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OMRI: Daily Digest, Vol. 3, No. 38, 97-02-24

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

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

Vol. 3, No. 38, 24 February 1997


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] SENIOR OFFICIAL IN AZERBAIJAN'S RULING PARTY ASSASSINATED.
  • [02] ARMENIA, IRAN TO CONNECT POWER GRIDS.
  • [03] NAZARBAYEV'S TIMELY TRIP TO CHINA.
  • [04] UZBEK ROUNDUP.
  • [05] TAJIKS REACH ACCORD IN MESHED.
  • [06] TRILATERAL TALKS IN TEHRAN.

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [07] MONTENEGRIN PREMIER SLAMS SERBIAN PRESIDENT.
  • [08] MYSTERIOUS DEATH IN KOSOVO PRISON.
  • [09] ANOTHER ATTACK ON SFOR IN MOSTAR.
  • [10] CROATIA URGED TO PROTECT ALL REMAINING SERBS.
  • [11] TUDJMAN TO SEEK RE-ELECTION AS PRESIDENT.
  • [12] FRENCH PRESIDENT IN ROMANIA.
  • [13] ROMANIAN NATIONALIST LEADER OUSTED, EXILED KING'S CITIZENSHIP RESTORED.
  • [14] BULGARIA'S EURO-LEFT ELECTS LEADERSHIP.
  • [15] WORLD BANK RECOMMENDATIONS TO BULGARIA.
  • [16] TURKEY TO EXPEL BULGARIAN TURKS.
  • [17] PROTESTS CONTINUE IN ALBANIA . . .
  • [18] . . . WHILE BERISHA LASHES OUT AT FOES.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] SENIOR OFFICIAL IN AZERBAIJAN'S RULING PARTY ASSASSINATED.

    Ziya Buniyatov, First Deputy Chairman of New Azerbaijan (Yeni Azerbaycan), was killed on 21 February, Russian and Western media reported. An orientalist, Bunyatov received the top Soviet decoration, Hero of the Soviet Union, for his service in World War II. Buniyatov, 75, was a member of parliament and vice president of the Academy of Sciences. He was shot twice and stabbed four times in what the authorities have described as a likely contract murder. Further details have not been released. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [02] ARMENIA, IRAN TO CONNECT POWER GRIDS.

    Armenia's Deputy Energy Minister Karen Galustyan said on 22 February that Iran and Armenia will soon connect their power grids over the Arax river which separates the two countries, AFP reported. Galustyan said that work is complete on the Armenian side and is almost finished on the Iranian side. According to Galustyan, tests of the new link will be carried out in early March. AFP also quoted the Iranian state news agency as reporting that, following the recent visit to Yerevan by Vice President Hasan Habibi, Iran will supply Armenia with 200 megawatts of electricity a day beginning in late March. -- Emil Danielyan

    [03] NAZARBAYEV'S TIMELY TRIP TO CHINA.

    Kazakstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev held talks in Beijing with his Chinese counterpart Jiang Zemin on 21 February, international media reported. The two discussed expanding trade ties and involving Chinese companies in exploiting and transporting Kazakstan's hydrocarbon reserves. Earlier media reports that the two would discuss separatist violence in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Province in early February were denied by Kazakstani officials reached by RFE/RL on 22 February. Nazarbayev initially arrived in south China on 12 February for an earlier unannounced holiday and to receive what was termed preventative medical treatment. He was the first foreign dignitary to stand beside Zemin after the latter replaced deceased Chinese supremo Deng Xiaoping. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [04] UZBEK ROUNDUP.

    Uzbek human rights activist and freelance RFE/RL correspondent Albert Mousin was detained on 24 February by Moscow police at the request of Uzbek authorities, RFE/RL reported the same day. Moscow police say Mousin is charged with "intentionally spreading falsehood undermining the state and society" under article 191 of Uzbekistan's legal code. In other news, Coca- Cola oE&gt;ned its third plant in Uzbekistan on 21 February, RFE/RL reported. At the opening of the $10 million plant in Namangan, a company representative announced plans to build yet another, this time near Tashkent, at an estimated cost of $55 million. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [05] TAJIKS REACH ACCORD IN MESHED.

    The 20-21 February talks between the government and United Tajik Opposition (UTO) in Meshed resulted in an accord on the composition of the new 26- member National Reconciliation Commission, RFE/RL reported on 21 February. The 50-50 split they agreed to leaves no place for any so-called Third Forces as earlier foreseen in UN-sponsored drafts. It appears the sides registered progress toward a formal power sharing agreement as well: 30% of all local and republican posts are slated to go to the UTO, RFE/RL reported. How the remaining 70% is to be divided up remains unclear, however. In the latest twist, presidential press spokesman Zafar Saidov on 24 February said one of the "Third Forces," the strongman in control of Tursun Zade and its lucrative aluminum plant, Mahmud Khudaberdiyev, will participate in the next round of inter-Tajik talks, slated for 26 February in Moscow. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [06] TRILATERAL TALKS IN TEHRAN.

    A trilateral economic commission meeting attended by Iran, India, and Turkmenistan reached agreements on several joint projects, international media reported on 22 February. Among other plans announced, gas is to be transferred from Turkmenistan to India, a shipping repair installation built on the Iran-Turkmen Caspian border, and a textile factory will be built in Meshed, Iran. The sides also agreed to include Georgia in the commission. The present commission was established in 1995. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [07] MONTENEGRIN PREMIER SLAMS SERBIAN PRESIDENT.

    Montenegrin Premier Milo Djukanovic, in an interview with the weekly Vreme on 21 February, heaped criticism on Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, saying the Serbian president is "incompetent" to lead the country. "Milosevic is a man whose politics are obsolete, [and he] is incapable of making a strategic assessment of the challenges facing our state. It would be politically wrong to keep him in any political position in Yugoslavia," said Djukanovic. Milosevic, meanwhile, has used state television to fire back at his critics. One day after the Vreme interview, one TV commentary dubbed Djukanovic a traitor, saying the Montenegrin premier is bent on jeopardizing national interests. -- Stan Markotich

    [08] MYSTERIOUS DEATH IN KOSOVO PRISON.

    The pro-Milosevic Belgrade daily Politika Ekspres reported on 24 February that the 30 year-old ethnic Albanian Besnik Restelica died in police custody recently because he hanged himself in his cell. The paper suggested he feared reprisals from his own people after having confessed to the involvement in the clandestine Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK). Members of the Albanian community, however, said the young man had been tortured to death as part of a tough crackdown on suspected members of the UCK, international news agencies wrote. Meanwhile, the National Movement for Liberation of Kosovo (LKCK) has called for an "armed uprising" against Serbia. It also attacked the ethnic Albanian political establishment for its "pacifist politics which are in the interest of Serbia and not of their own people," AFP wrote. -- Patrick Moore

    [09] ANOTHER ATTACK ON SFOR IN MOSTAR.

    In an second attack on the NATO-led Stabilization Force within two days, assailants threw a hand grenade at an Italian armored vehicle in Mostar on 21 February, international agencies reported. Four Italian soldiers traveling in the vehicle at the time of the attack were unhurt. A NATO spokesman said the identity of the assailants, who escaped by car, was unknown. Following the first attack (see OMRI Daily Digest, 21 February 1997), the SFOR commander in Mostar, Gen Yves le Chatelier, said he would use the 10,000 men under his command to "do whatever is necessary to remove all forces that threaten us," AFP reported. Meanwhile, Valentin Coric, the Croatian police chief in Mostar, has said that charges have been filed against 11 prominent Muslims in connection with Muslim-Croatian clashes in the city earlier this month. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [10] CROATIA URGED TO PROTECT ALL REMAINING SERBS.

    U.S. Ambassador Peter Galbraith said that the reintegration of eastern Slavonia into Croatia will succeed only if Serbs all over Croatia feel secure, Novi List wrote on 23 February. He said that Croatian Serbs and Croats alike should be able to return to their homes anywhere in Croatia in safety. Galbraith also urged the reintroduction of the Serbs into the political process, which Zagreb has already promised it will do. -- Patrick Moore

    [11] TUDJMAN TO SEEK RE-ELECTION AS PRESIDENT.

    The ruling Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) announced at its annual congress on 23 February that Croatian President Franjo Tudjman will run in the presidential elections scheduled for later this year, Vecernji list reported on 24 February. The pro-government daily Vjesnik commented last week that Tudjman's candidacy demonstrates that the Croatian leader "has recovered from his illness very well, is in good health, and has reached his former condition". Tudjman, reported to be ill with cancer, will run for his third term in office. As founder and leader of the HDZ, he won the first democratic elections in Croatia some seven years ago. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [12] FRENCH PRESIDENT IN ROMANIA.

    Jacques Chirac, during a state visit to Romania on 21-22 February, held talks with his Romanian counterpart, Emil Constantinescu, Premier Victor Ciorbea and other senior Romanian officials, including former President Ion Iliescu, international media reported. Chirac is the first foreign head of state to pay an official visit to Romania since the victory of democratic forces in the November 1996 elections. Talks focused on Romania's efforts to join European and Euro-atlantic structures and how to boost bilateral trade and French investment in Romania. Chirac repeated his country's support for Romania's integration into NATO in the first wave of admissions. -- Dan Ionescu

    [13] ROMANIAN NATIONALIST LEADER OUSTED, EXILED KING'S CITIZENSHIP RESTORED.

    The Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR) on 22 February ousted its leader, Gheorghe Funar, blaming him for the party's poor showing in the November elections, Radio Bucharest reported. Valeriu Tabara, a former agriculture minister, has been elected interim president until the party's national convention, scheduled for next month. He said the party will change its anti-Hungarian nationalist stance. Meanwhile, the Romanian government has restored the citizenship of former King Mihai and his family, international media reported on 21 February. In a first reaction, the royal household said the act was contributing to "national reconciliation" at a time when "sacrifices are demanded of all Romanians." Mihai, who lives in Switzerland, has announced he will pay a six-day visit to Romania beginning 28 February. -- Zsolt Mato and Dan Ionescu

    [14] BULGARIA'S EURO-LEFT ELECTS LEADERSHIP.

    The 3,000 or so members of the new Euro-Left party have elected a 20-strong political council and Alexander Tomov as party chairman, Reuters and Duma reported. Tomov is chairman of the Civic Union of the Republic (GOR), one of the three groups that belong to Euro-Left. The other two groups are the Movement for Social Humanism and a group of Bulgarian Socialist Party deputies opposed to former Premier Zhan Videnov, who recently left the party. Euro-Left espouses the principles of social democracy and aims at membership in the Socialist International. It will participate in the campaign for the April parliamentary elections. -- Maria Koinova

    [15] WORLD BANK RECOMMENDATIONS TO BULGARIA.

    During his visit in Bulgaria on 23 February, World Bank Director for Southeastern Europe Kenneth Lay said that speeding up reforms was the only way to solve the current economic crisis in Bulgaria. He recommended the liberalization of fuel and grain prices and the lifting of import and export duties on grain as a way to avert shortages. Lay also said that the World Bank is ready to grant another loan to help the unemployed after the closure of unprofitable enterprises. According to 24 Chasa, he also commented that the government could sell off 100% the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company if the highest possible price were to be paid. -- Maria Koinova

    [16] TURKEY TO EXPEL BULGARIAN TURKS.

    Turkey plans to expel an estimated 200,000 Turkish Muslim Bulgarian citizens who do not have the proper documentation to reside in Turkey, Western media reported on 21 February. Balkan Muslim emigre groups in Turkey are asking the Turkish Interior Ministry to review the expulsion decree, which is due to go into effect on 1 April. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [17] PROTESTS CONTINUE IN ALBANIA . . .

    At least 5,000 people staged a peaceful, if noisy, protest in the southern port of Vlora on 23 February, Reuters reported. It was the 19th straight day of demonstrations there following the collapse of several pyramid schemes in which many Albanians lost their life savings. The protesters on 21 February rejected an offer by President Sali Berisha to compensate them with assets from a local salt mine and gas station. The next day, a state commission announced that investors in the collapsed Gjallica scheme would get only a fraction of their money back. The pyramid, which had attracted much money in Vlora, had $145 million in debts but only $28 million in assets. The protesters also expressed their support for 53 hunger-striking students, who have blockaded themselves in the university since 20 February to demand the resignation of the government of Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi. -- Patrick Moore

    [18] . . . WHILE BERISHA LASHES OUT AT FOES.

    Berisha has meanwhile continued to give speeches across the country in connection with his expected re-election to the presidency in March. His return to office seems a foregone conclusion, since the president is elected by the parliament, which is controlled by Berisha's Democratic Party (PD). Speaking in Shkoder on 22 February, he repeated his charge that "the communists" are trying to foment unrest as a means to retake power. He earlier slammed 14 members of his own party, including former cabinet ministers who had joined in the calls for Meksi to resign, the BBC reported. German media noted that the government has taken an increasingly shrill tone against Voice of America and Deutsche Welle's coverage of the disturbances. -- Patrick Moore

    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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