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OMRI: Daily Digest, Vol. 2, No. 220, 96-11-13

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

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

Vol. 2, No. 220, 13 November 1996


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] TURKMENISTAN, RUSSIA, IRAN SIGN AGREEMENT.
  • [02] ARDZINBA ON ELECTIONS, PEACE PROCESS.
  • [03] NAGORNO-KARABAKH ELECTION UPDATE.
  • [04] KAZAKSTANI AIRLINE CRASHES IN INDIA.
  • [05] CHOICE OF KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT SPEAKER "INVALID."
  • [06] UZBEKISTAN GETS MORE BLACK MARKS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS.

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [07] WORST FIGHTING SINCE THE END OF THE BOSNIAN WAR.
  • [08] MLADIC LOYALISTS WARN OF "FRATRICIDAL WAR."
  • [09] SERBIAN PRESIDENT INTERVENES IN CIVILIAN-MILITARY DISPUTE.
  • [10] BOSNIAN PRESIDENCY AGAIN FAILS TO REACH AGREEMENT ON GOVERNMENT.
  • [11] "SPRINGTIME" FOR SLOVENIA?
  • [12] SERBIA'S LIBYAN CONNECTION.
  • [13] ILIESCU PLAYS THE NATIONALIST CARD AHEAD OF ELECTION.
  • [14] DNIESTER LEADER REJECTS ALL PARTICIPATION IN MOLDOVAN VOTE.
  • [15] BULGARIAN PREMIER SURVIVES PARTY CONFIDENCE VOTE.
  • [16] WERE BULGARIAN OPPOSITION HEADQUARTERS BUGGED?
  • [17] GREECE, UKRAINE SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENTS.
  • [18] ALBANIAN TRADE UNION CONFLICT CONTINUES.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] TURKMENISTAN, RUSSIA, IRAN SIGN AGREEMENT.

    Russia, Turkmenistan, and Iran signed a memorandum on 13 November on cooperation in developing the Caspian Sea oil resources, Russian TV (RTR) and Reuters reported. Signed by Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov, his Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Velayati, and Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov, the memorandum establishes a joint company to further explore the Caspian's resources. The other two Caspian states, Azerbaijan and Kazakstan, are invited to join, but according to the RTR report, Azerbaijan is "unsatisfied" with this agreement. -- Bruce Pannier

    [02] ARDZINBA ON ELECTIONS, PEACE PROCESS.

    In an interview published in Nezavisimaya gazeta on 13 November, Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba stated that there are no obstacles to the Georgian population of Abkhazia, which he estimated at 90,000, participating in the 23 November elections to a new Abkhaz parliament. Unlike its predecessor, the new parliament will not comprise specific quotas from different ethnic groups. Ardzinba further accused the Georgian leadership of preparing terrorist acts against members of the Abkhaz leadership and of pressuring the Abkhaz side to make "unacceptable" compromises regarding the region's future political status vis-a-vis Georgia. On 12 November, Abkhaz-Press carried a statement by Ardzinba, summarized by ITAR-TASS, in which he reiterated his readiness to continue negotiations under the aegis of the UN and with Russian mediation. -- Liz Fuller

    [03] NAGORNO-KARABAKH ELECTION UPDATE.

    The leader of the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, Robert Kocharyan, called on residents of the region to take part in the 24 November presidential election, Noyan Tapan reported on 12 November. During one of his campaign speeches, Kocharyan said the recognition of Nagorno- Karabakh as an equal side to the conflict by the OSCE and creation of a strong army are among the biggest achievements of his government. According to Kocharyan, the development of small and medium-sized enterprises and tax privileges for agriculture will remedy Karabakh's economic hardships. -- Emil Danielyan

    [04] KAZAKSTANI AIRLINE CRASHES IN INDIA.

    An IL-76 cargo plane from the troubled Kazakstani airline company KazAir collided with a Saudi Arabian passenger plane in mid-air on 12 November, killing everyone on both aircraft, international press reported. The plane from Kazakstan was descending to land at Delhi Airport in India when it struck the Saudi plane while the latter was climbing. The KazAir plane had 38 people on board, including the crew, the Saudi plane had 312 people. KazAir had been shut down after it incurred a debt of $149 million by August 1996 and was alleged to be using substandard aircraft. The crash is being called the worst mid-air collision in aviation history. -- Bruce Pannier

    [05] CHOICE OF KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT SPEAKER "INVALID."

    The Constitutional Court of Kyrgyzstan on 12 November found that the selection of Mukar Cholponbayev as parliamentary speaker was not valid, RFE/RL and ITAR-TASS reported. When Cholponbayev was chosen by the Legislative Assembly in March 1995 only 29 of the 35 deputies were present (see OMRI Daily Digest, 7 November 1996). Cholponbayev received 17 votes, a majority of those present but not a majority of the entire upper house. His re-election process can begin when the house meets on 13 November. The decision has deeper implications as it opens the way for opposition deputies to raise the question of the validity of the December 1995 presidential election. The Legislative Assembly voted to move that election forward by one year at a session that also did not have a quorum. -- Bruce Pannier and Naryn Idinov

    [06] UZBEKISTAN GETS MORE BLACK MARKS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS.

    According to an 11 November press release from Human Rights Watch (HRW), Hasan Mirsaidov, son of Uzbek dissident Shukhrullo Mirsaidov, was abducted by three armed men on 9 November, beaten, blindfolded, handcuffed, and held for 12 hours before being freed. According to Erika Dailey of HRW, this is only the latest event in a campaign to apply pressure on the Mirsaidov family. The Uzbek government has renewed attempts to legally deport the family from Uzbekistan although the original case was filed some time ago and remained "dormant" for 18 months, being brought up again shortly before the kidnapping. Although HRW is calling for a complete investigation into the case, the organization acknowledges that "there is little hope of an impartial investigation since the incident was undoubtedly carried out at the behest of the Uzbek government." -- Bruce Pannier

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [07] WORST FIGHTING SINCE THE END OF THE BOSNIAN WAR.

    The armed confrontation between Republika Srpska police and Muslim refugees trying to return to their homes has led to the most serious fighting since the Dayton agreement took effect. Local and international media on 12 and 13 November agreed that at least one Muslim has died and several persons of both nationalities have been wounded in the separation zone between Muslim- held Celic and Serb-controlled Koraj in northern Bosnia. Each side blamed the other and IFOR blamed them both, adding that the Sarajevo authorities may have deliberately staged a provocation. Russian IFOR troops were caught in the cross-fire and briefly pulled back, but a U.S. IFOR representative stressed that at no time did either side directly fire at the U.S. or Russian peacekeepers. NATO reported on 13 November that the area was calm and that IFOR intended to "contain the situation," AFP noted. -- Patrick Moore

    [08] MLADIC LOYALISTS WARN OF "FRATRICIDAL WAR."

    The cashiered Bosnian Serb General Staff published a letter in the Belgrade paper Blic on 13 November warning of a "fratricidal war," AFP reported. They demanded that the Republika Srpska police stop harassing those in the military who are loyal to their sacked commander, Gen. Ratko Mladic. The police are believed to be trying to cut off all communication links to Mladic's command center at Han Pijesak. Mladic loyalists charge that the one responsible for the "putsch" against them is Radovan Karadzic, the indicted war criminal who is widely believed to be still the real power in Pale, BETA noted. Both the group of 80 cashiered officers and their replacements announced by Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic claim that the army is behind them, Nasa Borba and Novosti noted. -- Patrick Moore

    [09] SERBIAN PRESIDENT INTERVENES IN CIVILIAN-MILITARY DISPUTE.

    Slobodan Milosevic has taken the unusual step of publicly entering the confrontation between the Bosnian Serb civilian and military leaderships. On 12 November he sent Federal Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Nikola Sainovic to Pale with the message that Mladic must step down, AFP reported. U.S. envoy John Kornblum visited the Serbian president and insisted that Mladic must go, Nasa Borba reported the next day. Kornblum stressed the need for more democracy in Serbia, particularly where the media and Kosovo are concerned, VOA added. It is not clear why Milosevic has intervened against Mladic. Until now, Belgrade has had stronger links to Han Pijesak than to Pale. -- Patrick Moore

    [10] BOSNIAN PRESIDENCY AGAIN FAILS TO REACH AGREEMENT ON GOVERNMENT.

    In its seventh session on 12 November, the three-man Bosnian presidency still did not succeed in agreeing on a government for postwar Bosnia- Herzegovina, Oslobodjenje reported the next day. The Muslim member and chairman, Alija Izetbegovic, and the Bosnian Croat member, Kresimir Zubak, advocate a government made up of five ministers and a premier. Serb member Momcilo Krajisnik, however, wants two ministers and a premier, in line with the Serb policy of limiting the powers of any central body. The presidency did agree in principle on a common platform for the Paris conference on Bosnia on 14 November. In other news, the U.S. State Department said a delay in delivering a consignment of U.S. arms to the Muslim-Croat federation is costing nearly $50,000 per day, Reuters reported on 12 November. Washington is delaying delivery until Sarajevo fires Deputy Defense Minister Hasan Cengic, whom Washington considers too close to Iran. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [11] "SPRINGTIME" FOR SLOVENIA?

    A possible alliance of three conservative parties, the Slovenian People's Party (SLS), the Social Democratic Party of Slovenia (SDSS), and the Christian Democratic Party (SKD) could emerge with a total of 45 legislative seats and exclude the governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDS) from power, Reuters reported on 12 November. The SKD, one-time coalition partner of the LDS, hinted that it may stand firm with the alliance of conservative and rightist parties grouped under the "Slovenian Spring" banner. SLS leader Marjan Podobnik refused to rule out working with the LDS but said it is conditional on several factors, including LDS leader Janez Drnovsek relinquishing the premiership. Vote and seat tallying from the 10 November elections will be made official on 15 November. -- Stan Markotich

    [12] SERBIA'S LIBYAN CONNECTION.

    Belgrade appears to be covertly helping Libya with its medium-range ballistic missile program, AFP reported on 12 November, citing The Washington Times. According to the report, the CIA has learned that the Serbian company JPL reached a $30 million agreement with the Libyan Al Fatah missile development program. It is unclear what specific role Serbian advisers are playing, since Serbian technical knowledge is reportedly "limited to production of long-range multiple-rocket launcher systems." On 7 November, the New York Times had reported that Belgrade was secretly transporting arms shipments to Libya -- further evidence of Belgrade's violation of the weapons ban imposed by the UN after Tripoli refused to allow extradition of suspects in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. -- Stan Markotich

    [13] ILIESCU PLAYS THE NATIONALIST CARD AHEAD OF ELECTION.

    With the 17 November presidential run-off drawing close, incumbent President Ion Iliescu's campaign has become radical, Romanian dailies reported on 13 November. At a rally in the Transylvanian town of Alba Iulia on 9 November, Iliescu accused the leaders of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania of plotting Yugoslav-style secession from Romania. Evenimentul Zilei wrote that Iliescu was becoming "Zhirinovsky-ized." Meanwhile, a growing number of political parties, trade unions, and organizations announced their support for Iliescu's opponent, Emil Constantinescu. -- Zsolt Mato

    [14] DNIESTER LEADER REJECTS ALL PARTICIPATION IN MOLDOVAN VOTE.

    The president of the self-declared Dniester republic, Igor Smirnov, reaffirmed his opposition to any participation of Dniester residents in the 17 November Moldovan presidential election, BASA-press reported on 12 November. His statement was addressed to Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, and the chairman of the OSCE Permanent Council. Smirnov's remarks came in response to a proposal by Moldovan Parliament Speaker Petru Lucinschi that polling stations be opened at peacekeeping-force bases located in the Dniester areas where ethnic Moldovans are in the majority. Smirnov said the vote could destabilize the situation in the region. He pledged, however, that the Dniester authorities would not prevent locals from traveling to Moldova proper to cast their ballots if voters used their own means of transport. -- Dan Ionescu

    [15] BULGARIAN PREMIER SURVIVES PARTY CONFIDENCE VOTE.

    At the end of a 22-hour closed-door session, the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) Supreme Council and the BSP parliamentary deputies on 12 November gave Zhan Videnov a vote of confidence, RFE/RL and other media reported. Of the 158 delegates, 87 supported Videnov, 69 voted against him, and two abstained. The vote means that Videnov can stay in office at least until an extraordinary BSP congress meets on 21-22 December to discuss future policies and leadership questions. The delegates also gave Videnov a mandate to begin consultations on the introduction of a currency board, as proposed by the IMF. Deputy BSP Chairman Yanaki Stoilov, Nikolay Kamov, and Filip Bokov resigned from the Executive Bureau. All three had signed a recent letter by 19 top BSP politicians demanding Videnov's resignation. Bokov also gave as a reason for his resignation the failure of the BSP's presidential election campaign, which he managed. -- Stefan Krause

    [16] WERE BULGARIAN OPPOSITION HEADQUARTERS BUGGED?

    Bulgaria's military prosecutor and Interior Ministry opened an investigation after Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) Chairman Ivan Kostov complained of microphones in the SDS headquarters, Kontinent and RFE/RL reported on 12 November. Kostov said the bugs were hidden in his office and in the office of President-elect Petar Stoyanov several months before the presidential election in October-November, but the SDS decided not to report the incident before the voting. Members of the security services might be involved, Kontinent observed. -- Maria Koinova

    [17] GREECE, UKRAINE SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENTS.

    Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma on 12 November wrapped up a two-day official visit to Greece, ITAR-TASS reported. The previous day, Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and his Ukrainian counterpart, Henadii Udovenko, signed three bilateral agreements: on international passenger and freight transportation, on tourism, and on science and culture. Udovenko said the accords complement the friendship and cooperation treaty signed earlier that day. Pangalos said Greece supports "the establishment of Ukraine's close relations with the European Union [and] its developing contacts with NATO as well as active participation in Balkan cooperation." - - Stefan Krause

    [18] ALBANIAN TRADE UNION CONFLICT CONTINUES.

    Police on 12 November banned a rally of Democratic Party legislator Azem Hajdari's breakaway faction from the Independent Trade Unions (BSPSH), Zeri i Popullit reported. The Socialist Party daily implied that Hajdari is the legitimate BSPSH president. The government media, however, maintains that the congress in Durres that elected Hajdari on 5 December had no mandate and that Valer Xheka is the legitimate president. A Tirana court also ruled in Xheka's favor. Xheka has asked parliament to lift Hajdari's immunity so that the prosecutor could start investigations for slander. Hajdari had charged Xheka with corruption and embezzlement of $17,000 from trade union seminars in 1992. Meanwhile, Hajdari participated in BSPSH meetings in Lezha and Lushnja, where he rallied for support. He also scheduled a nationwide congress for 23 November and claimed that his office received support letters from BSPSH branches all over the country. -- 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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