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OMRI: Daily Digest, Vol. 3, No. 30, 97-02-12

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

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

Vol. 3, No. 30, 12 February 1997


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL IN GEORGIA.
  • [02] MORE DEVELOPMENTS IN GEORGIAN DIPLOMAT CASE.
  • [03] AZERBAIJANI UPDATE.
  • [04] UIGHUR-HAN VIOLENCE ON CHINESE BORDER WITH KAZAKSTAN.
  • [05] ONE HOSTAGE RELEASED IN TAJIKISTAN . . .
  • [06] . . . BUT REMAINING HOSTAGES FACE EXECUTION.

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [07] ALBANIAN LOCAL LEGISLATORS DECLINE TO DECLARE STATE OF EMERGENCY.
  • [08] ALBANIAN OPPOSITION CALLS FOR PEACEFUL PROTESTS.
  • [09] SERBIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES LAW ON RECOGNIZING ELECTION WINS.
  • [10] SERBIAN GOVERNMENT RESHUFFLE.
  • [11] ILLEGAL EVICTIONS CONTINUE IN MOSTAR.
  • [12] PLANS AFOOT FOR "SNATCH SQUADS" FOR BOSNIA?
  • [13] CROATIAN ELECTIONS TO BE POSTPONED?
  • [14] ROMANIAN SENATE GRANTS FOREIGNERS RIGHT TO OWN LAND.
  • [15] BATURIN ON RUSSIAN TROOPS IN MOLDOVA.
  • [16] NEW BULGARIAN CABINET GRANTED WIDE POWERS.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL IN GEORGIA.

    Javier Solana began his Transcaucasian tour on 11 February by visiting Tbilisi and meeting with Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze to discuss issues of regional and European security, Russian media reported. Shevardnadze said he does not exclude a "political" role for NATO in the search for a resolution of the Abkhaz conflict. Asked at a news conference about the possibility of a NATO-led, Bosnia-type peacekeeping operation in Abkhazia, Solana warned against a "thoughtless" duplication of the Bosnian experience in other regions. Shevardnadze said he is confident that Russia and the West will eventually reach a compromise on NATO enlargement. He also said that integration into a new European security system is "very important" for Georgia and that NATO as a "political organization" could help his country achieve that goal. -- Emil Danielyan

    [02] MORE DEVELOPMENTS IN GEORGIAN DIPLOMAT CASE.

    Following a request by the U.S. Attorney's Office, the U.S. State Department has formally asked Georgia to waive diplomatic immunity for its diplomat, Georgi Makharadze, who reportedly triggered a five-car accident on 4 January in which a 16-year-old American girl died (see OMRI Daily Digest, 7 January 1997), Reuters reported on 11 February. The U.S. ambassador in Tbilisi informed the Georgian government that Makharadze will be charged with involuntary murder. According to State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns, Georgian authorities have reiterated their readiness to allow the diplomat to be prosecuted but added that a formal decision will be ready in "a few days." -- Emil Danielyan

    [03] AZERBAIJANI UPDATE.

    Former Azerbaijani Environmental Committee Chairman Arif Mansurov, who was detained in mid-January in connection with the October 1994 coup attempt, has been released from prison on bail due to poor health, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 February. In other news, Iran resumed a rail link to Nakhichevan on 9 February, AFP reported. According to the agency, the link between Tabriz and Nakhichevan City has been suspended since the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute erupted in 1988. Meanwhile, one of Azerbaijan's main opposition parties, Musavat, has established a pro-NATO association, according to an 8 February report monitored by the BBC. Headed by Sulhaddin Akper, the Azerbaijani Association for Atlantic Cooperation supports NATO enlargement, aims to strengthen ties between Azerbaijan and NATO within the Partnership for Peace program, and favors a "more modern" national security system for Azerbaijan. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [04] UIGHUR-HAN VIOLENCE ON CHINESE BORDER WITH KAZAKSTAN.

    Chinese authorities have summarily executed an estimated 100 Uighurs for their alleged involvement in bloody anti-Han riots that took place in the frontier town of Yining last week, Western media reported on 12 February. The authorities have sealed off Yining and imposed a curfew on the heavily militarized town, which is the capital of the Ili Kazak Autonomous Prefecture of Xinjiang. Exiled Uighurs in Kazakstan say the riot was sparked by executions, while the Chinese authorities claim that about 1,000 young Uighurs, screaming pro-independence and anti-Han slogans, rampaged in Yining on 5-6 February, causing 10 deaths and injuring almost 150 people. They also claim to have detained the leader of the riots, identified only as a 29-year-old Uighur named Heilili. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [05] ONE HOSTAGE RELEASED IN TAJIKISTAN . . .

    One of the hostages taken by Bahrom Sadirov and his brother Rezvon Sadirov was freed on 11 February because of ill health, Western and Russian media reported. Maj. Gottfried Hoenig was sick when he was captured along with four other UN employees on 4 February, and his condition had apparently worsened to the extent that his captors agreed to have him sent to Dushanbe along with a rebel fighter. Initially, it seemed that Bahrom Sadirov, who took the hostages, was demanding free passage for his brother from Afghanistan to Tajikistan, but it is now apparent that the two Sadirovs are working together to secure the return of 40 supporters from Afghanistan. -- Bruce Pannier

    [06] . . . BUT REMAINING HOSTAGES FACE EXECUTION.

    The Sadirov brothers said that if their supporters in Afghanistan, are not granted free passage to Tajikistan by the evening of 12 February, they will begin executing the remaining 14 hostages, according to Russian media. The 40 fighters in question were brought by helicopter to the southern Tajik town of Kulyab on the morning of 12 February and the government plans to hand them over to the Sadirovs on a stage-by-stage basis in exchange for the hostages. One of the captives, ITAR-TASS journalist Galina Gridneva, said in a phone conversation on the night of 11 February that the situation had greatly deteriorated and that the captives' lives "are in real danger." Bahrom Sadirov said government troops have surrounded hiM. -- Bruce Pannier

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [07] ALBANIAN LOCAL LEGISLATORS DECLINE TO DECLARE STATE OF EMERGENCY.

    Democratic Party (PD) deputies from the southern city of Vlora have rejected Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi's proposal that a state of emergency rule be imposed there. Former deputy Prime Minister Dashamir Shehi said, "We cannot send troops and tanks into our city..., there is always room for dialogue. This is not solved with truncheons," Reuters reported on 12 February. Meksi said the government backed the local party leaders, and he proposed again a meeting with opposition parties. Socialist Party and Democratic Alliance leaders, Namik Dokle and Neritan Ceka, paid a visit to the family of Artur Rustemi, who was killed on 10 February (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 February 1997). They also addressed the more than 30,000 mourners at his funeral. Meanwhile, some 10,000 demonstrators rallied in the city center but later dispersed without incident. Police appeared to have abandoned the city, while protesters today are reported to have set up new barricades. -- Fabian Schmidt

    [08] ALBANIAN OPPOSITION CALLS FOR PEACEFUL PROTESTS.

    The Forum for Democracy has called for a peaceful demonstration in Tirana today, Gazeta Shqiptare reported. Police on 11 February patrolled the streets of the capital and dispersed crowds. The Socialist Party reiterated their call for a political dialogue with President Sali Berisha, while the Republican Party withdrew from the ruling coalition and called for the government's resignation. Greece has asked the EU to consider sending aid to Albania but has also stepped up border patrols, fearing increased illegal migration, AFP reported. Meanwhile, ATSH reported that Vlora is facing a shortage of food and that prices have increased by 25% there. The city's port has been closed since 5 February. -- Fabian Schmidt

    [09] SERBIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES LAW ON RECOGNIZING ELECTION WINS.

    Serbian legislators on 11 February voted to adopt "in principle" a law paving the way for recognition of opposition wins in the November municipal elections, international media reported. Members of the opposition Zajedno coalition have expressed both guarded optimism and skepticism about Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's intention to honor the law. They stressed that protests against the regime will continue. Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic remarked that "the adoption of the bill has solved [only] one problem--[that] of the election theft." Ultranationalist deputies, notably from the Serbian Radical Party (SRS), attempted to stonewall the debate and walked out before the vote. SRS leader and accused war criminal Vojislav Seselj has said he will contest the law's validity in court. -- Stan Markotich

    [10] SERBIAN GOVERNMENT RESHUFFLE.

    The Serbian parliament has endorsed changes in the cabinet lineup, Vecernje novosti reported on 12 February. Seven ministers have been dismissed and 13 new ones appointed; of the latter all belong either to the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia or Mirjana Markovic's (wife of President Slobodan Milosevic's) Yugoslav United Left. The most controversial appointment is that of Radmila Milentijevic as information minister. Milentijevic, who has reportedly lived in the U.S. for some 45 years, is a hard-line defender of Milosevic's regime. -- Stan Markotich

    [11] ILLEGAL EVICTIONS CONTINUE IN MOSTAR.

    UN police have said that 26 illegal evictions of Muslim families living in the Croat half of Mostar were reported during the night from 10-11 February, according to AFP. The evictions followed clashes between Muslims and Croats that, according to UN sources, resulted in one dead and more than 30 wounded (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 February 1997). Meanwhile, Bosnian Croat police have set up roadblocks preventing Muslims living in the Croat- controlled districts to return to their homes following visits to their relatives living in the eastern, mostly-Muslim half of Mostar during the Islamic religious holiday of Bajram. UN spokesman Kris Janowski said the Croats were not allowing anyone in and were therefore violating freedom of movement. Meanwhile, Croat media reported a spate of Muslim assaults on Croat motorists on the main highway northeast of town, and said two had gone missing, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, Croatian and Bosnian presidents Franjo Tudjman and Alija Izetbegovic have met to discuss the Mostar crisis, Hina reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [12] PLANS AFOOT FOR "SNATCH SQUADS" FOR BOSNIA?

    Pentagon officials on 11 February said that Washington is consulting with its allies on how to bring war criminals to justice but that no firm plans have been made, AFP reported. The previous day, the London Daily Telegraph ran a story claiming that "a series of 'snatch operations' [to catch war criminals]...has reached the detailed planning stage, diplomatic and military sources have disclosed." The article suggested that SFOR would provide support and that all 66 war criminals on the loose would probably be rounded up at once. It also intimated that UN observers would be withdrawn before the operation began and that the force would probably consist of elite British, French, and U.S. units under their own national commands. But the paper, which has close ties to the Foreign Office, hinted that some "senior British sources" are concerned lest the project expose British troops on the ground to retribution. -- Patrick Moore

    [13] CROATIAN ELECTIONS TO BE POSTPONED?

    The local vote slated for 16 March seems likely to be put off until 13 April, Slobodna Dalmacija wrote on 12 February. An agreement to that effect appeared to have been reached by President Franjo Tudjman and UN Gen. Jacques Klein early this week. Klein stressed that conditions will not be right in Serb-held eastern Slavonia before then, while the Croats want the elections to go ahead everywhere at the same time in order to emphasize that eastern Slavonia has been reintegrated into Croatia. Some Zagreb opposition party leaders, however, want the elections to take place as soon as possible. They see the delay as a conspiracy between a pro-Serb international community, Serbs anxious to stay free of Croatian control, and a governing party in Croatia that fears defeat at the polls. -- Patrick Moore

    [14] ROMANIAN SENATE GRANTS FOREIGNERS RIGHT TO OWN LAND.

    In an attempt to lure foreign investment, the upper house on 11 February passed a law allowing foreign companies to buy land in Romania. The new legislation had been hotly debated both in the parliament and in the media; and the slogan "We won't sell out our country," frequently invoked during the past seven years, was voiced many times. Victor Ciorbea's government is eager to create incentives for foreign investors. To date, direct foreign investment in Romania totals just over $2 billion since 1990. The bill has still to be approved by the lower house, the Chamber of Deputies. -- Zsolt Mato

    [15] BATURIN ON RUSSIAN TROOPS IN MOLDOVA.

    Russian Defense Council Secretary Yurii Baturin, on the first day of his visit to Chisinau, said that Russia will withdraw its troops from Moldova's Dniester region when the political conflict there is resolved and not when NATO demands that they be withdrawn, international media reported on 11 February. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana, visiting the Moldovan capital the previous day, asked Russia to pull out its troops from eastern Moldova in compliance with OSCE recommendations. Solana had met with senior Moldovan officials, including President Petru Lucinschi and Foreign Minister Mihai Popov, to discuss possible NATO enlargement. Baturin's statement is likely to escalate the war of words between Russia and the West over NATO's plans to expand eastward. Meanwhile, the Moldovan Foreign Ministry said there was no connection between Solana's and Baturin's visits. -- Dan Ionescu

    [16] NEW BULGARIAN CABINET GRANTED WIDE POWERS.

    The outgoing Socialist government on 11 February conferred sweeping powers on the new caretaker government, despite having balked at the idea previously, Bulgarian dailies reported. The new cabinet has the authority to negotiate with international organizations and leaders in order to deal with the nation's economic crisis, including the serious food shortage. President Petar Stoyanov, who chaired the multiparty proceedings that led to an agreement on the interim government (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 February 1997), hailed the accord as a major political breakthrough and "a historic and political consensus." The deal has still to be approved by the parliament. In other news, 300 army officers continued their protest over wages. They complain that they have received only a 60% increase, while other state wages have doubled in recent weeks. -- Stan Markotich

    [As of 12:00 CET]

    Compiled by Jan Cleave


    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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