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OMRI: Daily Digest, Vol. 2, No. 231, 96-12-02

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

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

Vol. 2, No. 231, 2 December 1996


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT GETS A VOTE OF CONFIDENCE.
  • [02] NIYAZOV IN TASHKENT.
  • [03] UPDATE ON CURRENCY CRISIS IN UZBEKISTAN.
  • [04] ANOTHER TAJIK TOWN UNDER SIEGE.

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [05] SERBIAN POLICE VOW CRACK DOWN . . .
  • [06] . . . WHILE OPPOSITION VOWS TO FORGE AHEAD WITH PROTESTS.
  • [07] BOSNIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS TO GO AHEAD.
  • [08] FIRST SENTENCE HANDED DOWN BY HAGUE COURT.
  • [09] PARLIAMENT ADOPTS CONTROVERSIAL BUDGET.
  • [10] IS THE BOSNIAN SERB POWER STRUGGLE OVER?
  • [11] UNPREDEP MANDATE EXTENDED IN MACEDONIA.
  • [12] NEW ROMANIAN PRESIDENT TAKES OATH.
  • [13] PRO-RUSSIAN ELECTED MOLDOVA'S PRESIDENT.
  • [14] BULGARIAN PRESIDENT QUESTIONS CONSENSUS ON CURRENCY BOARD.
  • [15] HEAVY PRISON TERMS FOR EIGHT ALBANIAN COMMUNIST-ERA OFFICIALS.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT GETS A VOTE OF CONFIDENCE.

    The Armenian parliament on 29 November approved the government program of recently appointed Prime Minister Armen Sarkisyan, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. Speaking at a session of parliament, which is overwhelmingly dominated by deputies loyal to President Levon Ter-Petrossyan, Sarkisyan said a "qualitative improvement" of economic reforms will be his government's top priority. He also pledged more state support for education, science, and culture. -- Emil Danielyan

    [02] NIYAZOV IN TASHKENT.

    Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov began a two-day state visit to Uzbekistan on 27 November, and signed a number of economic and cultural agreements designed to improve relations which have been overall cool, Western and Russian news agencies reported. Niyazov and his Uzbek counterpart, Islam Karimov, also discussed the situations in Tajikistan and Afghanistan. On 21 November, Uzbekistan opened an embassy in Ashgabat. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [03] UPDATE ON CURRENCY CRISIS IN UZBEKISTAN.

    President Islam Karimov hinted that importers bringing "high quality" goods into Uzbekistan would enjoy a greater degree of convertibility from January 1997. Karimov went on to say joint ventures engaged in "civilized business with Uzbekistan will not suffer any material losses." His remarks, broadcast on Uzbek Radio on 27 November and monitored by the BBC, suggest the government is attempting to step back from regulations introduced in late October that effectively forbid foreign currency transactions and limit currency conversion to a handful of large firms operating in Uzbekistan. Diplomats, traders, and international lending institutions have all registered their displeasure with the new regulations. In other news, Uzbek Radio on 26 November announced the minimum monthly wage in Uzbekistan would rise to 600 som, approximately $12 at the official exchange rate but about $5 on the black market. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [04] ANOTHER TAJIK TOWN UNDER SIEGE.

    The city of Garm in central Tajikistan is the latest to fall to forces of the Tajik opposition, Russian and Western media reported. Opposition fighters began attacking Garm on 1 December, killing at least seven government soldiers and by nightfall were holding some 100-150 government employees and soldiers in a local mosque. Government aircraft and helicopters responded by bombing the city. Fighting continued into the next morning. The fall of Garm leaves the opposition in control of a fork in a strategic highway leading both southeast and northeast. Supplies must now be airlifted to government forces in Tajikabad and CIS border guards in Khorog, Kalai-Khumb, and Ishkashim. -- Bruce Pannier

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [05] SERBIAN POLICE VOW CRACK DOWN . . .

    Belgrade police authorities issued a statement on 1 December promising to "hold responsible" organizers of ongoing mass public demonstrations, triggered after the regime nullified victories by the opposition Zajedno movement during 17 November runoff municipal elections. The police say they have been more than tolerant in the face of unlawful behavior, and are now prepared to crack down on what they claim are "serious breaches of the law, " Tanjug reported. For their part, Zajedno leaders have gone on record saying that police have already harassed and arrested protest organizers. The Serbian regime continues to manipulate press coverage of the protests, and independent media are coming under pressure to conform with the government line, with the most recent target of regime interference being the recently founded daily Blic. Independent Radio B 92, for its part, has had its frequencies jammed. -- Stan Markotich

    [06] . . . WHILE OPPOSITION VOWS TO FORGE AHEAD WITH PROTESTS.

    Zajedno opposition leaders say they will continue with peaceful, Serbia- wide mass demonstrations against Serbian authorities and have promised to peacefully take over local institutions on 2 December in the urban areas where Zajedno originally won elections. The only thing that can prevent a full-scale boycott of the republican and local legislatures, say Zajedno leaders, is a ruling by the Serbian parliament nullifying third round results that overturned the 17 November results. Parliament is slated to meet 3 December. In related news, the BBC on 30 November reported that police authorities physically abused two student protesters during an "interrogation" session. Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic has been roundly criticized by the international community for his tampering with the results of the local elections. -- Stan Markotich

    [07] BOSNIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS TO GO AHEAD.

    The OSCE's chief election monitor for Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ambassador Robert Frowick, announced on 1 December that the Bosnian Serbs have agreed to accept the OSCE's monitoring of the local elections slated for 1997, VOA reported. This removes the last major obstacle to the OSCE's organizing of the vote, which the Muslims and Croats have already accepted. An adviser to President Alija Izetbegovic said, however, that continued Muslim support will depend on the exact nature of the new election rules, AFP noted. The Muslim leaders fear that the Serbs will again try to abuse a controversial clause in the previous election rules that enables people to cast their votes for areas in which they claim they will eventually live. The new regulations contain this option, but will require the voter to prove a "connection" to the place, such as a home, business, or blood relative. -- Patrick Moore

    [08] FIRST SENTENCE HANDED DOWN BY HAGUE COURT.

    The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia announced on 29 November that it has sentenced Drazen Erdemovic to ten years in prison, the BBC and Oslobodjenje reported. Erdemovic is an ethnic Croat whose underworld activities eventually led him to the Bosnian Serb side and participation in a massacre of 1,200 Muslims after the fall of Srebrenica in 1995. The court said it was lenient because Erdemovic, who had turned himself in, showed remorse and had been cooperative. His testimony revealed a massacre that had not been reported before and that is now under investigation. It is the first sentence for war crimes since the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials at the end of World War II. -- Patrick Moore

    [09] PARLIAMENT ADOPTS CONTROVERSIAL BUDGET.

    The Croatian parliament (Sabor) on 29 November adopted a controversial 1997 budget, international and local media reported. The budget, which totals 35.42 billion kunas ($6.4 billion), allots increases of up to 50% to government offices, while education, science and the judiciary get up to 10% more. The majority of deputies from the ruling Croatian Democratic Community outvoted the opposition in passing the budget. Vlado Gotovac of the opposition Social-liberals criticized the government for spending too much at a time when a tight budget is needed. In other news, the head of Croatia's supreme court, Krunoslav Olujic, who was sacked amid allegations of pedophilia (see the OMRI Daily Digest, 27 November 1996), said his dismissal was "purely political" and "a public lynching," Novi List reported on 30 November. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [10] IS THE BOSNIAN SERB POWER STRUGGLE OVER?

    The civilian leadership of the Republika Srpska has achieved two of its main goals in its confrontation with the military establishment based at Han Pijesak. On 28 November, the cashiered commander and indicted war criminal Gen. Ratko Mladic agreed to step down. On 1 December, his deputy, Gen. Milan Gvero, did likewise, AFP reported. Neither man went quietly, however. Mladic warned the government that it must do something about the poor morale and state of preparedness in the army, claiming that his intelligence reports show that "the Muslims" will renew fighting later in 1997. Gvero lambasted the civilians, arguing that they "believe that the services of the officers and generals who fought the war are useless and harmful." -- Patrick Moore

    [11] UNPREDEP MANDATE EXTENDED IN MACEDONIA.

    The UN Security Council on 27 November approved a six-month extension of the UN Preventive Deployment Force in Macedonia, Reuters reported. The mandate was extended until 31 May, but UNPREDEP's strength will be reduced from a current 1,100 to 800 troops and monitors by 30 April. Russia abstained from the vote, saying the current extension should be the last one. In other news, the second round of local elections took place on 1 December. Macedonian media put the turnout at around 60%. First official results are not expected until late on 2 December. -- Stefan Krause

    [12] NEW ROMANIAN PRESIDENT TAKES OATH.

    Emil Constantinescu was sworn in as Romania's new president on 29 November, Romanian media reported. The same day he held talks with leaders of all political formations represented in parliament: the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR), the Party of Social Democracy in Romania, the Social Democratic Union (USD), the Greater Romania Party, and the Party of Romanian National Unity. Afterwards, Constantinescu officially designated Victor Ciorbea, the CDR mayor of Bucharest, to form the new government. Constantinescu stressed that he wanted a "solid government . . . one for four years and not just for several months, as some people would like." Two days earlier, USD leader Petre Roman, who was Romania's premier from 1990 to 1991, and Ion Diaconescu, chairman of the National Peasant Party -- Christian Democratic, were elected chairmen of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, respectively. -- Dan Ionescu

    [13] PRO-RUSSIAN ELECTED MOLDOVA'S PRESIDENT.

    Parliament Speaker Petru Lucinschi was elected Moldova's president in a runoff on 1 December, Moldovan and Western agencies reported. According to preliminary data, Lucinschi's led with 53.14% of the vote, over incumbent President Mircea Snegur with 46.86%. Lucinschi, 56, who was the highest ranking ethnic Moldovan in the hierarchy of the defunct Communist Party of the Soviet Union (he was Central Committee secretary), was backed by leftist forces, including the ruling Agrarian Democratic Party, the socialists, the Communists' Party of Moldova and the Edinstvo-Unitate movement. He is generally seen as pro-Russian; during the electoral campaign, he repeatedly advocated closer ties with the Commonwealth of Independent States and Russia. In a first statement, Lucinschi said that his "victory [was] one for the people ... who want a change for the better." -- Dan Ionescu

    [14] BULGARIAN PRESIDENT QUESTIONS CONSENSUS ON CURRENCY BOARD.

    Zhelyu Zhelev expressed serious concerns in a 27 November letter to IMF Managing Director Michael Camdessus about whether a political consensus for the introduction of a currency board in Bulgaria can be reached, international and national media reported. He said opposition support for the board may help the current Socialist government but noted that a board would be discredited if supported only by the Socialists in parliament. The cabinet issued a statement labeling Zhelev's letter as misleading and causing great damage to Bulgaria's relationship with international institutions. Meanwhile, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Regional Director Olivier Descamps said on 29 November that the bank will no longer participate in state-sponsored projects in Bulgaria because of questionable support by the IMF and the World Bank and the slow development of the reform program. However, loans would still be made to support private-sector projects. -- Maria Koinova

    [15] HEAVY PRISON TERMS FOR EIGHT ALBANIAN COMMUNIST-ERA OFFICIALS.

    A Tirana court headed by Judge Andi Celiku on 27 November sentenced eight Communist Party officials to long prison terms. They were found guilty of the "large-scale deportation of people, violations of the Albanian constitution and of international conventions," AFP reported. Shkoder party Secretary Enver Halili and former secret police officer Mehdi Bushati were tried in absentia and were both sentenced to 22 years in prison. Others sentenced include local party chairmen and secret police officers Raqi Iftica (17 years), Marash Kola (16 years), and Hysen Shehu (4 years). Others tried in absentia included Qemal Bregasi (18 years), Lahedin Bardhi (18 years), and Jorgaq Mihali (16 years). -- 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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