Epilogh OMRI Daily Digest, No. 35, Part II, 17 Feb 95 [**]

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No. 35, Part II, 17 February 1995

Southeastern Europe

  1. "SERBIA HAS EARNED NO REWARD." This is the title of a 16 February editorial in The New York Times that is sharply critical of the Clinton administration's latest Bosnian policy. The administration's approach hinges on offering Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic the reward of lifting the sanctions against his rump Yugoslavia if he recognizes Croatia and Bosnia in their Tito-era frontiers, tightens his shaky embargo against the Bosnian Serbs, and helps isolate the group around Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic in Pale. The newspaper adds that "the latest offer to Belgrade comes as evidence mounts that Serbia has not lived up to the last deal it made" with the international Contact Group. Nasa Borba on 17 February notes that American reaction to the latest flip-flop in Washington's Bosnian policy has generally been negative. Britain's The Independent the previous day summed things up with the comment: "Powers run out of steam over Bosnia plan." The BBC's Croatian Service on 17 February describes The Guardian as painting a bleak picture of the region, with the daily arguing that the "chances for a broader war have never been greater." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

  2. WAR TENSIONS MOUNT ON CROATIA'S BORDERS. In the wake of President Franjo Tudjman's decision not to extend UNPROFOR's mandate beyond 31 March, preparations for a renewed Croatian-Serbian conflict have been taking place on both sides. Nasa Borba writes on 17 February that Karadzic met with his Krajina counterpart, Milan Martic, two nights earlier to discuss joint military plans. The two rebel Serbian states have a military cooperation agreement dating back to 1993 and are currently waging a joint campaign against Bosnian government forces around Bihac. AFP on 16 February reports on military activity on both sides of the border--between Dubrovnik and the Prevlaka region on the Croatian side and between Serb-held Bosnian territory and Montenegro on the other. The Serbs have built up their artillery batteries with which they ravaged the medieval town already in 1991. The rump Yugoslav navy has staged maneuvers in the Bay of Kotor nearby, while the Croats have been building bunkers in Glavica, close to the Montenegrin border. Tudjman has periodically hinted that he may be willing to exchange Prevlaka for some of the strategic high ground above Dubrovnik, but he met with fierce domestic political opposition to giving up Croatian territory. The latest military preparations suggest that neither side regards the question of borders in that narrow region as closed. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

  3. MACEDONIAN POLICE CRACK DOWN ON ALBANIAN UNIVERSITY. Macedonian police on 16 February stopped lectures at the Albanian-language university in Tetovo only hours after it was opened, Reuters reported the same day. No violence was reported, although Fadil Sulejmani, the rector of the university, had warned that a police raid could lead to armed riots. A police spokesman quoted Sulejmani as saying that "the university will continue to work, no matter what the price." Macedonian government spokesman Djuner Ismail said the opening of the university was a "flagrant violation of the state's constitution," adding that it was a political act and had little to do with education. The Albanians are demanding higher education in the Albanian language. The universities in Skopje and Bitola hold classes only in Macedonian. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

  4. GREEK DEFENSE MINISTER IN ROMANIA. Gerasimos Arsenis began a three-day official visit to Romania on 16 February, Radio Bucharest reported. He met the same day with his Romanian counterpart, Gheorghe Tinca, President Ion Iliescu, and Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu. The two defense ministers signed an agreement on bilateral military cooperation, including joint military exercises within the framework of NATO's Partnership for Peace program. Arsenis said at a press conference that Greece will support Romanian efforts to join NATO and the Western European Union (Greece is a member of both). An RFE/RL correspondent in Bucharest quoted Tinca as saying that Romania will not get involved in actions hostile to Russia even if it joins NATO. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.

  5. GREECE REFUSES TO DISCUSS MACEDONIAN TRADE EMBARGO. Greece marked the first anniversary of the trade embargo against Macedonia on 16 February by turning down offers from Skopje to hold talks under UN guidance, AFP reported the same day. Greek government spokesman Evangelos Venizelos called the blockade a success and noted that it had reduced trade at Thessaloniki port by 60% and fuel transports to Macedonia by 90%. But he stressed the embargo was "only a temporary measure" and that Greeks have the "friendliest" feelings toward their northern neighbor. Meanwhile, Greek Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias announced on 16 February that he will visit Albania in early March, Reuters reported the same day. He thanked the U.S. for helping secure the release of four ethnic Greeks, who were convicted last year on charges of spying for Greece and illegal possession of firearms. Until their release, on 8 February, Greece had frozen contacts with Albania. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

  6. BULGARIAN PRESIDENT SAYS U.S. VISIT WAS SUCCESSFUL. Zhelyu Zhelev, returning from a three-day visit to the U.S. on 16 February, told a reporter from Bulgarian Radio Horizont that the trip was a success. He said all the requests made by the Bulgarian delegation were met with "at least a promise." But he admitted that keeping those promises is a "completely different matter." The president stressed the importance of the declaration on cooperation, signed on 13 February, noting that it contains the basic principles of cooperation in all areas. Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski said the visit demonstrated that the president and the government "will work in harmony and cooperate" in the field of foreign policy. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

  7. FORMER BULGARIAN DEFENSE OFFICIAL CHARGED. Col. Valentin Popinski, former head of the Defense Ministry's trade department, was charged on 16 February in connection with an alleged arms deal with Albania, international news agencies reported the same day. Military prosecutor Col. Nikolay Kolev said Popinski acted "to the detriment of his country," but he refused to say more. Popinski was dismissed by former Defense Minister Valentin Aleksandrov last year and is under arrest. If convicted, he faces between five and 15 years in prison. The Bulgarian press claims that 100 mortars were involved in the Albanian deal and speculated that they might have ended up in the former Yugoslavia. Gen. Agim Baruti, Albania's deputy chief of staff, was quoted by 24 chasa as saying no mortars were ordered by the Albanian Defense Ministry. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

  8. HIGHER ELECTRICITY AND HEATING PRICES IN BULGARIA. Prices for electricity and heating will sharply rise as of 1 March, Demokratsiya reported on 17 February. Government spokesman Nikola Baltov announced that heating prices will go up by 80%, while electricity for industry will increase by 28.4% and for private households by 47%. Almost all fuel used in Bulgaria's state-owned power industry has to be imported. The World Bank, which has lent Bulgaria $93 million for improvements in the country's power sector, criticized the government for keeping down electricity prices. The government has set aside 583 million leva ($8.8 million) to help 350,000 of the poorest households cope with the hikes. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

[As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Jan Cleave