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OMRI: Daily Digest, Vol. 3, No. 41, 97-02-27

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

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

Vol. 3, No. 41, 27 February 1997


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] MINSK GROUP CO-CHAIRS TO RESUME STALLED TALKS ON NAGORNO-KARABAKH.
  • [02] ARMENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER MEETS WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF BANNED PARTY.
  • [03] TURKMEN PRESIDENT IN INDIA.
  • [04] KAZAKSTAN UPDATE.
  • [05] UZBEK PRESIDENT ON ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE.

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [06] FOUR ALBANIAN HUNGER STRIKERS IN SERIOUS CONDITION.
  • [07] SECURITY IN TIRANA TO BE INCREASED.
  • [08] MONTENEGRIN OFFICIAL SPEAKS OUT ON RELATIONS WITH SERBIA . . .
  • [09] . . . WHILE MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT SAYS HE WANTS TO COOPERATE WITH BELGRADE.
  • [10] UN RELEASES "SHOCKING" REPORT ON MOSTAR CLASHES . . .
  • [11] . . . WHILE CROATS CRACKS DOWN ON NATIONALISTS.
  • [12] NEW SUPREME COURT HEAD IN CROATIA.
  • [13] DONORS' CONFERENCE PROMISES MACEDONIA $65 MILLION.
  • [14] CORRUPTION CHARGES BROUGHT AGAINST BUCHAREST COUNCILOR.
  • [15] MOLDOVA AGREES TO LINK RUSSIAN PULLOUT TO DNIESTER ACCORD.
  • [16] BULGARIA, IMF CLOSE TO AGREEMENT ON CREDIT.
  • [17] TURKS RESCIND EXPULSION ORDER FOR BULGARIAN TURKS.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] MINSK GROUP CO-CHAIRS TO RESUME STALLED TALKS ON NAGORNO-KARABAKH.

    Representatives of Russia, France, and the U.S.--the three co-chairs of the OSCE's Minsk group, which sponsors negotiations on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict's settlement--met in Copenhagen to discuss ways of reviving the deadlocked peace process, RFE/RL reported on 26 February. The three agreed that "more preparations" are necessary before the talks can resume and that a French fact-finding team will be sent to the region next week to meet with all sides to the conflict. According to ITAR-TASS, a new round of negotiations is scheduled for April. -- Emil Danielyan

    [02] ARMENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER MEETS WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF BANNED PARTY.

    Aleksandr Arzumanyan, on 25 February met in Washington with leaders of the Dashnak party (HHD), banned in Armenia since December 1994, Asbarez-on-line reported. Arzumanyan stressed the importance of "national unity" for a settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute. A day earlier, Armenia's ambassador to Greece visited the HHD headquarters in Athens and discussed the Nagorno-Karabakh problem. Contacts between Armenian high-ranking officials and the HHD, the leading Armenian Diaspora organization, resumed last December after President Levon Ter-Petrossyan called for a "consolidation" of all Armenians in the world. -- Emil Danielyan

    [03] TURKMEN PRESIDENT IN INDIA.

    Saparmurad Niyazov concluded a two-day state visit to India on 26 February, international media reported. Niyazov held talks on regional issues, notably Afghanistan, and bilateral cooperation with his Indian counterpart Dayal Sharma and top Indian government officials. Bilateral agreements in the spheres of economics, culture, health, communications, and the environment were signed, RFE/RL reported. Meanwhile, an outbreak of typhoid fever has reportedly hit Ashgabat, RFE/RL reported on 26 February. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [04] KAZAKSTAN UPDATE.

    Presidential adviser Asylbek Beysenbayev will lead the newly formed Liberal Movement, RFE/RL reported on 25 February. Speaking at Almaty's Democracy House, Beysenbayev said his movement sought to hold the middle ground between the government and its conservative opposition. In other news, Kazakstani officials banned Russian TV-6 Moskva, Kazak Totem TV, Totem Radio, and Radio Max, Reporters sans Frontiers reported on 25 February. The same day, Russian media reported that Kazakstan's new criminal code has been finalized; the code provides for fines and public works instead of imprisonment for some crimes. The death penalty remains for premeditated murder, the attempted murder of a state official, and military crimes or high treason in time of war. The draft criminal code has been 6 years in the making and must be approved by parliament. Finally, a consortium headed by the Malaysian firm Mega Meisa will build and operate a $1.3 billion coal- fired power plant in Kazakstan, RFE/RL reported on 26 February. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [05] UZBEK PRESIDENT ON ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE.

    Islam Karimov told a government assembly 1996 was a "year of economic and financial stabilization," RFE/RL reported on 26 February. He said, the budget deficit did not exceed 3.5%, inflation was cut in half (he gave no figures), the national currency strengthened, and foreign trade was over $9.3 billion dollars. He called for 1997 to be a "year of human interests" and social security for all. The same day, the head of the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation, Ruth Harkin, held talks with Karimov and other top officials in Tashkent. Harkin is checking on Amercian investment projects the OPIC has underwritten. The OPIC has provided $200 million worth of political risk insurance and financing for U.S. projects in Uzbekistan. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [06] FOUR ALBANIAN HUNGER STRIKERS IN SERIOUS CONDITION.

    Four students taking part in a hunger strike in Vlora to demand the resignation of the government are in serious condition, AFP reported on 26 February. Some 45 students have been taking part in the protest action for the past eight days. Special police troops tried to break up the strike, but thousands of city residents forced them back from the university building, where the strike is taking place. Some shots were heard, and the crowd hurled stones at the troops. No injuries were reported. In a show of support for the students, some 120 people from Shkoder--including rightist Mayor Bahri Borici--traveled in buses and cars to Vlora. People from other towns also arrived in Vlora to join the protests. Meanwhile in Gjirokastra, President Sali Berisha met with students but was jeered when he rejected their demands. -- Fabian Schmidt

    [07] SECURITY IN TIRANA TO BE INCREASED.

    The Democratic Party has said it will increase security in the capital, Reuters reported. The party's central committee said it is imposing a "state of preparedness" to "guarantee stability in all of Albania." It pointed to plans by opposition parties to hold a rally in Tirana, but it was unclear what measures would be taken or how long they would be enforced. Security forces will likely maintain an increased presence until 8 March; if parliament is to re-elect Berisha for a second term, it must do so by that date. Some 300 Tirana University students have demanded a meeting with Berisha to discuss violence against peaceful demonstrators. They have also threatened to start a hunger strike if Berisha does not agree to meet with them. -- Fabian Schmidt

    [08] MONTENEGRIN OFFICIAL SPEAKS OUT ON RELATIONS WITH SERBIA . . .

    Another top ranking Montenegrin official on 26 February has publicly said there are fundamental disagreements between the governments of Serbia and Montenegro, Nasa Borba reported the next day. Montenegrin parliamentary speaker Svetozar Marovic defended Premier Milo Djukanovic against recent scathing criticism by the Belgrade state media. He added that the premier's concerns about the authoritarianism of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's regime were by no means personal or isolated (see OMRI Daily Digest, 24 February 1997). Marovic, however, stressed that he did not advocate outright independence for Montenegro. If the federation were to stay together, politicians would have to learn to "push ideology aside," he commented. -- Stan Markotich

    [09] . . . WHILE MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT SAYS HE WANTS TO COOPERATE WITH BELGRADE.

    Meanwhile, Momir Bulatovic is seeking to ease tension between the two republics. In a 26 February letter to the U.S. Congress, he said he stood for working together with Milosevic. "My chief political mandate is cooperation with Milosevic because both of us have spoken out for democratic and economic development in Yugoslavia," he wrote. In other news, leaders of the Serbian opposition Zajedno coalition met with exiled Prince Alexander near his London home on 26 February, Reuters reported. Vuk Draskovic, head of the Serbian Renewal Movement and an arch-advocate of the restoration of the monarchy, commented that Alexander could have a profound political role in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. He compared the exiled monarch to Spain's King Juan Carlos, who ushered in democratic reforms. -- Stan Markotich

    [10] UN RELEASES "SHOCKING" REPORT ON MOSTAR CLASHES . . .

    The UN has released its report on the violent clashes between Muslims and Croats earlier this month that left one dead and 34 wounded, according to AFP on 26 February. The report includes photographs of three plain-clothes Croatian police officers firing on an unarmed retreating Muslim crowd. The Croatian police have been suspected of persecuting Muslims from the western half of Mostar, which they control, but few direct accusations have been made against them. Mostar Croatian Mayor Ivan Prskalo said the Croatian side rejects the report as incomplete, Oslobodjenje reported on 27 February. But Deputy High Representative for Bosnia-Herzegovina Michael Steiner urged the International Contact Group members to press Croats to arrest and dismiss those singled out in the report. British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind said the report is "shocking" and tells an "appalling story." He called on the Croatian government to exert influence over the Croatian authorities in Mostar to abide by the report's recommendations, Reuters reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [11] . . . WHILE CROATS CRACKS DOWN ON NATIONALISTS.

    Meanwhile, Steiner said he has reports that 20 people have been arrested in Mostar over the past couple of days but not the Croatian police officers shown on the photographs in the UN report, Oslobodjenje reported. The daily also reported that, in the apparent crackdown on Croatian nationalists in West Mostar, another prominent warlord--Vinko Martinovic-- has escaped arrest. In other news, the Croatian police on 27 February said they have arrested Mladen Naletilic Tuta, the head of a crime ring in the Croat-held part of Mostar, international agencies reported. According to Hina, Tuta was arrested on 24 February near Split and brought to prison in Zagreb for questioning. But no charges have been filed against him. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [12] NEW SUPREME COURT HEAD IN CROATIA.

    The chief judicial screening committee on 25 February approved the government's recommendation of Milan Vukovic (64) to head Croatia's top judicial body, international news agencies reported. One of Vukovic's new duties will be to supervise the 13 April local elections. Vukovic is considered a loyalist to President Franjo Tudjman and his Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), and his appointment is widely seen as yet another move to thwart the independence of the judiciary. Last year the government began moves to oust the independent-minded former Chief Justice Krunoslav Olujic, who finally lost his job in January. Olujic validated the results of the October 1995 vote in which the HDZ suffered a number of humiliating losses. -- Patrick Moore

    [13] DONORS' CONFERENCE PROMISES MACEDONIA $65 MILLION.

    Delegates to the Brussels donors conference sponsored by the EU and the World Bank have promised Macedonia $65 million in loans for 1997, Nova Makedonija reported on 27 February. The EU will provide $50 million of that amount as a 15-year credit with a ten-year grace period. The loans partly cover an expected $85 million budgetary shortfall. Kenneth Lay, director of the World Bank's Southeast Europe Department, said that "more than any other country in the region, Macedonia has adopted and aggressively pursued the kind of reform we want to see," Reuters reported. Meanwhile, Italian President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, on a visit to Macedonia on 26 February, said he supported Macedonia's bid for full EU and NATO membership. In addition to meeting with President Kiro Gligorov, Scalfaro signed an agreement protecting Italian investment in Macedonia and on cooperation between the countries' foreign ministries. -- Michael Wyzan and Fabian Schmidt

    [14] CORRUPTION CHARGES BROUGHT AGAINST BUCHAREST COUNCILOR.

    Ioan Itu, a councilor in the Bucharest Mayor's Office, has been detained on bribery charges, Radio Bucharest reported on 26 February. This is the first arrest of a member of the ruling Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR) since the CDR-dominated government launched a nation-wide campaign against corruption and economic crime. Itu is accused of trying to extort a computer from a Foreign Ministry employee in exchange for helping obtain commercial premises. The press office of the National Peasant Party- Christian Democratic (PNTCD), the main member of the CDR, said that Itu is practically unknown and that the PNTCD will not interfere with the course of justice. -- Dan Ionescu

    [15] MOLDOVA AGREES TO LINK RUSSIAN PULLOUT TO DNIESTER ACCORD.

    President Petru Lucinschi has agreed to link the withdrawal of the Russian troops from Moldova's breakaway Dniester region to a political settlement for that territory, Reuters reported on 26 February. Lucinschi made the announcement at a press conference in Moscow, one day after he met with his Russian counterpart, Boris Yeltsin. He added that the Russian contingent would be reduced from 6,000 to some 2,500 men, irrespective of the final political settlement of the Dniester conflict. He was also quoted as saying that the complete withdrawal of Russian troops without a peace accord would create a security vacuum in that region. Lucinschi is on his first visit abroad since he officially took office in mid-January. -- Dan Ionescu

    [16] BULGARIA, IMF CLOSE TO AGREEMENT ON CREDIT.

    IMF Bulgaria mission chief Anne McGuirk on 26 February said the fund will probably agree on a standby credit with the interim government, the daily Duma reported. The government is to draw up a letter of intent on its reform intentions before the mission leaves, by the end of next week. The IMF's executive board will consider that letter by the end of March, and the first tranche will be released immediately thereafter. The domestic debt will be reduced by repurchasing "ZUNK bonds" (government paper paying below market interest rates provided to banks in exchange for bad debts). The foreign exchange reserves will soon be increased by $150 million from the sale of Sodi Devnya. The IMF insists on full price liberalization and budgetary measures for the poor. Premier Stefan Sofiyanski will write the Paris Club of commercial creditors today requesting the rescheduling of $40- 50 million due this year. -- Michael Wyzan

    [17] TURKS RESCIND EXPULSION ORDER FOR BULGARIAN TURKS.

    The Turkish government has rescinded an order to expel thousands of Bulgarian Turks who do not have the proper documentation to reside in Turkey, Reuters reported on 25 February. The order became public knowledge last week. Defense Minister Turhan Tayan told the parliament that "nobody will be sent abroad and citizenship rights will be given." The expulsion order was opposed by both opposition and nationalist parties as well as Turkey's sizable Balkan emigre community. -- Lowell Bezanis

    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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