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OMRI Daily Digest, Vol. 2, No. 183, 96-09-20

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

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

Vol. 2, No. 183, 20 September 1996


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION UPDATE.
  • [02] JOINT RUSSO-ARMENIAN MILITARY EXERCISE UNDER WAY.
  • [03] KAZAKSTAN ROUNDUP.
  • [04] DETAINED KAZAKSTANI JOURNALIST WINS COMPENSATION.
  • [05] STABILITY RETURNS TO EASTERN TAJIKISTAN.

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [06] ROW BUILDING UP OVER BOSNIAN PRESIDENCY . . .
  • [07] . . . AND HURDLES REMAIN REGARDING THE ELECTIONS.
  • [08] SOLANA: NATO MUST REMAIN "ENGAGED" IN BOSNIA.
  • [09] CROATIA WANTS ELECTIONS IN EASTERN SLAVONIA ON 15 DECEMBER.
  • [10] IFOR COMMANDER DEMANDS SACKING OF SERB POLICE CHIEF.
  • [11] THE POLITICS OF THE SERBIAN STRIKE.
  • [12] SLOVENES TO VOTE ON ELECTORAL REFORM.
  • [13] ROMANIAN RULING PARTY LAUNCHES "POLITICAL OFFER."
  • [14] EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT "SHOCKED" BY ROMANIAN ANTI-GAY LAWS.
  • [15] GERMANY AND MACEDONIA SIGN MILITARY AGREEMENT.
  • [16] BULGARIA'S UN ENVOY BLASTS HIS GOVERNMENT.
  • [17] BULGARIA'S STATE-OWNED BANKS FOR SALE.
  • [18] GREEK-ALBANIAN UPDATE.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION UPDATE.

    According to a poll published on 19 September in Express-Khronika, 57.3% of respondents said they will vote in the 22 September presidential election for united opposition candidate Vazgen Manukyan. Incumbent President Levon Ter- Petrossyan would take 33.7% of the vote, Communist Party candidate Sergei Badalyan 8.2%, and Scientific-Industrial Civic Union leader Ashot Manucharyan 0.7%. Ter-Petrossyan 's campaign fund had raised 168 million drams ($ 410,450) by 17 September, according to a representative of the fund, Noyan Tapan reported on 18 September. Some 44 million drams ($107,500) have already been spent. -- Elin Suleymanov

    [02] JOINT RUSSO-ARMENIAN MILITARY EXERCISE UNDER WAY.

    Russian and Armenian forces began joint tactical exercises on 19 September, Russian and Western media reported. The exercises involve troops, warplanes and armored vehicles and are taking place near the Turkish border in Armavir. The exercises were originally to be held from 23-27 September but were pulled forward to effectively coincide with the Armenian presidential election. Last March the two sides undertook similar exercises for the first time. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [03] KAZAKSTAN ROUNDUP.

    Kazakstan has a newly established main intelligence directorate within the country's Ministry of Defense, Karavan-Blitz reported on 19 September. The department was established by a special decree of Defense Minister Alibek Kasymov and will be manned by five of the country's 45 generals. In other news, some 200 businessmen attended a conference in Almaty sponsored by the Islamic Development Bank, RFE/RL reported on 19 September. It was announced that the IDB will open an office in Kazakstan and provide the country with special credits for railroad construction. -- Lowell Bezanis and Merhat Sharipzhan

    [04] DETAINED KAZAKSTANI JOURNALIST WINS COMPENSATION.

    A suit brought by Batyrkhan Darimbet, RFE/RL stringer in Kazakstan, against the city of Almaty police department ended on 18 September, RFE/RL reported the same day. The court agreed that Darimbet's human rights and professional dignity were violated when he was detained in early July en route to a press conference for visiting Chinese President Jiang Zemin. The presiding judge awarded 10,000 tenge (around $150) to Darimbet, far less than the 6 million tenge he demanded. Two activists associated respectively with the Azat and Jeltoksan nationalist parties were also detained at the same police station where Darimbet was held, evidently to prevent them too from attending the press conference. -- Lowell Bezanis and Merhat Sharipzhan

    [05] STABILITY RETURNS TO EASTERN TAJIKISTAN.

    Secretary of the Tajik Security Council Amirkul Azimov told a press conference on 19 September that the ceasefire in the Karetegin Valley is holding, ITAR- TASS reported. A protocol signed by representatives from the Tajik government and opposition on 15-16 September ended fighting in the area which began in late August. Both sides agreed to take down their check points in the Jirgatal and Tajikabad areas and allow interior and security agencies to renew their work there and to reopen the Dushanbe-Jirgatal highway. Further south, an accord was signed on 18 September in the border town of Ishkashim between the commander of the Russian border troops, Lt.-Gen. Pavel Tarasenko, and the commander of Afghanistan's 6th Army Corps., Col.-Gen. Najmuddin, to establish a 25-kilometer buffer zone in Afghanistan's Shungan province, a move aimed at stemming Tajik opposition infiltration from Afghanistan. -- Bruce Pannier

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [06] ROW BUILDING UP OVER BOSNIAN PRESIDENCY . . .

    The three-man collective presidency has yet to meet, but already differences have emerged among Muslims, Serbs, and Croats that reflect the differences in the agendas of the three leading parties. On the issue of where that body will meet, the Serb Momcilo Krajisnik said he fears for his safety in Sarajevo and offered Pale as an alternative, which is unacceptable to the Muslims and Croats. The Muslims earlier rejected a Serb proposal for a meeting place on the demarcation line, which the Muslims said would only underscore the division rather than the unity of Bosnia-Herzegovina. A second point involves the length of the Muslim Alija Izetbegovic's term as chairman. The Muslims say it should last two years, while Krajisnik wants each man to have eight months in the office. The Croat Kresimir Zubak, a lawyer, argues that the matter is not clear and will have to be discussed. A third issue is Izetbegovic's demand that Krajisnik, whose party supports a greater Serbia, take a loyalty oath to Bosnia-Herzegovina. Zubak met separately with each of the other two men on 19 September to prepare the groundwork for a joint meeting. -- Patrick Moore

    [07] . . . AND HURDLES REMAIN REGARDING THE ELECTIONS.

    The elections must be certified by the OSCE in order to be valid, but Izetbegovic's party and some NGOs have charged that the vote in the Republika Srpska was not fair and democratic. OSCE election monitor Edward van Thijn suggested that the OSCE hold off on certification--scheduled for next week-- until the Serbs bring their constitution into line with the Bosnian one set down in the Dayton agreement. Ten days after the elections are certified, the UN Security Council is expected to lift sanctions against Belgrade and Pale. Meanwhile, unofficial returns show that the three nationalist parties are sweeping the remaining five categories of offices voted on in the 14 September election, Onasa and Oslobodjenje reported. -- Patrick Moore

    [08] SOLANA: NATO MUST REMAIN "ENGAGED" IN BOSNIA.

    NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said on 19 September that the international community, including NATO, must remain engaged in Bosnia after the departure of the IFOR peacekeeping force in December, AFP reported. Solana told the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) there may have to be a continued military presence in Bosnia, albeit smaller and for a strictly limited term. UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali that same day also warned the international community against an early disengagement from Bosnia. But U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry warned that sending U.S. troops into Bosnia again next year would "pose a very substantial problem," AFP reported on 19 September. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [09] CROATIA WANTS ELECTIONS IN EASTERN SLAVONIA ON 15 DECEMBER.

    The Croatian National Defense and Security Council (VONS) on 18 September decided that local elections in eastern Slavonia, the last Serb-held area, should be held on 15 December, the Croatian Foreign Press Bureau reported the next day. Zagreb wants the UN troops to leave Croatia on 15 January, when their mandate expires, and to have the area returned to its control. But rebel Serbs want the UN mandate to be extended, and they are supported by UN Secretary General Boutros-Ghali. Meanwhile, the Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS) filed a complaint with Croatia's Constitutional Court, demanding that the security council be abolished as it is an unconstitutional body exceeding the powers of both the government and parliament, Slobodna Dalmacija reported on 20 September. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [10] IFOR COMMANDER DEMANDS SACKING OF SERB POLICE CHIEF.

    Adm. Joseph Lopez, NATO's top commander for Bosnia, asked Biljana Plavsic, the Republika Srpska's acting president, to immediately remove a Bosnian Serb police chief who threatened NATO troops, Oslobodjenje reported on 20 September. If the Serbs do not comply by noon on 20 September, "IFOR will take remedial action to remove this threat to our troops," Lopez's spokesman Capt. Mark Van Dyke said according to AFP. The incident occurred when Simo Drljaca, the police chief in Prijedor, was asked by a patrol of Czech IFOR troops to hand over a sub-machine gun found in his car, but he cocked and pointed the weapon at the troops. More Serb police armed arrived in reinforcements and surrounded the Czechs. Both sides fired into the air; no injuries were reported. Lopez insisted that Drljaca be replaced and the weapons be turned over to IFOR for destruction. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [11] THE POLITICS OF THE SERBIAN STRIKE.

    The strike of Kragujevac arms and auto workers continues amid intensifying politicization. Nasa Borba on 20 September reported that the leadership of the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) has denied allegations published in the pro- government press that it fomented the strike action. In a less-than-subtle reference to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, the SPO said that the workers "know who the real protest organizer is. ...[Workers] have been thrown on the streets by the same crooks who have bank accounts in Cyprus, and by the hunger that those crooks have to be held accountable for." -- Stan Markotich

    [12] SLOVENES TO VOTE ON ELECTORAL REFORM.

    The Slovenian legislature has voted, honoring a decision by the Constitutional Court, that a referendum be held on electoral reform on 8 December, STA reported on 19 September. The referendum and its results will not interfere with the country's national elections on 10 November. Slovenia is divided into eight districts, and winning candidates are apportioned seats from party lists. In December, Slovenes will be asked to choose from three electoral options, which include the possibility of increasing the number of districts and implementing a first-past-the-post system of directly electing candidates. In other news, Reuters on 19 September reported that Slovenia and the EU have signed an interim trade accord that will define relations until the signing of a treaty "promising" Slovenia EU membership. -- Stan Markotich

    [13] ROMANIAN RULING PARTY LAUNCHES "POLITICAL OFFER."

    The ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania on 18 and 19 September launched a new political platform ahead of presidential and general elections scheduled for 3 November, Radio Bucharest reported. The platform consists of 21 separate programs for boosting political, social, and economic reforms. It includes measures designed to improve social protection, health conditions, and education; to combat unemployment and corruption; and to speed up Romania's integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures. President Ion Iliescu, who attended the launching ceremony on 18 September, said that his own electoral platform was closely connected to that of the PDSR. -- Dan Ionescu

    [14] EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT "SHOCKED" BY ROMANIAN ANTI-GAY LAWS.

    The Strasbourg-based European Parliament (EP) on 19 September expressed "shock" over proposed changes in the Romanian penal code that make homosexual relations punishable by up to three years in jail, Radio Bucharest and Western agencies reported. In a resolution condemning the 10 September decision by Romania's Chamber of Deputies, the EP urged President Iliescu to intervene to prevent the penal code changes and asked the Romanian government to "abide by its commitment" to the Council of Europe to eliminate "repression of homosexuality." A spokesman for Iliescu said on the same day that the president "does not agree with those parliamentarians who voted for articles in the penal code that do not harmonize with European legislation." -- Dan Ionescu

    [15] GERMANY AND MACEDONIA SIGN MILITARY AGREEMENT.

    German State Secretary in the Defense Ministry Bernd Wilz and Macedonian Defense Minister Blagoj Handziski signed a military cooperation agreement in Skopje on 19 September, Nova Makedonija reported. The deal provides for German training of Macedonian officers. Handziski expressed the determination of Macedonia to quickly fulfill the conditions for full-fledged NATO membership. Skopje has signed similar treaties with six other countries. Wilz said that Germany has a strong interest in the development of democratization and human rights in Macedonia. -- Fabian Schmidt

    [16] BULGARIA'S UN ENVOY BLASTS HIS GOVERNMENT.

    Slavi Pashovsky, who has a record of falling out with the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) government by accusing it of trying to restore communism, is again in hot water with Sofia authorities. On 20 September Pashovsky sent an open letter to his government protesting its decision to bar him from attending the current UN General Assembly, international media reported. Pashovsky complained the government wants "only people presenting their views" to be appointed. "We remained silent for too long, and you went too far," he said. The BBC noted on 20 September that it is "unprecedented" for a UN envoy to attack his own government in a public press conference. -- Maria Koinova

    [17] BULGARIA'S STATE-OWNED BANKS FOR SALE.

    All state-owned banks except Bulbank are to be offered for privatization, the Bank Consolidation Company's (BKK) decided on 18 September, Trud reported the next day. The government is thus no longer obligated to retain a 51% controlling interest in the institutions. BKK is already reportedly looking for long-term investors with a strategic business outlook. Biochim Bank is slated to start cooperation with the Dutch AMRO, while the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is rumored to be interested in buying the United Bulgarian Bank. Meanwhile, South Korea's Daewoo has aimed its sights at Balkanbank and the Dutch ING Bank has a long-standing cooperation with the Post Bank, reported Duma. -- Maria Koinova

    [18] GREEK-ALBANIAN UPDATE.

    Albanian Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi on 18 September met Kostandin Prevedourakis, the newly appointed Greek ambassador to Albania, ATSH reported. Meksi hailed the improvement of mutual relations. Prevedourakis assured Meksi of Greece's good will to further promote cooperation in various fields. -- 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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