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OMRI Daily Digest, Vol. 2, No. 200, 96-10-15

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

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

Vol. 2, No. 200, 15 October 1996


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ABKHAZIA REJECTS NEW GEORGIAN PEACE PROPOSAL.
  • [02] CHEVRON/SOCAR OIL SWAP IN PROGRESS.
  • [03] COUNCIL OF EUROPE DELEGATION VISITS ARMENIA.
  • [04] UZBEK SOM IN TROUBLE?
  • [05] TAJIK OPPOSITION ATTACK.

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [06] BOSNIAN SERB LEADER SAYS SEPARATION STILL A PRIORITY.
  • [07] CROATS BLOCK SERB REFUGEES FROM RETURNING HOME.
  • [08] BOSNIAN MUSLIM REBEL'S BACKERS ARRESTED.
  • [09] MORE CALLS FOR DELAYING BOSNIA'S MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS.
  • [10] OPPOSITION BOYCOTTS ZAGREB CITY COUNCIL.
  • [11] CROATIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES BILL ON PROPERTY OWNERSHIP.
  • [12] BELGRADE JOURNAL PUBLISHES VUKOVAR ACCOUNT.
  • [13] LJUBLJANA-BELGRADE RELATIONS AT A STALEMATE.
  • [14] ROMANIAN POLITICIANS PAY RESPECT TO ORTHODOX RELICS.
  • [15] NEW COALITION GOVERNMENT IN BULGARIA?
  • [16] ALARMING STATISTICS IN BULGARIA.
  • [17] PRO-GOVERNMENT DAILY SUGGESTS ALBANIAN SOCIALISTS BEHIND MURDER.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ABKHAZIA REJECTS NEW GEORGIAN PEACE PROPOSAL.

    Abkhaz parliament chairman Vladislav Ardzinba has rejected a new Georgian proposal for talks on resolving the issue of Abkhazia's status vis-a-vis the Georgian government in Tbilisi with the participation of Western powers, according to an 11 October Republic of Abkhazia Radio broadcast monitored by the BBC. UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali's envoy to Abkhazia, Edouard Brunner, endorsed the Abkhaz proposal to hold a new parliamentary election on 23 November, following a meeting with Ardzinba on 10 October. The proposal has been condemned by Tbilisi. The Abkhaz Supreme Soviet in exile in Tbilisi condemned Brunner's statement and called on the UN to replace him, Iberia news agency reported on 12 October. Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze on 14 October said he believed that "the UN, European structures, and Russia have not yet exhausted the possibilities for a political settlement" in Abkhazia, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Liz Fuller

    [02] CHEVRON/SOCAR OIL SWAP IN PROGRESS.

    The first tanker of oil from Kazakstan's Tengiz oil field docked at the Dyubendi terminal north of Baku on 11 October, Turan reported. Under an agreement between Tengizchevroil and Azerbaijan's state oil company, SOCAR, 20, 000 metric tons of oil from Kazakstan is to be transported across the Caspian Sea; in return, SOCAR will deliver the same amount by rail to the Georgian Black Sea port of Batumi for export. The one-time swap is intended to test the viability of using routes to export oil from Kazakstan avoiding Russia; if it proves successful, the Batumi route could be used to export 1 million tons per year. Chevron President Richard Matzke arrived in Baku on 11 October from Georgia where he held talks on this project with President Eduard Shevardnadze and Adzhar parliament chairman Aslan Abashidze. -- Liz Fuller

    [03] COUNCIL OF EUROPE DELEGATION VISITS ARMENIA.

    A three-member delegation of the Council of Europe has concluded a visit to Armenia aimed at assessing the post-election situation in that country, Noyan Tapan reported on 14 October. The delegation met with Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan and his main opposition challenger, Vazgen Manukyan. The delegates said on 11 October that they do not consider the Armenian opposition to be "fascist." During one of his campaign speeches, Ter-Petrossyan said Armenia would be faced with fascism if the opposition came to power. The delegation will release its final report in November. In other news, the OSCE's Warsaw Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights told RFE/RL on 14 October that its final report on the presidential election in Armenia "will be consistent with" its previous statement that questioned the validity of the vote. -- Emil Danielyan

    [04] UZBEK SOM IN TROUBLE?

    The Uzbek Central Bank has refuted rumors that the country's currency is unstable, Ozbekiston Ovozi reported on 12 October. In a published statement, the bank said there is no government plan to introduce a new currency in Uzbekistan or devalue the existing som as a means of putting a stop to the currency's steady decline. While the som remained stable for most of 1995 and 1996, it began to fall from its rate of 35/$1 in the summer of 1996 to the current level of 40.50/$1. More telling is the fact that the black market rate has jumped from 40/$1 to more than 70/$1 over the same period. Curiously, the currency woes are taking place when Uzbekistan's economic output and foreign investment are increasing. -- Roger Kangas

    [05] TAJIK OPPOSITION ATTACK.

    The United Tajik Opposition radio Voice of Free Tajikistan reported on 12 October that its forces in the Gorno-Badakhshsan area attacked Russian troops in the Darvoz district, killing 36 Russian border guards and capturing 15 others. The broadcast also claimed that the opposition shot down three helicopters and seized some ammunition. However, RTR on 14 October and Nezavisimaya gazeta on 15 October suggested that no Russian border guards have been killed and that five opposition fighters were killed while trying to cross the Pyanj River. -- Bruce Pannier

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [06] BOSNIAN SERB LEADER SAYS SEPARATION STILL A PRIORITY.

    Independence from the Croat-Muslim federation and union with Serbia still top the governing Serbian Democratic Party's (SDS) agenda, Aleksa Buha, the foreign minister of the Republika Srpska and head of the SDS said on 14 October. He demanded that the U.S., United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, China, and the UN set up diplomatic offices in Pale. Buha added that the Republika Srpska's government and parliament will meet there on 19 October, news agencies and Nasa Borba reported. Buha said the Serbs might take until 28 October to return to the three-man Bosnian presidency, which he said will determine its own rules and procedures. -- Patrick Moore

    [07] CROATS BLOCK SERB REFUGEES FROM RETURNING HOME.

    Bosnian Croats prevented 250 Serbs from visiting their homes in Drvar on 13 October, forcing the refugees to go back to Banja Luka, Nasa Borba reported. Tens of thousands of Croatian and Bosnian Serbs fled the Croatian advance roughly one year ago. They have since charged the Croats with conducting a policy of "ethnic cleansing" and using violence and intimidation against the mainly elderly or infirm Serbs who stayed behind. The Dayton agreement guarantees freedom of movement and the right to return to one's home. Onasa quoted a UNHCR spokesman on 14 October saying the incident was particularly "tragic" since the association of Serbs from Drvar is one of the few voices in the Republika Srpska calling for all people to return to their homes. -- Patrick Moore

    [08] BOSNIAN MUSLIM REBEL'S BACKERS ARRESTED.

    Muslim authorities arrested 18 people in Bihac and Velika Kladusa on suspicion of war crimes over the weekend, AFP reported on 14 October. Critics charge that the 18 are being hounded because they support former local kingpin Fikret Abdic, a bitter enemy of the Sarajevo government who has left the country. A judge released 13 but ruled the remaining five could be held for a month. That violates the 1996 Rome agreement between all three sides in Bosnia not to hold any suspects who have not been indicted by the war crimes tribunal in The Hague. Meanwhile in Sarajevo, the first bus from Belgrade since April 1992 arrived on 14 October, Nasa Borba and Onasa reported. -- Patrick Moore

    [09] MORE CALLS FOR DELAYING BOSNIA'S MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS.

    Echoing comments by OSCE chief monitor Ed van Thijn (see ), UN human-rights rapporteur Elisabeth Rehn said on 14 October that municipal elections should be postponed until spring because of continuing human-rights violations as well as the winter weather, AFP reported. Former Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic said the elections should wait until spring "because time is needed to remove evident irregularities and mistakes noticed during the September polls." A final decision on when the elections will be held will be taken this week, according to Robert Frowick, head of the OSCE mission in Bosnia. Meanwhile, the international community's High Representative, Carl Bildt, urged the OSCE to continue follow-up work after the elections. The agency recently decided it has neither the mandate "nor structures necessary for the installation of elected officials." Installing the candidates elected in Bosnia's September general elections has proved difficult, and more problems are expected as Muslims will presumably be elected to municipal councils in the Republika Srpska. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [10] OPPOSITION BOYCOTTS ZAGREB CITY COUNCIL.

    The Alliance of Opposition Parties began a 30-day boycott of Zagreb's city council to force President Franjo Tudjman to accept one of their own as the Croatian capital's mayor, international and local agencies reported. The six opposition parties warned last month they would boycott the council if Tudjman does not agree to an opposition mayor, but received no response. The statement warned of additional pressure if Tudjman failed to respond positively to their requests. In the past year, Tudjman has rejected four candidates for mayor nominated by the council's opposition majority, arguing that the capital cannot be run by opponents of state policy. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [11] CROATIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES BILL ON PROPERTY OWNERSHIP.

    The lower house of the Croatian parliament approved a bill compensating people whose property was nationalized or confiscated under communist rule, Slobodna Dalmacija reported on 15 October. An estimated $57 billion worth of property is involved, including land, apartments, and business locations. Justice Minister Miroslav Separovic said the government strove for a balance between the state's means and legitimate requests for restitution. Critics said the bill does not return enough property. The Ministry of Justice has registered more than 67,000 applications for restitution, including several hundred applications by the Roman Catholic and Serbian Orthodox churches, as well as by the Croatian Jewish community. The latter criticized the legislation because it ignored assets seized by fascists during World War II. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [12] BELGRADE JOURNAL PUBLISHES VUKOVAR ACCOUNT.

    A member of the federal Yugoslav army has become the first official to give a statement to the Belgrade media confirming that Serbs committed atrocities after the fall of the Croatian city of Vukovar in 1991, Reuters reported on 14 October. According to an unnamed soldier cited in Dnevni Telegraf, drunken Serbian paramilitaries assaulted and robbed Croatian men before taking them to a location just outside Vukovar to be executed. The Yugoslav army has denied all charges that it was aware of such atrocities or that it was in any way connected to them. Reuters also quoted Dejan Anastasijevic, a journalist with the independent weekly Vreme, speculating that the soldier's remarks "may be a sign that [Serbian President Slobodan] Milosevic is preparing the ground for extraditing" Colonel Veselin Sljivancanin, indicted for participating in the Vukovar atrocities. -- Stan Markotich

    [13] LJUBLJANA-BELGRADE RELATIONS AT A STALEMATE.

    Ivo Vajgl, a representative of Slovenia's foreign ministry said on 14 October that despite Belgrade media reports to the contrary, relations between Slovenia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia are not likely to advance or improve in the near future. The Ljubljana daily Delo quoted Vajgl saying that "except for the fact that we've both recognized each other, we have yet to get any official word from Belgrade that it intends to normalize bilateral ties." Vajgl said many "open" questions remain between Ljubljana and Belgrade, Onasa reported, notably regarding the former Yugoslavia's succession. -- Stan Markotich

    [14] ROMANIAN POLITICIANS PAY RESPECT TO ORTHODOX RELICS.

    Politicians joined thousands of Romanian Orthodox worshippers visiting the northeastern city of Iasi on 14 October, on a pilgrimage to relics believed to be those of St. Andrew, Reuters reported. The faithful queued for hours at Iasi cathedral to touch a silver casket holding the relics, which were flown in from Greece by the Romanian Orthodox Church. Half of the Romanian presidential candidates took their turn at the casket, including incumbent President Ion Iliescu (a former communist) and his two main rivals, Democratic Convention leader Emil Constantinescu and the leader of the Social Democratic Union, Petre Roman. St. Andrew, one of the 12 Apostles, is believed to have brought Christianity to what are today the Romanian lands. -- Zsolt Mato

    [15] NEW COALITION GOVERNMENT IN BULGARIA?

    A new coalition government of the opposition Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) and a splinter faction of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) will be formed after the 27 October presidential elections, Kontinent predicted on 15 October. According to the daily, the BSP will split immediately after the elections. SDS Chairman Ivan Kostov was cited as saying that the time is ripe for his party to assist in the BSP's breakup. Dimitar Popov, prime minister of Bulgaria's first post-communist coalition cabinet in 1990-1991, said the idea of a coalition had been ripening for some time in both the BSP and SDS. Popov said he was asked whether he would head such a government and said a coalition was necessary but difficult to achieve given the present confrontation between the two blocs. Sources within the BSP said there has been no consideration of starting talks with the opposition. -- Stefan Krause

    [16] ALARMING STATISTICS IN BULGARIA.

    The cost of living in Bulgaria has tripled in 1996, Trud and Kontinent reported on 15 October, citing a survey of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions. Due to rising prices and high inflation, a four-member family needs 991,522 leva ($4,593) annually to cover its basic needs. In September, one person's monthly living expenses were 20,658 leva, half of that for food. Prices of bread and cheese -- the most basic staple in Bulgaria -- nearly doubled over the last three months. Meanwhile, Duma reported that Bulgaria's population has decreased by 600,000 over the last seven years due to a declining birth rate. The survey also showed a high number of extramarital children and a changed ethnic structure. The surveyors also noted that children were putting greater value on material prosperity, and that they were increasingly victimized by violence, prostitution, drugs, and other criminality. -- Maria Koinova

    [17] PRO-GOVERNMENT DAILY SUGGESTS ALBANIAN SOCIALISTS BEHIND MURDER.

    Police have arrested two men suspected of the 26 July murder of Bujar Kaloshi, general director of Albanian prisons, Albania reported on 15 October. The pro-government daily claims the two suspects, whose identities were not disclosed, were involved in a conspiracy involving a "terrorist organization of a political character." The order to kill Kaloshi, the paper claims, came from people who are currently imprisoned in Tepelena, adding that "the heads of the organization have proven links with some of the most well- known names of the old communist nomenclature." Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano is currently serving a prison term in Tepelena, but Albania -- known for its sensationalist and often careless reporting -- does not mention him explicitly. Police arrested another murder suspect in early August. -- 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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