UPI Hears:

By JOHN DALY, International Correspondent   |   Nov. 18, 2003 at 4:27 PM
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Azerbaijani press feels squeeze

The opposition press in Azerbaijan Baku is already beginning to feel the wrath of newly elected president Ilham Aliyev.

Ten opposition newspapers did not publish last weekend, citing "artificial problems with printing paper caused by the authorities."

Shakir Habiloglu, editor in chief of the Yeni Zaman newspaper founded by Ayaz Mutallibov, former president of Azerbaijan, said, "The abrupt increase in prices for printing paper in the country was the authorities' actions directed at strangling freedom of speech."

The editors of the newspapers have sent an appeal to the ambassadors accredited in Baku, to Council of Europe Secretary General Walter Schwimmer, Peter Schieder, president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, and to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell asking them to put pressure on the Azeri authorities.

Most of the opposition newspapers are published at the state-run Azerbaijan publishing house, which has raised the price for printing journals by 50 percent in the wake of Ilham Aliyev's electoral victory last month.

E.Euro trade picture shifting

The expansion of the European Union is an economic boon for some new members, but a disaster for their non-member neighbors.

The International Center for Policy Studies in Kiev has released a study concluding that Ukraine stands to lose nearly $357 million next year due to EU enlargement as Poland and Hungary join. Poland and Hungary are Ukraine's main trading partners.

When Warsaw and Budapest's economic and trade policies are brought into conformity with EU regulations their imports from Ukraine are expected to diminish because of EU anti-dumping procedures and higher sanitary norms in agriculture and industry.

Ukraine could compensate for the losses by joining the WTO and getting the status of a market economy in the framework of the Ukraine-EU talks.

India military visits Chinese

In a gesture of confidence between two Asia superpowers, an Indian army delegation is in Tibet on an official visit to Chinese army bases.

It is the first such tour since India and China fought an inconclusive border war 41 years ago.

Lt.-Gen. Mohinder Singh, the commander of the army's Fourth Corps, heads the Indian delegation. The Fourth Corps was the unit most heavily involved in the fighting, and is still posted at the frontier.

Issues from that conflict remain unresolved; the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh and Tibet have yet to delineate a formal frontier.

Other prickly topics also await meditation, including India hosting the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, and the Tibetan government-in-exile, China's non-recognition of Sikkim's merger with India, and Indian allegations that China is assisting Pakistan's nuclear program.

NATO in exercises in Turkey

On Thursday, NATO will deploy its new Rapid Reaction Response Force in exercise Allied Response 03 near Izmir, Turkey.

About 1,100 troops from 13 nations will participate. The exercise will include mock evacuations and naval embargo drills simulating a U.N.-mandated intervention.

The force contains 9,000 troops, about 300 of them American. U.S. troops will not participate in the exercise, however.

While the United States originally supported idea of the force in the aftermath of the Kosovo war, Washington thinks NATO should command the force, while many European governments believe they are ready to run the force by themselves.

Putting a diplomatic face on the simmering dispute, U.S. European Command spokesman Capt. Sarah Kerwin said, "The U.S. participation, overall, is quite small compared with the other nations."

Spain has assigned 2,200 troops to the force, but Denmark has just 100 troops assigned to the force, the Czech Republic has 80, and Poland only just 20.

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