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OMRI: Daily Digest, Vol. 3, No. 24, 97-02-04

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

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

Vol. 3, No. 24, 4 February 1997


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] SHEVARDNADZE IN FRANCE.
  • [02] IRAN AND ARMENIA.
  • [03] SUSPECT SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR KILLING RUSSIAN SOLDIERS.
  • [04] KAZAKSTANI UNIONS READY TO STRIKE.
  • [05] FUND ESTABLISHED IN MEMORY OF MURDERED U.S. JOURNALIST.

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [06] SERBIAN PROTESTERS' RESOLVE IN FACE OF GOVERNMENT VIOLENCE.
  • [07] INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY CONDEMNS CRACKDOWN IN SERBIA.
  • [08] SERB LEADERSHIP BREAKS OFF COOPERATION WITH CROATIAN GOVERNMENT.
  • [09] ATTACK ON INDEPENDENT SARAJEVO MONTHLY.
  • [10] KARADZIC INTERVIEW PRODUCES OUTRAGE . . .
  • [11] . . . AND A DENIAL.
  • [12] CONSTANTINESCU IN BRUSSELS.
  • [13] CONTROVERSY OVER TREATY WITH UKRAINE?
  • [14] ROMANIAN EX-MONARCH INVITED TO ROMANIA.
  • [15] TIRASPOL LEADERSHIP CONFLICT OVER GOVERNMENTAL STRUCTURE.
  • [16] BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS ANNOUNCE NEW GOVERNMENT . . .
  • [17] . . . WHILE PROTESTS MOUNT.
  • [18] ALBANIAN OPPOSITION REJECTS PRESIDENT'S ROUND TABLE.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] SHEVARDNADZE IN FRANCE.

    Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze arrived in Paris for a three-day state visit on 3 February, Western media reported. Following talks with his French counterpart Jacques Chirac, Shevardnadze was quoted as saying Georgia welcomes France's intention to conduct an "active policy" in the Caucasus and Georgia was "moving in the direction" of the European Union but had no ambitions to join NATO because "no one would take it seriously." Chirac suggested Paris intends to support Tbilisi's bid to join the Council of Europe. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [02] IRAN AND ARMENIA.

    Armenian parliamentary Speaker Bakken Ararktsyan held talks with top Iranian officials in Tehran from 1-3 February, Iranian and Western media reported. Ararktsyan's Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Natek Nuri, was quoted by Iranian media as saying the two sides had reached "important decisions," including the construction of a pipeline to carry Iranian gas to Armenia. No further details were given. Iranian Vice President Hasan Habibi reiterated Tehran's standing offer, which is anathema to Azerbaijan, to mediate in the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute. Ararktsyan voiced hopes that the recently formed Iran-Armenia joint committee would speed up implementation of existing agreements and that joint ventures in gas, tire manufacturing, transport, and petrochemicals would be established in the future. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [03] SUSPECT SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR KILLING RUSSIAN SOLDIERS.

    A Dushanbe court on 3 February found 30-year-old Aleksandr Gayurov guilty of murdering two Russian soldiers in February 1995 and sentenced him to be shot, NTV reported. Gayurov's lawyer says his client received a "cursory and unprofessional trial" and plans to appeal. In a related story, the Russian magazine Itogi on 4 February published a poll on the presence of Russian soldiers in Tajikistan. According a VCIOM survey of 1,600 Russians, 20% said the troops should remain, 12% said their number should be increased, 50% wanted them pulled out, and 18% had trouble answering the question. Russian soldiers make up the core of both the 201st Motorized Division and the CIS peacekeeping force in Tajikistan. During the last two years more than 60 have been killed, many away from the scenes of fighting. -- Bruce Pannier

    [04] KAZAKSTANI UNIONS READY TO STRIKE.

    A leader of the Kazakh Free Trade Unions Confederation, Leonid Solomin, warned the government that if wage arrears are not paid soon strikes could sweep the country, Reuters reported on 3 February. Solomin noted that 254 miners at the Achisaysky non-ferrous metals plant in Kentau have occupied administrative buildings since mid-January demanding their unpaid wages, which now total 40 million tenge ($500,000). Solomin said many had not been paid for eight months and some for as long as two years. Teachers in Kazakstan's northern Semipalatinsk Region are threatening to strike later this week. Total wage and pension arrears are estimated to be approaching $1 billion. President Nursultan Nazarbayev has several times ordered the problem to be solved, but some fear that a sudden payment of the outstanding wages will drastically devalue the country's currency. -- Bruce Pannier

    [05] FUND ESTABLISHED IN MEMORY OF MURDERED U.S. JOURNALIST.

    The Internews network on 3 February announced the creation of the Chris Gehring Memorial Fund to aid journalists in Central Asia. Gehring, 28, was the head of an Internews project in Kazakstan until he was found murdered in his Almaty apartment on 9 January. The fund will be used to continue Gehring's work, and will include an annual prize for journalists and a legal defense fund for journalists working in the area. Internews, a non- profit organization, provides assistance to more than 100 independent electronic media organizations in Central Asia. -- Bruce Pannier

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [06] SERBIAN PROTESTERS' RESOLVE IN FACE OF GOVERNMENT VIOLENCE.

    Serbian opposition leaders on 3 January called for peaceful resistance in the face of police crackdowns to the continuing protests. Vuk Draskovic, head of the Serbian Renewal Movement and Zajedno leader, urged "We must all turn into a river of non-violent resistance...All schools and faculties must close, we must not pay any taxes and bills and we must all go on strike. They are taking money from the citizens to pay the police who beat the people," Reuters reported. Meanwhile, reports from 3-4 February continued to circulate of police beatings, albeit on a scale which did not reach that of the previous evening. Nasa Borba on 4 February, meanwhile, reported on the magnitude and severity of the police crackdown on that night of 2-3 February under the headline "The Police Beat Whomever They Could." -- Stan Markotich

    [07] INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY CONDEMNS CRACKDOWN IN SERBIA.

    A flood of international criticism has greeted Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and his government for the decision to employ violence against peaceful protests. State Department Spokesman Nicholas Burns deplored "the most serious use of force [on 2-3 February]" and called "on the Serb police and the Serb authorities led by President Milosevic to exercise restraint in the streets of Belgrade," Reuters reported on 3 February. Meanwhile, U.S. charge d'affaires Richard Miles met Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic on 3 February to "condemn" the police violence and "to call upon the Serbian government officially to refrain from using police force in the streets of Belgrade." But for his part, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic attended a state medal awards ceremony in which high ranking officials, including police dignitaries, were honored, international media reported. -- Stan Markotich

    [08] SERB LEADERSHIP BREAKS OFF COOPERATION WITH CROATIAN GOVERNMENT.

    Mirko Tankosic, deputy head of the Office for Transitional Administration in eastern Slavonia, told the Croatian pro-government daily Vjesnik on 4 February that the local Serb leadership has decided to break off all contacts and cooperation with Croatian government representatives. Tankosic said the break will possibly last until 5 February, when the Serb "regional assembly" will meet and decide on a future political direction. The local Serb TV station, Beli Manastir, reported on 3 February that local Serb leadership is very disappointed by the UN Security Council's decision to endorse the Croatian government's letter of intent for reintegration of eastern Slavonia into the rest of Croatia. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [09] ATTACK ON INDEPENDENT SARAJEVO MONTHLY.

    Five people on 2 February entered the premises of the independent Sarajevo magazine Dani and tried to evict its staff, Onasa quoted a press release by the Sarajevo Canton Interior Ministry. Claiming they owned the premises, the five threw tear gas canisters and attacked the magazine's deputy editor in chief, Ozren Kebo. Police arrested the perpetrators and said charges would be filed against them. In other news, another cab-driver was murdered in Vogosca, a Sarajevo suburb, on 2 February, following the murder of a cab- driver at suburb of Ilidza several weeks ago, Onasa reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [10] KARADZIC INTERVIEW PRODUCES OUTRAGE . . .

    In response to the public warning by indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic that a Serbian loss of Brcko could lead to war (see OMRI Daily Digest, 3 February 1997), Colum Murphy, the spokesman for the international community's High Representative Carl Bildt, said: "Dr. Karadzic's statement threatening war over Brcko is an outrageous provocation. Dr. Karadzic has made a major mistake. He will not only not be allowed to fan the flames of war, but by such outrageous statements he has hastened the day when he will be able to comment only from The Hague. We will also demand of our colleagues of the international community that indicted war criminals should go sooner rather than later to the Hague tribunal," reported AFP. Bosnian co-Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic said, however, that the international community deserved Karadzic's remarks "because they left those war criminals running around freely for so long." -- Patrick Moore

    [11] . . . AND A DENIAL.

    The Republika Srpska's Information Ministry, AFP continued, denied the whole story, which ran in the Greek daily, Elevtheros Typos: "At the most delicate moment in the process of arbitration ... [the paper] inexplicably carried out an invented interview with Radovan Karadzic. [The text runs] completely contrary to the positions of the Republika Srpska regarding war and peace, the Dayton agreement, and the arbitration itself. Having transferred all his powers to [Republika Srpska President] Biljana Plavsic on 30 June 1996, Radovan Karadzic has not made any public appearances, nor has he authorized anybody to put forward any views in public on his behalf, particularly not views contrary to the official Serb position." Regarding Brcko, the Bosnian Serb leadership has relied primarily on quiet diplomacy in recent weeks, although on 16 December, Plavsic also raised the specter of war should the arbitration go against the Serbs. The Greek journalist, for his part, contended that the interview took place on 25 January, and his paper published a photo of the interview in progress. -- Patrick Moore

    [12] CONSTANTINESCU IN BRUSSELS.

    President Emil Constantinescu is scheduled today to meet with NATO Secretary General Javier Solana for talks on Romania's bid to join the alliance, international agencies reported. After meeting with Constantinescu, European Commission President Jaques Santer said on 3 February that the EU has been encouraged by progress in Romania since the November 1996 elections. The EU's Foreign Affairs Commissioner, Hans van der Broek, said after talks with Constantinescu that the EU nations should release some $80 million in aid for Romania, which had been blocked when the former government failed to meet its pledge for reforms. He also said that the commission will "give a willful ear" to a $640 million program for aiding those likely to be hardest hit by the envisaged reforms<strong>.</strong> -- Zsolt Mato

    [13] CONTROVERSY OVER TREATY WITH UKRAINE?

    Responding to Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma's opposition to Romania joining NATO without previously recognizing the existing borders (see OMRI Daily Digest, 3 February), Foreign Minister Adrian Severin said Kuchma's attitude was "unsuitable" and amounted to "blackmail," the daily Jurnalul national reported. He emphasized that his country has no territorial claims on Ukraine. Adrian Nastase, deputy chairman of the opposition Party of Social Democracy in Romania, said the present leaders' change of policy toward a Romanian/Ukraine treaty was "worrying." Nastase added that the treaty should not be concluded "at any price." The leader of the extreme nationalist Greater Romania Party, Corneliu Vadim Tudor, said his party's very denomination indicated its position and "we would rather forego the conclusion of the treaty than recognize the abandon of those ancient Romanian lands." At that price, he added, "we do not understand why we should join NATO at all." -- Zsolt Mato

    [14] ROMANIAN EX-MONARCH INVITED TO ROMANIA.

    Exiled King Michael has been invited to visit the northeastern Romanian city of Iasi by its mayor, Constantin Simirad, Romanian television reported on 2 February. Simirad said he sensed there was still "reluctance" on the part of the government to the king's visit and thus wanted to test declarations that the former monarch could visit the country at any time. The promise, first made by Foreign Minister Adrian Severin shortly after the new government had been sworn in, was reiterated by the secretary general of the main coalition member, the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic. King Michael's citizenship was revoked by the communists after his forced abdication in 1947 and has never been restored to him<strong>.</strong> -- Dan Ionescu

    [15] TIRASPOL LEADERSHIP CONFLICT OVER GOVERNMENTAL STRUCTURE.

    The Transdniester Supreme Soviet has refused to approve the new government proposed by the breakaway region's president, Igor Smirnov, BASA press reported on 3 February. On 30 January, the legislature proposed nominating a first deputy premier, who should become prime minister following an amendment to the existing constitution. Under the present basic law, Transdniester's president is also prime minister. -- Dan Ionescu

    [16] BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS ANNOUNCE NEW GOVERNMENT . . .

    Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) premier-designate Nikolay Dobrev on 3 February announced the lineup for his government, RFE/RL reported. Dobrev will present his cabinet to President Petar Stoyanov on 4 February, and a confidence vote in the parliament is scheduled for the following day. The government includes two deputy premiers: Georgi Pirinski, who returns to the Foreign Ministry, and newly-appointed Social Affairs Minister Nikola Koychev. More than half of the portfolios will be headed by new ministers, including interior, defense, industry, and justice. Gen. Sava Dzhendov will become interior minister, while Gen. Lyuben Petrov will take over defense. Finance Minister Dimitar Kostov, Foreign Trade Minister Atanas Paparizov, and Agriculture Minister Krastyo Trendafilov are among the key ministers who will keep their post. Dobrev said he will announce the ministers of economic development and of education at a later date. A BSP plenary meeting passed the new lineup with 146 votes to 7. -- Stefan Krause

    [17] . . . WHILE PROTESTS MOUNT.

    Protests against the formation of a new BSP government and for early parliamentary elections intensified on 3 February, Reuters and AFP reported. Traffic came to a virtual standstill in Sofia and Plovdiv as public transport workers struck and students and protesters blocked main intersections. In Sofia, 15 students were injured by angry drivers. Some 20, 000 people demonstrated in the capital. Bus and train services were suspended, while roads were blocked throughout the country. Road and train links to Greece were blocked for a 6th consecutive day. Union of Democratic Forces Chairman Ivan Kostov said the protests will continue until early elections are called. Strike organizers said Sofia public transport will go on an indefinite strike if the parliament approves the new government. Meanwhile, Dobrev warned that "peaceful protests are understandable, but civil disobedience is outside the law." National Police Chief Hristo Marinski called on Stoyanov and politicians to find a way of keeping the protests peaceful. -- Stefan Krause

    [18] ALBANIAN OPPOSITION REJECTS PRESIDENT'S ROUND TABLE.

    Opposition parties, newly united in a "Forum for Democracy," dismissed the invitation of President Sali Berisha for round table talks of about 20 political parties and organizations. Instead, they renewed demands for the government's resignation, Reuters reported. "The Forum is not in favor of a technical solution as advanced by this round table but for a political solution," senior Socialist Party leader Pandeli Majko said, adding that "we have already declared that the first step for a political solution is the resignation of the government." The Social Democratic Party accused Berisha of staging a public relations exercise. Elsewhere, 24 more demonstrators have been formally charged with public offenses in Lushnje and Berat. -- 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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