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OMRI Daily Digest II, No. 249, 27 December 1995

From: "Steve Iatrou" <siatrou@cdsp.neu.edu>

Open Media Research Institute Directory

CONTENTS

  • [1] RUSSIAN GENERAL MEETS INDICTED WAR CRIMINAL.

  • [2] U.S. SETS UP CHECKPOINT IN BRCKO CORRIDOR.

  • [3] BOSNIAN SERB AND GOVERNMENT FORCES EXCHANGE PRISONERS.

  • [4] CROATIAN CARDINAL SAYS SERBS SHOULD RETURN.

  • [5] SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH SPLIT OVER DAYTON AGREEMENT.

  • [6] SERBIAN OPPOSITION UNITY DEVELOPMENTS.

  • [7] A BIG DEAL FOR SERBIAN OPPOSITION?

  • [8] ROMANIAN COMMERCE MINISTER RESIGNS.

  • [9] ILIE NASTASE TO RUN FOR MAYOR OF BUCHAREST.

  • [10] TRANSDNIESTRIAN ELECTIONS AND REFERENDUM.

  • [11] RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES RECEIVE PROPERTY BACK.

  • [12] PAPANDREOU'S CONDITION IMPROVES.


  • OMRI DAILY DIGEST

    No. 249, Part II, 27 December 1995

    SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [1] RUSSIAN GENERAL MEETS INDICTED WAR CRIMINAL.

    In contrast to Admiral Smith, Russian Major-General Nikolai Staskov met General Mladic while on a mission of "national reconnaissance," as explained by a NATO spokesman in Sarajevo, Reuters and Nasa Borba reported on 24 and 25 December. An IFOR spokesman said that this meeting happened without the prior knowledge of or approval by NATO, demonstrating that the Russians are not willing to coordinate their activities completely with NATO at a time when the rules for Russian participation are still being clarified. According to the IFOR spokesman, Staskov's role in the meeting with Mladic was not clear, although international media suggested that the Brcko corridor was on the agenda because the Serbs had unsuccessfully tried to have the Russians stationed there instead of the Americans. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [2] U.S. SETS UP CHECKPOINT IN BRCKO CORRIDOR.

    CNN reported on 26 December that heavy rains and floods had slowed U.S. engineers trying to construct a bridge from Zupanja, Croatia, across the Sava River into northern Bosnia. The Americans nonetheless opened their first checkpoint in the Brcko corridor, 7.5 km south of the Sava, on the Tuzla road. AFP added that U.S. vehicles were "testing their freedom of movement" in the sensitive corridor and proceded unhindered by government or Serbian soldiers. In Banja Luka, Reuters said that the region is "one big refugee camp," as aid workers deal with 280,000 Serbian refugees, over half of whom arrived this year. Since the summer, the Serbian authorities accelerated their expulsion of the region's few remaining Croats and Muslims, but housing for Serb refugees remains a problem. On 27 December, AFP reported that British troops found 12 bodies near Sanski Most, where fleeing Serbian soldiers killed Muslim and Croat civilians in October. The bodies have yet to be identified. -- Patrick Moore

    [3] BOSNIAN SERB AND GOVERNMENT FORCES EXCHANGE PRISONERS.

    Serbian and government forces on 24 December exchanged 245 prisoners in no man's land in northeastern Bosnia, Reuters reported. According to local officials, 114 Serbs and 131 troops of the government forces, most of whom were captured in Srebrenica earlier this year, were freed in the "first big exchange of prisoners in the last two years." Swedish soldiers within IFOR supervised the exchange which, according to the Dayton agreement, should be completed by 28 February, Nasa Borba reported on 25 December. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [4] CROATIAN CARDINAL SAYS SERBS SHOULD RETURN.

    The primate of Croatia, Cardinal Franjo Kuharic, said that Croatian Serbs who fled their homes should be allowed to come back if they agree to be loyal citizens of Croatia. Kuharic pointed out that the Roman Catholic Church has repeatedly called for all victims of "ethnic cleansing" to be allowed to return to their homes and property, Nasa Borba reported on 25 December. He added that the Catholic and Orthodox churches should make a serious inquiry into the origins of the conflict and show that "there is a way out from the war and the hatred." The cardinal has been a voice for reconciliation throughout the conflict and played a notable role in opposing the Croat-Muslim war of 1993. -- Patrick Moore

    [5] SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH SPLIT OVER DAYTON AGREEMENT.

    A special bishop's conference of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) was called in Belgrade on 21 December to discuss an internal split among bishops over the Dayton agreement and loss of territories in Republika Srpska, Beta reported the same day. Dozens of SPC bishops called on Patriarch Pavle to resign because he failed to oppose the Dayton peace agreement, while he himself earlier announced his possible resignation from the post. The church leadership has long backed Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's "Greater Serbian" policy although they distrust him because of his communist background. They prefer the non-communist Karadzic, whom they backed in his feud with Milosevic, and seconded his complaints about the peace treaty. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [6] SERBIAN OPPOSITION UNITY DEVELOPMENTS.

    Delegates from five opposition parties--the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), the Serbian Radical Party (SRS), the Democratic Party (DS), the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), and the Democratic Community of Hungarians in Vojvodina -- met on 26 December for the first sitting of what has been dubbed "the parallel parliament" for Serbia, Nasa Borba reported on 27 December. This appears to be the latest in a series of moves aimed at opposition cooperation. On 26 December Nasa Borba reported that on the previous day the republic's legislature passed its budget for 1996, with only the governing Socialist Party of Serbia delegates, their opposition New Democracy allies and several breakaway members of the SRS (now the Radical Party 'Nikola Pasic') supporting and debating the legislation. Members of the five aforementioned opposition parties boycotted, objecting to a government ban on television coverage of the legislature, and to government business being conducted "on the day of the great Christian holiday--Catholic Christmas." -- Stan Markotich

    [7] A BIG DEAL FOR SERBIAN OPPOSITION?

    Meanwhile, participants in the"alternative legislature" say the institution is an important vehicle in opposing the government's power monopoly, Nasa Borba reports on 27 December. The SRS leader in the institution, Tomislav Nikolic, said, "if anyone thinks he can defeat the socialists on his own, he's welcome to try. I don't think that can be done, and I'll try to show that through this institution." SPO leader Vuk Draskovic added that in the absence of parliamentary television coverage, the parallel parliament may communicate directly with citizens, providing information and soliciting input on legislation. On a separate but related topic, Nasa Borba on 26 December reported that "after over a month of negotiations," the DS, DSS and two other minor parties finally agreed on forming an electoral bloc, the Democratic Alliance. Whether these developments are being perceived as a threat by the SPS is highly debatable, given that all previous opposition efforts to oust or impede the socialists have floundered over parties' inability to sustain working relations. -- Stan Markotich

    [8] ROMANIAN COMMERCE MINISTER RESIGNS.

    Domestic and Western media reported on 22 December that Minister of Commerce Petru Crisan had resigned. According to a government press release carried by Romanian television, a successor would be appointed next month. The daily Adevarul has alleged that in addition to his portfolio, Crisan was at the same time a manager and shareholder of private and state-owned companies, which was a conflict of interests. Other media indicated that he may have used his influence to favor private business interests. Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu told Radio Bucharest on 23 December that a government inquiry showed no wrongdoing on Crisan's part, but that the minister chose to submit his resignation in order to avoid damaging the executive's image. -- Michael Shafir

    [9] ILIE NASTASE TO RUN FOR MAYOR OF BUCHAREST.

    Former tennis star Ilie Nastase will run for mayor of Bucharest in the local elections scheduled for spring 1996, the daily Evenimentul zilei reported on 23 December. Nastase, who has recently joined the largest coalition party, the Party of Social Democracy in Romania, said his entrance into politics has been received well abroad and that he intended to use his influence to help his native city overcome its rapid deterioration. -- Michael Shafir

    [10] TRANSDNIESTRIAN ELECTIONS AND REFERENDUM.

    Moldovan and Western press agencies reported on 24-25 December that preliminary results of the voting held in the 24 December elections and referendum in the breakaway Transdniestrian region indicate that 54 out of the 67 seats in the parliament were filled as a result of the votes cast. There will be runoffs in the remaining districts, all affecting the second chamber of the legislature. It is not clear yet which party emerged as victorious, but reports indicated that most voters favored the Bloc of Patriotic Forces, which stands for closer links with Russia and a revival of the Soviet Union. In the referendum held concomitantly with the elections, 81.8% approved the region's separatist constitution, which proclaims the Transdniester an independent state, and 90.6% voted in favor of its joining the CIS and its related structures. Moldovan leaders denounced the elections and the referendum as illegitimate. Official Russia distanced itself from the poll. ITAR-TASS quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying that the region was "part of the Republic of Moldova" and what happened there was "an internal affair of that independent and sovereign state." -- Michael Shafir

    [11] RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES RECEIVE PROPERTY BACK.

    Albanian President Sali Berisha decreed the return of all former properties to the religious communities in speeches at orthodox and catholic churches in Tirana on 25 December. The property affected by the law is estimated to include about 35,000 hectares of agricultural land, Republika reported on 26 December. All properties of the Muslim community and the orthodox and catholic churches were nationalized in 1967. -- Fabian Schmidt

    [12] PAPANDREOU'S CONDITION IMPROVES.

    Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou has left intensive care, AFP reported on 26 December. The move was earlier delayed when the 76-year-old leader suffered an intestinal infection, but the infection seems to be "under control." The ailing premier has been in hospital since 20 November, when he was taken ill with pneumonia, which was later complicated by breathing and kidney problems. -- Fabian Schmidt

    This material was reprinted with permission of the Open Media Research Institute, a nonprofit organization with research offices in Prague, Czech Republic.
    For more information on OMRI publications please write to info@omri.cz

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