- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 6, 2002

Yugoslav rightist seeks to spoil runoff

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia Ultranationalist leader Vojislav Seselj urged his supporters last week to boycott the second round of Serbia's presidential election next Sunday, increasing the chances the vote may be invalid.
A turnout of at least 50 percent of registered voters is required for the winner of the Oct. 13 runoff to be elected president. Mr. Seselj, leader of the Radical Party, won a surprisingly strong 23.24 percent of votes to finish third in last Sunday's first round, which had a turnout of 55.5 percent.
If his voters stay away from the runoff between President Vojislav Kostunica and Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Miroljub Labus, analysts say, it will be much harder to attract the necessary 50 percent turnout. The entire election has to be repeated from scratch if the 50 percent threshold is not reached.

New EU charter to welcome regions
BRUSSELS Scotland should be able to join the European Union as an independent state under a new EU constitution being drawn up by the bloc, according to a Scottish MEP.
Other regions such as Catalonia, Flanders or the Basque country should also get greater rights, said European Parliament member Neil MacCormick, a member of the European Convention, on the future of the European Union.
He said "internal enlargement" of the European Union should be considered as part of a new constitutional framework drawn up by the convention, headed by former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing. "Internal enlargement is just a polite way of saying that you might get new member states coming from inside" EU members, he told reporters.

France, Britain eye joint carrier projects
PARIS Cooperation between Britain and France in costly aircraft carrier construction projects under way in each country is "totally on the table," said Jean-Francois Rivasseau, a spokesman for the French defense ministry.
He was reacting to a statement by the British Ministry of Defense at midweek that the potential for greater collaboration with France had been acknowledged.
Britain's decision to build two "adaptable" aircraft carriers to go into service in 2012 and 2015 meant they could be altered to handle both French and British warplanes, Mr. Rivasseau said.

Weekly notes
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar says he is standing by his pledge not to seek a third term in the 2004 election. Asked if he would reconsider his position because of the Basque regional premier's controversial proposal for joint Spanish-Basque sovereignty over the three provinces of Spain's Basque Country, Mr. Aznar responded Thursday: "Nothing right now could bring me to reconsider the decision I have taken about not being a candidate in the next elections." The United States forgave two-thirds of Yugoslavia's debt last week in a sign of improving relations with the country's reformist leadership. The agreement, signed Thursday by U.S. Ambassador William Montgomery and Yugoslav Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic, erased $353.7 million of Belgrade's $589.4 million debt to Washington.


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