|There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in. - Graham Greene|
No. 19, Part II, 26 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 SLOVAK PARLIAMENT CRITICIZES PRESIDENT. The Slovak parliament on 25 January issued a document criticizing President Michal Kovac over his response to a letter from William Orme, the executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. Orme in November expressed concern about the state of the media following the first two sessions of the new parliament. Kovac responded by saying he believed the situation in the Slovak media after the 1994 elections was "only temporary" and that Slovak journalists would soon "be able to work once again according to the principles of democracy and plurality." Slovak National Party Chairman Jan Slota announced on 13 January that a group of deputies from the SNP and the Association of Slovak Workers had asked parliament chairman Ivan Gasparovic to request the president explain himself before the legislature. Christian Democratic Movement Chairman Jan Carnogursky and other opposition members said that calling Kovac before the parliament would damage not only the president's prestige but also Slovakia's. The parliament expressed regret that Kovac declined to explain himself to parliament deputies and said Kovac's statements "damage the good name and interests of Slovakia," Sme reports. - Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN AND SLOVAK PREMIERS READY TO SIGN BASIC TREATY. Gyula Horn and his Slovak counterpart, Vladimir Meciar, told a press conference in Budapest on 25 January that they expected to sign the basic treaty between their two countries by 21 March. They noted that the treaty would include clauses on the inviolability of existing borders, the renunciation of territorial claims, and a statement of general principles on minority rights, MTI reports. The two leaders said they would also sign the European Council's convention on the protection of minorities in Strasbourg on 1 February. In addition, Meciar agreed to increase the water flow into the Danube to counter ecological destruction caused by the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros hydroelectric project. - Edith Oltay CZECH CABINET REJECTS MINISTER'S CHARGES OF ILLEGAL SPYING. The Czech government on 25 January rejected Deputy Prime Minister Jan Kalvoda's allegations that the counterintelligence service BIS illegally collected information on political parties. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus told a press conference that the cabinet decided Kalvoda's charges were unfounded and that only one minister voted against this decision. This suggests that ministers from Kalvoda's Civic Democratic Alliance broke ranks with their party leader and that he was also deserted by the Christian Democratic Union. KDU leader Josef Lux previously joined Kalvoda in accusing the BIS of spying. Stanislav Devaty, the head of the BIS, on 25 January denied that his agency has been involved in illegal activities. He said he will resign if Kalvoda's charges prove to be correct, Mlada fronta dnes reports. - Steve Kettle NEW STRIFE IN POLISH COALITION. Poland's two ruling parties are again trading accusations of disloyalty in the wake of press reports on the impending dismissal of national police commander Zenon Smolarek. The major Polish dailies reported on 25 January that Smolarek has submitted his resignation for the third time in a year in connection with corruption allegations over the "sponsorship" of the Poznan police force by private businesses. After Gazeta Wyborcza broke the story in March 1994, a drawn-out conflict between Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak and President Lech Walesa over the choice of a successor ensued. The stand- off led Pawlak to reject Smolarek's resignation in October, but a cloud of corruption continued to hang over the police. The Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) on 25 January enthusiastically endorsed Internal Affairs Minister Andrzej Milczanowski's proposal to remove Smolarek. Pawlak commented that there were "more important issues" facing the coalition, and the Polish Peasant Party expressed outrage at the SLD's stance. - Louisa Vinton EU TO GRANT UKRAINE AGRICULTURAL CREDIT. Ukraine's Ministry of Agriculture told Interfax on 25 January that the European Union will grant Ukraine a 5 million ecu credit to work out a development program for the country's agricultural sector. The grant will be used to pay foreign experts to reorganize the management system of Ukraine's agricultural complex. Ukrainian experts will also participate in the project. The EU in November 1994 granted Ukraine some $6.5 million to draw up a food products program. Most of the grant went to a consortium of Western firms made up of Agrer (Belgium), Eurosiris (France), Secofisa (Spain), and Ogilvy Adams & Rienhart (Germany). The Ukrainian press has repeatedly criticized the practice of using foreign credits to pay Western consultants. - Ustina Markus NATIONAL BANK OF UKRAINE PLANS FIRST CREDIT AUCTION. The National Bank of Ukraine has scheduled this year's first closed auction of credits to commercial banks for 31 January, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 25 January. The initial rate for banks operating for at least a year will be 252% annually or 21% monthly. The minimum credit line available for commercial banks has been set at 10 billion karbovantsi for 30 days. Government statistics reveal that the monthly inflation rate in Ukraine in December was 28.4%, compared with 72.3% in November and 22.6% in October. An IMF report estimates Ukraine's annual inflation rate in 1994 at 842%. - Chrystyna Lapychak WORLD BANK DELEGATION IN BELARUS. Interfax on 25 January reports that a World Bank delegation arrived in Belarus for a three-day visit to discuss improving oil production and the overall performance of the Belarusian energy complex. The delegation will discuss projects to be partly financed by the World Bank, including turning Belarusneft, the republic's largest oil-producing complex, into a joint-stock company. Also on the agenda is the liberalization of Belarusian oil prices and improving the taxation system. - Ustina Markus LATVIAN-RUSSIAN BORDER TALKS. Latvian Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs, attending border talks with Russia in the east Latvian town of Balvi on 25 January, said Latvia was unlikely to regain the Abrene district, which it lost to Russia after World War II, BNS reports. He noted that even though Russia claims to have no border problems with Latvia, it was advisable to continue talks to prevent Russia unilaterally drawing the border and to try to get back former land and real estate of Latvians in the district. - Saulius Girnius LITHUANIAN-RUSSIAN RELATIONS. Konstantin Zatulin, chairman of the Russian Duma's Committee for CIS Affairs and Relations with Compatriots, said Lithuania's planned deportation of four ex-Soviet activists would lead to a "considerable deterioration" of Russian-Lithuanian relations, especially in the economic sphere, BNS reported on 25 January. The four ignored a request to leave Lithuania by 22 January (see OMRI Daily Digest, 20 January 1995). Lithuanian Deputy Foreign Minister Albinas Januska pointed out that the 18 November 1993 agreement granting mutual most-favored-nation trade status made no provisions for its ratification by the respective parliaments. He said Zatulin's suggestion that the Duma would not ratify the agreement if Latvia went ahead with the deportations should not have any bearing on the agreement. - Saulius Girnius SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE NEW BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER ELECTED. By a vote of 138 to 91 with two abstentions, Zhan Videnov, chairman of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, was elected prime minister, BTA reported on 25 January. Videnov, in a speech on his government's program, announced what he called an "anti- crisis program" and pledged to cut unemployment and inflation. He said the new government will also speed up privatization and agricultural reform and continue to develop ties with international lending organizations. With regard to foreign policy, Videnov said the new government will promote Bulgaria's integration into Europe and continue to take part in NATO's Partnership for Peace program. He promised to present a four-year legislative program within 100 days and said the 1995 budget would be approved by the end of March. Opposition deputies claimed the new cabinet is a continuation of the former communist elite, Reuters reports. The main target of their attacks was Education Minister-designate Ilcho Dimitrov, whom the largely ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom blames for the forceful Bulgarization campaign in the 1980s. - Stefan Krause CONTACT GROUP WON'T TAKE SERBS' 'NO' FOR AN ANSWER. Reuters reports on 26 January that the U.S., British, and French diplomats from the international Contact Group have reversed plans to leave Bosnia and are staying on for more talks. They originally wanted to leave after the Serbs refused again to accept the current peace plan as the basis for a settlement. The German and Russian representatives have left for previous engagements, and it is unclear whether their governments agreed to continue the talks. The Serbs appear willing to talk with an open agenda but balk at the idea of first "accepting" the plan, although the Contact Group has assured them that nothing is binding until a final settlement is signed. Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic, however, wants a deadline imposed on the Serbs to accept the project. He says the Serbs should have two months to say "yes," plus an additional month for final talks, the Los Angeles Times reports. That would mean a deadline of around 1 May, when the current cease-fire is slated to expire. The Frankfurter Rundschau nonetheless says the Contact Group's negotiations have reached "a dead-end street." - Patrick Moore OTHER BOSNIAN NEWS. The BBC reported on 25 January that Bosnian government negotiators are boycotting a meeting slated for 26 January to discuss implementing the cease-fire agreement. They are protesting a lack of progress toward implementing the pact's provisions, but UN spokesmen charged that the Muslims' action will hold up progress even more. Meanwhile in Bihac, news agencies note further heavy shelling of government positions by Krajina Serbs and forces loyal to local kingpin Fikret Abdic. Hina on 24 January reported that Serbs are continuing to expel Croats and Muslims from the Banja Luka area and have arrested 21 mainly elderly Croats near Livno and apparently taken them to the Kamenica detention camp. Finally, dpa on 26 January reports on the plight of seriously ill children in Sarajevo who cannot be evacuated for treatment because of a lack of money. - Patrick Moore CROATIA AND BOSNIA CALL FOR US MEDIATION. AFP reports on 26 January that the Zagreb and Sarajevo governments have asked Washington to set up a three-way meeting to discuss problems in implementing the Croatian- Muslim federation. Elsewhere, Reuters and Croatian media announce that the newly repaired Adria pipeline connecting the Croatian coast with Central Europe is slated to start pumping oil again. Hungary and the Czech Republic are expected to be the big beneficiaries of the reopening, which is the result of last month's Croatian-Serbian economic agreement. Croatia will profit mainly from transit fees. Hina reports that Milorad Pupovac has announced that a new ethnic Serbian party in Croatia, the Independent Serbian Party (SSS), will be founded on 29 January. Pupovac is a professor and a prominent figure among those Serbs living in areas under Croatian government control. The SSS is the latest in a series of his efforts to establish strong Serbian representation in what most Serbs regard as a repressive atmosphere. - Patrick Moore RUMP YUGOSLAVIA'S ENERGY CRISIS. AFP on 26 January reports on protests throughout rump Yugoslavia over the government's decision to implement power cuts, which have left millions of residents without electricity or heating for long periods. Among the hardest-hit centers is Belgrade, where residents have taken to the streets to protest the measures. Members of Serbia's government claim the measures are warranted by overconsumption. Critics of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's regime, however, argue that the power cuts are part of Belgrade's policy to export electricity to neighboring countries in exchange for oil. AFP observes that part of Belgrade's defense strategy is to argue that the country's energy supplies will improve in the near future, when the "hypothetical go-ahead from the United Nations" results in the further easing of sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia. Politika on 25 January quoted rump Yugoslav Prime Minister Radoje Kontic as saying that 1995 would witness "the gradual, albeit certain removal of [international] sanctions against our country." - Stan Markotich MACEDONIAN ARMS AFFAIR REACHES COURT OF APPEAL. Lawyers representing 10 ethnic Albanians accused of plotting an armed uprising have demanded that the charges be dropped and their clients released, Flaka reported on 26 January. The accused, including two former deputy government ministers, were sentenced to between five and eight years in prison by the Skopje Communal Court in June 1994. They were arrested in western Macedonia in December 1993, having been found in possession of weapons and recruitment lists of ethnic Albanians. Abdurrahman Aliti, leader of the ethnic Albanian Party of Democratic Prosperity, called for the release of the prisoners at a meeting with Gerd Arens, coordinator of the working group on ethnic and national minorities at the Geneva Conference on the Former Yugoslavia. The two men also discussed possible solutions to the Albanians' demand for an Albanian-language university in Macedonia. Arens stressed that these questions must be solved by changing the law on higher education, which does not provide for Albanian-language education. Albanian professors and students, supported by ethnic Albanian parties, founded an illegal university in December 1994. - Fabian Schmidt ROMANIAN POLITICIAN EXACERBATES CONFLICT WITH HUNGARIANS . . . In a press release broadcast by Radio Bucharest on 25 January, Gheorghe Funar, leader of the extreme nationalist Party of Romanian National Unity, reiterated his party's intention to outlaw the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania. He said the PRNU has asked the government to seize "illegally obtained weapons" from members of the Hungarian ethnic minority; to punish those Romanian citizens who display Hungarian flags or sing the Hungarian national anthem on Romanian territory; to test the knowledge of the Romanian language and constitution among ethnic Hungarian state employees; and to sack or retire all members of the HDFR who work in the armed forces, the Interior Ministry, the Justice Ministry, and the Romanian Intelligence Service. - Michael Shafir . . . AND ANGERS COALITION PARTNER. The Party of Social Democracy in Romania, the PRNU's coalition partner, said Funar's statement was "mistaken and dressed in extremist nuances," Radio Bucharest reported on 26 January. President Ion Iliescu was quoted by the same radio station as saying the PRNU's leader's statement contradicts government policy as well as the recent collaboration agreement signed by the PRNU, the PSDU, and two extreme nationalist parties. The agreement, he noted, excludes any form of "exclusivism and chauvinism." Meanwhile, in an interview with AFP on 25 January, Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn called on Bucharest to drop proposals to ban the HDFR. Horn said that Romanian Justice Minister Iosif Gavril Chiuzbaian's call for a ban "is contrary to all that has been said during our meetings, and the wording of such intentions does not help the improvement of ties." - Michael Shafir and Edith Oltay NEW SOCIALIST PARTY IN ROMANIA. The group that split from the Socialist Labor Party earlier this month to set up a splinter party has announced it will call itself the Socialist Party. Tudor Mohora, chairman of the "initiative committee" for setting up the new party, said in an interview with Radio Bucharest on 25 January that the Socialist Party wished to make an "important contribution to backing and promoting the interests of those who believe in the idea of social justice [and] in the values of socialism." Mohora said the Socialist Party wished to prevent "the two political parties that call themselves 'socialist'" from becoming political adversaries. - Michael Shafir MOLDOVAN BANK EXPECTED TO RECEIVE EBRD LOAN. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is expected to grant a $20 million credit to Moldova-Agroinbank in 1995, a representative of the bank told the Financial Information Agency on 25 January. He said the EBRD is expected to take a final decision on the loan by the end of January. The Moldovan bank plans to use the loan to grant long-term credits (eight to 15 years) to the farming and instrument-making sectors and to private businesses. The EBRD in 1994 granted the National Bank of Moldova a $30 million credit to develop the country's wine-making industry. - Michael Shafir ALBANIAN PRESIDENT PROPOSES PRIVATE RADIO AND TV STATIONS. Sali Berisha on 25 January proposed setting up private radio and TV channels to offer a broader and more impartial dissemination of information, Reuters reported the same day. Berisha said the present state-run radio and TV stations should be turned into public institutions partly subsidized by the state but not responsible to it. He added that this measure "will also influence the quality of the existing media." Albanian Television has been broadcasting 16 hours a day via satellite since the beginning of 1995. The opposition claims that Albanian radio and TV are controlled by the ruling Democratic Party. Although current legislation does not permit private radio stations, several pirate stations are already broadcasting. - Fabian Schmidt [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Victor Gomez and 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.