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OMRI Daily Digest, Vol. 2, No. 181, 96-09-18

Open Media Research Institute: Daily Digest Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Open Media Research Institute <http://www.omri.cz>

Vol. 2, No. 181, 18 September 1996


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] BADALYAN'S CAMPAIGN PROGRAM.
  • [02] NAZARBAYEV IN TBILISI.
  • [03] UZBEKISTAN HOSTS AFGHAN TALKS.
  • [04] CEASEFIRE IN KARATEGIN VALLEY.

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [05] BOSNIAN PRESIDENT'S LEAD REMAINS STRONG.
  • [06] BOSNIAN VOTE CALLED INTO QUESTION.
  • [07] HAGUE TRIBUNAL CHIEF BLASTS NATO FOR NOT ARRESTING WAR CRIMINALS.
  • [08] DISPLACED CROATS CAN REPATRIATE WHEN SERB REFUGEES' HOUSING IS PROVIDED.
  • [09] JOINT EFFORTS OF BOSNIAN GOVERNMENT AND SERBS IN SREBRENICA.
  • [10] MACEDONIA TO BUY RUMP YUGOSLAV ARMS?
  • [11] ZASTAVA STRIKES DOMINATE MEDIA COVERAGE IN SERBIA.
  • [12] RUSSIA AGREES TO RESCHEDULE MOLDOVA'S DEBT.
  • [13] BULGARIAN MEDIA LAW TO BE REVIEWED, PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS TO GET UNDER WAY.
  • [14] EXPECTING A HUNGRY WINTER IN BULGARIA.
  • [15] MACEDONIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS TO BE HELD ON 17 NOVEMBER.
  • [16] NEW TRIAL AGAINST ALBANIAN COMMUNIST-ERA OFFICIALS.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] BADALYAN'S CAMPAIGN PROGRAM.

    Interviewed in Yerevan on 16 September, Armenian Communist Party leader Sergei Badalyan highlighted the key points of his program for the 22 September presidential election. Badalyan advocates "renewed socialism," which he argues is an ideology uniquely suited to the Armenian mindset; a new NEP (New Economic Policy); the creation of agricultural collectives which peasants may join on a voluntary basis without relinquishing the land they acquired through privatization; and the revision of the constitution adopted in 1995 to limit the powers of the president and subordinate the government to parliament. Badalyan's foreign policy focuses on Armenian membership of the Russia-Belarus Union "in order to guarantee Armenia's national security." He believes that in seeking a solution to the Karabakh conflict the right to national self- determination should take precedence over the principle of territorial integrity. RFE/RL reports that there are now only three candidates for the 22 September election. Incumbent Levon Ter-Petrossyan faces the communist Badalyan and the unified opposition candidate Vazgen Manukyan. -- Liz Fuller in Yerevan (monitoring the presidential election for the European Institute for Media)

    [02] NAZARBAYEV IN TBILISI.

    Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and his visiting Kazakstani counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev signed 14 bilateral agreements in Tbilisi on 17 September, RFE/RL reported the same day. The accords cover economic cooperation, sport, transport, transit and trade as well as cooperation between the security agencies of the two countries. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [03] UZBEKISTAN HOSTS AFGHAN TALKS.

    An Afghan government delegation arrived in Tashkent on 17 September for three days of what were described as "secret" talks with Afghan General Rashid Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek commander in control of much of Afghan territory south of Uzbekistan, AFP reported the same day. Dostum, widely considered to be under Tashkent's patronage, is being vigorously courted by Kabul after the government lost the strategic town of Jalalabad last week, giving rise to fears Kabul may be overrun by the Taliban militia which presently controls an estimated 60% of the country. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [04] CEASEFIRE IN KARATEGIN VALLEY.

    Tajik government officials and opposition field commanders agreed to a ceasefire in the Karategin valley on 16 September, Western and Russian news agencies reported. The agreement appears to stipulate that checkpoints established by both sides are to be lifted in Garm, Jirgatal and Tajikabad, thereby permitting transit on the solitary artery linking the country's capital with the Pamirs and Kyrgyzstan. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [05] BOSNIAN PRESIDENT'S LEAD REMAINS STRONG.

    President Alija Izetbegovic of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) continues to lead his challenger for the Muslim seat on the three-man collective state presidency. He has 82% to 13% for Haris Silajdzic, AFP reported on 18 September. Among the Croats, Kresimir Zubak of the Croatian Democratic Community has 88%, putting him comfortably ahead of Ivo Komsic of the Joint List. The most interesting development is among the Serbs, where Momcilo Krajisnik of the governing Serbian Democratic Party has only 66% despite his party's virtual monopoly on the media and the police. Challenger Mladen Ivanic of the Alliance for Peace and Progress, which is close to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, has nearly 32% of the total so far despite a campaign of violence and intimidation against his party during the runup to the 14 September vote. Izetbegovic seems slated to be the first to hold the rotating chair of the presidency. -- Patrick Moore

    [06] BOSNIAN VOTE CALLED INTO QUESTION.

    An OSCE spokeswoman told the BBC on 17 September that the delays in counting votes are mainly due to technical problems and the exhaustion of poll workers, but the BBC suggested that more fundamental difficulties are involved. The SDA has challenged the elections held on Bosnian Serb territory, saying there was no freedom of movement and that various discriminatory measures were taken against Muslim refugees wanting to go home to vote, Onasa noted on 17 September. (See ). The International Crisis Group of prominent public figures issued a statement on 16 September that "against this background of adverse conditions, electoral engineering, and disenfranchisement, these elections cannot be described as free, fair, or democratic." The London Daily Telegraph cited one case in which a polling station recorded votes equivalent to a turnout of 107%. -- Patrick Moore

    [07] HAGUE TRIBUNAL CHIEF BLASTS NATO FOR NOT ARRESTING WAR CRIMINALS.

    Judge Richard Goldstone told The Independent on 17 September that his court and international justice in general will be dealt a "fatal blow" if NATO fails to arrest indicted Bosnian Serb war criminals Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic. Goldstone, head of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, charged that IFOR commanders are primarily interested in self-preservation and avoiding risks and casualties. He noted that ordinary soldiers, however, "feel a tremendous frustration that they aren't able to go out and get [the war criminals]." He concluded that "there is no political will to make [international justice] work." -- Patrick Moore

    [08] DISPLACED CROATS CAN REPATRIATE WHEN SERB REFUGEES' HOUSING IS PROVIDED.

    Soaren Jessen-Petersen, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees special envoy for the former Yugoslavia, at a meeting with Croatian Vice Premier Ivica Kostovic on 16 September, said finding housing for Serbs now living in the homes of Croats displaced from the Serb-held region of eastern Slavonia was the condition for the return of those displaced Croats, Hina reported. Jessen- Petersen said some Serbs now living in Bilje could not return to their homes because their property had been destroyed or occupied in line with some Croatian laws. According to the UNHCR, to avoid creating new refugees after displaced Croats return to their homes, Serbs should be given back their property or otherwise compensated. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [09] JOINT EFFORTS OF BOSNIAN GOVERNMENT AND SERBS IN SREBRENICA.

    Bosnian government and Bosnian Serb forensic teams started on 17 September to work together for the first time on recovering the remains of hundreds of Muslims scattered on hillsides near Srebrenica, AFP reported. Up to 8, 000 Muslim men are still unaccounted for after a former Muslim enclave was overrun by Bosnian Serbs last year. The head of the Bosnian Serb commission for the return of POWs and missing persons, Dragan Bulajic, says the victims were soldiers, while his Bosnian government counterpart Amor Masovic claims they were civilians. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [10] MACEDONIA TO BUY RUMP YUGOSLAV ARMS?

    The Macedonian and rump Yugoslav defense ministers are to meet soon to discuss the possibility of Skopje's purchasing military wares from Belgrade, Onasa, citing Vecer, reported on 16 September. Belgrade appears to be "in a hurry to dispose of its arms surpluses" to meet conditions of the Dayton peace agreement. Rump Yugoslavia is reportedly barred from contemplating the destruction of part of its arms stocks, as they may become part of discussions among all states from the former Yugoslavia over assets. Belgrade may believe it has found a loophole by giving control of its surplus arms to Macedonia and possibly working toward a military cooperation agreement with Skopje, noted Vecer. -- Stan Markotich

    [11] ZASTAVA STRIKES DOMINATE MEDIA COVERAGE IN SERBIA.

    The ongoing work stoppage in Kragujevac, waged by workers of the Zastava car and military plants, enters its 23rd day continuing to dominate headlines in Serbian media. Car plant director Miodrag Bogdanovic said on 16 September that the job action has reached such a critical level that foreign investors, with whom talks have allegedly been under way, may be scared off. He said investors are considering pulling out of a deal rumored to be worth "hundreds of millions of investment dollars" to the Serbian economy, Tanjug reported. Meanwhile Nasa Borba on 18 September reports that the strikers have attracted the support of opposition party leaders, with Serbian Renewal Movement Leader Vuk Draskovic concluding the strikers and "workers of Kragujevac are effectively fighting for [the rights] of all Serbia's workers." -- Stan Markotich

    [12] RUSSIA AGREES TO RESCHEDULE MOLDOVA'S DEBT.

    An agreement to reschedule Moldova's national debt to the Russian Federation was reached on 17 September in Chisinau, BASA-press and Infotag reported. The agreement was reached at the first meeting of the Moldovan-Russian Intergovernmental Commission for Economic Cooperation, presided over by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Valerii Serov and his Moldovan counterpart Valentin Cunev. The deal applies to $116 million worth of loans granted by Russia since 1992. The two sides also agreed to consider joint defense projects. A member of the Russian delegation, Minister for Relations with the CIS Aman Tuleev, said he regrets an interview published by the Moscow-based Pravda in which he said that Russia should not grant credits to Moldova if Mircea Snegur wins the November presidential election. Tuleev said he did not approve the final text of the interview. -- Dan Ionescu

    [13] BULGARIAN MEDIA LAW TO BE REVIEWED, PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS TO GET UNDER WAY.

    Bulgarian opposition deputies will submit the media law to the Constitutional Court, hoping for a ruling prior to 27 October presidential elections, Demokratsiya reported on 14 September. Experts say the law violates freedom of speech clauses in the constitution. The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) parliamentary majority readopted the law on 5 September following a 1 August veto by President Zhelyu Zhelev. Meanwhile, in election update news, official campaigning for the presidency is expected to kick off on 24 September. So far, the candidate of the united opposition, Petar Stoyanov, is the favorite of 30% of poll respondents, according to a survey, and about 20% support the BSP's Ivan Marazov, Standart reported on 16 September. -- Maria Koinova

    [14] EXPECTING A HUNGRY WINTER IN BULGARIA.

    Bread prices quadrupled in the past five months, Pari reported on 13 September. Because of a grain shortage, a kilo of bread now costs 85 leva, up from 62 leva in August. The lack of fodder forced some farmers to butcher pigs and export the meat for hard currency, which resulted in a rise in pork prices from 340 leva for 1 kilogram in August to 400 leva now. Trying to restore consumer confidence and restrain speculation, the government will introduce price controls for bread, milk, cheese, and oil on 1 October, Pari reported. Standart on 16 September called price controls a "tool of socialism" that would lead to black markets. Experts predict retail prices will jump to world levels this December. -- Maria Koinova

    [15] MACEDONIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS TO BE HELD ON 17 NOVEMBER.

    Macedonian Parliament President Tito Petkovski announced local elections for 17 November, Nova Makedonija reported on 17 September. The local legislatures and mayors of 123 newly drawn municipalities and the capital Skopje will be elected. Petkovski said that almost six years have passed since current town assemblies were constituted and that most of them have been functioning badly or not at all, MILS reported. Each voter will be issued a voter registration card. -- Fabian Schmidt

    [16] NEW TRIAL AGAINST ALBANIAN COMMUNIST-ERA OFFICIALS.

    Nine senior communists have gone on trial on charges of political persecution on 16 September, Reuters reported. State prosecutors Shkelqim Gani and Kadri Skeraj have charged the defendants, five of whom fled Albania and are to be tried in absentia, with crimes against humanity, including ordering the deportation of political dissidents. If found guilty, the defendants would face sentences ranging from 15 years in jail to the death penalty. One of the defendants was a member of the Communist Party's politburo, while the others were district party leaders. -- Fabian Schmidt

    Compiled by Steve Kettle and Susan Caskie
    News and information as of 1200 CET


    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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