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OMRI: Daily Digest, Vol. 3, No. 42, 97-02-28

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

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

Vol. 3, No. 42, 28 February 1997


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] NEW CASUALTIES IN ABKHAZIA.
  • [02] ARMENIA TO SEEK A NEW KIND OF U.S. AID.
  • [03] TURKMEN PRESIDENT IN ALMATY.
  • [04] TAJIKISTAN UPDATE.
  • [05] CORRECTION:

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [06] ALBANIAN HUNGER STRIKES CONTINUE.
  • [07] MILOSEVIC TO FACE SOCIALIST-DEMOCRATIC CHALLENGE?
  • [08] IS CRACKDOWN ON MOSTAR NATIONALISTS ONLY A BLUFF?
  • [09] BOSNIAN COUNCIL OF MINISTERS AGREE ON FOREIGN DEBT BILL.
  • [10] CROATIA, INDONESIA SIGN TWO AGREEMENTS.
  • [11] SLOVENIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES GOVERNMENT.
  • [12] ROMANIAN POLICE CHIEF REPLACED.
  • [13] OSCE OFFICIAL IN MOLDOVA ON DNIESTER MEMORANDUM.
  • [14] ECONOMIC COLLAPSE CATASTROPHIC FOR MOST BULGARIANS.
  • [15] HUMANITARIAN AID TO BULGARIA.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] NEW CASUALTIES IN ABKHAZIA.

    Three Abkhaz soldiers were shot dead in Abkhazia's troubled Gali district by unidentified gunmen, according to a 25 February Sakinform report monitored by the BBC. The commander of the Russian peacekeeping forces, Maj.-Gen. Dolya Babenkov, warned that his troops will "adequately react to any terrorist acts," ITAR-TASS reported. Abkhaz Foreign Minister Konstantin Ozgan accused Georgia of starting a "terrorist war" against its breakaway republic. Igor Akhba, the Abkhaz representative to Russia, said that the recent outbreak of violence is a sign of an impending "forcible resolution" of the Abkhaz conflict by Georgia. Meanwhile, according to 26 February BGI (news agency) report monitored by BBC, Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba said that the republic's parliament is currently preparing a declaration of independence from Georgia. -- Emil Danielyan

    [02] ARMENIA TO SEEK A NEW KIND OF U.S. AID.

    During a meeting with a group of U.S. Congressmen in Washington, Armenian Foreign Minister Aleksandr Arzumanyan called for a "new kind" of U.S. aid to Armenia, RFE/RL reported on 26 February. Arzumanyan argued that Armenia, the second largest per capita recipient of U.S. aid among the former Soviet states, has reached the point where it needs more development and technical assistance, rather than humanitarian aid, in order to attract foreign investment. A spokesman for the Armenian Embassy in Washington, Mikael Bagratuni, told RFE/RL that the Armenian delegation requested a meeting with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright but was told that she is "recuperating from her around-the-world trip." -- Emil Danielyan

    [03] TURKMEN PRESIDENT IN ALMATY.

    Kazakstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev and his visiting Turkmen counterpart, Saparmurad Niyazov, discussed a wide range of regional issues, particularly the Caspian Sea, and signed a clutch of intergovernmental agreements in Almaty on 27 February, Russian and Western media reported the same day. Nazarbayev was quoted as saying that the two-day official visit represents a "breakthrough in all respects" and said the two countries have "immense" common interests, specifically pointing to their desire to export hydrocarbon reserves. Both presidents declared their belief that the Caspian should be temporarily divided into national sectors to avoid conflict while the sea's legal status is defined. The two sides also signed several agreements on cooperation, including investment protection, double taxation, and cooperation in the spheres of science, technology, health care, and tourism. -- Lowell Bezanis

    [04] TAJIKISTAN UPDATE.

    The Tajik Presidential Guard and the United Tajik Opposition forces have been launching attacks against forces loyal to the outlaw Sadirov brothers since 25 February, Russian and Western media reported on 27 February. The Tajik government claims to have killed 21 members of the gang and driven the pro-Sadirov group out of the Obi-Garm area, while the UTO forces claim to have killed another 25. The region's difficult terrain makes it unlikely that the Sadirov band will be quickly defeated. Meanwhile, the latest round of inter-Tajik talks, begun on 26 February, continued in Moscow on 27 February and are expected to go on for another week, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. In other news, 13 metric tons of emergency medical supplies, for combating an outbreak of typhoid fever in Tajikistan reached Dushanbe from Moscow on 27 February, Russian media reported the same day. The Tajik authorities have thanked Russia for aid estimated at 4 billion rubles ($700, 000). -- Lowell Bezanis

    [05] CORRECTION:

    The OMRI Daily Digest of 26 February incorrectly reported that Topchubek Turgunaliev, the chairman of the Erkin Kyrgyzstan party, will reside in Bishkek and report monthly to the authorities. In fact, he is being sent to Penal Colony no. 34, 30 km from Bishkek, to serve his four-year sentence, RFE/RL reported on 26 February.

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [06] ALBANIAN HUNGER STRIKES CONTINUE.

    Forty-six students in the southern town of Gjirokaster have launched a hunger strike to show solidarity with hunger strikers in the city of Vlora, where students are demanding the resignation of the government (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 February 1997), local media reported. Meanwhile in Tirana, Premier Alexander Meksi told the parliament that the country is on the verge of total economic collapse. International media reported that police blockaded main roads in the capital city, cordoning off much of the university area. Students staged a second day of protests and boycotted classes. -- Stan Markotich

    [07] MILOSEVIC TO FACE SOCIALIST-DEMOCRATIC CHALLENGE?

    Bogoljub Karic, one of the wealthiest entrepreneurs in Serbia, is rumored to be considering forming a Social Democratic Party to directly challenge President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia in republican elections slated for this year, Belgrade independent media reported on 27 February. Dnevni Telegraf said that Karic's party would include such high- profile members and possible parliamentary candidates as former Serbian Premier Milan Panic. While Karic himself did not confirm the reports, his television station BK Television reported he will run for president in elections also slated for this year. But Vecernje novosti runs an article today downplaying announcements of Karic's interest in politics, noting he has not yet announced his candidacy. In other news, deans of several faculties voted to sack the controversial and staunchly pro-Milosevic rector of Belgrade University on 27 February. The deans, however, have no authority to enforce that decision. -- Stan Markotich

    [08] IS CRACKDOWN ON MOSTAR NATIONALISTS ONLY A BLUFF?

    Following the UN report on the violent clashes in Mostar earlier this month, both Croatia and Bosnian Croats have begun a crackdown on Mostar's Croatian warlords (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 February 1997). Croatia has arrested the leader of Mostar's paramilitary mafia, Mladen Naletilic Tuta, while Bosnian Croats have arrested five Croatian men and issued warrants for the arrest of another three, according to Reuters. But UN spokesman Alexander Ivanko said the arrest of criminals and the UN police report were two separate issues. He noted that if this were a crackdown on organized crime, it was "extremely welcome." But at the same time, he said the UN cannot confirm any of the arrests. Some analysts suspect the Croatian government of bluffing, since it has come under pressured from the international community to exert influence on Bosnian Croat hard-liners in Mostar. Meanwhile, U.S. ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith has met with Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic to underscore Zagreb's obligation to help the Bosnian peace process, Hina reported on 27 February. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [09] BOSNIAN COUNCIL OF MINISTERS AGREE ON FOREIGN DEBT BILL.

    The Bosnian Council of Ministers on 27 February reached agreement on a bill regulating the country's foreign debt, Oslobodjenje reported. The draft law was proposed by the Office of the High Representative to Bosnia- Herzegovina. Boro Bosic, the council's Serbian co-chairman, said it has been forwarded to the parliament for urgent consideration. The adoption of such a law is one of the conditions for a stand-by loan from the IMF and for an international donors' conference on postwar aid to Bosnia, Hina reported. In other news, economic experts from Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and Croatia met on 26 February in Banja Luka, Bosnia's Serbian entity, to discuss privatization and employment in the Bosnian Federation and the Republika Srpska, Onasa reported. Eric de Mill, chief of the UN Development Program mission to Bosnia, presided over the meeting. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [10] CROATIA, INDONESIA SIGN TWO AGREEMENTS.

    Croatia and Indonesia on 27 February signed agreements on economic and technical cooperation and on air traffic, Hina reported. The two countries are expected to sign soon agreements on avoiding double taxation and protecting investments. Also, the Croatian and Indonesian oil companies-- INA and Kondur Petroleum-- have signed a letter of intent on technical assistance in the exploitation of oil and gas. Croatian Premier Zlatko Matesa is visiting Indonesia at the invitation of Indonesian President Suharto. His visit is aimed at promoting economic cooperation between the two countries. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [11] SLOVENIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES GOVERNMENT.

    The Slovenian legislature on 27 February voted in favor of Premier Janez Drnovsek's cabinet, Radio Slovenija reported. The new government was formed after three months of wrangling since the November 1996 elections. It is dominated by Drnovsek's Liberal Democratic Party and includes members of Marjan Podobnik's conservative Slovenian People's Party and the Pensioners' Democratic party. The new government is expected to be able to count on the support of 49 of the legislature's 90 members. -- Stan Markotich

    [12] ROMANIAN POLICE CHIEF REPLACED.

    At the request of Interior Minister Gavril Dejeu, the cabinet on 27 February dismissed Gen. Costica Voicu, head of the Romanian police force, Libertatea reported. Col. Pavel Abraham, until now chief of the Criminal Investigations Department, has been named Costica's successor. Government spokesman Eugen Serbanescu said Costica was replaced in order to improve the way the ministry functions. Responding to the move, former Interior Minister Senator Doru Ioan Taracila accused the government of politically interfering in the ministry's work. -- Zsolt Mato

    [13] OSCE OFFICIAL IN MOLDOVA ON DNIESTER MEMORANDUM.

    Donald Johnson, head of the OSCE mission in Moldova, has urged the OSCE Permanent Council not to endorse the memorandum between Moldova and the breakaway Dniester Republic, Infotag reported on 27 February. The memorandum on resolving relations between Chisinau and Tiraspol was initialed last June but has not yet been signed. Johnson said the document does not correspond to the "basic OSCE principles of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Moldova." He added that the signature of the document could set an "extremely unfortunate precedent," warning that each side has different interpretations of parts of the document. While Moldova called for revisions, the Dniester authorities insisted on signing the memorandum without any amendments. -- Zsolt Mato

    [14] ECONOMIC COLLAPSE CATASTROPHIC FOR MOST BULGARIANS.

    Bulgaria's interim government on 27 February announced it will increase the price of heating, electricity, and coal by 257%, the Bulgarian press reported. Services offered by the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company are to be raised eight-fold. The new prices will go into effect in March. In the meantime, the government will try to find ways to compensate the country's poorest citizens. Some 20 million ECU provided by the EU will be distributed among 150,000 families beginning on 23 March. Meanwhile, the National Statistics Institute has revealed that 89% of Bulgarians say that they are poorer than they were last year. The number of those who are living off their savings has doubled since 1995. Almost every fourth Bulgarian has run up debts. In other news, German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel, speaking in Bonn, commented that "Bulgaria is on the brink of economic catastrophe," international agencies reported. He appealed to Sofia not to delay economic reforms any longer. -- Maria Koinova

    [15] HUMANITARIAN AID TO BULGARIA.

    A UN mission arrived in Sofia on 27 February to assess the need for humanitarian aid, international agencies reported. "Bulgaria needs humanitarian aid and any support is welcome," Vice President Todor Kavaldzhiev told Bulgarian Radio the same day. Hungarian-born American philanthropist George Soros has donated $1.8 million through the Sofia branch of his Open Society Foundation, mainly to secure medicines for the Institute for Emergency Aid in Sofia and other hospitals outside the capital, RFE/RL reported on 25 February. Part of the assistance will go to set up soup kitchens around the country and to support the disabled and needy university and school students. -- Maria Koinova

    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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