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OMRI: Daily Digest, Vol. 2, No. 224, 96-11-19

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

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

Vol. 2, No. 224, 19 November 1996


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] SECRET GEORGIAN-ABKHAZ TALKS.
  • [02] UZBEKISTAN, KAZAKSTAN SIGN GAS DEAL.
  • [03] CLINTON PRAISES AZERBAIJAN'S STANCE ON CFE.
  • [04] OPPOSITION RALLY IN YEREVAN.
  • [05] FOUR RADIO STATIONS SUSPENDED IN ALMATY.
  • [06] TURKMENISTAN, TURKEY SIGN AGREEMENTS.

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [07] ROW OVER PLAVSIC MEETING WITH MLADIC BACKERS.
  • [08] NATO AGREES TO SET UP SUCCESSOR TO IFOR.
  • [09] SECRECY SURROUNDS TUDJMAN ILLNESS.
  • [10] OPPOSITION VICTORIES IN FEDERAL YUGOSLAV LOCAL ELECTIONS.
  • [11] MONTENEGRO'S NEW LEGISLATURE CONVENES.
  • [12] KOSOVO'S PRIME MINISTER IN EXILE CRITICIZES PRESIDENT.
  • [13] MACEDONIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS UPDATE.
  • [14] WHO WILL BE ROMANIA'S NEW PRIME MINISTER?
  • [15] FINAL RESULTS OF FIRST ROUND OF MOLDOVAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS.
  • [16] BULGARIAN POLITICIANS DISCUSS CURRENCY BOARD.
  • [17] RUN ON BULGARIAN STATE SAVINGS BANK.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] SECRET GEORGIAN-ABKHAZ TALKS.

    Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze met on 14 November in Tbilisi with Abkhaz Foreign Minister Konstantin Ozgan to discuss "the full range of questions regarding the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict" including a possible meeting between Shevardnadze and Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba, Reuters reported on 18 November, quoting Georgian presidential press spokesman Vakhtang Abashidze. Also on 18 November, Shevardnadze again condemned the Abkhaz parliamentary elections scheduled for 23 November as "illegal" and "a masquerade." -- Liz Fuller

    [02] UZBEKISTAN, KAZAKSTAN SIGN GAS DEAL.

    An agreement signed in Tashkent on 18 November will open the way for Uzbekistan to ship $150 million worth of gas to southern Kazakstan, the BBC reported on 19 November. The agreement resulted from a one-day meeting that focused attention on the fact that Kazakstan currently owes its southern neighbor $26 million for 1995 gas shipments. Kazakstan had no alternative but to sign the agreement after it failed to take advantage of its own untapped resources and finalize gas shipment arrangements with Turkmenistan. The deal is seen as a major step for Uzbekistan, which hopes to capitalize on its growing capacity to export raw materials and energy resources and, in the process, settle its own economic problems. -- Roger Kangas

    [03] CLINTON PRAISES AZERBAIJAN'S STANCE ON CFE.

    U.S. President Bill Clinton on 18 November dispatched a message to his Azerbaijani counterpart Heidar Aliev emphasizing the importance of reaching a settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as a basis for stability and prosperity in the Caucasus, ITAR-TASS reported. Clinton also praised Azerbaijan's "firm stand" on compliance with the CFE (in contrast, Georgia has ceded to Russia part of its CFE allowance). Clinton further affirmed the U.S.'s intention to broaden its dialogue with Azerbaijan on issues of regional stability. -- Liz Fuller

    [04] OPPOSITION RALLY IN YEREVAN.

    Speaking at their traditional weekly rally on 15 November, Armenian opposition leaders said they do not trust the Constitutional Court because it is "not independent," Noyan Tapan reported on 18 November. The Constitutional Court is to rule on the opposition's appeal of the recent presidential election results. Representatives of student organizations at the rally demanded the release of Mikael Surenyants and Vahe Varsamyan, two activists arrested during the violent 25 September protests against the election results. Meanwhile, some 300 protesters gathered in front of the Constitutional Court building in Yerevan on 18 November to demand a live TV broadcast of the court's hearings on the appeal. -- Emil Danielyan

    [05] FOUR RADIO STATIONS SUSPENDED IN ALMATY.

    The Almaty-based independent radio stations Totem, RIK, NS, and Radio M have not been able to broadcast for the past several days, Kazakstani TV reported on 18 November, citing the radios' presidents. The stations were shut down because their frequencies allegedly interfere with the local airport's communications system, an official explanation dismissed by all four stations (see OMRI Daily Digest, 15 November 1996) Sergei Duvanov, director of Radio M, said the stations were shut down for "political reasons." Aidar Zhumabayev, president of the International Center of Journalism Akbar, said there are also possible commercial reasons for shutting down the stations, referring to an upcoming tender for frequencies to be held in 1997. -- Slava Kozlov in Almaty

    [06] TURKMENISTAN, TURKEY SIGN AGREEMENTS.

    Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov met his Turkish counterpart, Suleyman Demirel, on 18 November in Ankara and the two signed agreements covering environmental, educational, and economic cooperation, according to ITAR- TASS and RFE/RL. Demirel said the two countries enjoy "perfect relations" and Niyazov mentioned that Turkish investors had already sunk $1.5 billion into Turkmen projects. Niyazov arrived in Turkey on 14 November for medical check-ups, but none of the reports carried any detailed information on the results. TRT TV in Ankara, monitored by the BBC, reported that Niyazov's examination had a "cardiac emphasis." Niyazov suffers from respiratory problems and had an operation on his leg to remove a blood clot in 1994. -- Bruce Pannier

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [07] ROW OVER PLAVSIC MEETING WITH MLADIC BACKERS.

    Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic on 18 November met with a general staff delegation for the first time since she cashiered the officers' former commander, Gen. Ratko Mladic. She was joined by Mladic's successor, Gen. Pero Colic, AFP reported. The group consisted of Gens. Manojlo Milovanovic, Zdravko Tolimir, Zivomir Ninkovic, Momir Talic, and Novica Simic. Plavsic had named Talic to command Banja Luka's First Corps and Simic to head the Third Corps in Brcko, but the other three men are Mladic loyalists. Her office later announced that the outcome of the meeting was that Mladic would go, but on 19 November his staff issued an angry denial saying all that was agreed on was that Plavsic would meet with Mladic on 20 November. -- Patrick Moore

    [08] NATO AGREES TO SET UP SUCCESSOR TO IFOR.

    NATO ambassadors on 18 November voted to set up a Stabilization Force (SFOR) to replace IFOR when its mandate runs out on 20 December, the BBC reported. SFOR will have 31,000 members, which is just under half of what IFOR had at its peak. The ambassadors called for detailed contingency planning to provide for the new force, but they were unable to agree on the length of its mandate. The question of a clear and robust mandate is the key issue. The next step in establishing SFOR lies with the UN Security Council. Meanwhile in Sarajevo, Bosnian Defense Minister Vladimir Soljic, an ethnic Croat, resigned as part of an apparent face-saving maneuver to enable his Muslim deputy, Hasan Cengic, also to leave office, Oslobodjenje reported on 19 November. The U.S. insists that Cengic, who has close Iranian links, leave before Washington resumes its military aid program. -- Patrick Moore

    [09] SECRECY SURROUNDS TUDJMAN ILLNESS.

    The Croatian authorities have aroused deep suspicions among the public as to how ill President Franjo Tudjman is by ignoring or playing down news of his hospitalization in Washington. Officials on 16 November blocked the publication of the weekly Nacional because the latest issue was devoted to Tudjman's health, Novi List reported on 18 November. The government also refused to provide any information to another independent weekly, Globus, when it sought to cover the story. The authorities first tried to deny that Tudjman was ill and then sought to depict his problems as routine (see OMRI Daily Digest, 18 November 1996). State-run dailies suggest today that Tudjman has already resumed work and are giving prominent coverage to the story of the anniversary of the fall of Vukovar. Opposition parties and independent media charged the state-controlled media and the authorities with behaving like their communist predecessors, Reuters noted. -- Patrick Moore

    [10] OPPOSITION VICTORIES IN FEDERAL YUGOSLAV LOCAL ELECTIONS.

    Opposition parties have claimed victory in the local elections in Serbia's 12 largest cities, Nasa Borba reported on 19 November. Voters went to the polls on 17 November in a run-off ballot. Opposition parties won convincingly in Belgrade as well as in industrial centers such as Nis, Kragujevac, Kraljevo, Cacak, and Novi Sad, the capital of Vojvodina. Preliminary results show the opposition winning some 70 out of 110 seats in Belgrade. Ivica Dacic, speaking on behalf of the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia, said the leftist coalition dominated by the SPS won 134 of the 174 municipalities in Serbia, but Reuters added that "none of the big towns were on his list." -- Stan Markotich

    [11] MONTENEGRO'S NEW LEGISLATURE CONVENES.

    At its first session since the 3 November elections, the Montenegrin parliament re-elected Svetozar Marovic, a member of the ruling Democratic Socialist Party, as parliamentary speaker, AFP reported. The governing party has an absolute majority of 45 of the 71 seats in the legislature. -- Stan Markotich

    [12] KOSOVO'S PRIME MINISTER IN EXILE CRITICIZES PRESIDENT.

    In an interview published in Koha on 6 November, shadow-state Prime Minister Bujar Bukoshi sharply criticized President Ibrahim Rugova. He said Rugova's office could function only as long as the Serbian authorities tolerated it. Bukoshi claimed that the president was sidelining the shadow- state government, noting that Rugova had not consulted the shadow-state education minister during negotiations over an education agreement with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. -- Fabian Schmidt

    [13] MACEDONIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS UPDATE.

    Preliminary results of the 17 November local elections indicate that the ruling Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) remains the strongest party, despite a strong showing by the opposition, Nova Makedonija and Western agencies reported. Of the municipal council seats allocated so far, the SDSM has 503, the nationalist Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization--Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO--DPMNE) 339, the Socialist Party (the SDSM's coalition partner) 147, the Democratic Party 104, the Liberal Party 102, the ethnic Albanian Party of Democratic Prosperity (PPD) 92, and the Party of Democratic Prosperity of the Albanians (PPDSH) 80. Of the 40 mayoralties decided in the first round, the SDSM won 13, the coalition of VMRO--DPMNE, the Democrats, and the Movement for All-Macedonian Action--Conservative Party 11, the PPD 9, the Socialists 4, and the PPDSH 1. Run-off elections for unfilled seats will take place on 1 December. -- Stefan Krause

    [14] WHO WILL BE ROMANIA'S NEW PRIME MINISTER?

    Romanian media report that the National Peasant Party-Christian Democratic (PNT-CD) will decide today who will be Romania's new premier. The main candidates are Mayor of Bucharest Victor Ciorbea and Senators Radu Vasile and Ulm Spineanu, both of whom were elected to Romania's upper house on the PNT-CD ticket earlier this month. Meanwhile, the opinion poll institute IRSOP says that only about half of those who backed Petre Roman in the first round of the 17 November presidential elections followed his advice to vote for Emil Constantinescu in the second round. Supporters of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania, however, appear to have rallied behind Constantinescu, while 3% of the Party of Social Democracy of Romania's backers also voted for him. Final results of the 17 November ballot are due today. -- Michael Shafir

    [15] FINAL RESULTS OF FIRST ROUND OF MOLDOVAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS.

    According to the Central Electoral Commission on 18 November, incumbent President Mircea Snegur won 38.71% in the first round of the presidential elections the previous day. He was followed by parliamentary Chairman Petru Lucinshci with 27.69%, Chairman of the Communists' Party Vladimir Voronin (10.26%), Premier Andrei Sangheli (9.5%), and Valeriu Matei, leader of the pro-Western Party of Democratic Forces (8.88%). Four other candidates received between 0.43% and 2.13% of the vote. Snegur and Lucinschi will now take part in a run-off, scheduled for 1 December. -- Zsolt Mato

    [16] BULGARIAN POLITICIANS DISCUSS CURRENCY BOARD.

    Outgoing President Zhelyu Zhelev on 18 November met representatives of all caucuses to discuss the possible introduction of a currency board, Duma reported. Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) representatives took part in the discussion, despite an earlier statement by Prime Minister Zhan Videnov saying they would not. Stefan Savov, joint leader of the People's Union, said his party would support a BSP draft law under certain circumstances that would "more or less amount to the resignation of this government." He added that the current opposition will take over only after early parliamentary elections. Ahmed Dogan, chairman of the mainly ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom, supported this position. Union of Democratic Forces politicians said they are still consulting with foreign experts and have not yet made a final decision on their stance. -- Stefan Krause

    [17] RUN ON BULGARIAN STATE SAVINGS BANK.

    Bulgarians on 18 November formed long lines outside the State Savings Bank (DSK) offices throughout the country, national media reported. Fearing hyperinflation and the unforeseen consequences of the possible introduction of the currency board, people withdrew their savings to convert them into hard currency. DSK Director Bistra Dimitrova told the parliament that the bank's reserves are sufficient to meet its obligations only until next March. The DSK had retained until recently its reputation as trustworthy. Finance Minister Dimitar Kostov told Pari that the lack of confidence in the DSK was "unfounded." -- Maria Koinova

    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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