Epilogh OMRI Daily Digest, No. 38, Part II, 22 Feb 95 [**]

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No. 38, Part II, 22 February 1995


  1. MACEDONIA ACCUSES ALBANIA OF INTERFERENCE. Macedonian Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski accused Albania of interfering in its internal affairs, Western agencies reported on 21 February. Crvenkovski said at a news conference that by supporting the self-proclaimed Albanian-language University in Tetovo, the Albanian government "encourages illegal acts, even if only verbally." Albania sharply criticized the conduct of the Macedonian government after police cracked down on the university on 17 February. One ethnic Albanian died in a subsequent riot. Meanwhile Albanian Deputy Foreign Minister Arjan Starova said that the Albanian government will "reconsider the political course towards Skopje," Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 22 February. Relations between both countries had improved in the past three years, but mutual confidence suffers from the Albanian minority conflict in Macedonia. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

  2. TUDJMAN FIRM ON EXPELLING UNPROFOR. The Los Angeles Times reports on 22 February on the Croatian visit of EU external affairs commissioner Hans van den Broek, which is one of a series of high-level contacts underway or soon to take place between Zagreb and Brussels or Strasbourg. Commenting on President Franjo Tudjman's decision to end UNPROFOR's mandate when it expires on 31 March, van den Broek said that "it was quite clear that his decision was irreversible." A UN spokesman added that there is "a real danger of an immediate return to war" as a result of both sides trying to take strategic positions once UNPROFOR abandons them. This view was echoed by Dobroslav Paraga, the leader of the right- wing Croatian Party of [Historic] Rights. Nasa Borba quotes him as saying that "the departure of UNPROFOR from the occupied territories would just be the lead-in to a big war with the Krajina Serbs, who would be backed by Karadzic's Bosnian Serbs, and then the [rump] Yugoslav army." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

  3. CROATIA, SLOVENIA, AND BOSNIA MAKE JOINT PROTEST. The ambassadors to the UN from Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina jointly protested to the world body against Serbia-Montenegro's claim to be the legitimate successor to Tito's Yugoslavia, Hina reported on 21 February. Belgrade made the demand in order to automatically acquire seats in international organizations and valuable properties around the world. Zagreb, Ljubljana, and Sarajevo point out that federal Yugoslavia has long ceased to exist and that all successor states must be treated equally. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

  4. AKASHI'S LATEST "GLIMMER OF HOPE." Back in Krajina, UN negotiator Yasushi Akashi held talks with rebel Serb leaders on 21 February to try and persuade them to stop holding hostage 10 relief trucks headed for Bihac. He told Reuters that he saw "a glimmer of hope" and that "there is a willingness to commence fruitful dialogue and that's the first time they have made an indication of that kind." A UN refugee spokesman saw things a bit differently, saying that "the bottom line is both the Abdic forces and the Krajina Serbs are using food as a weapon of war, trying to deny food to the people of Bihac." Meanwhile, the Serbs still have the trucks. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

  5. SERBIAN UPDATE. On 22 February Politika reports on the apparent growing cooperation between three of Serbia's main opposition parties--the Democratic Party (led by Zoran Djindjic), the Democratic Party of Serbia (led by Vojislav Kostunica), and the controversial Serbian Radical Party (led by the accused war criminal Vojislav Seselj), which now includes "an opposition agreement on the defense of the independent media." In other news, on 22 February The New York Times reports that the UN Security Council appears to have "reached an agreement that could allow a steady flow of Russian natural gas into both the capital of Bosnia and to Yugoslavia, which includes Serbia and Montenegro." -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.

  6. GREEK DEFENSE MINISTER VISITS BULGARIA. Gerasimos Arsenis arrived in Sofia on 21 February on an official visit, Demokratsiya reported on 22 February. The Greek Defense Minister held talks with his counterpart Dimitar Pavlov, Chief of General Staff Gen. Tsvetan Totomirov, President Zhelyu Zhelev, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, and Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski. Arsenis denied speculations aired in the Greek press that the formation of an "Belgrade-Sofia-Athens axis" is being prepared, saying that this is an outdated understanding and that Greece and Bulgaria will cooperate for stability in the Balkans. Duma cited Arsenis as saying that a "gray zone" of security would be created in the region if the Balkan countries are not admitted into NATO together with the Visegrad states. During talks between the defense ministers, an agreement on joint military maneuvers was reached. The Greek navy will take part in maneuvers in Bulgarian territorial waters, while Bulgarian troops will participate in maneuvers in Greece in May, to be held in the framework of NATO's Partnership for Peace program. No official documents were signed, but Bulgaria proposed a meeting of the Bulgarian, Greek, Romanian, and Turkish defense ministers. Arsenis, however, expressed the opinion that the preconditions for such a meeting do not yet exist. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

  7. GREEK-ALBANIAN BORDER INCIDENT. After the shooting of an Albanian trying to enter Greece illegally, Athens and Tirana put blame for the incident on each other, Reuters reported on 21 February. The incident took place on 18 February near the village of Vidohova. An Albanian Interior Ministry spokesman said the group of Albanians was still "ten meters inside Albania when the Greek opened fire without warning and then followed them 57 meters inside our territory," whereas Greek government spokesman Evangelos Venizelos claimed that they were already on Greek territory. He said a Greek army border patrol opened fire when the Albanians refused to stop and called the incident "common." Venizelos said that the injured Albanian was taken to a Greek hospital and will either be returned to Albania or seek a legal visa and remain in Greece if he wishes. Venizelos also told the press that Greece and Albania will try to reach an agreement over the status of Albanians living and working illegally in Greece. The question will be discussed during a scheduled visit by Greek Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias to Tirana in March. More than 100,000 Albanians are estimated to live in Greece, while Athens has expelled another 50,000 after the conviction of five ethnic Greeks on charges of espionage and illegal arms possession in 1994. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

[As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Pete Baumgartner