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No. 22, Part II, 31 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 WALESA THREATENS "DECISIVE STEPS." President Lech Walesa has demanded that Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak appoint new defense and foreign affairs ministers by 3 February, Gazeta Wyborcza reports. The president also insisted that Pawlak name a new ambassador to the Vatican; this post has been vacant for nearly a year. During a meeting with the president on 30 January, Pawlak again reneged on previous pledges to present candidates for the vacant cabinet posts. Press spokesman Leszek Spalinski warned that the president would take "decisive steps to prevent the paralysis of government" if the new deadline was not met. He did not specify what steps the president had in mind, but acknowledged that Walesa had telephoned Sejm Speaker Jozef Oleksy on 26 January to propose the "self-dissolution" of the parliament. Parliamentary leaders nervously contemplating Walesa's next move on the budget nonetheless took heart in the president's decision to agree to meet with them on 6 February. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. POLISH GOVERNMENT UNDER SIEGE. A rapid response to the president's ultimatum seems unlikely, as Pawlak departs on 31 January for an unofficial visit to the US, returning only on 3 February. The normally taciturn prime minister made an initial attempt to shore up the government's sagging popularity with an unscripted television address on 28 January. In announcing his decision to accept the resignation of national police commander Zenon Smolarek, Pawlak praised both Smolarek and the police, and made no reference to the corruption charges that prompted the resignation. Gazeta Wyborcza found the prime minister's phrasings so obscure that it provided readers with explanatory footnotes. Virtually all political forces criticized the speech as an inadequate response to corruption allegations hanging over prominent members of the ruling coalition. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. AGREEMENT ON FINANCING BALTBAT TRAINING SIGNED. Deputy Defense Ministers Jonas Gecas (Lithuania), Janis Davidovics (Latvia), and Tarmo Molder (Estonia) on 30 January in Vilnius signed an agreement on financing the Baltic Peacekeeping Battalion (BALTBAT) exercises at the Adazi training center in Latvia, RFE/RL's Lithuanian Service reports. Gecas said that Lithuania earlier this month sent 36 officers to Adazi for courses in English-language and officer training that will last six to eight months. The officers will then train 110 Lithuanian soldiers who, joined by similar sized groups from Latvia and Estonia, will later form the battalion. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. SOCIETY OF LITHUANIAN POLITICAL PRISONERS AND EXILES FORMED. The Society of Lithuanian Political Prisoners and Exiles was formed on 28 January in Vilnius as an "independent patriotic social organization," RFE/RL's Lithuanian Service reported on 30 January. Parliament deputy Antanas Stasiskis was elected its chairman. The creation of the society had been prompted by the conversion during the summer of the Union of Political Prisoners and Exiles from a social organization into a political party, thus leaving out members who belonged to other political parties. Lithuanian press reports that no representatives of right-wing political parties attended the constituent assembly were incorrect: Homeland Union Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis arrived before its closing to give a speech. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. PANICKING WORKERS SHUT DOWN CHORNOBYL NUCLEAR REACTOR. Operators at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant panicked after noticing a small leak in an emergency cooling system and shut down a reactor late on 29 January, with no evident release of radiation, international media reported on 30 January. Ukrainian authorities attributed the sudden shutdown to an overreaction by tired workers, who took the station's no. 3 reactor off line after an alarm signaled a problem. The operators were apparently uncertain of the seriousness of the incident. A similar accident shut down the same bloc last October. The shutdown left Chornobyl, which provides about 7% of Ukraine's energy, with a single operating reactor. Reactor no. 2 has been closed since a fire in 1991, while reactor no. 4, which exploded in April 1986 also due to operator error, remains enclosed in a deteriorating steel-and-concrete sarcophagus. The Ukrainian Parliament is scheduled to debate a bill on nuclear energy usage and safety during the week beginning 5 February, Radio Ukraine reported on 30 January. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIAN DELEGATION IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC. A Ukrainian delegation led by Deputy Economics Minister Lada Pavlykovska visited Prague this week to discuss technical aid from the Czech Republic and expand cooperation between the two countries, Ukrainian television reported on 30 January. Pavlykovska said that Ukraine looked to the Czech Republic as an example of the economic reform process which transformed it from a command economy to a market one. She said that while Ukraine welcomed the advice of experts from the US, England and France, these countries did not truly understand Ukraine's problems, while Czech experts have a better understanding, having gone through the same process themselves. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. RUTHENIANS HOLD CODIFICATION CEREMONY IN BRATISLAVA. The Ruthenian Revival, a cultural organization of Ruthenians living in Slovakia, held a ceremony on 27 January to celebrate the codification of the Ruthenian language, Smena reported on 28 January. Meanwhile, Ukrainian groups in Slovakia have protested the move, claiming that Ruthenian is only a dialect of the Ukrainian language and that the Ruthenian nation does not exist, TASR reported. In the 1990 census, 17,000 people in Slovakia declared Ruthenian nationality, compared with 14,000 who said they were Ukrainian. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. WEAK ECONOMIC RECOVERY IN SLOVAKIA? According to a study by the Forecasting Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, the macroeconomic indicators which form the base of the government's program declaration are overly optimistic. While the government plans for GDP growth of 5%, lowering of the inflation and unemployment rates below 10% and a budget deficit of less than 3% of GDP, the institute predicts that the recovery is still "very weak." According to the study, GDP growth should reach between two and 4.3 percent in 1995, but is dependent on the continuation of the current economic policy, stress on the currency's stabilization, a lowering of the inflation rate and a continuation of the positive trade balance, Sme reported on 28 January. According to figures released by TASR on 27 January, Slovakia's exports grew to 215.52 billion koruny in 1994, while imports reached 211.46 billion koruny. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. NO CHANGES IN HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT PROGRAM. A joint communique issued by the leadership of the ruling coalition parties, the Hungarian Socialist Party and the Alliance of Free Democrats, states that the resignation of Finance Minister Laszlo Bekesi will not result in any changes in government policy, Magyar Hirlap of 31 January reports. It declares that economic policy will continue to focus on stabilizing the economy by cutting budget and balance of payment deficits. The communique states that any modifications to the draft law on privatization, which has already been submitted to parliament, requires the consent of both coalition parties. The statement also promises quick government action to end long delays in appointing public officials and in submitting vital legislation to parliament. Prime Minister Gyula Horn is to disclose the names of his candidates for unfilled government posts and for the president of the Hungarian National Bank within two weeks. The coalition parties pledge to make every effort to appoint ombudsmen and new constitutional judges and to restart negotiations on the draft law on the media. -- Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE DIPLOMATS SEEK SOLUTION TO KRAJINA QUESTION. Dailies in Serbia and Croatia on 31 January follow closely the latest efforts by international diplomats to find a political arrangement for the third of Croatian territory held by rebel Serbs. US Ambassador Peter Galbraith and his colleagues known as the Z-4 group met the previous day with Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and also with Serb leaders in Knin. Vecernji list quotes Tudjman as saying he will study the diplomats' latest proposal, but it seems clear that his government and the Serbs still have very different expectations. Zagreb insists on the full reintegration of the territories into Croatia and is prepared to give the Serbs only local autonomy in the Knin and Glina districts, where they made up a majority before 1991. The Serbs, however, want recognition as an independent state with its own currency and police force. The also want UNPROFOR to stay and make the renewal of its mandate a precondition for any agreement with Tudjman. Politika quotes top Croatian officials as saying they will not tolerate a "state within a state," and that autonomy on the model of South Tirol is the best they can offer. The BBC's Croatian Service, meanwhile, reported at length on the international diplomats' proposals and suggests that the key to any solution lies with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. IZETBEGOVIC OPTIMISTIC ON FEDERATION WITH CROATS. Vecernji list on 31 January quotes Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic as saying that he does not expect any new conflict to break out between Muslims and Croats and stresses that Bosnia needs its Croats and Serbs in order "to be Bosnia." He does not, however, see any future for his people or for Macedonians in a reconstituted Yugoslavia under Milosevic, saying that the Muslims and Macedonians would have no more rights than the Sandzak Muslims or Kosovo Albanians have today. Elsewhere, the BBC's Croatian Service reports that Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic repeated Izetbegovic's call for the Bosnian Serbs to be given a three-month deadline to accept the Contact Group's peace plan, which would roughly coincide with the end of the current cease-fire period. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. KINKEL IN THE BALKANS. Sarajevo on 31 January will play host to German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel, international media report. The previous day he visited Zagreb, where he tried to convince Tudjman to extend UNPROFOR's mandate. He was probably given a polite hearing, but Germany no longer carries the diplomatic weight it did in Croatia when Hans- Dietrich Genscher was foreign minister. Washington now is probably Zagreb's most important partner ahead of Bonn, with Vienna and the Vatican also playing important roles. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. JOVANOVIC ON ISTRIA. Politika on 31 January reports on controversial comments made by rump Yugoslav Foreign Minister Vladislav Jovanovic. According to the account, Jovanovic, in a recent interview with an Italian paper, described at least portions of Istria as territory which Croatia "holds under occupation" but which is rightfully Italian. In other news, the same Belgrade daily reports that a group of former federal parliamentary deputies, who last year broke with opposition leader Vuk Draskovic, have formed a new political party, Narodna saborna stranka, with their colleague Slobodan Rakitic as its first president. Finally, the state-run Borba, under the headline "Bulgarians Wish to Go to Serbia," announces that a protest meeting will be held in the Bulgarian city of Vidin on 6 February because of imposed travel restrictions to Serbia. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. ANTI-SERBIAN DEMONSTRATION IN BULGARIA. Mirjana Markovic, wife of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, was greeted with jeers and anti- Serbian posters in the city of Plovdiv on 30 January, 24 chasa reported the following day. Participants in a demonstration for the rights of the Bulgarian minority in Serbia carried posters saying "The Neuilly Treaty is dead", "Freedom for the Bulgarians in Serbia" and "The Western Regions [former Bulgarian territories which Serbia acquired in 1919] are ours." Markovic was in Plovdiv to present the Bulgarian edition of her new book at the invitation of the "Slavyani" foundation. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. ILIESCU ON ROMANIA'S ETHNIC HUNGARIANS. A spokesman for President Ion Iliescu read out at a press conference on 30 January a presidential statement on the war of words between the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania and the extreme-nationalist Party of Romanian National Unity over the issue of broader autonomy for Romania's Magyar minority. Iliescu put the blame for the recent escalation of ethnic tension in Romania on HDFR's policies, and accused some of the party's leaders of "diabolic perseverance" in promoting the idea of "ethnic- territorial autonomy." On the other hand, however, Iliescu denounced as "irrational" and "ill-timed" recent statements by PRNU chairman Gheorghe Funar, which, he said, included insulting remarks aimed at the Hungarian people. Funar, who asked Iliescu on 27 January to declare a state of emergency in three counties with large Hungarian populations, rejected Iliescu's criticism. Also on 30 January, the Council of the Democratic Convention of Romania, the country's main opposition alliance and which includes the HDFR, discussed the implications of the recent polemics. Radio Bucharest said that apparently no consensus could be reached within the DCR, with the Party of Civic Alliance and the Romanian Social-Democrat Party taking a more critical stance against the HDFR. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. GERMANY WILL SUPPORT ROMANIA'S EFFORTS TO JOIN NATO. German Defense Minister Volker Ruehe, on a two-day visit to Bucharest, said on 30 January that his country will support Romania's efforts to join NATO, Reuters reports. Ruehe added that Germany will join in military exercises to be held in Romania later this year as part of NATO's Partnership for Peace program. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT MEETS CLINTON. The President of the Republic of Moldova, Mircea Snegur, who started an official visit to the United States on 28 January, was received on 30 January by President Bill Clinton. The US administration assured Snegur that it will continue to support economic reforms in Moldova and pledged to give that country another $22 million in technical assistance. Snegur asked the US to support Moldova in its efforts to seek the withdrawal of the 14th Russian Army from Moldova's territory. He suggested that international monitoring was necessary to ensure that the withdrawal would take place on schedule and under "normal conditions." Western sources reported that Snegur met on the same say with US Defense Secretary William Perry. He also had talks with representatives of the State Department, Congressional leaders and senior officials from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER ON FOREIGN POLICY. Zhan Videnov said that Bulgaria will follow a "pragmatic, transparent and open" foreign policy with neighboring countries, Duma reports on 31 January. The Socialist newspaper cited an interview published in the Greek weekly To Vima on 29 January. Videnov stated that Bulgaria's Balkan policy is a continuation of its European policy, and that the aim is to "establish European standards in the conduct between the Balkan countries," adding that the formation of blocs and spheres of influence will lead the Balkan countries into confrontation. In an interview with Trud, Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski said that the government's decision to attach economic priorities to Bulgaria's foreign policy does not mean subordinating it to foreign trade. Forms and means will be worked out, however, by which foreign policy will assist the economic development of Bulgaria, Pirinski added. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN EDUCATION MINISTER STILL UNDER FIRE. Some 50 scholars and employers of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences protested against the election of Ilcho Dimitrov as Minister of Education and Science, Demokratsiya reported on 31 January. In an open letter, they said that Dimitrov's appointment will effect not only education and science but also domestic and foreign policy and Bulgaria's international standing. Dimitrov "contributed to the division of the nation" during the first time he was Education Minister in the 1980s, the authors say, adding that they will do everything to alert the Bulgarian and international public if there are any "attempts to restore totalitarianism in Bulgaria." The ethnic Turks' Movement for Rights and Freedom also repeatedly protested against the election of Dimitrov. The last MRF declaration, published on 30 January, accuses the BSP of hostility towards the ethnic minorities and of trying to restrict their rights and says the MRF will resist any attempt of the "xenophobic minister" to deprive the minorities of their rights in the field of education and culture. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIAN DEMOCRATIC LEADER OFFERS RESIGNATION. The leader of the ruling Democratic Party, Eduard Selami, has offered his resignation, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 31 January. The paper says that Selami has criticized the government for failing to carry out certain points in the party program. Selami has proposed that the party leader should also be prime minister, arguing that this would help promote the party's interests. He argues that the government is making a mistake by "not listening to the voice of the party" and adds that "there is a gap between the government and the Democratic Party, which is in power and must carry out its policies." The Democratic Party has decided that its most pressing aims are passing laws on social insurance and on buying and selling land, and implementing rapid privatization by issuing stocks and starting the restitution of real estate. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. [As of 12:00 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. The publication can also be obtained for a fee in printed form by fax and postal mail. 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