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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 15, 97-04-21

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Newsline Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>

RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 15, 21 April 1997


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] FIGHTING INTENSIFIES ON ARMENIAN-AZERBAIJANI FRONTIER.
  • [02] ARMENIAN OPPOSITION DEMONSTRATION IN YEREVAN.

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [03] CENTER-RIGHT ALLIANCE WINS BULGARIAN ELECTIONS.
  • [04] REACTIONS TO BULGARIAN ELECTION RESULTS.
  • [05] MORE FOREIGN TROOPS ARRIVE IN ALBANIA.
  • [06] BERISHA OPPOSES SACKING OF ALBANIAN POLICE CHIEF.
  • [07] ALBANIA'S ROYAL CLAIMANT ON THE STUMP.
  • [08] CROATIAN PARTIES HOLD LEAD IN SLAVONIAN VOTE.
  • [09] DRASKOVIC TO RUN FOR SERBIAN PRESIDENCY.
  • [10] MONTENEGRIN PRIME MINISTER SCORES ANOTHER VICTORY OVER PRESIDENT.
  • [11] ROUNDUP FROM FORMER YUGOSLAVIA.
  • [12] ROMANIAN CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES APPROVES BANK PRIVATIZATION LAW.
  • [13] FORMER ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER UNDER INVESTIGATION FOR FRAUD.
  • [14] FORMER MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON RESOLVING TRANSDNIESTER PROBLEM.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] FIGHTING INTENSIFIES ON ARMENIAN-AZERBAIJANI FRONTIER.

    Up to 50 troops are reported killed in recent fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces in two locations, Russian agencies reported. During the night from 18 to 19 April, Karabakh Armenian forces opened artillery fire on a village in Azerbaijan's Aghdjabed Raion, ITAR-TASS reported, quoting the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry. Armenian and Azerbaijani Defense Ministry spokesmen each accused the other side of launching an artillery bombardment on the northern section of the border between Armenia's Tavush Raion and Azerbaijan's Kazakh Raion early on 19 April. Interfax yesterday quoted a source in Baku as saying that fighting was continuing, but the Armenian Defense Ministry denied this was the case, according to Reuters. In a 18 April telephone conversation, the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents had agreed to order their respective military commands to abide strictly by the 1994 cease fire agreement, Interfax and Turan reported.

    [02] ARMENIAN OPPOSITION DEMONSTRATION IN YEREVAN.

    Between 10,000 and 20,000 people took part in a rally organised by the Union for National Accord in Yerevan on 18 April, Western agencies reported. This was the second in a planned series of fortnightly demonstrations organised by the recently formed opposition party. Addressing the rally, defeated former presidential candidate Vazgen Manukyan again called for pre-term parliamentary elections. Also on 18 April, the Armenian Central Electoral Commission rejected imprisoned Dashnak leader Vahan Oganesian's application to contest an upcoming parliamentary by-election, according to AP.

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [03] CENTER-RIGHT ALLIANCE WINS BULGARIAN ELECTIONS.

    With almost all ballots counted in the 19 April parliamentary elections, the center-right United Democratic Forces (ODS) has won 52% of the vote and is likely to have 137 seats in the 240- seat parliament. The outgoing ruling Socialist Party won 22% or 57 seats, followed by the Union for National Salvation (7.8% or 20 seats), the Euro-Left (5.5% or 14 seats), and the Bulgarian Business Bloc (5.% or 12-13 seats). At 58%, turnout was the lowest since the end of one-party rule in 1989. Final results are due later today or tomorrow. ODS adviser Ivan Krastev told RFE/RL's Sofia correspondent today that ODS leader Ivan Kostov will be the new prime minister. Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev and Economic Affairs Minister Alexander Bozhkov will retain their posts, while other appointments will be made later today.

    [04] REACTIONS TO BULGARIAN ELECTION RESULTS.

    ODS leader Ivan Kostov says his alliance hopes to form a broad government whose main task will be to solve the country's economic problems, RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported. Socialist leader Georgi Parvanov said his party will act as a "constructive opposition," according to Reuters. Dominique Colomberg, head of the team of Council of Europe observers monitoring the elections, said in Sofia that the elections were "free and fair" and had set the stage for badly needed economic reforms.

    [05] MORE FOREIGN TROOPS ARRIVE IN ALBANIA.

    Some 150 Italian marines landed in the troubled southern port of Vlora this morning. The number of soldiers taking part in the Italian-led multinational force reached 4,000 yesterday as French and Italian troops continued to arrive, mainly via the port of Durres. On 19 April, the International Committee of the Red Cross delivered aid to hospitals and orphanages in Vlora. The UN World Food Program distributed aid for 20 orphanages, hospitals, and homes for the elderly across the country. Also on 19 April, Franz Vranitzky, the OSCE's chief envoy for Albania, called for "dialogue" between the various political forces, including the rebel committees that control much of the south.

    [06] BERISHA OPPOSES SACKING OF ALBANIAN POLICE CHIEF.

    President Sali Berisha yesterday rejected a government decision to fire Gen. Agim Shehu, the country's police chief. A presidential spokesman said that only Berisha, not the government, has the legal right to sack high- ranking officers. The spokesman said the incident could seriously hurt relations between the president and Prime Minister Bashkim Fino. Fino's national conciliation government voted on 19 April to fire Shehu, who is also deputy interior minister. Shehu is accused of suppressing opposition to Berisha when anarchy erupted earlier this year.

    [07] ALBANIA'S ROYAL CLAIMANT ON THE STUMP.

    King Leka Zogu made an emotional trip yesterday to his father's home village in the central mountains. Leka, who has spent less than two weeks of his life in Albania, traveled for the first time to Burgajet, where about 5,000 cheering people greeted him. Leka said he will travel across Albania "to spread a message of peace and unity." Berisha has promised Leka that a referendum will be held on restoring the monarchy. All political parties have agreed on such a vote. Monarchist parties have not done well in previous elections, but in the current volatile political environment, it is difficult to predict the outcome of the referendum.

    [08] CROATIAN PARTIES HOLD LEAD IN SLAVONIAN VOTE.

    Unofficial early returns from the 13-15 April elections continue to show ethnic Croatian parties ahead of the Serbian Democratic Independent Party (SDSS). The Croats lead in the cities of Vukovar and Ilok as well as in 15 districts, an RFE/RL correspondent in Zagreb reported yesterday. The SDSS will likely control Beli Manastir and 10 districts and will be the largest single party in the Vukovar town council. The Croatian vote there is split between President Franjo Tudjman's Croatian Democratic Community and the Independent List of local kingpin Tomislav Mercep. Most Serbs regard Mercep as a war criminal and may seek a ruling from the Hague-based tribunal on whether he can hold public office, the Belgrade daily Novosti reports today.

    [09] DRASKOVIC TO RUN FOR SERBIAN PRESIDENCY.

    The governing board of the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) has nominated party leader Vuk Draskovic as its presidential candidate, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Belgrade on 19 April. At the same meeting, Ilija Ra dulovic resigned as party vice president following his recent public criticism of Draskovic and Draskovic's wife. Draskovic expects to head a united opposition slate in the elections due later this year. But fellow opposition leader Zoran Djindjic has been publicly calling Draskovic a "loose cannon" and questioning his suitability for the presidency. Divisions within the opposition have helped Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic keep his hold on power.

    [10] MONTENEGRIN PRIME MINISTER SCORES ANOTHER VICTORY OVER PRESIDENT.

    Mile Djukanovic emerged the winner over President Momir Bulatovic at an 18 April meeting of the governing Democratic Socialist Party (DPS), an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Podgorica. The DPS voted that decisions on the reorganization of the cabinet and the security service be left to the next regular session of the parliament, thereby rejecting Bulatovic's demand for urgent measures. Bulatovic is close to Milosevic, while Djukanovic is a leading critic of the Serbian president.

    [11] ROUNDUP FROM FORMER YUGOSLAVIA.

    Croatian President Franjo Tudjman presided over ceremonies yesterday to mark the 52nd anniversary of the liberation of the Jasenovac concentration camp, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Zagreb. In Ljubljana, Foreign Minister Zoran Thaler says time has come to normalize relations with Belgrade, provided the authorities there stop claiming that their state is the sole legal successor to the former Yugoslavia. In Sarajevo, residents are now able to make direct-dial telephone calls abroad for the first time since early in the recent conflict. In Washington on 18 April, Secretary of Defense William Cohen said that the U.S. may be willing to keep 500 troops in Macedonia as part of UN forces there. Finally, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic arrived in Athens on 18 April for an unpublicized visit, Nasa Borba reports today.

    [12] ROMANIAN CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES APPROVES BANK PRIVATIZATION LAW.

    The Chamber of Deputies on 18 April voted in favor of the law on bank privatization, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Several days earlier, the Senate had approved the bill (see RFE/RL Newsline, 15 April 1997). Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea said Romania has now fulfilled all conditions for a new IMF loan. Also on 18 April, State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns praised the Romanian leadership's "intensified commitment to democracy, economic reform and integration with the West," an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Adrian Severin arrived in the U.S. yesterday. He is due to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright today.

    [13] FORMER ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER UNDER INVESTIGATION FOR FRAUD.

    Gen. Victor Athanasie Stanculescu is to be questioned today by the military section of the Prosecutor-General's office, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported on 18 April. Stanculescu, who was defense minister in 1990-1991 and is considered one of the richest persons in the country, is under investigation on suspicion of fraud. Recent press reports that he had fled the country proved false when he returned to Bucharest from a business trip to Switzerland. During his term as defense minister, Stanculescu is suspected of involvement in the illegal purchase abroad of mobile phones, which resulted in Treasury losses of some $8 million in 1990. Stanculescu played a key role in the toppling and the trial of Nicolae Ceausescu.

    [14] FORMER MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON RESOLVING TRANSDNIESTER PROBLEM.

    Mircea Snegur, former president and current leader of the Moldovan Party of Revival and Accord, says the problem of the breakaway region of the Transdniester should not be solved "at any price," Info-tag reported. Transdniester leader Igor Smirnov and Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov agreed in Tiraspol on 10 April on the text of the memorandum on the normalization of bilateral ties between Chisinau and Tiraspol. Snegur told journalists in Chisinau last week that if the memorandum is signed in its current form, it would mean that the Transdniester leadership has "achieved during five hours of negotiations what it could not achieve in five years of struggle." Meanwhile, Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi and Smirnov met in Tiraspol on the weekend and agreed to sign the memorandum in Moscow on 8 May.

    Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
    URL: http://www.rferl.org


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