stable region."

    Bodo Hombach, the EU's special coordinator for the

    Stability Pact, said the union will do its best to complete

    the bridge as soon as possible. Hombach also noted that the

    EU is committed to clearing debris from destroyed bridges

    within Serbia to reopen the river to navigation sometime this

    summer.

    In the meantime, Hombach said, EU experts already have

    started evaluating and coordinating details on the finances

    needed to improve road and rail links near Vidin and Calafat.

    Plans for the new bridge call for four lanes of road

    traffic and two railroad lines. The project also includes

    $200 million of financing through the Stability Pact to

    improve road and rail lines in western Romania--particularly

    through the Jiu Valley and the Carpathian mountains.

    The Balkan Stability Pact was established last summer by

    the EU and the Group of Eight countries to aid the political

    and economic reconstruction of southeastern Europe in the

    aftermath of the Kosova conflict. Balkan members are Albania,

    Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, and

    Macedonia.

    A donor conference opens in Brussels on 29 March under

    the auspices of the Stability Pact to support reconstruction

    in the Balkan signatory countries.

    The European Investment Bank is in charge of the program

    to repair and expand the region's infrastructure, including

    transport projects.

    The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is

    leading programs to develop the private sector, and the World

    Bank is responsible for the overall aid strategy.

    The author is an RFE/RL senior correspondent based in Prague.

    29-03-00


    Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
    URL: http://www.rferl.org


    Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Newsline Directory - Previous Article - Next Article
    Back to Top
    Copyright © 1995-2016 HR-Net (Hellenic Resources Network). An HRI Project.
    All Rights Reserved.

    HTML by the HR-Net Group / Hellenic Resources Institute, Inc.
    rferl2html v1.01 run on Wednesday, 29 March 2000 - 14:33:10 UTC