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OMRI Daily Digest, Vol. 2, No. 184, 96-09-23

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

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

Vol. 2, No. 184, 23 September 1996


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIA, ADZHARIA ELECTIONS.
  • [02] HOT LINE TO KAZAKSTANI PRESIDENT.
  • [03] DRAFT LAW ON POLITICAL PARTIES PUBLISHED IN UZBEKISTAN.
  • [04] KAZAK-KYRGYZ-UZBEK TRINITY?

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [05] BOSNIAN VOTE TALLY THROWN OUT...
  • [06] ...BUT IZETBEGOVIC DECLARED HEAD OF BOSNIAN PRESIDENCY IN RECOUNT.
  • [07] NATO CONFISCATES GUNS FROM ARMED MUSLIMS.
  • [08] UN CRITICIZES CROATIA.
  • [09] CROATIAN UNIONS THREATEN STRIKES.
  • [10] SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER CONVICTED OF LIBEL.
  • [11] RUMP YUGOSLAV PREMIER IN ROMANIA.
  • [12] BULGARIAN-GREEK FOREIGN MINISTER SIGN ACCORDS.
  • [13] BULGARIAN PENSIONS RAISED.
  • [14] ALBANIAN LOCAL ELECTION UPDATE.
  • [15] DID POLIO EPIDEMIC REACH ALBANIA FROM CHECHNYA VIA TURKEY?
  • [16] SOCIALISTS WIN GREEK ELECTIONS.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIA, ADZHARIA ELECTIONS.

    An estimated 2.4 million voters cast their ballots on 22 September in Armenia's second presidential election, international agencies reported. Incumbent Levon Ter-Petrossyan's principal challenger, National Democratic Union leader Vazgen Manukyan, alleged that serious irregularities took place during the vote. There has been no independent confirmation of these allegations. Russia openly threw its weight behind Ter-Petrossyan, with President Yeltsin sending greetings to mark the fifth anniversary of Armenia's independence the day before the vote. Prime Minister Chernomyrdin went further the same day, telling Armenian Television viewers Ter-Petrossyan was a brave, reliable, selfless, and thoughtful man he liked to work with. Joint Russo- Armenian military exercises and a subsequent military parade in Yerevan were also intended to support the incumbent. Meanwhile, parliamentary elections were held in Adzharia on 22 September, ITAR-TASS reported. Some 225,000 voters cast ballots without incident to elect 80 deputies. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [02] HOT LINE TO KAZAKSTANI PRESIDENT.

    Citizens of Kazakstan have an opportunity to voice their grievances to President Nursultan Nazarbayev through one of four telephone lines, NTV reported on 21 September. The idea is Nazarbayev's and is intended to help the president get in touch with the problems of the population. According to the report most callers so far have complained about their "wretched lifestyle" and about the regional and oblast Akims, the Kazak equivalent of councilors. The leadership of the Pokolenie (Generation) movement said their three-hour attempt to reach an operator on the hot line was unsuccessful, and the NTV report noted that four phone lines are clearly not enough to serve a country of 16 million. -- Bruce Pannier

    [03] DRAFT LAW ON POLITICAL PARTIES PUBLISHED IN UZBEKISTAN.

    Narodno slovo on 19 September published a draft law on political parties for public discussion. It prohibits the establishment of parties based on ethnic or religious lines, and those advocating war or the subversion of the constitutional order, according to the BBC-monitored report. Military and law-enforcement personnel, foreigners, and stateless people will not be able to join parties. In a bid to prevent regionally based parties, the law stipulates that prospective parties must divulge details of 3,000 members distributed over at least eight of the country's regional-level administrative territories. Parties may not accept donations from state, foreign, religious, or anonymous sources. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [04] KAZAK-KYRGYZ-UZBEK TRINITY?

    Kazakstani President Nazarbayev has sent a letter to his Uzbek counterpart Islam Karimov suggesting Almaty is disappointed with the unimplemented customs union agreement signed with Russia, Belarus, and Kyrgyzstan, RFE/RL reported on 19 September. Nazarbayev proposed closer ties with Bishkek and Tashkent, including the establishment of a unified parliament of the three countries. Delovaya nedelya., carrying the RFE/RL report on 20 September, noted that Nazarbayev initially expressed his concerns during unofficial talks with Karimov and Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev in Jambul in August. The report also alleged that Almaty's plans to become Moscow's principal ally have failed to bear fruit as Belarus is successfully playing this role, and that Tashkent is cool to Nazarbayev's newfound interest in his fellow Central Asians. -- Lowell Bezanis and Merhat Sharipzhan

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [05] BOSNIAN VOTE TALLY THROWN OUT...

    The OSCE body that supervised the 14 September elections has said it has withdrawn its earlier, tentative elections returns, international media reported on 22 September. Spokesmen said there were numerous computer mistakes and other technical errors, such as counting some polling stations' figures twice. Hrair Balian of the NGO International Crisis Group (ICG), which has been critical of the elections, called the tally "a royal mess," adding that the OSCE's conduct throughout the poll was "irresponsible" and that its mismanagement invited challenges from nationalists who wanted to discredit the entire electoral process. The ICG had noted earlier that the returns showed that 104% of the total electorate had voted, the International Herald Tribune reported on 21 September. The Sunday Times suggested the next day that 107% of the Muslims had cast ballots. The turnout in the 1990 elections was 74%. -- Patrick Moore

    [06] ...BUT IZETBEGOVIC DECLARED HEAD OF BOSNIAN PRESIDENCY IN RECOUNT.

    The OSCE nonetheless quickly backtracked and declared that a recount had shown Alija Izetbegovic to be the presidential candidate with the highest number of votes. What the OSCE called "preliminary final results" gave 731,024 votes to Izetbegovic, 690,130 to the Serbian candidate Momcilo Krajisnik, and 329, 891 to the Croatian Kresimir Zubak, Reuters reported. Izetbegovic's original margin of victory had been 26,000 votes. The OSCE is not expected to announce final results before this Saturday, which is one week later than expected. The parties will then have 72 hours to register complaints, which the OSCE, in turn, has 72 hours to consider. Only then will it decide on the validity of the vote. The OSCE has been talking about holding municipal elections on 22- 24 November, but the imbroglio surrounding the previous vote makes such an early date increasingly unlikely. Meanwhile, OMRI's special correspondent reported from Sarajevo on 23 September that the OSCE has closed its press center there. -- Patrick Moore

    [07] NATO CONFISCATES GUNS FROM ARMED MUSLIMS.

    IFOR peacekeeping forces on 21 September confiscated a dozen or so weapons found among a group of Muslims who had returned to repair houses in a Muslim village in the Bosnian Serb entity within a separation zone where weapons are banned, Oslobodjenje reported on 23 September. Major Brett Boudreau said IFOR is waiting to see if this was another "flash point" or if it indicated a legitimate return of Muslims to their villages. Meanwhile, the Bosnian Serb authorities on 20 September sacked the Prijedor police chief in line with a NATO ultimatum for his dismissal following an incident with IFOR troops earlier that week (see ), AFP reported. In other news, Bosnian Serbs said they will boycott arbitration talks over the northern town of Brcko because the maps of the disputed region have not been made public, Oslobodjenje reported. -- Daria Sito S ucic

    [08] UN CRITICIZES CROATIA.

    The UN Security Council on 20 September criticized Croatia for "numerous incidents" in areas it has retaken from rebel Serbs, which, it said, are threatening efforts to reintegrate refugees and displaced persons, AFP reported. The UN expressed concern about the security of both Serbian refugees and human rights workers. Ivan Zvonimir Cicak, head of the Croatian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, welcomed the UN statement, particularly its references to the frequent attacks on and threat to human rights activists in Croatia. The Croatian parliament the same day adopted a law amnestying Serbs who fought against Croatia but excluding war criminals and those who violated human rights. Meanwhile, Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic on 22 September left for New York to attend a UN General Assembly session and discuss the situation in eastern Slavonia, the last Serb-held part of Croatia, Hina reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [09] CROATIAN UNIONS THREATEN STRIKES.

    Trade union officials told AFP on 21 September that urgent action must be taken to fight unemployment, which has drastically increased following layoffs in the shipbuilding, textile and oil industries as well as the large number of demobilized soldiers on the labor market. Hasim Bahtijari, spokesman for the trade unions' umbrella organization, said demonstrations will be organized at the national and regional level "because the social situation has got worse since last year and the government has not responded to our demands." Croatian Trade Minister Davor Stern says unemployment is about 12% or 13%, but the unions estimate it is as high as 22%. Trade union officials said industrial restructuring is one of the reasons why people have been laid off, and they recommend businesses to opt for early retirements instead of layoffs. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [10] SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER CONVICTED OF LIBEL.

    Democratic Party (DS) leader Zoran Djindjic on 20 September received a suspended four-month prison sentence after being found guilty of libel, Beta reported. Djindjic has 15 days to appeal the Belgrade court ruling. Djindjic was charged with libel after running an advertisement earlier this year in Nedeljni Telegraf suggesting that Serbian Premier Mirko Marjanovic had been involved in the misappropriaton of grain and gas supplies. Dragoljub Belic, editor of Nedeljni Telegraf and Djindjic's co-defendant, was acquitted. Djindjic maintained throughout his trial that he did not intend to embarrass or belittle Marjanovic but to make the public aware of government abuse of authority. -- Stan Markotich

    [11] RUMP YUGOSLAV PREMIER IN ROMANIA.

    Radoje Kontic on 22 September ended a three-day official visit to Romania, Radio Bucharest reported. Kontic met with his Romanian counterpart, Nicolae Vacaroiu, Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu, Senate Chairman Oliviu Gherman, Chamber of Deputy Chairman Adrian Nastase, and President Ion Iliescu, who noted that the lifting of the economic embargo on Serbia and Montenegro will help "revitalize" bilateral economic relations. The two countries signed agreements aimed at boosting cooperation in agriculture, tourism, industry, and trade. Romania also pledged to back Yugoslavia's efforts to reintegrate into the international community. The two countries signed a basic treaty in May. -- Dan Ionescu

    [12] BULGARIAN-GREEK FOREIGN MINISTER SIGN ACCORDS.

    Georgi Pirinski and Theodoros Pangalos, meeting in the Bulgarian town of Smoliyan on 19 September, signed two accords on the use of strategic water reserves and the opening of three new checkpoints, Reuters reported. Bulgaria will guarantee 29% control over the average annual Maritsa River flow to Greece. According to Trud, Greece has controlled 80% of the flow until now owing to Bulgaria's lack of funds to construct new reservoirs. This accord ends a year-long dispute. The three new checkpoints-- at Gotse Deltchev-Drama, Smolian-Xanti, and Kardzhali-Komotini--are to be financed by the EU PHARE Program and INTERREG II. Last week, Bulgaria began transitting Russian natural gas to Greece, which is the second country--after Turkey-- to receive Russian gas via Bulgarian territory. -- Maria Koinova

    [13] BULGARIAN PENSIONS RAISED.

    The Bulgarian National Insurance Institute on 20 September announced that as of 7 October, pensions will increase by 30% to take into account inflation, the Bulgarian press reported. The minimum pension has been set at 2808 leva ($11), while the average pension is to be 5712 leva and a ceiling has been imposed at 8424 leva. According to Social Minister Mintcho Koralski, "there is no shortage of funds for either pensioners or the unemployed." In the meantime, 24 Chasa reported that prices for electricity and heating will rise by 14 % beginning 1 October. -- Maria Koinova

    [14] ALBANIAN LOCAL ELECTION UPDATE.

    President Sali Berisha on 20 September issued a decree appointing new members of the Central Electoral Commission, following an agreement with the opposition reached earlier this month. That body, in turn, has appointed 36 district commissions, a Tirana municipality commission, and a watchdog body to ensure fair public TV and radio coverage, ATSH reported. Meanwhile, the lustration commission has rejected five of the Democratic Party's 140 mayoralty candidates. It has not yet investigated opposition candidates. Koha Jone reported on 20 September that the Center Pole coalition has still not decided whether to take part in the ballot or not. Imprisoned Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano called on his party to participate in the ballot. -- Fabian Schmidt

    [15] DID POLIO EPIDEMIC REACH ALBANIA FROM CHECHNYA VIA TURKEY?

    UNICEF vaccination expert Martin Bruno told AFP on 20 September that he believes the polio epidemic in Albania may have originated in Chechnya. Seventy-five cases have been reported in Albania since April, and seven Albanians have died from the disease. Bruno pointed out that this year's immunization program in Chechnya included only 58% of children due to the civil war. Some 150 polio cases have been reported there. He added that the disease probably reached Albania via Turkey, where 10 cases have been registered. The World Health Organization is to launch a mass vaccination program targeting some 3 million Albanians. -- Fabian Schmidt

    [16] SOCIALISTS WIN GREEK ELECTIONS.

    Prime Minister Kostas Simitis's Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) has won the 22 September elections, gaining 41.5% of the vote (162 seats in the 300-member parliament), international media reported. New Democracy came second, with 38.17% (108 seats). Simitis ran an election campaign supporting membership in the European currency union and tough monetary policy. He also capitalized on nationalist sentiments over Greece's relations with Turkey and the Cyprus dispute. His new cabinet is to be announced on 24 September. Observers speculated that Education Minister George Papandreou, the son of late socialist leader Andreas Papandreou, may replace Theodoros Pangalos as foreign minister. Pangalos has failed to win strong support for Greece from within the EU over its disputes with Turkey. -- Fabian Schmidt

    Compiled by Steve Kettle and Jan Cleave
    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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