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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 56, 01-03-21

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. 5, No. 56, 21 March 2001


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS WASHINGTON
  • [02] NEW ARMENIAN OPPOSITION BLOC OUTLINES AIMS...
  • [03] ...AS NATIONALIST PARTY WARNS AGAINST CONCESSIONS ON KARABAKH
  • [04] U.S. ASSURES GEORGIA OF SUPPORT
  • [05] GEORGIAN AUTHORITIES, OPPOSITION ESTIMATE PROFITS, LOSSES FROM SMUGGLING
  • [06] KAZAKHSTAN REJECTS U.S. HUMAN RIGHTS CRITICISM
  • [07] KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT DEBATES DRAFT LAW ON OMBUDSMAN
  • [08] TAJIK PRESIDENT APPEALS TO POPULATION TO REJECT RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM
  • [09] TAJIK ECONOMY CONTINUES TO RECOVER

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [10] MACEDONIAN GOVERNMENT DECLARES CEASE-FIRE, ISSUES ULTIMATUM
  • [11] ALBANIAN GUERRILLAS REJECT ULTIMATUM?
  • [12] MACEDONIAN ALBANIAN PARTIES CALL FOR PEACE
  • [13] NATO MEMBERS IGNORING PLEAS FOR MORE TROOPS?
  • [14] U.S. PRESIDENT 'CONCERNED' ABOUT MACEDONIA
  • [15] GERMANY, FRANCE BACK MACEDONIAN GOVERNMENT'S 'OPEN POSITION' TOWARD ALBANIAN MINORITY
  • [16] DIFFERENCES OVER MACEDONIA AT UN?
  • [17] GERMAN GOVERNMENT DISAPPOINTED WITH RUGOVA, SERBIA
  • [18] RUSSIA ALLEGES ROLE OF 'WESTERN INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES' IN MACEDONIAN CONFLICT...
  • [19] ...CONTINUES TOUGH RHETORIC ON BELGRADE'S BEHALF...
  • [20] ...CALLS FOR 'ANTI-TERRORIST PACT'
  • [21] RUSSIAN INTERIOR MINISTER IN SERBIA, KOSOVA
  • [22] CIVILIANS FLEE MACEDONIAN VIOLENCE
  • [23] YUGOSLAV, SERBIAN MINISTERS VISIT HAGUE
  • [24] ITALIAN INVESTMENT IN BOSNIAN STEEL
  • [25] BOSNIAN UPPER HOUSE OF PARLIAMENT MEETS
  • [26] ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT DENOUNCES 'ALBANIAN EXTREMISTS' IN MACEDONIA
  • [27] ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER MEETS NATO SECRETARY GENERAL...
  • [28] ...WHILE DEFENSE OFFICIALS REVEAL FUTURE NATO ACCESSION PLANS
  • [29] EXTREMIST PARTY CHALLENGES ROMANIAN LAW IN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT
  • [30] DISMISSAL OF ROMANIAN PROSECUTOR PROTESTED
  • [31] FORMER ROMANIAN COMMUNIST PREMIER DEAD
  • [32] NEW MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT STARTS WORK...
  • [33] ...ACCEPTS RESIGNATION OF GOVERNMENT
  • [34] RUSSIAN DUMA DELEGATION IN CHISINAU
  • [35] BULGARIA TO ALLOW PERMANENT ACCESS TO NATO TROOPS
  • [36] FBI DIRECTOR SUPPORTS BULGARIA IN SPY SCANDAL WITH RUSSIA...
  • [37] ...AND BULGARIA REBUFFS RUSSIAN REACTION
  • [38] BULGARIAN RADIO BROADCASTS INTERRUPTED BY THIEVES
  • [39] BULGARIAN PRESIDENT IN LEBANON

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [40] There is no "End Note today.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS WASHINGTON

    Vartan Oskanian met in Washington on 20 March with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to discuss bilateral relations, the Karabakh conflict, and plans for the April talks in Key West between Armenian President Robert Kocharian and his Azerbaijani counterpart Heidar Aliev, Noyan Tapan and an RFE/RL Washington correspondent reported. Powell will attend the first day of the Key West talks, according to Reuters. LF

    [02] NEW ARMENIAN OPPOSITION BLOC OUTLINES AIMS...

    In a "founding declaration" made public on 19 March and at a press conference in Yerevan the following day, leaders of the left-wing parties aligned in the newly formed National Accord Front (AHCh) stated that the group's aim is to lobby for policy changes, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Specifically, they will draw up a comprehensive anticorruption program and seek to mobilize popular opposition to the imminent privatization of power utilities. But they did not list forcing the resignation of President Kocharian as their primary objective. Nor, contrary to expectations, have Armenia's two most influential left-wing parties, the Communist Party of Armenia and the People's Party of Armenia, formally committed themselves to membership of the alignment (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 March 2001). Observers suggest that, at least for the moment, they prefer to avoid a direct confrontation with the president. LF

    [03] ...AS NATIONALIST PARTY WARNS AGAINST CONCESSIONS ON KARABAKH

    The Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutiun (HHD) issued a statement in Yerevan on 20 March warning President Kocharian against making major concessions to Azerbaijan during the Key West talks on Karabakh, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. "Any agreement on the settlement of the Artsakh [Nagorno-Karabakh] issue must recognize Artsakh's reunification with Armenia, or at least Artsakh's independence," the statement said. It also said Armenia and Karabakh must be linked by a common border, rather than the demilitarized land corridor envisaged in earlier OSCE draft peace proposals, thus underscoring the party's opposition to the return to Azerbaijani control of the Kelbadjar district that lies between the disputed enclave and the Azerbaijani-Armenian border. The statement called on the U.S. to "remain meticulously impartial and avoid attempts to interfere in Azerbaijan's favor," and cautioned the OSCE Minsk Group, which is trying to mediate a solution of the Karabakh conflict, against setting "artificial deadlines" for the signing of a settlement document. LF

    [04] U.S. ASSURES GEORGIA OF SUPPORT

    Meeting in Washington on 20 March with visiting Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili, U.S. Secretary of State Powell assured Tbilisi of Washington's support in the face of Russian pressure, Reuters reported quoting State Department spokesman Richard Boucher. Powell also reaffirmed Washington's commitment to the Baku-Ceyhan export pipeline for Caspian oil, which will traverse Georgian territory. Menagharishvili expressed thanks for Washington's support for Georgian independence and for the country's efforts to build a civil society, and denied that Tbilisi allows Chechen fighters to use Georgian territory. The two men also discussed the unresolved conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. LF

    [05] GEORGIAN AUTHORITIES, OPPOSITION ESTIMATE PROFITS, LOSSES FROM SMUGGLING

    Only one-third of the fuel and 20 percent of the wheat and flour imported into Georgia enter the country legally, Caucasus Press reported on 20 March, quoting Customs Office data. The value of goods smuggled across the border between North and South Ossetia alone amounts to 2.5 million laris (just over $1 million) per day, according to the Georgian Tax Ministry special police. Speaking at a press conference in Tbilisi on 20 March, Giorgi Gachechiladze, who heads Georgia's Green party, claimed that the volume of contraband is even larger, and that the primary beneficiary is the Georgian leadership. He claimed that the authorities derive $650 million per year from the smuggling of wheat and flour, $300 million from contraband dairy products, and $214 million from oil and petroleum. He claimed the annual profit from smuggled kerosene is $60 million, which is one reason why the Georgian leadership does not take more resolute steps to ensure uninterrupted supplies of electricity and gas. LF

    [06] KAZAKHSTAN REJECTS U.S. HUMAN RIGHTS CRITICISM

    Kazakhstan's Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 17 March taking issue with the findings of the U.S. State Department's annual survey of human rights worldwide, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported on 20 March. The Foreign Ministry statement said that the section of the report devoted to Kazakhstan "distorts and gives an arbitrary interpretation to" developments in Kazakhstan over the past year, and "ignores any positive developments in democratization and human rights in the Republic of Kazakhstan," while emphasizing negative aspects. On 19 March, the leaders of Kazakhstan's Civic Party and Agrarian Party, both of which are loyal to the country's leadership, convened press conferences at which they too criticized what they termed the "biased" U.S. assessment. Interfax on 20 March quoted U.S. Ambassador to Astana Richard Jones as characterizing the report as "tough, but honest and accurate." LF

    [07] KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT DEBATES DRAFT LAW ON OMBUDSMAN

    The Legislative Assembly, the lower chamber of Kyrgyzstan's bicameral parliament, on 20 March approved the main points of President Askar Akaev's proposed law on a national ombudsman, Interfax and RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Under that draft, the People's Assembly, the upper chamber of parliament, would elect the ombudsman, who must enjoy popular respect and have a legal background, for a period of seven years. Deputies rejected an alternative draft by lawmaker Tursun Bakir Uulu, which proposed that the Legislative Assembly should elect the ombudsman as it has a larger number of deputies than the People's Assembly. LF

    [08] TAJIK PRESIDENT APPEALS TO POPULATION TO REJECT RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

    In a 20 March address to the Tajik people to mark the Novruz spring holiday, President Imomali Rakhmonov characterized Tajikistan as a country in transition to a democratic, law-governed secular society, Russian agencies reported. Rakhmonov expressed concern at the publication in Tajikistan of materials of "dubious moral value," and at what he termed "subjective" reporting by foreign journalists that harms the country's international reputation. In a clear allusion to the presence in Tajikistan of numerous members of the clandestine Hizb ut-Tahrir movement, he appealed to the population to reject "religious extremism and fanaticism which has nothing in common with true Islam." LF

    [09] TAJIK ECONOMY CONTINUES TO RECOVER

    During the first two months of 2001 Tajikistan's GDP increased by 6.4 percent compared with the same period the previous year, Interfax reported on 20 March. GDP growth for 2000 amounted to 8.3 percent, while industrial production grew by 10.3 percent (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 January 2001). LF

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [10] MACEDONIAN GOVERNMENT DECLARES CEASE-FIRE, ISSUES ULTIMATUM

    The Macedonian army issued a statement on 20 March declaring a unilateral cease-fire that was to run until midnight the following day. The army gave the ethnic Albanian National Liberation Army (UCK) until that deadline to leave Macedonia or face a combined ground and air offensive, Deutsche Welle's Macedonian Service reported. The Macedonian authorities claim that the UCK consists primarily of "terrorists" who have infiltrated from Kosova. But Vienna's "Die Presse" reported on 20 March that the UCK has its base of support in ethnic Albanian rural communities in Macedonia near the border with Kosova. The leadership is also primarily from Macedonia. Fighters from Kosova are present as well, the daily added. The BBC interviewed an Albanian who is a former officer in the Macedonian army and who has deserted to the UCK. He said that many of his fellow ethnic Albanian officers may follow his lead. The Macedonian conscript army is estimated to be about 40 percent Albanian, "The Guardian" reported. PM

    [11] ALBANIAN GUERRILLAS REJECT ULTIMATUM?

    Reuters on 20 March quoted an unnamed UCK commander in Tetovo as saying that the guerrillas reject the ultimatum. He warned that the UCK will bring its fight from the hills into the city streets if the government does not negotiate with it. Similar reports were carried by dpa and Deutsche Welle. PM

    [12] MACEDONIAN ALBANIAN PARTIES CALL FOR PEACE

    Arben Xhaferi, who heads the governing Democratic Party of the Albanians (PDSH), and Ymer Ymeri, who leads the opposition Party for Democratic Prosperity (PPD), signed an agreement in Skopje on 20 March after meeting with EU security affairs chief Javier Solana. The PDSH and PPD pledged themselves to peace and called on the UCK fighters to lay down their arms and go home, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Xhaferi added that his party will leave the governing coalition if the government fails to end the crisis. He denied, however, that PDSH members boycotted a recent cabinet meeting, saying that the politicians in question were busy "in the field" trying to end the violence, dpa reported. PM

    [13] NATO MEMBERS IGNORING PLEAS FOR MORE TROOPS?

    London's "The Guardian" reported on 21 March that "not a single NATO government has responded to urgent requests from their hard-pressed military commanders in Kosovo for reinforcements to help deal with ethnic Albanian extremists infiltrating neighboring Macedonia, NATO sources disclosed last night... It emerged yesterday that [Secretary General] Lord [George] Robertson...asked 10 days ago for two extra battalions -- about 1, 400 soldiers -- in the light of increasing incursions of rebel Albanians across the Kosovo-Macedonia border. His request followed an appeal from [General] Carlos Cabigiosu, Italian commander of the 42,000 KFOR troops in...Kosovo. 'Military commanders need more troops. Basically, they are overstretched. But we have had no offers,' said an alliance official." PM

    [14] U.S. PRESIDENT 'CONCERNED' ABOUT MACEDONIA

    President George W. Bush's spokesman, Ari Fleischer, said on 20 March that "the president is concerned about the actions taken by Albanian extremists, and that's another reason why the president and NATO authorized stepped-up patrols of...KFOR" along Kosova's border with Macedonia. "The president is concerned about the level of violence there," he added. National Security Council spokeswoman Mary Ellen Countryman said the government is "looking at nonmilitary actions" that will enable Washington to help, stressing that "we support the Macedonian government's efforts to defend their border," Reuters reported. PM

    [15] GERMANY, FRANCE BACK MACEDONIAN GOVERNMENT'S 'OPEN POSITION' TOWARD ALBANIAN MINORITY

    Meeting in Herxheim-Hayna in western Germany on 20 March, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac agreed that "the territorial integrity of Macedonia should be called into question by no one, certainly not Albanian terror groups," Reuters reported. "We appeal to those involved to end the violence. We support the Macedonian government in its efforts to find a political solution, and we welcome the fact that the Macedonian government has taken an open position toward its Albanian minority," Schroeder added. PM

    [16] DIFFERENCES OVER MACEDONIA AT UN?

    At the UN on 20 March, French diplomats prepared a Security Council resolution noting that the "violence has support from outside these areas and poses a threat to the security and stability of the wider region," AP reported. Speaking in Skopje the next day, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov charged that the wording is not tough enough. "Russia wants this resolution to clearly state that what is happening today in Macedonia is the result of terrorist actions" from outside (see below). He noted that Russia will submit its own resolution on "terrorism and extremism," AFP reported. PM

    [17] GERMAN GOVERNMENT DISAPPOINTED WITH RUGOVA, SERBIA

    An unnamed senior "German government source" said in Berlin on 20 March that the government is "disappointed" that moderate Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova has not taken a "clearer line" in condemning the violence in Macedonia, Deutsche Welle reported. The source added that the government also feels that the changes in Serbia since last October have not met up to Berlin's expectations. Berlin notes that Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica has introduced a national holiday to honor Serbians who died as a result of NATO's 1999 intervention but no holiday to honor the Albanian victims of President Slobodan Milosevic's ethnic cleansing campaign, which was the reason for the intervention (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 March 2001). Schroeder spoke to Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski on the telephone and condemned the violence. Schroeder did not discuss with Trajkovski sending German peacekeepers to Macedonia, the source added. PM

    [18] RUSSIA ALLEGES ROLE OF 'WESTERN INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES' IN MACEDONIAN CONFLICT...

    Foreign Minister Ivanov told Russian troops in Kosova on 20 March that the international community "is becoming aware of the fact that the conflict in Macedonia is not about national minority rights and has been provoked by terrorist organizations, in particular those based outside the country." He added that unspecified "media reports" to the effect that "Albanian terrorists" in Macedonia are backed by the intelligence services of various Western countries are very important and require checking, Interfax reported from Prishtina. PM

    [19] ...CONTINUES TOUGH RHETORIC ON BELGRADE'S BEHALF...

    Turning to the affairs of Kosova, Ivanov stressed on 20 March that the future of the province "cannot be resolved outside a united Yugoslavia" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 March 2001). The international community must "state its views on this issue loud and clear," Interfax reported. "Any ambiguity on this issue plays into the hand of separatists, who intend to set up an ethnically cleansed unit in the center of Europe," Ivanov said. PM

    [20] ...CALLS FOR 'ANTI-TERRORIST PACT'

    Speaking to reporters in Skopje on 21 March, Ivanov said that "passive reaction by the West to the spread of the Kosovo conflict to the Albanian- populated regions [of Macedonia]...only helps the separatists [to] go unpunished and be more radical in their actions," Reuters reported. He said that NATO intervention has failed to solve the region's problems. Ivanov called on the Balkan countries "to forge a pact under international auspices" that would make clear that borders cannot be changed and territorial integrity must be respected. He added that the Balkan states should pledge themselves to prevent use of their territory to prepare "terrorist or similar activity" against their neighbors. PM

    [21] RUSSIAN INTERIOR MINISTER IN SERBIA, KOSOVA

    Russian Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo arrived in Belgrade on 21 March for talks with his Yugoslav counterpart Zoran Zivkovic, after which a working protocol is expected to be signed, ITAR-TASS reported. The Russian visitor will also meet with Yugoslav Prime Minister Zoran Zizic and Serbian Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic. Rushailo then goes on to Prishtina "to familiarize himself with conditions in which peacekeepers from the Russian Interior Ministry live," the report added. PM

    [22] CIVILIANS FLEE MACEDONIAN VIOLENCE

    Some 6,000 ethnic Albanians and Turks have arrived in Turkey over the past two weeks, AP reported from Ankara on 21 March. "Vesti" reported that Skopje airport is "full" of mainly ethnic Albanian civilians, including young men of prime military age, waiting for flights to Western Europe. News agency reports in recent days indicate that hundreds of Macedonian citizens have fled to Greece or Albania. Exact, total figures are not available. PM

    [23] YUGOSLAV, SERBIAN MINISTERS VISIT HAGUE

    Yugoslav Justice Minister Momcilo Grubac and his Serbian counterpart, Vladan Batic, met with chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte in The Hague on 20 March, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Batic said Milosevic could be arrested "soon" and stressed that "the new Serbian Government has a new approach toward The Hague," which includes letting the tribunal open a Belgrade office. He added that the government will take "measures" aimed at extraditing non-Yugoslav citizens on its territory to The Hague. Del Ponte's spokeswoman recently said that the Belgrade authorities are not really cooperating with the tribunal (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 March 2001). On 21 March, Del Ponte said she is launching investigations into alleged war crimes committed by Albanians against Serbs in Kosova and Presevo since mid-1999. PM

    [24] ITALIAN INVESTMENT IN BOSNIAN STEEL

    Bosnia's BH Steel Company and Italy's Danieli signed a contract worth $24 million in Sarajevo on 21 March, AP reported. Danieli will modernize existing production facilities and install new ones. Large-scale foreign investments are fairly rare in Bosnia due to the absence of thorough economic and legal reforms. PM

    [25] BOSNIAN UPPER HOUSE OF PARLIAMENT MEETS

    More than four months after the Bosnian elections, the House of Nations held its opening session in Sarajevo on 20 March, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Ilija Simic of the Croatian Peasants' Party was elected chairman. His deputies are the Muslim Sejfudin Tokic of the Social Democratic Party and Nikola Spiric from the Serbian Democratic Party. PM

    [26] ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT DENOUNCES 'ALBANIAN EXTREMISTS' IN MACEDONIA

    The government on 21 March said it "firmly condemns the escalation of violent acts on the Macedonian-Yugoslav border due to increased military actions of armed Albanian extremists," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The cabinet said these Albanian actions are "a threat to the stability and security of the Macedonian state and to the entire southeast European region." The government said it is "firmly reiterating its support of the sovereignty and territorial integrity" of Macedonia and for the existing borders of that state. MS

    [27] ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER MEETS NATO SECRETARY GENERAL...

    Mircea Geoana met with NATO Secretary General Lord George Robertson in Brussels on 20 March. After the meeting Geoana told a Mediafax correspondent that "it is highly important that Romania have the necessary resources to fulfill its obligations under the Action Program for NATO Accession, in order to prove to the organization that it has made progress when the plan is reassessed at the next meeting" between NATO and Romanian officials. A NATO delegation assessed Romania's progress in implementing the plan during a visit made to Bucharest in early March. MS

    [28] ...WHILE DEFENSE OFFICIALS REVEAL FUTURE NATO ACCESSION PLANS

    "Romania has wasted a lot of time in implementing NATO accession plans and is lagging 12 to 14 months behind," George Maior, state secretary for Euro- Atlantic integration in the Defense Ministry, told journalists on 21 March. Chief of Staff General Mihai Popescu said the program for the army's modernization and restructuring will be carried out in two phases, because Romania lacks the resources to implement the plan concomitantly. The first phase, to last till the end of 2003, envisages the setting up of the "structure of forces necessary for national security and defense," while the second will begin in 2004 and envisages "the modernization of military technique." This phase is to be completed between 2010 and 2015, according to a Mediafax report. Defense Minister Ioan Mircea Pascu said the ministry's total budgetary and additional resources in 2001 will be $1 billion. MS

    [29] EXTREMIST PARTY CHALLENGES ROMANIAN LAW IN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT

    Seventy-three deputies representing the Greater Romania Party (PRM) in parliament were joined on 21 March by a deputy from the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania in challenging the recently adopted Law on Local Public Administration before the Constitutional Court. The appeal says the law contravenes the constitution because it allegedly grants the Hungarian language "the status of a second official language" in Romania. MS

    [30] DISMISSAL OF ROMANIAN PROSECUTOR PROTESTED

    Members of organizations representing people injured and arrested, and relatives of those killed when miners ransacked Bucharest in 1990 and 1991 are protesting the dismissal last week of Prosecutor General's Office Military Branch chief General Dan Voinea, AP reported. Voinea, who brought about the sentencing of the miners' leader, Miron Cozma, to 18 years in prison in 1999, as well as the sentencing of generals Victor Athanasie Stanculescu and Mihai Chitac to 15 years for their role in quashing the anti-Ceausescu revolt, was removed from office without explanation by new Prosecutor General Tanase Joita. One of Joita's first measures in office was to suspend the sentences against the two generals. A PRM deputy is heading the team of lawyers demanding that Joita annul the sentencing of Cozma, while signatures on a petition demanding Cozma's release are being collected from miners in the Jiu valley. MS

    [31] FORMER ROMANIAN COMMUNIST PREMIER DEAD

    Ilie Verdet, honorary chairman of the extraparliamentary Socialist Labor Party (PSM), died on 21 March, Mediafax reported. He was 76. Verdet was Romanian Prime Minister between 1980 and 1982. In 1990 he founded the PSM, and served as chairman of the party between 16 November of that year and 1 July 2000. MS

    [32] NEW MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT STARTS WORK...

    The new Moldovan parliament as expected elected Eugenia Ostapciuc as its new speaker during its first session on 20 March. The 53-year-old Party of Moldovan Communists (PCM) parliamentary chairwoman will have Vadim Mishin of the PCM and Mihai Camerzan of the Braghis Alliance as deputies, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Mishin, an ethnic Russian, is 55 and worked for the Ministry of the Interior between 1983 and 1998. The election of Camerzan, 59, as deputy speaker triggered the first conflict in the new legislature. Ostapciuc said the Braghis Alliance, of which Camerzan is a member, has demanded the post be given to outgoing premier Dumitru Braghis, but that she refused, "because I have no political experience and want on my side people I know and trust." Camerzan said he will continue to represent the Braghis Alliance. MS

    [33] ...ACCEPTS RESIGNATION OF GOVERNMENT

    In the absence of members of the Braghis Alliance, who withdrew from the debate in order to consult over Camerzan's appointment as deputy speaker, the parliament voted to accept the resignation of the cabinet, which had been announced the previous day by Premier Braghis. Speaker Ostapciuc said there was "no need" to wait for the cabinet to present a report on its activities before the vote, "because we all have the written text." The cabinet will continue in office as caretaker until the appointment of a successor. The parliament also decided that the election of the new president will be held on 4 April. MS

    [34] RUSSIAN DUMA DELEGATION IN CHISINAU

    Boris Pastukhov, chairman of the State Duma's Committee on CIS Affairs, on 20 March held talks with outgoing President Petru Lucinschi and with Foreign Minister Nicolae Cernomaz, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Pastukhov, who heads a delegation that includes all members of the Russian Special State Commission for the Transdniester conflict, said Russia is insisting that the planned OSCE meeting be held in Bratislava on 27-28 March with all sides participating. Pastukhov said the meeting must discuss different drafts for granting special status to the Transdniester region, and "whatever draft is accepted at the end, it must include all rational proposals and ideas." Pastukhov also reiterated his country's readiness to abide by the decision of the 1999 OSCE Istanbul summit and withdraw all troops from the breakaway region. MS

    [35] BULGARIA TO ALLOW PERMANENT ACCESS TO NATO TROOPS

    Bulgaria and NATO will sign on 21 March a memorandum giving NATO troops permanent access to Bulgarian territory, the English-language daily "Monitor" reported on 20 March (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 March 2001). Prime Minster Ivan Kostov told journalists that the memorandum will be signed in Brussels by Defense Minister Boiko Noev and the government will submit the document for ratification by the parliament on 22 March. Approving the memorandum necessitates amending the current law, which requires the legislature to approve every individual passage of foreign troops through the country. MS

    [36] FBI DIRECTOR SUPPORTS BULGARIA IN SPY SCANDAL WITH RUSSIA...

    Visiting FBI Director Louis Freeh on 20 March expressed support for Bulgaria's expulsion of three Russian diplomats suspected of involvement in a spying scandal, "Monitor" reported. Russia retaliated by expelling three Bulgarian diplomats (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 and 19 March 2001). "Those individuals, whether working under diplomatic cover or otherwise, cannot be allowed to conduct such activities and must be removed from the country," Freeh said. In reference to Kostov, he added: "I certainly applaud the prime minister for his prompt reaction in this regard." Following talks with Kostov and Interior Minister Emmanuel Yordanov, Freeh said Bulgaria is "a strategic partner of the U.S." and "an oasis of stability." He also said the Bulgarian authorities recently succeeded in preventing five major Russian underworld figures from entering the country. MS

    [37] ...AND BULGARIA REBUFFS RUSSIAN REACTION

    The Foreign Ministry on 20 March said Russia's description (see "RFE/RL Newsline" 19 March 2001) of the Bulgarian decision to expel the diplomats allegedly involved in the affair amounts to interference in Bulgaria's internal affairs, Reuters and AP reported. Foreign Ministry spokesman Radko Vlaikov said he was "indignant" that Russia "pretends to be in the position to determine which are Bulgaria's genuine interests and which are not." Vlaikov said Bulgaria's national interests are "formulated in a sovereign manner by its own state institutions," unlike the days when those interests were determined by Moscow. Vlaikov also said the Russian retaliation and decision to expel three Bulgarian diplomats was "not based on any evidence." MS

    [38] BULGARIAN RADIO BROADCASTS INTERRUPTED BY THIEVES

    State radio broadcasts were interrupted for two hours on 19-20 March after thieves stole a section of cable linking its studios with a nearby transmission tower, "Monitor" reported. Police said they detained three suspects. Plamen Kostov, a senior radio executive, said the case was "unprecedented" and pointed out that it "coincides with the protests" by state radio journalists against the appointment of Ivan Borislavov as new radio director. Kostov said he was not accusing the protesting journalists, but the theft must have been planned by "a person familiar with this sort of equipment." Protesting journalists' leader Sylvia Velikova responded that any link between the theft and the protest amounts to "manipulation." MS

    [39] BULGARIAN PRESIDENT IN LEBANON

    Petar Stoyanov and his Lebanese counterpart Emile Lahoud on 20 March discussed conflicts in the Middle East and the Balkans and ways to improve bilateral relations and to mutually attract investments. Lebanese and Bulgarian officials signed agreements on enhancing political and economic cooperation, as well as an agreement on extradition. MS

    [C] END NOTE

    [40] There is no "End Note today.

    21-03-01

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


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