Epilogh OMRI Daily Digest, No. 39, Part II, 23 Feb 95 [*]

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No. 39, Part II, 23 February 1995


  1. WHAT IS HAPPENING OVER TUZLA? The BBC on 23 February reports on the fast-developing story surrounding the mysterious flights of C-130 transport planes over Tuzla on 14 February. The Washington Post broke the story two days earlier, and more discussion appeared in Nasa Borba on 22 February and Globus the following day. According to the BBC, it no longer appears that NATO denied UN reports that the flights had taken place in order to cover up its own incompetence. Instead, it seems that the U.S. may be trying to mask its own operations to supply the Bosnian army or to protect other countries engaged in such an effort. The BBC concluded that what had taken place over Tuzla was a low-altitude supply drop of a kind that only the U.S., British, or French air forces have the technology to make. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

  2. TENSIONS BUILDING BETWEEN SERBS AND CROATS. Nasa Borba on 23 February carried several stories reflecting the general anticipation that a new Serb-Croat conflict could break out once UNPROFOR leaves by 30 June. Croatian Prime Minister Nikica Valentic said that peace is possible by the end of the year provided UNPROFOR gets out. This reflects President Franjo Tudjman's belief that ending the peacekeepers' mandate will provide the necessary impetus for a negotiated settlement, but the remarks could also be taken another way. The paper goes on to cover a visit by Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic to the embattled Posavina corridor connecting Serbia with Serb-held territories in Bosnia and Croatia. His parliamentary speaker, Momcilo Krajisnik, told crowds that "without Posavina there is no [Bosnian] Serb Republic, and without that it is not possible for all Serbs to live in one state." Meanwhile, prominent Krajina politician Milan Babic said that the recent decision of Krajina and Bosnian Serbs to set up a Supreme Defense Council is a step toward a greater Serbian federation. Nasa Borba, for its part, suggests that the purpose of the agreement may have more to do with putting political pressure on Croatia than with real military aims. That paper pointed out the previous day, moreover, that Bosnian Serb "foreign minister" Aleksa Buha was in Belgrade on a visit to meet top Serbian officials, probably including President Slobodan Milosevic. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

  3. UN AID CONVOY REACHES CAZIN. International media reported on 23 February that a 10-truck relief convoy finally entered Bosnian government-held territory in the Bihac pocket the previous day after being held up by Serbs and their allies. AFP notes that fighting continued in the Velika Kladusa and Bosanska Krupa areas, with tensions rising around Srebrenica as both sides dig more trenches. Not all is gloomy, however. Vjesnik reports on the meeting between Croatia's Cardinal Franjo Kuharic and the Serbian Orthodox Metropolitan Jovan Pavlovic, who is responsible for "Zagreb, Ljubljana, and all of Italy." Nasa Borba notes that Roman Catholic Bishop Ratko Peric has gone to Trebinje in Serb-held eastern Herzegovina to bring some relief supplies and to hold talks with Serbian Orthodox leaders. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

  4. WITHER AVRAMOVIC? Nasa Borba on 23 February carries a story which reports on speculation entertained in some political circles that National Bank Governor Dragoslav Avramovic has been "removed from public life" for about the past two months, and not only because of personal, especially health, reasons, but because there may be serious disagreements within official circles over the further implementation of Avramovic's economic reform programs. Avramovic has been widely credited within the rump Yugoslavia for effecting an economic miracle, when in January 1994 he stemmed hyperinflation raging at a monthly rate of 315 million%, bringing it down to low single digits by pegging the value of the dinar to the German mark and the country's hard currency reserves. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.

  5. BLEAK SOCIAL PICTURE FOR CROATIA. Nasa Borba on 21 February reported on recent studies and polls regarding the state of Croatian society. The prognosis is poor, with every fifth person living below the poverty level. Some 30% of the population eat meat only once a week, and half of the people have only one meal per day. Another 45% view their future as uncertain, and over 100,000 people have emigrated in the past four years. Deteriorating social conditions have apparently given the lie to President Franjo Tudjman's 1992 campaign slogan: "From victory to prosperity," although the war and the accompanying dislocation and devastation have been as much to blame as any policy that the government has or has not followed. One last statistic: with 25 suicides per 100,000 people, Croatia has the fifth-highest suicide rate in Europe. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

  6. BULGARIAN PRESIDENT REJECTS RESTITUTION LAW. Zhelyu Zhelev returned an amendment to the restitution law to parliament on 22 February, Pari reported the following day. The amendment, which was passed on 9 February, provided that tenants can stay another three years in restituted property. Zhelev was cited as saying that the new law is the easiest way of doing something, but that it does not solve the problems. A law defending the rights of the tenants as well as those of the owners is necessary, the president added. Zhelev also rejected the law on formal grounds, as both the first and second reading took place on the same day. Krasimir Premyanov, leader of the Socialist parliamentary faction, said that the BSP was dissatisfied with Zhelev's decision, and that he hoped the law would be passed a second time by 24 February, the day the old reclamation ban expires. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

  7. LEADER OF BULGARIAN BUSINESS BLOC UNDER FIRE. Georges Ganchev's election as deputy might be declared null and void, Demokratsiya and Pari report on 23 February. According to the Bulgarian constitution, only Bulgarian citizens without another citizenship can be elected to parliament or as president. According to Demokratsiya, the US embassy in Sofia confirmed that Ganchev is still a U.S. citizen. Chief State Prosecutor Ivan Tatarchev declared that in this case he will ask the Constitutional Court to annul Ganchev's election. Ganchev had declared that he gave up his U.S. citizenship in order to run for president in the 1991/1992 elections. The U.S. embassy said it never received the respective documents. Ganchev did not comment on the reports, telling journalists "do not bother me with nonsense." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

  8. CONFLICT BETWEEN ALBANIAN PRESIDENT AND PARTY LEADER. Democratic Party leader Eduard Selami said that he is under pressure to resign from within his own party, Koha Jone reported on 22 February. Selami had offered his resignation in late January after criticizing the government for failing to realize certain points in the party program. Selami then demanded that the party leader should also be prime minister, arguing that this would help promote the party's interests and adding that there is a gap between the government and the party. In early February, however, the party leadership, including Albanian President Sali Berisha, rejected Selami's resignation, but meanwhile Selami said that Berisha called for his resignation after a meeting of the party's national council on 21 February. The president's spokesman said that Selami's demands for a change of government were unacceptable, Rilindja Demokratike reported on 22 February. An extraordinary party congress on 5 March will decide on Selami's future. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

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