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Vol. 1, No. 17 part I, 24 January 1995
No. 17, Part II, 24 January 1995 This is Part II of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily Digest. Part II is a compilation of news concerning East-Central and Southeastern Europe. Part I, covering Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia, and the CIS, is distributed simultaneously as a second document. The Daily Digest picks up where the RFE/RL Daily Report, which recently ceased publication, left off. Contributors include OMRI's 30-member staff of analysts, plus selected freelance specialists. OMRI is a unique public-private venture between the Open Society Institute and the U.S. Board for International Broadcasting. EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE POLAND PLANS COMMEMORATION AT AUSCHWITZ. Ceremonies to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp will take place on 26 and 27 January, with German President Roman Herzog and Danish Queen Margrethe expected to attend, PAP and international news agencies report. Although Arnold Mostowicz, president of the Jewish War Veterans and Camp Survivors, said that most Polish Jews are satisfied with the way the ceremonies have been organized, Jews in Germany have complained that Poland is confusing victims and murderers by giving equal attention to Christian and Jewish victims, Reuters reports. Ninety percent of the people killed in the camp were Jewish, but Polish presidential aide Andrzej Zakrzewski said that the religions of all the Auschwitz victims should be equally represented. In an opinion poll sponsored by the Polish government and released on 23 January, only 8% of respondents said that mainly Jews were exterminated at Auschwitz, while 47% said it was a place where Poles were killed. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. CEFTA MEETING OPENS IN WARSAW. Agriculture ministers from the four member countries of the Central European Free Trade Agreement (Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary) as well as Slovenia began a two-day meeting in Warsaw on 23 January to discuss speeding up the removal of barriers to free trade. Czech Agricultural Minister Josef Lux proposed an accelerated timetable for trade liberalization, saying that one of the biggest obstacles thus far has been "the protectionist policy of the European Union," Lidove noviny reports. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINE'S ENERGY MINISTRY BANKRUPT. The Ukrainian Ministry of Energy and Electricity announced that it was bankrupt, Ukrainian radio reported on 23 January. The statement was made by the deputy minister for energy and electricity, Oleksii Sheberstov. According to Sheberstov, the ministry is owed over 20 trillion karbovantsy by consumers, while it owes around 32 trillion karbovantsy. The current exchange rate is 110,000 karbovantsy to the dollar. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT TO BLOCK AUSTERITY MEASURES IN DRAFT BUDGET, SPEAKER SAYS. The socialist chairman of the Ukrainian legislature, Oleksander Moroz, says that the parliament will reject the government's proposed budget cuts for social welfare and culture, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 23 January. Moroz told Interfax that this year's draft budget, submitted by President Leonid Kuchma's team of economic reformers, will have difficulties getting through parliament. Kuchma announced recently that the 1995 draft budget will be the toughest ever in the social welfare sphere in the government's effort to lower the budget deficit to 4-5% and stabilize Ukraine's beleaguered economy. Moroz, a leader of the Socialist Party of Ukraine, pointed to economics ministry forecasts that prices will triple this year, while the proposed budget would increase wages in Ukraine's still large state sector no more than 2.6 times. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. ANTONCHYK TO READ ANOTHER REPORT. Belarusian deputy Syarhei Antonchyk, has requested permission to read another report in parliament, Belarusian radio reported on 23 January. In December Antonchyk read a sensational report on corruption in President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's cabinet which prompted several cabinet members to submit their resignations. The request for permission to read the new report in February says the paper will deal with the legality of some of the decisions by the cabinet of ministers and president's administration and would take an hour and a half to read. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. LITHUANIA'S RULING PARTY EXPELS PARLIAMENT DEPUTY. The Council of the Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party on 21 January expelled parliament deputy Kestutis Gaska for not complying with party rules, RFE/RL's Lithuanian Service reported on 23 January. Gaska joined the LDLP in August 1992. He defeated eight other candidates in the single mandate Lazdijai electoral district several months later. In spring 1994 he formally left the LDLP faction, protesting the party's failure to fulfill its pre-election promises. As a member of the parliament's National Security Committee, he frequently criticized the activities of the Defense Ministry. --Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. 1,373 CANDIDATES FOR ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT. A total of 1,373 candidates have registered to run in the 5 March parliament elections, the National Electoral Committee announced. Except for 13 candidates running as individuals, the candidates were included in lists submitted by seven coalitions and nine separate parties by the 19 January deadline. There are 101 seats in the parliament. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. CZECH-SLOVAK CUSTOMS UNION COUNCIL MEETS. Czech and Slovak officials met on 23 January in the Slovak town of Casta-Papiernicka to discuss the customs union agreement which was been in effect since the split of Czechoslovakia, Slovak and Czech press report. While both sides recognized the importance of the customs union's continued existence, the Czech side expressed several concerns with its current structure. According to Czech Minister of Industry and Trade Vladimir Dlouhy, the Slovak government has unilaterally accepted measures which are not in the spirit of the customs union, leading to a drop in bilateral trade in the past year which has been especially unfavorable for the Czech Republic. In the first nine months of 1994, Czech exports to Slovakia fell by 23.4%, while Slovak exports to the Czech Republic decreased by only 1.5%. Problems related to the payment agreement should be solved by a group of experts by 10 February, Czech Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Ivan Kocarnik said, and a final agreement is expected to be decided by the two country's prime ministers. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK PREMIER VISITS BRUSSELS. In an effort to confirm Slovakia's interest in European integration, Vladimir Meciar traveled to Brussels on 23 January for a two-day visit, accompanied by Deputy Premier Jozef Kalman and Foreign Minister Juraj Schenk, Slovak dailies report. Meeting with officials from NATO, the WEU and the European parliament, one of the major topics of discussion concerned Slovak-Hungarian relations. Meciar said he realizes that Western integration depends on resolving the dispute over minorities with Hungary and assured officials that "there are no obstacles on our part" to an improvement in bilateral relations, Reuters reports. Meciar will travel to Hungary on 24-25 January at the invitation of his Hungarian counterpart Gyula Horn to discuss the bilateral state-treaty and European integration. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE GENERAL ROSE LEAVES UN'S BOSNIAN COMMAND. International media reported on 23 January that General Sir Michael Rose left Sarajevo for Zagreb at the end of his tour of duty and that he will be replaced by his British compatriot Lieutenant-General Rupert Smith, who won fame in the Gulf War. Rose chalked up one last achievement before leaving, persuading the Serbs and Muslims to sign yet another extensive accord. This would reopen supply routes to Sarajevo for all charities and civilians and free 600 prisoners by 1 February. Although this involved getting the Serbs to remake promises they have already broken repeatedly, Rose was pleased with the agreement. Reuters quoted him as saying that "it is all pointing to the fact that both sides see this opportunity as a very real opportunity for peace... [so that they could] return their people to proper normalized living as any European country should do." Die Welt noted on 21 January, however, that Rose will not be missed by Bosnian government officials and quoted Vice President Ejup Ganic as saying that "when General Rose goes, nobody will shed a tear or even shake his hand in farewell." Politika reports from London on 24 January that Smith can be expected to continue Rose's policies, which are widely believed in the Balkans to be those of a pro-Serb British Foreign Office. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. US CONTINUES TALKS WITH BOSNIAN SERBS. Reuters reported on 24 January that special envoy Charles Thomas held a second round of talks the previous day with Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic at Pale before going on to meet with Ganic and Bosnian Croat leader Kresimir Zubak. The Washington Post on 24 January quotes Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke, who inaugurated the policy of direct talks with Pale last month, as saying that Thomas talked with the Serbs without the Contact Group allies present because none of them could come. He added that the Bosnian government approved of the visit, although the Sarajevo authorities have publicly complained about Washington's new policy toward the Serbs. The newspaper points out that Germany opposed the unilateral mission and suggests that American domestic politics may lie behind the Clinton administration's friendly stance toward the Serbs. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SERBS SHELL VELIKA KLADUSA AREA. AFP reported on 23 January that Krajina Serbs fired more than 200 artillery or mortar shells around Velika Kladusa in the Bihac pocket. Meanwhile in Tuzla, Reuters said that the Bosnian army lifted its blockade of the UN facilities at the airport after a Serb liaison officer was taken out by helicopter. The Bosnian authorities argued that the man had no proper business there and that he was suspected of having committed war crimes. Finally, the UN Security Council voted to prolong economic and political sanctions imposed on the Bosnian Serbs a year before, saying that the conditions that prompted the move in the first place still obtain. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SERBIAN UPDATE. "No to Beta" is how the state-sanctioned Borba of 24 January headlines its report on the decision by the state-controlled daily Vecernje Novosti to stop using the services of the independent news agency Beta. In other media-related developments, on 22 January over 100 independent journalists, employees of the daily Borba prior to its take-over by the regime of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, issued a statement dubbing the recent actions of the regime "despotic." The journalists on 19 January were involved with registering and launching a new independent daily, Nasa Borba. Sale of Nasa Borba has been delayed, ostensibly due to a newsprint shortage. The independent journalists, however, speculate the want of paper may be due more to the government's continuing harassment of the free press, and Nasa Borba in particular, than because of a genuine shortage. Finally, on 22 January the BBC reported on mass protests in Belgrade the previous day over cuts in electricity, a commodity which some analysts as well as opposition party leaders in Serbia allege is being consciously rationed by the Milosevic regime so as to export supplies to neighboring countries. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. EU ACCORD WITH CROATIA DEPENDS ON ITS PEACE STANCE. The decision to start negotiations for an economic accord between the EU and Croatia depends on Zagreb's stance on the peace process in the former Yugoslavia, EU foreign ministers said at a meeting in Brussels on January 23. AFP reports that the ministers asked the European Commission to prepare proposals on the accord for a meeting next month. The decision on whether to proceed will then be made in March. The EU foreign ministers expressed concern about Croatia's decision not to renew the UN mandate for peacekeepers on its territory and asked Zagreb to reconsider its decision. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. INTERETHNIC TENSION IN ROMANIA . . . President Ion Iliescu called on 23 January on the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania to dismantle its newly-established council on local administration. Presidential spokesman Traian Chebeleu told reporters in Bucharest that the council, which includes mayors and local councilors, interferes with the work of local government and is illegal, an RFE/RL correspondent in Bucharest reports. Earlier, the government denounced the setting up of the council in a special declaration (see OMRI Daily Digest, 23 January 1995). HDFR leaders rejected the appeals. They protested the government's stance by refusing to join a government delegation led by Viorel Hrebenciuc, who heads the Council for National Minorities. HDFR president Bela Marko told Radio Bucharest that the "inexplicably vehement" declaration of the government made the HDFR reconsider its initial acceptance to join the delegation. The delegation left for Budapest on 23 January, where it started talks focusing on bilateral ties and national minority issues with Hungarian officials. Also on 23 January, the Senate's Defense, Public Order and National Security Commission said the HDFR's autonomy claims could have "serious consequences for political and social stability and for Romania's national security," Reuters reported. The commission called for a meeting of the Supreme Council of National Defense, which deals with threats to national security and is chaired by the President, to discuss the matter. -- Michael Shafir., OMRI, Inc. . . . AND HUNGARY'S RESPONSE. Hungary's six parliamentary parties, in a joint communique on 23 January, expressed their shock and concern about recent Romanian statements concerning the policy and status of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania, MTI reports. The communique stressed that the HDFR's policy complied with the rule of law as well as with the Romanian constitution and laws. The statement regretted that the Romanian government joined the campaign of extremist Romanian politicians against the Hungarian minority. Scheduled meetings between Romanian Government Secretary-General Viorel Hrebenciuc, who is currently visiting Hungary, and Prime Minister Gyula Horn and President Arpad Goncz were canceled, MTI reported on 24 January. MTI commented that the reason for the cancellation was probably the recent Romanian government attacks against the HDFR. -- Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT DISMISSES MAYORS. The government on 23 January dismissed the mayor of the Transylvanian town of Brasov and top local administration officials in 27 other towns, an RFE/RL correspondent in Bucharest reported on the same day. In a press statement, the government claimed mayor Adrian Moruzzi had mismanaged the city's budget and illegally sold sites within the city. Moruzzi was elected in 1992 on the list of the Democratic Convention of Romania, the umbrella organization of Romania's centrist opposition. The government also announced it had dismissed the mayors of 10 smaller towns as well as town counselors in 17 towns. The Vacaroiu government has dismissed a large number of local administration officials since its appointment in fall 1992. Most of these were members of the opposition parties. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIA'S FUTURE GOVERNMENT COUNTS ON ECONOMIC GROWTH. Bulgaria's future government pledged to avoid inflationary spending, Reuters reported on 23 January. Rumen Gechev, who will be one of four deputy prime ministers and Minister for Economic Development in the Socialist- led cabinet, said that economic growth will allow the new government to fulfill promises made before the 18 December elections to make life easier for those living in poverty. Gechev was speaking in an interview with Bulgarian radio. He said that the BSP has no intention to raise the budget deficit, as this "would ruin the whole financial and economic system," adding that he would back Finance Ministry efforts to limit spending. The state budget for 1995 will be passed by the new cabinet by the end of March, 24 chasa reported on 24 January. BSP chairman and future Prime Minister Zhan Videnov informed President Zhelyu Zhelev about the new government on 23 January, Pari reported the following day. The cabinet will be presented to parliament on 25 January. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN TURKS PROTEST AGAINST NEW MINISTER. Members of the ethnic Turk Movement for Rights and Freedom protested against the nomination of Ilcho Dimitrov as Minister of Education and Science, Standart reported on 24 January. The local MRF leadership of Kazanlak issued a declaration which was addressed to parliament and to President Zhelev. In this declaration Dimitrov, a historian, is accused of having been one of the initiators of the forceful Bulgarization of ethnic Turks' names in the 1980s and of having actively taken part in it. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. PARTIAL LIFTING OF GREEK EMBARGO ON MACEDONIA? Greece might partially lift the trade embargo on Macedonia by 1 February, Vecher reported on 24 January. The newspaper cited a representative of the Greek Chamber of Commerce in Thessaloniki as saying on Greek television that the proposal is linked to the session of the European Court, which will deal with the question of the embargo on 1 February. Greek government spokesman Evangelos Venizelos said on 22 January, however, that the embargo will remain in force and the Greek position will not change, no matter what the European Court decides. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. KOSOVAR POLITICIAN CALLS FOR SUMMONING PARLIAMENT. The leader of the Parliamentary Party of Kosovo, Bajram Kosumi, called in an interview with the Albanian-language service of Deutsche Welle on 22 January for an early meeting of parliament, which was elected in May 1992 but has still to meet. The old communist-era parliament continued its work in Macedonia until December 1993 when its mandate ended. Police prevented the new parliament from meeting and then expelled the legislators to Kosovo in December 1994. Kosumi said that there are no clear concepts on how the current deadlock in Kosovo can be ended. He also mentioned "misunderstandings" between the exile government in Stuttgart and the Coordinating Council of Albanian Political Parties in former Yugoslavia, a political structure which is functioning in the role of a parliament. He added that a new government should be elected and said that the current one is not able to organize functioning shadow-state structures in Kosovo from exile. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Steve Kettle The OMRI Daily Digest offers the latest news from the former Soviet Union and East-Central and Southeastern Europe. It is published Monday through Friday by the Open Media Research Institute. The Daily Digest is distributed electronically via the OMRI-L list. To subscribe, send "SUBSCRIBE OMRI-L YourFirstName YourLastName" (without the quotation marks and inserting your name where shown) to LISTSERV@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU No subject line or other text should be included. 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