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OMRI: Daily Digest, Vol. 2, No. 221, 96-11-14

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

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

Vol. 2, No. 221, 14 November 1996


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] CONFLICTING REPORTS ON LOCAL ELECTIONS IN ARMENIA.
  • [02] U.S. DELEGATION VISITS BAKU.
  • [03] NAZARBAYEV RECEIVES BEREZOVSKII . . .
  • [04] . . . AND AWARD FROM ORTHODOX CHURCH.
  • [05] UZBEK PRESIDENT CONCLUDES BELGIAN VISIT.
  • [06] MONETARY CRISIS WORSENS IN UZBEKISTAN.

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [07] RETURN OF BOSNIAN REFUGEES SUSPENDED.
  • [08] BOSNIAN SERB MILITARY "IN A GHETTO."
  • [09] BOSNIAN SERB INDEPENDENT RADIO TAKEN OFF THE AIR.
  • [10] CROATIAN OPPOSITION BOYCOTTS PARLIAMENT OVER ZAGREB COUNCIL ROW.
  • [11] YUGOSLAV SUCCESSION TALKS HIT A SNAG.
  • [12] BELGRADE PROMOTES CITIZENS' RIGHTS.
  • [13] ILIESCU BEHIND IN LATEST ELECTION POLL.
  • [14] MOLDOVAN PREMIER TO RESIGN IF HE LOSES ELECTION.
  • [15] BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER RESIGNS.
  • [16] BULGARIAN OPPOSITION PRESSES FOR EARLY PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS.
  • [17] GERMAN PREUSSAG TO BUY ALBANIAN CHROME.
  • [18] SUSPECTED BANK ROBBER ARRESTED.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] CONFLICTING REPORTS ON LOCAL ELECTIONS IN ARMENIA.

    Armenia's 10 November local elections, which were boycotted by the opposition, were marred by serious irregularities, according to Noyan Tapan. A group of candidates has lodged complaints of electoral law violations at some polling stations with Interior and National Security Minister Serzh Sarkisyan. Voter turnout in one of the Yerevan districts was as low as 27%. Meanwhile, a Council of Europe observer group released a statement describing the ballot as free and fair, adding that the irregularities did not affect the results. -- Emil Danielyan

    [02] U.S. DELEGATION VISITS BAKU.

    A U.S. government delegation headed by James Collins, special advisor to the U.S. secretary of state on the newly independent states, and the U.S. special envoy to the OSCE Minsk Group, Joseph Presel, held talks in Baku on 13 November with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Hasan Hasanov and President Heidar Aliev, ITAR-TASS reported. Collins expressed concern that the disputed status of the Caspian Sea could jeopardize several major oil consortiums; Hasanov assured him that Azerbaijan's laws "guarantee the safety of foreign companies." Collins handed Aliev a message from U.S. President Bill Clinton expressing hope that a document on conditions for resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will be signed during the December OSCE heads of state summit in Lisbon. -- Liz Fuller

    [03] NAZARBAYEV RECEIVES BEREZOVSKII . . .

    Kazakstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev met with Russian Security Council Deputy Secretary Boris Berezovskii in Almaty on 13 November to discuss economic relations and Chechnya, Kazakstani media reported. Kazakstan is no longer interested in sharing the burden of reconstructing the Chechen economy, and will most likely withdraw support pledged earlier. Despite the fact that the Caspian Sea's legal status was not on the agenda for the meeting, Russian media were quick to link the visit of the former Russian tycoon to the recent agreements signed by Caspian littoral states. -- Slava Kozlov in Almaty

    [04] . . . AND AWARD FROM ORTHODOX CHURCH.

    Nazarbayev has been awarded the First Degree Order of Duke Dmitriy of Moscow, one of the highest awards of the Orthodox Church, Kazakstani TV media reported on 13 November. The order was bestowed on behalf of Moscow Patriarch Aleksii II in appreciation of the "historical justice" that has been "re-established by the Kazakstani president in his republic" and to mark the 125th anniversary of the Turkmen diocese. Nazarbayev, who returned hundreds of buildings to the Orthodox Church that were seized by the Soviet authorities, is the first Central Asian leader to receive such an award. -- Slava Kozlov in Almaty

    [05] UZBEK PRESIDENT CONCLUDES BELGIAN VISIT.

    Uzbek President Islam Karimov ended a two-day visit to Belgium on 13 November that included a series of high-level meetings with EU and NATO officials to discuss Uzbekistan's involvement in the Partnership for Peace program and other issues, Russian and Western media reported. According to Uzbek officials, Karimov met with NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana and discussed the situation in Central Asia and Afghanistan. Before leaving, Karimov met with Belgian Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene to discuss bilateral relations. -- Roger Kangas

    [06] MONETARY CRISIS WORSENS IN UZBEKISTAN.

    Uzbek commercial banks were severely criticized at an 11 November session of the parliamentary Budget, Banking, and Financial Affairs Committee, Halq sozi reported on 12 November. Calling the banks "irresponsible," the committee noted that they are not abiding by recent decrees enumerating the monetary transactions that a bank may engage in. As part of an effort to curb the drop in the som's value, the Uzbek government has initiated a series of measures that effectively restrict access to hard currencies. The report noted, however, that the guidelines are difficult to enforce and 432 million soms worth of violations have occurred in recent weeks. -- Roger Kangas

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [07] RETURN OF BOSNIAN REFUGEES SUSPENDED.

    IFOR, the UN police, the UNHCR, and the office of High Representative Carl Bildt announced a temporary halt to the return of refugees to their homes in the zone of separation, Oslobodjenje and Nasa Borba reported on 14 November. That effectively means that Muslims who have been trying to go back to villages on Serb-held territory will not be allowed to do so, although that is their right under the Dayton agreement. The suspension is aimed at defusing tensions in the now-quiet area around Celic and Koraj in northeast Bosnia, where the worst fighting since the Dayton was signed took place at the start of the week. IFOR said that both sides are to blame and both sides brought weapons into a demilitarized area, but it added that the Muslims shot first. The Muslims are nonetheless determined to go home, Nasa Borba noted. U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher told both sides not to resume fighting but added that the refugees do have a right to go home, VOA reported. -- Patrick Moore

    [08] BOSNIAN SERB MILITARY "IN A GHETTO."

    IFOR and the Republika Srpska police have sealed off the Bosnian Serb army's command center in Han Pijesak. An army spokesman told Nasa Borba of 14 November that the troops loyal to cashiered Gen. Ratko Mladic felt like they had been "occupied" or put "in a ghetto." The spokesman added that harassment of Mladic loyalists has become "a daily occurrence." He said that people in Han Pijesak suspect that IFOR's goal is to take Mladic to the war crimes tribunal in The Hague but insisted: "We will not allow them to take our commander there, not at any price." -- Patrick Moore

    [09] BOSNIAN SERB INDEPENDENT RADIO TAKEN OFF THE AIR.

    Bosnian Serb police on 13 November shut down the Banja Luka station Radio Krajina, the station close to sacked military leader Ratko Mladic, AFP reported. Police confiscated the station's transmitter. Radio Krajina was run by Lt. Col. Milovan Milutinovic, formerly Mladic's spokesman, who was also among Bosnian Serb army officers dismissed on 9 November by Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic. The radio station began broadcasting in summer 1995, after the Muslim-Croat military allies took back from the Serbs several territories in western Bosnia. Radio Krajina was critical of the Bosnian Serb ruling party and authorities. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [10] CROATIAN OPPOSITION BOYCOTTS PARLIAMENT OVER ZAGREB COUNCIL ROW.

    Opposition deputies walked out of the Croatian parliament on 13 November after their proposal on how to solve the crisis over the Zagreb city council was turned down, international and local media reported. Opposition parties decided to start a 30-day boycott of parliament and continue boycotting the Zagreb city council. They also appealed to the city council opposition deputies to resign. If that happens, new elections will be necessary unless President Franjo Tudjman appoints a governor, according to Ivica Racan, leader of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). The opposition coalition outpolled the ruling Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) in municipal elections a year ago, but Tudjman dissolved the Zagreb city council after turning down the opposition candidates for Zagreb mayor four times. Tudjman appointed one of his associates as mayor, but the majority in the city council refused to accept her. Racan said the Zagreb crisis is turning into a parliament crisis, Novi List reported on 14 November. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [11] YUGOSLAV SUCCESSION TALKS HIT A SNAG.

    No breakthroughs took place as the latest round of talks on succession to the former Yugoslavia wound down in Brussels on 13 November, Nasa Borba reported the following day. Already on 12 November it had become clear that the delegation from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia did not share the other states' definition of what constituted state property of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Tanjug reported. Belgrade continues to maintain that all properties may fall under scrutiny and claim, while Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, and Bosnia feel that only assets once legally owned by the federal socialist authorities may be divided. -- Stan Markotich

    [12] BELGRADE PROMOTES CITIZENS' RIGHTS.

    The federal Yugoslav delegation to the Yugoslav succession talks, headed by Kosta Mihajlovic, said "that all citizens of the former federation who are now citizens of newly formed states in the territory of former Yugoslavia ought to be allowed access to archives and personal files, and be issued documents ... necessary for regulating their status and rights in their new states." Mihajlovic added that Belgrade "expects" the other successor states to give citizens of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia "the same treatment." -- Stan Markotich

    [13] ILIESCU BEHIND IN LATEST ELECTION POLL.

    President Ion Iliescu is trailing challenger Emil Constantinescu, Romanian media reported on 14 November. A poll conducted between 6-10 November gives Constantinescu 52.8% and Iliescu 47.2%. Almost a quarter of the voters are still undecided. A series of four television debates ends on 14 November, the last day of campaigning; the presidential run-off is on 17 November. After a debate on 12 November, supporters of the two candidates clashed in front of private TV station PRO TV. Dan Iosif, Iliescu's adviser, was seriously injured in the incident and had to undergo surgery. Reuters reported that at the final rally for Constantinescu, on 13 November, Constantinescu called for Iliescu to be ousted and described him as "the sole source of imbalance in [Romania]." -- Zsolt Mato

    [14] MOLDOVAN PREMIER TO RESIGN IF HE LOSES ELECTION.

    Andrei Sangheli on 13 November said he will resign if he is defeated in the 17 November presidential election, Infotag reported, quoting CIS's Mir radio station. Yet Sangheli left the door open for a later change of mind. He said that he must make any decision about his future together with his party, the ruling Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova. When asked about his own post-electoral career, Parliament Speaker Petru Lucinschi, who is also running for president, gave a diplomatic answer: "This is just a political struggle. It should not become a life-and-death one." An opinion poll conducted three days ahead of the election shows incumbent President Mircea Snegur leading with 34%, followed by Sangheli with 30% and Lucinschi with 18%. -- Dan Ionescu

    [15] BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER RESIGNS.

    Georgi Pirinski resigned on 13 November, RFE/RL and local media reported. Pirinski said he left the government of Prime Minister Zhan Videnov because it "no longer enjoys the necessary minimum confidence" of the people. Pirinski blamed the government for failing to carry out a coherent economic reform. He said he will work as a parliamentary deputy and actively help organize the extraordinary Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) congress in late December. Pirinski, a social democratic reformist who was repeatedly mentioned as a possible successor to Videnov as prime minister, is one of Videnov's strongest critics within the BSP. He voted against the premier at the BSP plenary meeting on 11-12 November. Videnov said a new foreign minister will be named by the end of December. Until then, First Deputy Foreign Minister Irina Bokova will be acting foreign minister under Videnov's direct supervision. -- Stefan Krause

    [16] BULGARIAN OPPOSITION PRESSES FOR EARLY PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS.

    The National Coordinating Council of the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) decided on 12 November to press for early parliamentary elections at the earliest possible date, coordinating its moves with other opposition parties and trade unions, SDS Deputy Chairwoman Nadezhda Mihaylova told Darik Radio. Meanwhile, Confederation of Labor "Podkrepa" leader Konstantin Trenchev in an open letter asked outgoing President Zhelyu Zhelev to resign early and let President-elect Petar Stoyanov take office before 22 January. Trenchev said he is driven by consideration to "speed up the democratic process" in Bulgaria. Zhelev's spokesman said that Trenchev's move only helps the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party, as early parliamentary elections need long-term preparation that has probably not been made. -- Maria Koinova

    [17] GERMAN PREUSSAG TO BUY ALBANIAN CHROME.

    The Albanian government has decided to sell 80% of the state-owned chrome company Albkromi to the German company Preussag, Koha Jone reported on 14 November. Preussag is expected to invest up to $100 million over five years on the mines and processing plants in Bulqize, Ternova, Batra, Burrel, and Klos. Albkromi suffers from outdated equipment and falling world market prices for chrome ore. In the 1980s Albania was the world's fifth-largest chrome producer, processing 1.1 million tons in 1989. In 1995, production was only 246,000 tons. Preussag will also upgrade infrastructure in the mining districts. -- Fabian Schmidt

    [18] SUSPECTED BANK ROBBER ARRESTED.

    Tirana judge Flora Cabej on 10 November ordered the arrest pending trial of Adhurim Beqiraj, a suspected bank robber. Nine people participated in a robbery in Vlora earlier in the year in which $160,000 was stolen from a bank. The 29-year-old Beqiraj is charged in connection with investigations against the Revenge of Justice terrorist group. Beqiraj denies the allegations, but prosecutor Isa Jata said other arrested Revenge of Justice members have fingered him, Albania reported on 12 November. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court ruled that communist dictator Enver Hoxha's son-in-law, Klement Kolaneci, has to stay in prison pending investigations. Kolaneci is also charged with being a Revenge of Justice member, Dita Informacion reported on 12 November. -- 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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