|A man seldom thinks with more earnestness of anything than he does of his dinner. - Samuel Johnson|
No. 23, Part II, 1 February 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 EU ASSOCIATION AGREEMENTS GO INTO EFFECT. Association agreements between the European Union and the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria go into effect on 1 February, international agencies report. The next step for those countries is to apply for full EU membership. The Czech government has not yet decided when to submit its application but plans to do so sometime next year. Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec told Hospodarske noviny on 1 February that the question of the precise date for application is "irrelevant and unimportant." Slovakia plans to submit its application by 30 June 1995 and hopes to join the organization by the year 2000. Both the Czech and Slovak agreements replace a preliminary accord drawn up before the split of Czechoslovakia in December 1992. The Romanian government, in a statement released on 27 January, said it was working out a "national strategy" for joining the EU as a full member. The statement added that Romania planned to apply officially for full membership in the near future. -- OMRI Staff, OMRI, Inc. GERMANY COMPLETES HOUSING PROJECTS IN UKRAINE. Germany has finished building the fourth and final apartment complex in Ukraine to house Ukrainian troops returning from Germany, Reuters reports on 31 January. The Ukrainian housing complexes cost the German government some $500 million and were part of a larger project worth more than $5 billion to build housing throughout the former USSR for servicemen returning from Eastern Europe. German Finance Minister Theo Waigel, who attended the opening ceremony at the housing complex, said Germany will not abandon Ukraine in its economic reform efforts. Germany is Ukraine's largest aid donor, providing some $1.7 billion in export credits, technical assistance and other projects. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. NEW DEPUTY PREMIER APPOINTED. President Leonid Kuchma has appointed Serhii Osyka deputy prime minister in charge of CIS relations, Interfax reported on 30 January. Osyka will continue in his post as minister of foreign trade. He was an adviser to Kuchma when the latter was prime minister in 1993. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT POSTPONES CORRUPTION CHARGES HEARING. Belarusian TV reported on 30 January that Supreme Soviet Chairman Mechyslau Hryb rejected deputy Syarhei Antonchyk's offer to give another report on corruption. Hryb explained that an investigation into the corruption charges made in Antonchyk's first report had not yet been completed. The parliament was to have heard the results of that investigation on 1 February, but Uladzimir Paulau, deputy head of the investigative commission, asked for the hearing to be postponed until 21 February, saying the fuzziness of some of Antonchyk's charges had delayed the commission's investigation. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. LUKASHENKA ATTENDS MVD MEETING. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka attended a meeting of the Interior Ministry, Belarusian TV reported on 30 January. One of the main issues discussed was the growing crime rate in Belarus. Valeri Izotau, first deputy minister of the MVD, said more than 120,00 crimes were reported in 1994, up 17,000 on the previous year. Lukashenka called on the militia to take measures to combat growing crime. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. ESTONIAN DEFENSE MINISTER RESIGNS. Enn Tupp tendered his resignation on 31 January citing a "slander campaign" in his own office, BNS reports. Defense Ministry Chancellor Tarmo Molder asked the Security Police at the end of December to examine the minister's actions in a long-running court case and scandal over military equipment purchased from Russia in 1991. Tupp had tried to sack Molder in November saying the chancellor was unable to solve problems arising from the takeover and use of former Russian military facilities. But Prime Minister Andres Tarand had urged Tupp to retain Molder for the sake of "domestic peace." After Tupp's resignation announcement, Tarand said he had not yet decided whether to try to nominate a new minister for the period remaining until the March parliament elections. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. CEPA UNANIMOUSLY APPROVES LATVIAN MEMBERSHIP. The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly on 31 January voted unanimously to accept Latvia as a member, an RFE/RL correspondent in Strasbourg reports. The only speaker opposed to Latvia's entry was Russian nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who claimed Latvia was not an independent state but part of Russia. The council is expected to admit Latvia formally as its 34th member on 6 February. Latvia applied for membership in September 1991, along with Estonia and Lithuania, which were admitted as members in May 1993. Latvia's membership was approved only after the country passed legislation on national minority rights that was acceptable to the council. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LITHUANIA PASSES LANGUAGE LAW. The Lithuanian parliament passed the State Language Law on 31 January, RFE/RL's Lithuanian Service reports. The requirement that officials pass examinations in the Lithuanian language as a condition for holding government posts went into effect on 1 January 1995. Amendments proposed by Polish deputies to establish Polish as an official language in the Polish-populated southeast raions of Lithuania were defeated. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. WALESA, PAWLAK COME TO TERMS? The Polish president's office announced on 31 January that President Lech Walesa has accepted candidates proposed by Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak to head the Defense and Foreign Affairs Ministries. The names of the candidates are to be keep secret until Pawlak officially nominates them. Walesa's spokesman said the president would agree to meet with the ruling coalition only if the two ministers took office by 3 February. Parliamentary speculation pointed to acting Defense Minister Jerzy Milewski (the president's former security adviser) and presidential office chief Janusz Ziolkowski as the likely ministerial choices, but Gazeta Wyborcza on 1 February tips right-wing politician Romuald Szeremietiew for the defense post. Pawlak's maneuver left the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) speechless, as the prime minister had previously agreed to propose candidates approved jointly with his coalition partners. One SLD leader commented that by violating this agreement, Pawlak has "lost his instinct for self-preservation." But Pawlak has successfully outmaneuvered the SLD before. The real beneficiary of the move would be Walesa, however, as it would reconfirm his control over the three "presidential" ministries. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. CZECH GOVERNMENT PREPARES LAW ON STATE NEWS AGENCY. The Czech government is preparing legislation requiring the state-owned news agency CTK to publish government press statements in full, Czech media report on 1 February. Deputy Culture Minister Michal Prokop said amendments to the law establishing and regulating CTK will be discussed before the end of this week. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus has several times complained about CTK's editing of his speeches. His Civic Democratic Party recently criticized the agency for not publishing in full a statement by the head of the counterintelligence service on allegations of spying on political parties. Although financed largely by the state, CTK has recently sought to become independent. CTK editor-in-chief Petr Holubec responded to Prokop's statement by saying "CTK's service should stem from the needs of the media, not those of politicians." -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. NEW SLOVAK ATTORNEY-GENERAL APPROVED. Michal Vala was sworn in on 31 January as Slovak attorney-general. Former Attorney-General Vojtech Bacho was removed by the parliament in early November and replaced by Ludovit Hudek, who was named interior minister when the new cabinet was formed in December. In an interview with Sme on 1 February, Vala said he is not preparing personnel changes, although some staff members could be removed for what he called technical or moral incompetence. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARIAN COURT RULINGS ON 1956 CRIMES. Two members of the former Hungarian communist militia were sentenced to five years in prison for their role in shooting and killing at least 46 unarmed demonstrators on 8 December 1956 in Salgotarjan, MTI reports. The judge cited the New York Convention of 1968, according to which crimes against humanity committed in peace time must also be prosecuted. These are the first convictions for crimes committed during the 1956 revolution. Seven of the 12 men charged with the killings were acquitted because of lack of evidence; and charges against three others were dropped. Both the prosecution and the defense have the right to appeal. The Budapest Military Court on 27 January dropped charges against two military officers accused of ordering a pilot to shoot into a crowd of unarmed demonstrators in Tiszakecske on 27 October 1956. The court ruled that the 1949 Geneva International Convention on crimes against humanity did not cover internal conflicts. It is estimated that some 1,000 unarmed demonstrators were killed by communists in 1956. -- Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE EUROPEAN COURT BEGINS PROCEEDINGS ON MACEDONIAN EMBARGO. The European Court on 1 February is to begin proceedings against Greece, AFP reported the previous day. The EU Commission accuses that country of violating EU rules by maintaining an economic embargo against neighboring Macedonia. The blockade was decreed by Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou in February 1994 to force Macedonia to change its name, flag, and constitution, which, Greece argues, imply territorial claims to the northern Greek province of Makedonia. After the Greek refusal to lift the blockade, the EU Commission began legal proceedings last April. Greece insists that Article 224 of the EU treaty--which allows an EU member to take measures in case of internal unrest, war, or serious international tension constituting a threat of war--supports the embargo. Greek European Affairs Minister Georgios-Alexandros Mangakis said Greece is optimistic that the court will decide in its favor. He noted that a ruling against Greece would set a "serious precedent." A verdict is not expected until May, but Greece has already said it will ignore the ruling. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. KRAJINA SERBS AND MILOSEVIC REFUSE TO SEE MEDIATORS. International media reported on 31 January that Croatian Serb rebels and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic would not meet with diplomats representing the Z-4 (Zagreb four) group. The mediators are promoting a package aimed at solving Croatia's Serbian question and ending the armed Serbian occupation of one-third of the republic's territory. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 1 February notes that the Z-4 program stresses practical ground rules rather than political formulations. Many observers feel Milosevic holds the key to peace, but neither he nor the Krajina leaders will see the diplomats without advance assurance that UNPROFOR will remain in Croatia. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman has said it must leave by 1 July. The BBC's Serbian Service quoted The Times as saying that Milosevic's behavior actually encourages those Krajina Serbs bent on continued conflict. The broadcast also cited the US ambassador in Zagreb as calling the present situation "dangerous." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. BOSNIAN PRIME MINISTER BLASTS INTERNATIONAL "IMPOTENCE." Haris Silajdzic, on a visit to Washington, said the world community is displaying "impotence" in failing to end the Bosnian conflict, The New York Times reports on 1 February. He told CNN that the UN's refusal to lift the arms embargo against his country recalls the Allied failure to bomb the railways leading to Auschwitz. Silajdzic added that the least the international community can do is to provide air strikes and sanctions against the Bosnian Serbs if they continue not to accept the Contact Group's peace plan, the BBC's Croatian Service reports. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. FRANCE WANTS NEW CONFERENCE ON BOSNIA. Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told Le Monde on 31 January that leaders of former Yugoslav republics and international representatives should convene new conferences to help end the conflict. He said this is a "last chance scenario" before the war spreads to Krajina or elsewhere in the Balkans. The New York Times, however, quotes U.S. diplomats as saying they do not feel this is the right time for another conference. Past summits have largely been grandiose talking shops at which participants from the former Yugoslavia made vague promises that were never kept. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. A FIRST FOR GORAZDE. The BBC said on 31 January that the Serbs and Muslims in that UN-designated "safe area" have for the first time made and kept an agreement. The issue was the evacuation of sick and wounded Muslims to Sarajevo and Serbs to Kopaci, which is under way. The New York Times, meanwhile, quotes a UN spokesman as saying that the fighting in the Bihac area was the worst there since the current cease-fire took effect on 1 January. Local kingpin Fikret Abdic and his Krajina Serb allies have not signed that document, despite repeated pleas from the UN to do so. Elsewhere, observers have expressed concern lest fighting break out in the "safe area" of Srebrenica, in eastern Bosnia, which is swollen with mainly Muslim refugees, as is nearby Gorazde. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. NASA BORBA TO APPEAR, TITO CENTER TO DISAPPEAR. Editors of the independent Nasa Borba--successor to the independent Belgrade daily Borba, which fell victim to a government take-over bid--have announced that their newspaper will appear for the first time on 1 February. The Novi Sad-based paper was incorporated on 19 January but has been kept out of circulation by a newsprint shortage. Nasa Borba staff claim the shortage is government-manufactured to keep the daily off the presses. Meanwhile, Reuters, citing Tanjug, reported on 31 January that rump Yugoslav authorities wish to close down the Josip Broz Tito Memorial Center, built 13 years ago to honor the former president of socialist Yugoslavia, because "it is no longer needed." The government is expected to take over all assets belonging to the center. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH GERMAN DEFENSE MINISTER. Ion Iliescu met with German Defense Minister Volker Ruehe at his Bucharest residence on 31 January. The meeting was also attended by Romanian Defense Minister Gheorghe Tinca, State Secretary for Defense Ioan Mircea Pascu, Gen. Vasile Ionel, and presidential spokesman Traian Chebeleu. Iliescu and Ruehe discussed, among other things, Romania's participation in NATO's Partnership for Peace program and their countries' efforts to join UN peacekeeping missions. Radio Bucharest quoted Chebeleu as saying Romania was interested in the closest possible cooperation with Germany as part of the larger process of integrating into European and Euro-Atlantic structures. Ruehe visited the same day a Bucharest-based battalion that will take part in UN peacekeeping operations. He also observed an exercise staged by Romanian mountain corps in the town of Predeal. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. SNEGUR WANTS U.S. TO INVEST MORE IN MOLDOVAN AGRICULTURE. Moldovan President Mircea Snegur on 31 January met with senior officials from the U.S. Agriculture Department, an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reports on 1 February. Snegur, who headed a delegation including Moldovan Deputy Minister of Agriculture Andrei Cheptine, stressed Moldova's interest in closer cooperation with the U.S. in the agricultural sector and especially in attracting US investment for agricultural industries. Agriculture is Moldova's most important economic sector, accounting for some 42% of its economy. An Agriculture Department official said the U.S. has been helping Moldova by providing advanced training for agricultural specialists. He added that his department was working with the U.S. Trade Development Agency to explore trade and investment opportunities in Moldova. Snegur, who is on a four-day working visit to the U.S., met the previous day with President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, and Secretary of State Warren Christopher. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. PRICE RISES IN BULGARIA. The Bulgarian government has announced price hikes for fuel, energy, and other goods, including flour, as of 1 February, Bulgarian media report. The price of electricity is expected to rise by 70-200%. The Bulgarian Socialist Party is considering distributing vouchers among lower income earners to cover higher electricity and heating costs, Duma and Kontinent cited BSP deputy Atanas Paparizov as saying. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIAN HELSINKI COMMITTEE BACKS SUPREME COURT JUDGE. The Albanian Helsinki Committee published a declaration on 30 January raising doubts about the legality of the possible lifting of Chief Supreme Court Judge Zef Brozi's immunity, Gazeta Shqiptare reported the next day. The committee stated that "the case involving Brozi may violate the legal basis of the state." Brozi is accused of wrongdoing by releasing a Greek citizen involved in a drug case, but the judge claims he is the victim of a campaign by President Sali Berisha and Chief Prosecutor Alush Dragoshi. The Helsinki Committee backed Brozi, saying the accusations against him are far removed from "legal regulations defining criminal acts." -- 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. 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