|We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers. - Martin Luther King Jr|
No. 18, Part II, 25 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 UKRAINIAN OFFICIAL PROPOSES COORDINATING COUNCIL TO IMPROVE EXECUTIVE- LEGISLATIVE RELATIONS. Ukrainian Parliament Deputy Chairman Oleh Dyomin has proposed setting up a state coordinating council to help settle differences between the president and the parliament, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 24 January. Dyomin said the council would include the president, two or three high-ranking administration members, the prime minister, the parliament speaker and his deputies, and possibly the ministers of defense, finance, and economics. He added that the council would play a consultative role and coordinate the actions of the president, prime minister, and legislature. All three have been locked in a struggle to delineate their authority within the framework of the heavily amended, Soviet-era constitution. In an effort to break the stalemate, President Leonid Kuchma has submitted a controversial constitutional law on the separation of powers that would give him more authority. The legislature has preliminarily approved the bill, which is currently under review by a special commission composed of deputies and administration officials. Dyomin told Interfax-Ukraine that his idea of a coordinating council is supported by both the administration and parliament speaker Oleksander Moroz. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINE FULFILLING START-1 OBLIGATIONS. UNIAR reported on 24 January that Ukraine's Ministry of Defense has said it has fulfilled all conditions stipulated by the START-1 treaty on removing ICBMs from Ukrainian territory. It was also reported that U.S. observers who have been at the Pavlodar Mechanical Plant since 12 January have confirmed that ICBMs are no longer manufactured there. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. U.S. MILITARY DELEGATION IN BELARUS. Belarusian Radio reports that a U.S. military delegation arrived in Minsk on 23 January to work out the Nunn-Lugar program for helping Belarus dismantle its nuclear weapons, convert its defense industries, and eliminate ecological damage caused by its military enterprises. The delegation will meet with representatives from the Ministries of Defense, Foreign Affairs, and External Economic Relations. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. SWEDISH FOREIGN MINISTER IN LITHUANIA. Lena Hjelm-Wallem, in Vilnius for a two-day visit, met with President Algirdas Brazauskas, Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius, Foreign Minister Povilas Gylys, and members of the parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee on 24 January, BNS reported. The talks focused on the eastward expansion of the European Union, Sweden's possible role in assisting Lithuania become an associate member, and dropping visa requirements between the two countries. The two foreign ministers signed an agreement on mutual assistance in customs activities. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. BELARUS PRIME MINISTER VISITS LATVIA. Mikhail Chyhir held talks in Riga on 23 January with his Latvian counterpart, Maris Gailis, President Guntis Ulmanis, Saeima Deputy Chairman Aivars Berkis, and Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs, BNS reported on 24 January. The meetings focused on expanding economic cooperation. Belarus wants to use Latvian ports for imports and exports and is ready to lower customs tariffs to increase Latvia's transit cargo through Belarus. The two prime ministers signed a joint communique that envisages agreements on mutual protection of investments; avoidance of double taxation; cooperation in education, culture, and science; pensions; and national minority rights. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. CZECH DEFENSE MINISTER IN LATVIA. Vilem Holan, on a visit to Latvia, toured the National Defense Academy in Riga and held talks with its director, Valdis Matiss, BNS reported on 23 January. He also brought weapons--mainly anti-tank and anti-aircraft guns --worth about 2 million Czech koruny. Latvian Defense Minister Jan Trapans noted that Czech specialists will assist in setting up the Baltic Peacekeeping Battalion and improving Latvia's military draft legislation. Holan also held talks with Prime Minister Maris Gailis and parliament Defense and Interior Affairs Committee Chairman Andris Ligotnis. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. CEFTA AGREES TO SLASH TARIFFS ON AGRICULTURAL GOODS. The agricultural ministers of the four signatory countries to the Central European Free Trade Agreement plus Slovenia agreed in Warsaw on 24 January to cut tariffs on agricultural products by 50% beginning 1 January 1996. Accords on quality control are expected to be signed in July 1995. All tariffs should be removed by January 1998, Hospodarske noviny and TASR report. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. U.S. RABBI PROTESTS POLISH PLANS FOR AUSCHWITZ COMMEMORATION. New York Rabbi Avi Weiss on 24 January organized a protest outside the palace of Polish President Lech Walesa, Reuters reports. The demonstrators criticized the president for failing to guarantee that the ceremonies commemorating the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz- Birkenau concentration camp focus mainly on the Jews exterminated there. The ceremonies, scheduled for 26 and 27 January, are to give equal attention to Christian and Jewish victims, despite the fact that 90% of those killed there were Jewish. Weiss and his followers also protested the presence of a Catholic church and cross next to the Birkenau and Auschwitz camps. Meanwhile, in statements released on 24 January, Polish and German Catholic bishops recognized the guilt of those Christians who did not oppose the extermination of Jews by the Nazis. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. CZECH FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS NATO MEMBERSHIP SHOULD NOT BE PUT TO REFERENDUM. Josef Zieleniec told a 24 January news conference that "a referendum is an exceptional element in our constitutional system. From this point of view, I do not think that admission to NATO should be a question of this sort," Rude pravo reports. Both President Vaclav Havel and Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus have said eventual membership in the EU could be decided in a referendum. Zieleniec said Czech foreign policy in 1995 will concentrate on forging closer ties with both NATO and the EU, developing relations with Germany, Russia, and Slovakia, and promoting the Czech Republic abroad as an integral part of the Western world. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK GOVERNMENT APPROVES LAW ON FOREIGNERS. The Slovak cabinet on 24 January approved a draft law stipulating that requests for long-term residence in Slovakia be granted only by Slovakia's representatives or consular offices abroad, Pravda and TASR report. Foreigners entering Slovakia would have to prove they can finance their stay in the country and have a return ticket home. Anyone who illegally employs a foreigner would be required to cover the costs of his deportation. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK HUNGARIAN DEPUTIES, MECIAR IN BUDAPEST. Hungarian deputies representing the three Hungarian parties in the Slovak parliament-- Coexistence, the Hungarian Christian Democratic Movement, and the Hungarian Civic Party--concluded the official part of their visit to Hungary on 24 January as Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar arrived in Budapest, MTI and Magyar Hirlap report on 25 January. The three leaders, in meetings with Prime Minister Gyula Horn and President Arpad Goncz, expressed doubts that Meciar's visit would lead to a breakthrough in Hungarian-Slovak relations. They said the Meciar government's program was opposed to the interests of the Hungarian minority. -- Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE TUDJMAN CONFIDENT OF NO WAR WITH SERBIA . . . Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, in an unusually blunt and informal interview with Der Spiegel on 23 January, says he feels that Serbia is unable or unwilling to risk a new war with his country. Tudjman, who recently decided not to renew UNPROFOR's mandate, says the West will back his efforts to "liberate" Croatian territory, especially in view of the fact that "the Western world is willing to tolerate Yeltsin's settling accounts with the Chechens." Tudjman has no regrets about UNPROFOR's departure because its role has been "counterproductive." Turning to one of his favorite themes--namely, the age-old demarcation lines between civilizations in the Balkans--the president argues that it is in Europe's interest to prevent the establishment of a purely Muslim state in the region. He also notes that the Croatian-Muslim federation ensures Bosnia will not become a bastion of fundamentalism. Referring to the frontier between Roman Catholicism and eastern Orthodoxy, Tudjman stresses that old divisions need not stand in the way of new peace and prosperity, as Germany and France proved after World War II. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. . . . BUT MILOSEVIC SUGGESTS OTHERWISE. The BBC on 25 January, however, quotes a statement by Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic warning that the departure of UNPROFOR from Croatia could have "unforeseeable consequences." The Serbian media and politicians from Krajina and Pale have expressed similar fears since the Croats announced their decision. Some Serbian sources have even suggested that Croatia is itching for a fight. But Zagreb has stressed it wants a peaceful solution to what it calls "the reintegration of the occupied territories." It even argues that UNPROFOR's departure will "give a fresh and strong impetus to the negotiating process," Hina quotes Foreign Minister Mate Granic as saying on 24 January. Granic is slated to go to Belgrade in mid-February for talks on normalizing relations between Croatia and rump Yugoslavia, The Washington Post noted on 24 January. Meanwhile, Hina reports that Croatia's Defense and National Security Council backed the decision to end UNPROFOR's mandate, although it adds that "Croatia is willing to consider the participation of the international community in monitoring the process of peaceful reintegration." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. CONTACT GROUP WOOS PALE. The Los Angeles Times on 25 January reports that diplomats from the five-country negotiating team "rushed to rebel [Serb] headquarters" but "there were no immediate reports of success in their attempts to persuade the Serbs to accept a peace plan for divvying up Bosnian territory." Negotiations continued the same day on the terms for reopening the "blue routes" to Sarajevo. One Bosnian official doubted that the Serbs would observe their pledges to open the roads, adding "we already have 10,000 signatures and not a single agreement has been obeyed. Does the world have amnesia?" Reuters, meanwhile, quoted Vice President Ejup Ganic as stressing that the Serbs must accept the current peace plan before talks can begin. But the report noted that the Serbs "are shy of the word 'acceptance.'" -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. TUDJMAN AND IZETBEGOVIC MEET IN ZAGREB. Vjesnik on 25 January reports that the Croatia and Bosnian presidents met the previous day to discuss developments in their respective republics and problems regarding the setting up of the Croatian-Muslim federation in Bosnia. Vecernji on 25 January reported on the concrete issues facing the federation in Mostar, which just marked six months under EU administration. Interviews with the respective mayors of the Croatian and Muslim halves of the city illustrate the differences in positions: the Croatian mayor calls for political issues to be settled at the top level before progress can be made in the city, but his Muslim counterpart feels that Mostar should be a "pilot project for the federation." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. GREEK FOREIGN MINISTER ON MACEDONIAN EMBARGO. Karolos Papoulias on 24 January denied that his government plans to lift the economic embargo against Macedonia, Vecher reported the following day. The blockade was imposed in February 1994. A representative of the Greek Chamber of Commerce in Thessaloniki suggested previously that the embargo might be lifted by 1 February. Papoulias said the forthcoming European Court hearing on the legitimacy of the Greek move would not pressure Greece into lifting the embargo as long as the Macedonian government does not make any concessions to Greece. Athens wants Macedonia to change its name, flag, and constitution in order to avoid what Greece says are territorial claims. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. NEW MINISTERS IN SLOVENIA. Reuters on 23 January quotes Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek as saying that Zoran Thaler, a member of Drnovsek's Liberal Democratic Party and president of the parliament Board for international relations, has been nominated by the Liberal Democrats and the Christian Democrats to fill the post of foreign minister, left vacant since the departure of Lojze Peterle in October 1994. Drnovsek also announced that Janko Dezelak, a Christian Democrat, has been nominated to the post of minister of economic relations and development. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN-HUNGARIAN RELATIONS EXPECTED TO COOL OFF. Radio Bucharest reported on 24 January that talks between top Hungarian officials and Viorel Hrebenciuc, head of Romania's Council of National Minorities, were tense. Hrebenciuc denied his government intended to outlaw the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania, saying Minister of Justice Iosif Gavril Chiuzbaian's drive to ban the HDFR did not reflect the official government view. Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs, after meeting with Hrebenciuc, said that anti-Hungarian statements by Romanian politicians threatened the very existence of the Hungarian minority in Romania and were damaging relations between the two countries, MTI reports. Meanwhile, Adrian Nastase, executive president of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania, told a press conference in the Moldavian town of Focsani on 24 January that the PSDR's coalition partner, the Party of Romanian National Unity, had not consulted the PSDR before calling for the HDFR to be banned. Nastase said his party might demand the dismissal of Chiuzbaian for having claimed outlawing the HDFR was legally warranted and would be examined by the government. The HDFR noted in a 24 January press release that the government's attacks on it were attempts to deflect attention from the ruling party's recently formalized alliance with extremists. Radio Bucharest's correspondent in Budapest said it was expected that Romanian-Hungarian relations would cool off considerably. -- Michael Shafir and Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN PRIVATIZATION AGENCY DISSATISFIED WITH OWN WORK. The director of the Romanian agency charged with privatizing state-owned companies says his agency has not been able to do its job. Theodor Strauss of the State Ownership Fund told a news conference in Bucharest on 24 January that the agency privatized only 598 companies in 1994, although it was supposed to privatize more than 2,300, Radio Bucharest reports. Strauss said only eight of the companies privatized last year had more than 2,000 employees, adding that a major obstacle to privatization was the lack of investors. Former Prime Minister Theodor Stolojan, who now works for the World Bank and attended a recent conference in Sibiu on privatization in the former communist states, said economic reform in Romania is trailing that of even "troubled" countries such as neighboring Moldova. He urged that privatization in Romania be speeded up. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN NEWSPAPERS RUN OUT OF PAPER. Most Bulgarian newspapers may stop publishing on 27 January, BTA reports. A joint statement by newspaper editors and the Rodina publishing company, which prints most of Sofia's dailies, says newsprint is running out. Trud reports that supplies have dropped to 210 tons owing to drastic increases in the price of Russian newsprint and infrequent deliveries from Russia, 24 chasa reports. The only newspapers unaffected are Standart and Pari, which have their own newsprint supplies. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIAN DICTATOR'S WIDOW APPEALS TO HIGH COURT. The widow of Albanian communist dictator Enver Hoxha has requested that Supreme Court President Zef Brozi review her 11-year jail term, Reuters reported on 24 January. A court spokesman says Brozi may pass the request onto the court's 11-judge panel. Nexhmije Hoxha was sentenced for embezzlement but claims the charge is unjustified. If the court were to decide that her real crime was violating citizens' rights, her sentence could be cut. Other senior communist officials have been sentenced to up to six years on that charge. The Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that the immunity of Brozi can be lifted by the parliament. Chief Prosecutor Alush Dragoshi has charged Brozi with illegally ordering the release of a Greek citizen involved in a narcotics case. The parliament also has to decide about lifting the immunity of two former government ministers. Prosecutors are currently investigating former Transport Minister Fatos Bitincka and prime ministerial counselor Albert Gajo on charges of abuse of office and forgery. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIAN AIRLINES FINDS NEW PARTNER. The Amsterdam-based Aviation World MAK b.v. has bought Albania's bankrupt air company for $1 million, Reuters reported on 21 January. The company, which is owned by Kuwait's MA Kharafi group, promised to bring in a new fleet of Fokker and Boeing jets and employ the entire former staff of 60. Albanian Airlines--a $2 million joint venture between Albanian state company Albtransport and Austria's Tyrolean Airlines AG--went bankrupt in July 1994. Meanwhile, the World Bank has approved an $18 million loan to repair Albania's main north-south road. Work is already under way between Tirana and Milot, Reuters reported on 23 January. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Jan Cleave 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. The publication can also be obtained for a fee in printed form by fax and postal mail. Please direct inquiries to: Editor, Daily Digest, OMRI, Na Strzi 63, 14062 Prague 4, Czech Republic or send e-mail to: email@example.com Telephone: (42 2) 6114 2114 Fax: (42 2) 426 396
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.