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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 38, 97-05-26

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. 38, 26 May 1997


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] TALIBAN TAKES NORTHERN AFGHAN PROVINCES
  • [02] ABKHAZIA IMPOSES CURFEW
  • [03] GEORGIAN PREMIER IN TASHKENT
  • [04] FOUR KYRGYZ JOURNALISTS FOUND GUILTY OF SLANDER, LIBEL

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [05] ALBANIAN SPECIAL POLICE ATTACK MILITARY HOSPITAL
  • [06] ROW OVER POLITICAL ROLE OF ITALIAN AMBASSADOR TO ALBANIA
  • [07] CROATIA'S TUDJMAN CALLS RETURN OF ALL SERBS "UNREASONABLE."
  • [08] "CROATIAN COMMUNITY OF HERCEG-BOSNA" SET UP
  • [09] KARADZIC FEARS HE MAY BE KILLED BEFORE APPEARING AT THE HAGUE
  • [10] NEWS ABOUT FORMER YUGOSLAVIA
  • [11] HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT IN ROMANIA
  • [12] DEMONSTRATION AGAINST GOENCZ'S PLANNED VISIT TO CLUJ
  • [13] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT TO VISIT BONN
  • [14] CHISINAU, TIRASPOL LEADERS MEET TO DISCUSS IMPLEMENTATION OF MEMORANDUM
  • [15] BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA, NATO
  • [16] EBRD APPROVES NEW LOANS FOR BULGARIA

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] TALIBAN TAKES NORTHERN AFGHAN PROVINCES

    Aided by mutineers, Afghanistan's Taliban movement on 24-25 May overran the northern provinces, which previously were under the control of General Abdul Rashid Dostum. The Taliban now control some 80-90% of the country's territory. Their success prompted a quick response from neighboring countries. Uzbekistan reinforced its borders with Afghanistan, and Tajikistan said it would do the same. Kyrgyzstan sent more troops to its southern border with Tajikistan, fearing that refugees fleeing the fighting may travel north along the Khorog-Osh highway. Russian Foreign Minister Primakov said on 24 May that any incursion by Taliban forces into CIS territory would prompt "very tough and effective measures." The same day, Russia evacuated its consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif, where Dostum's headquarters were located. Former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani has reportedly fled to Tajikistan. And on 25 May, Pakistan became the first state to officially recognize the Taliban government.

    [02] ABKHAZIA IMPOSES CURFEW

    Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba has issued a decree imposing a curfew between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., ITAR-TASS reported on 25 May. The restrictions were said to be necessary to prevent further violent clashes between rival clans and political groups but not to preclude terrorist activities. Ardzinba has repeatedly accused Georgian refugees from Abkhazia of perpetrating terrorist activities in southern Abkhazia with the support of the Georgian security services.

    [03] GEORGIAN PREMIER IN TASHKENT

    Niko Lekishvili held talks in the Uzbek capital on 23 May with President Islam Karimov and other officials on cooperation in transport, communications, and trade, Russian agencies reported. Karimov expressed interest in the TRASECA transport corridor, which will facilitate the export of Uzbek goods from the Georgian Black Sea port of Poti. Georgia wants to receive natural gas from Uzbekistan. An agreement whereby Uzbekistan will supply Georgia with cotton fiber has been delayed pending the approval of the IMF.

    [04] FOUR KYRGYZ JOURNALISTS FOUND GUILTY OF SLANDER, LIBEL

    Four Kyrgyz journalists from the weekly newspaper Res Publica were found guilty of slander and libel by a Bishkek district court, according to RFE/RL correspondents in the Kyrgyz capital. Zamira Sydykova and Aleksandr Alyanchikov were sentenced to 18 months in jail and Marina Sivasheva and Bektash Shamshiev were prohibited from practicing journalism for the same period. All four were sued by Dastan Sarygulov, the head of Kyrgyzstan's state gold company, for critical articles published about him between 1993- 96.

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [05] ALBANIAN SPECIAL POLICE ATTACK MILITARY HOSPITAL

    Members of the National Guard in armored personnel carriers attacked and shelled a Tirana military hospital on 25 May. The angry policemen blamed the hospital staff for negligence in the death of a guardsman the previous night from head injuries. The man was wounded in a shoot-out on 23 May in Cerrik, in which five elite policemen died and 13 were injured. The unrest erupted after a small contingent of special police forces from Tirana searched cars for arms on the city's main street. President Sali Berisha, who had planned to visit Cerrik that afternoon as part of his election campaign, pledged not to send special police forces to the city again. But the daily Dita Informacion on 25 May quoted Berisha as vowing a crackdown on southern Albanian insurgent committees.

    [06] ROW OVER POLITICAL ROLE OF ITALIAN AMBASSADOR TO ALBANIA

    Rome-based news agencies and the Tirana paper Indipendent said on 25 May that the Italian Foreign Ministry is about to replace Ambassador Paolo Foresti. He allegedly meddled in Albanian politics and contravened OSCE policies. The decision to sack Foresti reportedly came after Indipendent published what it said was the text of a taped telephone conversation between Foresti and Berisha's Democratic Party chairman Tritan Shehu on 21 May. Foresti allegedly advised Shehu not to agree to a compromise that OSCE mediator Franz Vranitzky hammered out between the government and Berisha on holding elections at the end of June. Meanwhile in Durres on 25 May, Berisha rejected Prime Minister Bashkim Fino's request to lift the 9:00 p.m. curfew. Fino said an end to the state of emergency would improve the atmosphere for the elections.

    [07] CROATIA'S TUDJMAN CALLS RETURN OF ALL SERBS "UNREASONABLE."

    President Franjo Tudjman told state-owned media in Zagreb on 25 May that his country has promised to reintegrate the Serbs of eastern Slavonia. He added, however, that it is "unreasonable" for foreigners to insist that all Serbs who fled Croatia be allowed to go home. Tudjman argued that "no one is making demands that all Sudeten Germans [be allowed to] go back" and said that Croatia's priority is bringing home Croatian refugees, many of whom have been displaced since 1991. The president suggested that Croatia should not take too seriously criticism from other countries, since, he argued, the others need Croatia as much as it needs them. On 23 May, ambassadors from the Contact Group countries delivered a formal protest in Zagreb over Croatia's treatment of its ethnic Serbs, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Croatian capital.

    [08] "CROATIAN COMMUNITY OF HERCEG-BOSNA" SET UP

    Leading representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina's Croats--especially of the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) --met in Neum on 24 May to found a successor to their para-state, which is banned by the Dayton agreement. Delegates adopted a statute, flag, and coat-of-arms. Top Bosnian HDZ politicians present included collective presidency member Kresimir Zubak and federal Co-Prime Minister Vladimir Soljic. Franjo Greguric, who is Tudjman's special envoy to Bosnia, also attended. Croatian Defense Minister Gojko Susak, who is the most prominent Herzegovinian in Croatia's HDZ, told delegates that they were right in setting up their own para-state during the war. The opposition Croatian Peasants' Party refused to go to Neum, saying that it is counterproductive to maintain a para-state now that the Dayton agreement has gone into effect, Novi List wrote on 25 May.

    [09] KARADZIC FEARS HE MAY BE KILLED BEFORE APPEARING AT THE HAGUE

    In the first installment of a five-part interview with the Belgrade daily Vecernje Novosti on 25 May , indicted war criminal and Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic strongly hinted that he might implicate some other prominent Serbs before the Hague-based war crimes tribunal. He suggested that such individuals could have an interest in killing him before he can tell what he knows. Karadzic told Serbian journalists last week that he is tired of being hunted and wants to clear his name (see RFE/RL Newsline, 20 May 1997). Reports in the Serbian press suggest that he may try to implicate before the tribunal Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, whom many Bosnian and Croatian Serbs feel abandoned them.

    [10] NEWS ABOUT FORMER YUGOSLAVIA

    The assembly of eastern Slavonia's Vukovar-Srijem county held its first meeting in Borovo on 24 May, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Vukovar. The assembly is the first to bring together Serbs and Croats in the area since 1991. In Gostivar, at least 4,000 ethnic Albanians protested recent measures by the Macedonian authorities against displaying the Albanian flag. In Munich, a Bavarian state court on 23 May found Novislav Djajic, a Bosnian Serb, guilty on 14 counts of taking part in the mass murder of Muslims. It was the first conviction in Germany for war crimes since the Nuremberg trials.

    [11] HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT IN ROMANIA

    At the beginning of his three-day official visit to Romania, Arpad Goencz met with President Emil Constantinescu, Premier Victor Ciorbea, and former President Ion Iliescu, who is also leader of the main opposition party. Goencz said Budapest will do "everything it can" for Romania's integration into NATO in the "first wave" and into the EU. Constantinescu said relations between the two countries have become "a model" for others, which would have been "inconceivable" just a few years ago, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. He added that he has received Vienna's agreement to a Romanian proposal to establish a "trilateral" group aimed at improving security in central Europe and comprising Romania, Hungary, and Austria. He is to discuss the proposal with Goencz.

    [12] DEMONSTRATION AGAINST GOENCZ'S PLANNED VISIT TO CLUJ

    Defying the local prefect's order forbidding demonstrations against Goencz's visit to Cluj on 26 May, two organizations that call themselves "cultural" organized such a meeting the previous day. Nationalist mayor Gheorghe Funar and Vasile Matei, a deputy representing Funar's Party of Romanian National Unity, addressed the meeting, Romanian TV reported. On 25 May, U.S. congressman Tom Lantos, on a visit to Romania, handed Constantinescu and Goencz a letter from President Bill Clinton, praising Goencz "historic visit" to Romania. Meanwhile, the Romanian government announced that amendments to the Local Administration Law, which are about to be submitted to the parliament, allow for national minorities to use their mother tongue in dealings with local government authorities in areas where they make up more than 20% of the population.

    [13] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT TO VISIT BONN

    Constantinescu will meet with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl during a private visit to Bonn on 2 July. The discussions, one week before the Madrid NATO summit, will concentrate on Romania's bid to be admitted to the organization in the first wave of new NATO members, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported on 23 May.

    [14] CHISINAU, TIRASPOL LEADERS MEET TO DISCUSS IMPLEMENTATION OF MEMORANDUM

    President Petru Lucinschi and Igor Smirnov, the leader of Moldova's separatist breakaway Transdniester region, met in Chisinau on 24 May to discuss the implementation of the memorandum signed by the two sides in Moscow on 8 May. An RFE/RL correspondent in Chisinau reported that they agreed on a protocol mainly dealing with the economic aspects of their relations. They also agreed to set up several joint groups of experts, one of which is to work on drafting a special status for the breakaway region. But Tiraspol continues to claim it is an independent state. The groups will begin working on 4 June. They will also discuss security arrangements in the Dniester River area.

    [15] BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA, NATO

    Nadezhda Mihailova says her country's desire to join NATO will not damage relations with Russia. Addressing an international conference on Bulgarian- Russian relations in Sofia on 23 May, Mihailova said ties with Moscow are among the foreign policy priority of the new Ivan Kostov government. In related developments, an RFE/RL Sofia correspondent reported on 23 May that the state-owned Bulgargaz company announced it has reached a deal with unspecified Russian gas exporters that could bring down the price of natural gas by about 10%. The largest Bulgarian private gas importer, Overgaz, is a subsidiary of the Multigroup consortium, widely regarded as representing the interests of the Russian Gazprom company. Multigroup has been set up by former communist officials and has repeatedly claimed that the price of Russian-imported gas cannot be reduced.

    [16] EBRD APPROVES NEW LOANS FOR BULGARIA

    The EBRD on 23 May announced it has approved new loans for Bulgaria totaling $300 million. Olivier Decamps, the bank's director for southeastern Europe, said he expects an increase in lending to Bulgaria and that the EBRD supports Kostov's new government. Industry Minister Alexander Bozhkov said the latest EBRD loans will help Bulgaria upgrade and develop its railroads, highways, and airports as well as privatize parts of the tourist sector and create competitive markets in agriculture. In other news, Alexander Sabotinov, who heads the Bulgarian privatization agency, announced on 25 May that Bulgaria will privatize Chimco, its main manufacturer of chemical fertilizers.

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


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