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OMRI Daily Digest II, No. 48, 7 March 1996

From: OMRI-L <omri-l@ubvm.cc.buffalo.edu>

Open Media Research Institute Directory

CONTENTS

  • [1] IFOR CHIEF WARNS ABOUT CROAT-MUSLIM FEDERATION.

  • [2] PEACEKEEPERS TO PROTECT SITES OF WAR CRIMES IF ASKED.

  • [3] BOSNIAN-IRANIAN IMBROGLIO CONTINUES.

  • [4] CROATIA AND THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE.

  • [5] BELGRADE'S STUDIO B WINS INTERNATIONAL SUPPORTERS.

  • [6] SLOVENIAN-ITALIAN RELATIONS UPDATE.

  • [7] STRIKERS BLOCK SUBWAY TUNNEL IN BUCHAREST.

  • [8] NEW COMMUNICATIONS MINISTER APPOINTED IN ROMANIA.

  • [9] BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS CALL FOR CABINET RESHUFFLE.

  • [10] BULGARIAN CURRENCY PLUNGES.

  • [11] MACEDONIAN PARLIAMENT ELECTS NEW SPEAKER.

  • [12] BOMB EXPLODES IN ALBANIAN PORT CITY.

  • [13] TURKEY'S 53RD GOVERNMENT.


  • OMRI DAILY DIGEST

    No. 48, Part II, 7 March 1996

    SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [1] IFOR CHIEF WARNS ABOUT CROAT-MUSLIM FEDERATION.

    Bosnian federal president and Bosnian Croat leader Kresimir Zubak appeared on 6 March to distance himself from his earlier harsh words on the future of the federation that Slobodna Dalmacija had reported, Onasa stated. The NATO commander in Bosnia, U.S. Admiral Leighton Smith, however, remains openly pessimistic about the future of Croat-Muslim cooperation, the VOA said on 7 March. AFP quoted the admiral as saying that Mostar is evidence of the deep-set problems of the partnership, which has yet to take root at either the political, military, or people-to-people levels. He predicted things will go from bad to worse in the spring. Former Bosnian Prime Minister and now opposition politician Haris Silajdzic issued similar warnings, saying that the politicians responsible for the Croat-Muslim war of 1993 must go if trust is to be rebuilt. Vecernje novine ran the report on 7 March. -- Patrick Moore

    [2] PEACEKEEPERS TO PROTECT SITES OF WAR CRIMES IF ASKED.

    IFOR is currently carrying out about 300 civilian construction projects in Bosnia, including repairing bridge links between that republic and Croatia at Brcko and elsewhere, news agencies reported on 6 March. A NATO spokesman in Brussels said that the peacekeepers will now consider on an individual basis requests to guard suspected sites of war crimes to prevent tampering with evidence, especially if the request comes from the international tribunal in The Hague. The 60,000-strong force will still give priority to its military duties as set down in the Dayton agreement. NATO has drafted some new guidelines for IFOR, but it is not clear if they will enable the peacekeepers to become more active in catching or detaining war criminals. Reuters noted that Washington has agreed to the guidelines. A diplomat said the new measures are not a case of "mission creep" but of mission evolution. -- Patrick Moore

    [3] BOSNIAN-IRANIAN IMBROGLIO CONTINUES.

    Serbian propaganda has long stressed alleged links between the Bosnian Muslim leadership and international Islamic fundamentalism represented by Iran. Washington, moreover, has been concerned about any continued presence of Iranian fighters or other agents in the embattled republic. The matter has resurfaced in the wake of Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic's visit to Tehran and of U.S. media reports that Bosnian troops are being trained in Iran. Onasa wrote on 6 March that the Bosnian army press office has officially denied those stories, but the VOA on 7 March quoted the Washington Post as outlining extensive military links between the two countries. Onasa wrote that Bosnia had succeeded in keeping both Iran and the U.S. as allies, but Vecernje novine objected to "friendly persuasion" by the Americans and Europe -- including Croatia -- against Sarajevo's links to Tehran. Iran has pledged to help Bosnia rebuild, as have its rivals Turkey and Saudi Arabia. -- Patrick Moore

    [4] CROATIA AND THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE.

    The president of the committee for democracy, human rights, and humanitarian issues of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has proposed that talks on Croatia's membership in the CE be postponed for another year, Nasa Borba reported on 7 March. The reasons given were "the Croatian president's latest anti-democratic actions." The report said that "since Krajina was retaken, Franjo Tudjman has been increasingly far away from the European democracies' social values,"including a disregard for the opposition and critical media, his own family's accumulation of wealth in the privatization process, manipulating election rights, protecting war criminals, and silence over attacks on the EU administrator in Mostar. The report concluded by expressing fears that the Croatian president is ready to turn the country into a dictatorship for his own purposes. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [5] BELGRADE'S STUDIO B WINS INTERNATIONAL SUPPORTERS.

    Nasa Borba on 7 March reports that the EU has sharply criticized the Serbian government for its recent take-over of Belgrade's only politically independent television broadcaster, Studio B. According to the report, actions such as the Serbian regime's against the independent media may contribute to a strain on "the development of future relations between the EU and the countries of the region." In a related story, the same daily reports on how the citizens and residents of Belgrade continue to suffer from an information blackout and exposure to regime-controlled and manipulated programming. "Of the 11 television stations which can be viewed in [and around] the territory of Belgrade, five broadcast nothing but films and music shows," Nasa Borba observes. -- Stan Markotich

    [6] SLOVENIAN-ITALIAN RELATIONS UPDATE.

    Ljubljana dailies on 6 March reported that a controversy between Italy and Slovenia centering on the issue of property ownership may be resolved in the very near future owing to a compromise suggested by Spanish mediation. Reports suggest Rome is satisfied with the Spanish proposals, and that Ljubljana appears inclined to accept them. Beta reports that the Italian side has insisted that foreigners who lived in Slovenia before 1991 be allowed to purchase and own real estate, a move that would enable Italians who left immediately following World War II to once again own property in Slovenia. -- Stan Markotich

    [7] STRIKERS BLOCK SUBWAY TUNNEL IN BUCHAREST.

    Some 1,000 metro workers on 6 March blocked a downtown station and the subway tunnel in Bucharest to protest their union leaders' decision to suspend a strike started on 4 March, Romanian media reported. The strikers ignored a Supreme Court ruling of the same day ordering them to call off the action because it was seriously harming the national economy. The strike has affected up to one million commuters in Bucharest, forcing them onto packed buses and trams. The strikers are demanding a 28% pay rise and better working conditions. The government agreed to continue negotiations with the unions over those demands. -- Dan Ionescu

    [8] NEW COMMUNICATIONS MINISTER APPOINTED IN ROMANIA.

    President Ion Iliescu installed Ioan Ovidiu Muntean as Romania's new communications minister on 6 March, Romanian and international media reported. The 48-year-old Muntean formally joined the chauvinistic Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR) on the eve of his appointment and is replacing Adrian Turicu of the same party, who was dismissed in January. Muntean's appointment ends a political dispute between the PUNR and the Party of Social Democracy in Romania, both members of the government coalition. -- Matyas Szabo

    [9] BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS CALL FOR CABINET RESHUFFLE.

    24 chasa on 7 March cited an unnamed member of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party's (BSP) executive as saying that a cabinet reshuffle will "with certainty [take place] by the end of March." A plenary meeting of the BSP Supreme Council, its coalition partners, and the parliamentary faction scheduled for 10 March will officially authorize BSP Chairman and Prime Minister Zhan Videnov to make the changes "he considers necessary." BSP Deputy Chairman Georgi Parvanov told Standart that the plenary meeting will propose "concrete changes." Videnov's other deputy, Yanaki Stoilov, told the BSP daily Duma that "changes in the interior ministry, the financial, and the economic team are necessary." -- Stefan Krause

    [10] BULGARIAN CURRENCY PLUNGES.

    The lev on 6 March lost heavily against the U.S. dollar, Duma and Pari reported. With a Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) fixing of 77.783 leva to the dollar, trading began at around 78-79 leva, but soon passed the 80 leva barrier. At an exchange rate of 82 leva in the early afternoon, the banks stopped trading, but exchange offices were selling the U.S. currency for 85--86 leva later the same day. The BNB did not intervene. According to a dealer cited by Kontinent, "fear and pessimistic projections make people buy" U.S. dollars. Other dealers, however, said there is no objective reason for the fall of the lev or that it is due to speculation. Also on 6 March, the new prime interest rate of 49% became effective. Many exchange offices on 7 March temporarily refused to conduct any trade because of the uncertainty, international media reported. -- Stefan Krause

    [11] MACEDONIAN PARLIAMENT ELECTS NEW SPEAKER.

    The Macedonian Parliament on 6 March elected Tito Petkovski as its new chairman, MIC reported. Petkovski replaced Stojan Andov, who announced his resignation on 23 February to protest a new government coalition that no longer includes his Liberal Party. Petkovski is a member of the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia, the biggest party in the parliament and the government. Some 79 deputies supported his candidacy, five voted against him, while the 29 deputies of the Liberal Party abstained. -- Stefan Krause

    [12] BOMB EXPLODES IN ALBANIAN PORT CITY.

    A five-kilo TNT bomb hidden in a dustbin exploded in Durres at midnight on 5 March, AFP reported. The incident caused no casualties. Police arrested several people in connection with the blast, which blew out windows on both sides of one of the city's main streets. One of the arrested persons reportedly had a Scorpion automatic weapon and a gun, but police released no further details. On 26 February, a bomb killed four people in Tirana and dailies reported about more minor explosions in subsequent days, including one in a dustbin in Shkoder. The government accused former communist agents of planting the Tirana bomb. -- Fabian Schmidt

    [13] TURKEY'S 53RD GOVERNMENT.

    President Suleyman Demirel on 6 March approved a minority conservative government to be headed by former Premier Mesut Yilmaz, Western and Turkish media reported the same day. Yilmaz, chairman of the Motherland Party (ANAP) told the press the 53rd government will be one of "reform and change" and said a transparent and honest state would be "one of the highest priorities" of the new government. He also noted that formulating the cabinet list of 33 members was achieved with great difficulty. Turkey's foreign minister to-be is Emre Gonensay, a former special adviser to outgoing Prime Minister Tansu Ciller. The government must now win a parliamentary vote of confidence, tenatively scheduled for 12 March. -- Lowell Bezanis

    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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