- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 22, 2002

Irish to vote Oct. 19 on EU enlargement

DUBLIN Prime Minister Bertie Ahern and his Cabinet set Oct. 19 for a second referendum that could make or break the European Union's plans to admit more nations and forge a larger united Europe.
Ireland is the only one of the 15 EU member states where the treaty named after the French city where it was hammered out in December 2000 must go to a referendum to be ratified. Irish voters sent shock waves through Europe last year when they rejected the Treaty of Nice and a second defeat would kill the accord.
Next month's referendum is the first time the Irish will hold a national vote on a Saturday, chosen to encourage as big a turnout as possible. Many here fear enlargement will trigger a rush of Eastern European immigrants and compromise Ireland's jealously guarded tradition of neutrality in military matters.

Bulgaria to give arms to Georgia
SOFIA, Bulgaria The government says it has agreed to provide arms and munitions to Georgia, a country destabilized by separatist rebellions, at the request of the United States.
Georgia will receive 1.2 million cartridges, 650 missiles for missile launchers, 1,100 hand grenades and 58 Makarov pistols worth a total of $89,800, Thursday's statement said.
This gift falls "within the framework of a program initiated by United States armed forces command," which aims to "reach internal stability in Georgia and the region of the Caucasus," it said. Bulgaria hopes to join NATO at its Prague summit in November.
Sofia approved the gift as President Georgy Parvanov was making a three-day visit to Russia, aiming to improve bilateral relations that deteriorated under Bulgaria's former conservative government.
Russia has accused Georgia of not stopping Chechen separatists, who are fighting against Moscow, from operating on its territory. Georgia itself has had to oppose separatist movements that refuse to recognize the central government's authority and it has been supported by American military units.

Weekly notes
German political parties should not pop champagne corks too soon after today's general election as a record number of mail-in votes could make instant exit polls unreliable. Election officials say early returns suggest one in five voters will cast postal ballots, and they may not be a representative cross-section of the voting population. The race between Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and the conservative Edmund Stoiber is already so tight the gap is within statistical margins of error. The Kremlin opposes a plan to return a statue of Soviet secret police founder Felix Dzerzhinsky to the pedestal it was torn from during the collapse of the Soviet Union, according to a Putin administration official. Moscow's mayor proposed this month returning the towering statue to Lubyanka Square, calling it an artistic treasure and suggesting the good things Dzerzhinsky did outweighed the bad.

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