News round-up

19 - 26 May 1997

NATO plans in doubt for Romania & Slovenia

United States (US) officials have said President Clinton is not inclined to support Romania and Slovenia for NATO membership this year, despite campaigns by both countries to join the alliance. However they say that no final decision had been made.

The officials, interviewed by Reuters, said there was an emerging consensus in the Clinton administration that the US should at this stage endorse Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic for NATO membership.

Former Yeltsin adviser fears show trial

Sergei Stankevich, a former adviser to Russian President Boris Yeltsin said he feared he will become the victim of a political show trial if he returns to Russia. Mr Stankevich is denying accusations that he accepted a bribe in 1992 to allow a concert to take place in Moscow's Red Square.

In an interview for Polish television, he said the accusations were to do with political intrigues rather than corruption. He said he would return to Moscow to clear his name if he had assurances of a genuinely impartial hearing.

Czech Trade Minister says cabinet should resign

Vaclav Klaus, the Czech Prime Minister, has rejected a Minister's suggestion that the current cabinet should resign and a new one be formed from the same coalition parties. Industry and Trade Minister Vladimir Dlouhy said the Czech Republic's current problems, including growing public distrust as economic growth has declined, could be resolved if the cabinet was replaced. Mr Klaus, whose Civic Democratic Party (ODS) is the senior partner in the three-party coalition, quickly denounced the idea.

Albanian elections threatened by disputes

Albanian Prime Minister Bashkim Fino has been fighting to end a feud that threatens the elections planned for 19 June. Most political parties have vowed to boycott the vote, arguing that current electoral laws are biased towards President Sali Berisha and his former ruling Democratic Party. The elections are seen as a vital step towards bringing order back after Albania slid into anarchy following the collapse of fraudulent pyramid investment schemes in February.

Truck drivers protest in Bucharest

Hundreds of truck drivers brought traffic to a halt in Bucharest in a protest against a new road tax and Government austerity measures. It was the second consecutive day of trade union protests in Romania against the Government's cost-cutting measures to introduce market reforms after several months of grace extended by the centrist coalition elected last November.

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