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OMRI Daily Digest II, No. 58, 21 March 1996

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

Open Media Research Institute: Daily Digest Directory

CONTENTS

  • [01] U.S. SEEKS TO REASSURE NATO HOPEFULS.

  • [02] IFOR TROOPS ENTER SARAJEVO SUBURB.

  • [03] SERBS DEPLOY IN CENTRAL BOSNIA.

  • [04] IZETBEGOVIC SAYS ELECTIONS KEY TO DAYTON PROCESS.

  • [05] CROATIA TO BE ADMITTED TO COUNCIL OF EUROPE.

  • [06] SADAKO OGATA ANNOUNCES BEGINNING OF REPATRIATION.

  • [07] SERBIAN PARAMILITARY LEADER BUYS RADIO STATION.

  • [08] MILOSEVIC POSTPONES VISIT TO SKOPJE.

  • [09] SLOVENIAN JOURNALISTS END STRIKE.

  • [10] ROMANIAN MINISTERS ON EURO-ATLANTIC INTEGRATION.

  • [11] STRIKING WORKERS CLASH WITH POLICE IN ROMANIA.

  • [12] BULGARIAN MINERS GO ON STRIKE.

  • [13] BULGARIAN PRESIDENT AGREES TO PARTICIPATE IN PRIMARIES.

  • [14] BULGARIAN SUPREME COURT OVERTURNS BANKS CLOSURES.

  • [15] ALBANIAN PRESIDENT AND PARTIES DISCUSS ELECTIONS.

  • [16] ALBANIAN FOREIGN POLICY UPDATE.


  • OMRI DAILY DIGEST

    No. 58, Part II, 21 March 1996

    SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [01] U.S. SEEKS TO REASSURE NATO HOPEFULS.

    U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher told Central and Eastern European countries on 20 March they will not be kept in NATO's waiting room forever and "new allies" will be full members of the alliance. In a speech in Prague before 12 of the region's foreign ministers or their deputies, Christopher sharply reaffirmed U.S. commitment to European security and NATO enlargement. He rejected Russian suggestions that countries in the region could join NATO as less than full members, saying: "This is no time to talk about deals or qualified membership." Christopher, who travels to Moscow on 21 March, called the Russian Duma's vote to reconstitute the Soviet Union "a dark vision" but said it was critical that Russia should take its "rightful place in the new Europe." "Central Europe's integration will neither determine, nor be determined by, events in Russia. But we have an equal interest in integrating, not isolating Russia," he said. -- Steve Kettle

    [02] IFOR TROOPS ENTER SARAJEVO SUBURB.

    NATO peacekeepers moved into Dobrinja on 20 March to defuse tensions between Serbs and their Muslim and Croat neighbors, the BBC reported on 21 March. Gunfire and explosions had been reported. The Dayton boundary line between federal and Serb territory there runs right through the middle of two apartment buildings, and there were disputes as to which side owns what. This development reflects the glitches that emerged from the Dayton boundary demarcation maps and the problems of partitioning what had been ethnically mixed territory. The Dayton agreement set up a joint commission to prepare territorial exchanges by mutual consent, but to date there have been no agreements. Elsewhere in Sarajevo, British peacekeepers on 19 March prevented government and Croatian troops from entering two barracks that both were claiming, Reuters noted the next day. -- Patrick Moore

    [03] SERBS DEPLOY IN CENTRAL BOSNIA.

    Following the withdrawal of federal forces in keeping with the Dayton treaty, Bosnian Serb forces (VRS) entered the "anvil" region around Sipovo and Mrkonjic Grad on 20 March. AFP said that some 1,000 men from the VRS were being monitored by 2,000 IFOR peacekeepers and by NATO air patrols. Serb refugees are returning by the thousands to the area lost to the allied armies last September, and IFOR reports that the situation is peaceful. Nearby, IFOR said some homes belonging to Muslims near Croat-held Jajce went up in flames, Oslobodjenje wrote on 21 March. Onasa added that the peackeepers said the destruction did not appear systematic. The commander of U.S. forces in Europe, Gen. George Joulwan, has become the latest Western official to warn Congress that the "number one issue" facing the peace process is keeping the Muslim-Croat federation together, AFP stated the previous day. -- Patrick Moore

    [04] IZETBEGOVIC SAYS ELECTIONS KEY TO DAYTON PROCESS.

    Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic is recuperating at home from heart problems but has given a major interview to Focus, its parent publication Dnevni avaz reported on 20 March. He stressed that the cornerstone of the Dayton structure is holding elections later this year, and that if the Serbs block them, his government will withdraw recognition of the Republika Srpska. Turning to the Croats, the Muslim leader said that some were supporters of the Federation but that others were just playing a game, hoping to provoke the Muslims into torpedoing the project first. Addressing American concerns about the Iraninan presence in Bosnia, Izetbegovic said that only 50 ex-fighters are left and that they are all now civilians with families and Bosnian citizenship. He added that the prime minister's recent visit to Iran was linked to the ending of bilateral military relations and that, in keeping with Dayton, such ties would now be purely peaceful. -- Patrick Moore

    [05] CROATIA TO BE ADMITTED TO COUNCIL OF EUROPE.

    The Political Committee of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly proposed on 19 March that Croatia be admitted to the Council of Europe as a full member, Hina reported. The committee adopted a report on Croatia with 25 votes for, three against and four abstentions, and proposed that Croatia be admitted at the Parliamentary Assembly session scheduled at the end of April. Earlier, Zdravko Tomac, chairman of the Zagreb City Council, on behalf of the councilmen from the seven opposition parties forwarded a letter in which the Council of Europe was urged to accept Croatia. "The Zagreb crisis was no reason for refusing Croatia admittance," the letter said, stating the crisis could be resolved "only if Croatia accepted European standards and was integrated into the European legal system," Hina reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [06] SADAKO OGATA ANNOUNCES BEGINNING OF REPATRIATION.

    The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said on 20 March that the UNHCR in the former Yugoslavia is to switch from aid delivery and immediate protection of the victims of war to help in organizing the return of two million refugees to the area, Nasa Borba reported on 21 March quoting Tanjug. "The biggest operation ever undertaken by the UNHCR" will start at the beginning of April, Ogata announced at the session of the UN Committee for Human Rights. Meanwhile, the international community's High Representative Carl Bildt's office on 20 March established a housing commission to help refugees and displaced persons return to their homes, Onasa reported. The commission's mandate is to rule on refugee rights to return and help put them into practice. It will also help refugees to sell, lease or exchange their homes or receive reimbursement. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [07] SERBIAN PARAMILITARY LEADER BUYS RADIO STATION.

    Zeljko Raznatovic, alias "Arkan," has bought Belgrade's Radio Pingvin from an Italian businessman and has named it after his paramilitary Tigers. Arkan, an alleged war criminal who is also wanted throughout Europe on murder and other serious charges, said the music-based format of the station will not be changed and will not feature political commentary, AFP reported on 20 March. The new station editor is Borislav Pelevic, a high ranking official in Arkan's ultranationlist political party, the Serbian Unity Party (SSJ). -- Stan Markotich

    [08] MILOSEVIC POSTPONES VISIT TO SKOPJE.

    Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic on 20 March postponed a visit to Macedonia scheduled for the same day, Nova Makedonija reported. No reason was given for the cancellation, but well informed sources in Skopje were cited as saying that Milosevic might come next week. Milosevic and his Macedonian counterpart Kiro Gligorov had been expected to announce mutual recognition of Macedonia and rump Yugoslavia. -- Stefan Krause

    [09] SLOVENIAN JOURNALISTS END STRIKE.

    Journalists at the state-backed Radio and Television Slovenija corporation ended their strike for higher wages and improved working conditions for freelancers on 20 March. The staff ended its job action after three days, following a management decision to increase salaries by some 15% effective in April, raising an employee's minimum monthly wage to $1,200, Reuters reported. Strike committee officials said that staff will again strike on 16 April in the event the deal breaks down. -- Stan Markotich

    [10] ROMANIAN MINISTERS ON EURO-ATLANTIC INTEGRATION.

    Defense Minister Gheorghe Tinca told journalists on 20 March that Romania was firmly committed to join NATO. Radio Bucharest quoted Tinca as saying that Romania's military was interested in establishing very good ties with armies in neighboring countries to promote stability in the region. In a separate development, Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu, who was attending the Prague meeting with Christopher, told Radio Bucharest that he was optimistic about Romania's chances to be admitted to NATO as a full member. Also on 20 March, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said in Bucharest that Romania made "a firm option in favor of integration into the Euro-Atlantic structures, be they political, strategic, or economic." -- Dan Ionescu

    [11] STRIKING WORKERS CLASH WITH POLICE IN ROMANIA.

    Some 200 workers, demanding the resignation of the Drobeta-Turnu Severin CELROM paper-mill's manager, clashed with riot police, who were called to clear strikers from the factory's gate so that management and non-striking workers could enter, Romanian and international media reported on 20-21 March. A worker said an armored police car broke the gate and some 200 policemen beat the protesters. Several workers suffered injuries. Col. Marian Tutilescu, police chief of the town, said "the workers were waiting for us with clubs and one worker lit two bottles with gasoline and threw them at us." According to him, 11 policemen were slightly injured. CELROM's workers have been on strike since 17 February, accusing the factory's management of fraudulent privatization. -- Matyas Szabo

    [12] BULGARIAN MINERS GO ON STRIKE.

    Around 11,000 workers at Bulgaria's biggest coal mine went on strike on 20 March, Bulgarian and Western media reported. It is the largest such action since the Socialists returned to power. The miners at the Maritsa Iztok mine, which produces 30% of the fuel used by the country's electricity system, are demanding a 60% pay raise and better working conditions. Officials of the Confederation of Labor "Podkrepa," who organized the strike, said the miners will strike until their demands are met. Miners in other coal mines held mostly short protest strikes in solidarity with their colleagues, and the strike has the support of the ex-communist union as well. Energy Committee head Konstantin Rusinov called the demands unrealistic and said the strikes were a "stab in the back" to the country. Other officials said that power cuts and rationing are possible if the strike goes on until the end of the month. Kontinent on 21 March reported that Bulgaria has enough coal supplies for one week. -- Stefan Krause

    [13] BULGARIAN PRESIDENT AGREES TO PARTICIPATE IN PRIMARIES.

    Zhelyu Zhelev on 20 March agreed to be the candidate of the Bulgarian Agrarian People's Union (BZNS) in the upcoming presidential elections and to participate in primary elections aimed at finding a common candidate for the opposition, Standart reported. Stefan Savov, chairman of the Democratic Party which together with the BZNS forms the People's Union, said that if Zhelev loses the primaries, his party will stick to the agreement with the Union of Democratic Forces and the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom saying that the opposition will support the winning candidate. In other news, German President Roman Herzog, on the second day of his visit to Bulgaria, met with Prime Minister Zhan Videnov and Deputy President of Parliament Nora Ananieva. Herzog also addressed the parliament and pledged German support for Bulgaria's integration into European structures, Demokratsiya reported. -- Stefan Krause

    [14] BULGARIAN SUPREME COURT OVERTURNS BANKS CLOSURES.

    The Bulgarian Supreme Court on 19 March stopped "preliminary execution" of the 8 March decision by the national bank (BNB) to remove the licenses of two private banks, Kristalbank and the Private Agricultural and Investment Bank, Demokratsiya reported on 21 March. The ruling -- which caught the BNB by surprise -- restores the banks' licenses and renders inoperative the BNB fund that guarantees their 250,000 leva ($3,200) in personal deposits. It also removes the BNB-appointed examiners who had entered the banks to halt their decapitalization. Both banks are insolvent, Kristalbank finding itself in that state for over a year. -- Michael Wyzan

    [15] ALBANIAN PRESIDENT AND PARTIES DISCUSS ELECTIONS.

    Sali Berisha met with the leaders of eight Albanian parties to discuss the upcoming elections, scheduled for the last week in May or the first weeks of June. The exact date will be announced after parliament has been dissolved on 3 April. Other issues discussed were the construction of the electoral commission and districts, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 21 March. Opposition politicians had earlier expressed fear that the district boundaries may be drawn in a way that would increase the Democrats' chances of electing direct candidates. They also said that the commissions may manipulate the election results, but Berisha reassured them that the elections will be free and democratic and that the number of voters will determine the size of the electoral districts. The Socialists expressed disappointment that no decision was reached on setting up a commission to verify the credentials of candidates. -- Fabian Schmidt

    [16] ALBANIAN FOREIGN POLICY UPDATE.

    Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos arrived for a two-day visit to Albania on 21 March, international agencies reported. Stephanopoulos and his Albanian counterpart Sali Berisha will sign a friendship and cooperation treaty regulating the status of Albania's Greek minority and of illegal Albanian workers in Greece. Stephanopoulos had delayed the visit until Albania agreed to open three Greek schools for its Greek minority. -- 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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