News round-up

28 April - 5 May 1997

Russia and Slovakia work on economic ties

Russia's Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin has visited Slovakia for talks on developing economic ties. He was expected to sign 12 accords covering subjects such as the liberalisation of trade, co-operation between central banks and the setting up of a committee for co-operation in science and technology. Discussions were also expected to cover the issues of co-operation in arms production and the whittling down of Russia's US$1.8 billion debt to Slovakia, inherited from the former Soviet Union.

Pope visits Czech Republic

Pope John Paul II paid the Czech Republic a three-day visit and called for a religious revival in the country. In a speech to Czech bishops in the Vatican Embassy, the Pope also spoke of his concern for moral values in the Czech Republic, which has one of the highest standards of living in Eastern Europe, and a highly secularised society. The Pope attacked what he called 'a Czech crisis' in moral values caused by the spread of hedonism from the West.

Human rights monitoring ended in Romania

The Council of Europe has voted to end human rights monitoring in Romania, but warned that Bucharest should follow-up with further reforms or it could face a return of monitoring. The Council, which is responsible for monitoring democracy and human rights in Europe, said it was impressed by the change in Romania's political climate and the open-mindedness of the new Government.

Polish Prime Minister attacks EU over trade

Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, the Polish Prime Minister, has criticised the European Union (EU) for its alleged protectionism following a dispute between Poland and Spain over citrus fruit. He said Poland, though its economy is much weaker, has opened up many areas to competition from EU countries, but these gestures had not been reciprocated.

Albanian President committed to elections

President Sali Berisha has met representatives from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to prepare for general elections scheduled for 29 June. He believes elections are needed to give Albania a strong Government with solid parliamentary support. Albania is still in the grips of anarchy and an Italian-led eight-nation force has been deployed for humanitarian aid.

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