|The burnt child shuns the fire until the next day. - Mark Twain|
No. 26, Part II, 6 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 POLISH PARLIAMENT WARNS WALESA. The Sejm on 4 February adopted a resolution saying there are no legal grounds for dissolving the parliament and warning President Lech Walesa that any dissolution attempt would entail "constitutional responsibility" (a threat of impeachment). The vote was 376 to 16 with 16 abstentions, Gazeta Wyborcza reports. Opposition parties supported the resolution but also criticized the government for contributing to the political crisis through inaction and corruption. Presidential legal adviser Lech Falandysz called the resolution a demonstration of "arrogance," while Walesa commented that he "didn't know whether to laugh or cry." The parliament also completed work on a constitutional amendment that would enable it to remain in session until new elections in the event of a dissolution order. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. POLISH PREMIER UNDER FIRE. Meanwhile, Waldemar Pawlak's return from the U.S. on 3 February failed to defuse the crisis. Pawlak was unable to meet with the president, since Walesa's plane to Gdansk took off two minutes before the prime minister landed in Warsaw. Pawlak told journalists the same day that he saw no reason to yield to "actions promoting unrest." Under attack from his coalition partners in the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), he insisted he had not proposed Romuald Szeremietiew for the vacant post of defense minister. But Walesa claimed to have tapes of the conversation proving the opposite. The premier further alienated the SLD by submitting to the president the names of two candidates each for the Defense and Foreign Ministries rather than the single candidates agreed upon with the coalition. Walesa accepted the nomination of Janusz Ziolkowski (chief of the President's Office) for the foreign affairs portfolio but rejected both candidates for defense. Pawlak retaliated by refusing to countersign Ziolkowski's appointment (effectively blocking it). Many SLD members called for Pawlak's resignation. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. POLISH COALITION TO REBUILD GOVERNMENT? Walesa's brinkmanship appears aimed at securing Pawlak's removal. The president told reporters on 5 February that he would not oppose the formation of a new government headed by SLD leader Aleksander Kwasniewski, but he refused to rule out dissolving the parliament. Kwasniewski said earlier that he was prepared to take over "if such a need arose." Pawlak reportedly offered Kwasniewski the posts of deputy prime minister and foreign minister on 4 February, but the SLD dismissed that offer as insufficient. The Polish Peasant Party (PSL) initially rallied round Pawlak, but by 5 February there were signs that party support was weakening. Deputy Sejm Speaker Jozef Zych (PSL) conceded that ministers charged with corruption would have to leave the cabinet, but he insisted that the PSL still had the right to name the premier. Gazeta Wyborcza quoted "well-informed sources" on 6 February as reporting that Walesa was planning to appoint General Staff chief Gen. Tadeusz Wilecki to head a transitional government until new elections could be held. Most politicians dismissed this report as "absurd" and a deliberate leak meant to keep the Sejm intimidated. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SAYS PARLIAMENT DEBATE OVER NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE IS "ILL-TIMED." Leonid Kuchma called the parliament's recent decision to debate a vote of no confidence in the government as ill-timed "from a political and economic point of view," Interfax-Ukraine reported on 4 February. At a news conference in Donetske the previous day, Kuchma said he did not understand the decision, given that "it is necessary [for parliament] to review the upcoming bill on the separation of powers, which stipulates that the president appoint the country's Cabinet of Ministers." Kuchma said if the legislature refuses to approve his proposed constitutional draft law on the division of powers--which would significantly expand his executive powers to enable him to implement badly needed economic reforms--then he would turn to the people by organizing a poll on constitutional provisions. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIAN ENTERPRISES INFLATED 1994 PRICES. Ukraine's Economics Ministry says more than half the country's businesses and organizations audited by the state deliberately inflated prices last year, Interfax-Ukraine reports. The mostly state-owned enterprises exaggerated costs, used the market exchange rate for the karbovanets instead of the official one, and employed "creative" accounting and book-keeping methods. Airline companies and enterprises involved in the sale of oil products, iron and steel production, and chemical manufacturing earned an additional 536 billion karbovantsi after padding their prices. The ministry has ordered the firms to pay a total of 1.15 trillion karbovantsi (about $1 million at the official exchange rate) in penalties. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT DEMANDS PARLIAMENT RESCIND LAW ON PRESIDENCY . . . Alyaksandr Lukashenka has said he will take legal action if parliament refuses to reassess the law, passed on 1 February, laying down the conditions whereby parliament may remove the president, Reuters reported on 2 February. Conservative deputy Henadz Kazlau said Lukashenka will probably appeal to the Constitutional Court to have the law declared illegal. When deputies ignored his proposals to change the law, Lukashenka walked out of the session. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. . . . AND THREATENS TO BLOCK DRAFT LAW ON PARLIAMENT. Interfax quoted Lukashenka on 3 February as saying he would not sign the bill on parliament, which, he said, would "tip the balance of power in the republic" in parliament's favor. He will take the issue to the Constitutional Court. The bill provides for special health care benefits for deputies and gives them pensions for life worth 50% of their current salary. Lukashenka said the bill provided "life-time welfare for people's deputies," and he accused them of being more concerned about their own well-being than implementing the country's economic reform program. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. ESTONIAN DEFENSE OFFICIALS TO CONTINUE IN OFFICE. Prime Minister Andres Tarand on 3 February requested that Defense Minister Enn Tupp and ministry chancellor Tarmo Molder continue in office until the 5 March parliament elections, BNS reported the next day. Tupp offered his resignation on 31 January after the security police began an investigation, requested by Molder, into his role in purchases of armored vehicles from Russia in 1991. Tarand said that if the two officials were unable to settle their conflict peacefully, he would fire both of them on 28 February. He said his decision was necessary to avoid major disruptions in the ministry's work. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. DEPORTATION OF REFUGEES FROM LATVIA. Latvian Interior Minister Janis Adamsons admitted on 2 February that some of the 149 Kurdish and Afghan refugees held at an army barracks in Riga have been deported, BNS reported the next day. The refugees were detained in December in Estonia following an attempt to reach Sweden on a Latvian boat. Adamsons declined to say how many refugees were deported but noted he would invite the media to witness the next deportation. Latvia has discussed moving the remaining refugees to an army training center outside Riga. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. ISRAELI DELEGATION IN LITHUANIA. Efraim Zuroff, research coordinator at Israel's Simon Wiesenthal Center, retired judge Aryeh Segalson, and lawyer Joseph Melamed have completed a week-long examination of Lithuanian archives, BNS reported on 4 February. They were searching for the names of people who collaborated with the Nazis in the extermination of Jews during World War II but who, along with thousands of other persons convicted by Soviet courts, have been unjustly rehabilitated since 1990. President Algirdas Brazauskas, who plans an official visit to Israel from 28 February-2 March, told the delegation that information on unjust rehabilitations must be verified and "everything thoroughly cleared up in order not to leave any white or black spots in our history." -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. CZECH KORUNA TO BECOME CONVERTIBLE SOON? Czech economics ministers and the Czech National Bank proposed on 3 February to ease restrictions on the koruna in a bid to make the currency fully convertible in line with IMF regulations. Czech firms will be able to buy goods, take out foreign loans, or issue bonds abroad without limits on changing koruny into hard currency or needing the CNB's approval, Czech media report. Czech residents will also be able to invest abroad, but the current limit on buying hard currency will remain in place for the time being. Until the end of 1994, Czechs could purchase hard currency worth up to 12,000 koruny a year. This figure was raised to 100,000 koruny in January, but Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus said the limit will eventually be abolished. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. CZECH MINISTER ON 1994 ARMS TRADE. Industry and Trade Minister Vladimir Dlouhy said on 3 February that the Czech Republic sold arms worth $194.2 million to foreign customers in 1994. Reuters quoted him as saying this was a 16% increase over the previous year. Aircraft accounted for nearly 80% of the sales, with 23 L-59 jets sold to Egypt and 28 L-39ZA planes to Thailand. Both are variants of "Albatros" trainer/ground attack jet. Dlouhy said the Czech Republic imported $43.6 million worth of arms in 1994, virtually the same amount as the previous year. Aviation-related items accounted for the bulk of the imports. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. COUPON PRIVATIZATION IN SLOVAKIA TO CONTINUE IN JULY? Slovak economic ministers and representatives of the National Property Fund and the Supreme Supervisory Office met in Trencianske Teplice on 4 February to discuss how to speed up the privatization process. The delegates decided that Slovakia's second wave of coupon privatization will probably start on 1 July, Pravda reports on 6 February. The second wave, planned by the previous government, was scheduled to begin on 15 December. Despite the tremendous popularity of the program (more than 90% of those eligible registered), it was delayed by the current government, which claimed the program was ill-prepared. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SERBIAN HELICOPTERS FLY OVER BOSNIA. The BBC on 5 February and Nasa Borba the following day report yet another story suggesting that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's break with the Bosnian Serbs is not as complete as he would have people believe. The accounts quote Dutch UNPROFOR sources as saying that as many as 20 helicopters flew from Serbia to Bosnian Serb lines around the besieged Muslim enclave and "safe area" of Srebrenica on 3 February. Elsewhere, the BBC reported on 6 February that the Bosnian Serbs agreed to a limited reopening of the Sarajevo airport route. The new rules for use of the road benefit the Serbs and exclude the commercial traffic that the Bosnian government had wanted. Relief agencies will benefit most from the new system. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. CROATS AND MUSLIMS AGREE TO BINDING ARBITRATION OF DISPUTES. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Nasa Borba on 6 February report that U.S. mediators have succeeded in convincing top-level Croatian, Bosnian Croat, and Muslim delegations to accept binding arbitration of disputes. The two sides will have two months to list the problems that have hamstrung setting up the Croat-Muslim federation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The nine-point plan for arbitration was adopted in conjunction with a major international gathering of security experts in Munich and a meeting of the Contact Group. The Croats and Muslims agreed to a federation in Washington almost a year ago, but it has proven difficult to put this arrangement into practice. EU-appointed chief administrator of Mostar Hans Koschnik sounded the alarm last month by making it clear that the Herzegovinian Croats, in particular, will have to become more cooperative or he will be forced to give up his mandate. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. BOSNIA AND RUSSIA AGREE TO CLOSER TIES. Nasa Borba reports on 6 February that Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic and Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev held a joint press conference the previous day in Moscow. The two countries agreed to exchange diplomatic representatives and to take further steps toward establishing full relations. Kozyrev said that Russia, which is a member of the Contact Group, supports the territorial integrity of all former Yugoslav republics and urges the Bosnian Serbs to accept the Contact Group's peace plan. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. CONTINUED LOGJAM IN CROATIAN-SERBIAN RELATIONS? Croatian and Serbian dailies on 4 February discussed extensively relations between the two peoples. Attention centered on the international Z-4 group's plan for the Serb-occupied territories of Croatia. The project would make the Knin and Glina areas part of Croatia in name but largely self-governing in practice. Western Slavonia would revert to Croatian government control, but occupied Srem would be placed under temporary international administration. The plan sounds too much like the partition or federalization of Croatia to be acceptable to Zagreb, while for most Serbs it does not go far enough toward ensuring their independence. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. EMBARGO ON RUMP YUGOSLAVIA VIOLATED BY BULGARIAN "PHANTOM" COMPANIES. The UN embargo on rump Yugoslavia is being violated by Bulgarian companies with falsified registration documents, Demokratsiya reported on 4 February. The "phantom" companies are engaged mainly in large-scale fuel smuggling. The Bulgarian authorities began investigating the matter last year, but so far no company has been taken to court, owing to a lack of evidence. Deputy Director of the National Investigation Service Vladimir Stoykov said in an interview with Demokratsiya on 6 February that 37 cases involving 12 companies are being examined. Meanwhile, 168 chasa reported on 6 February that two Bulgarians who were arrested for trying to smuggle 5,000 tons of gasoline into Serbia are now living in Belgrade. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. SERBIAN GOVERNMENT CONTINUES TO HARASS NASA BORBA. The independent daily Nasa Borba on 6 February reports that its employees are in effect being "thrown out of their offices." The staff has been deprived of such vital materials as fax services, telephone connections, and direct links to AFP and Reuters. Nasa Borba reincorporated itself in January after the government appropriated the name and masthead of Borba. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARIAN-ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTERS DISCUSS JOINT MILITARY EXERCISES. Hungarian Defense Minister Gyorgy Keleti and his Romanian counterpart, Gheorghe Tinca, met on 4-5 February in Debrecen to discuss, among other things, plans for joint military exercises drawn up in 1994. The meeting was described as "unofficial." The two ministers decided to continue talks in Bucharest within two weeks at "expert level" to clarify "technical aspects" of their armed forces' presence on each other's territory. It was also agreed to host an international seminar on the implementation of the "Open Skies" agreement within the framework of the Partnership for Peace program. Tinca told Radio Bucharest he was pleased to see that the Hungarians were as willing to collaborate and establish "good relations between the two armies and countries" as were the Romanians. Keleti said the signing of a basic bilateral treaty was closer now than ever and that the two countries' exemplary military relations helped prepare the ground for it, MTI reports. -- Michael Shafir and Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc. DNIESTER REPUBLIC REJECTS MOLDOVAN-RUSSIAN AGREEMENT. Radio Bucharest, quoting Radio Moldova, reported on 4 February that the authorities of the self-styled Dniester Republic have prohibited the withdrawal of the Russian 14th Army's assets, claiming they are the Dniester Republic's property. Both Radio Moldova and ITAR-TASS reported that Tiraspol is trying to prevent the implementation of the protocols signed in Chisinau on 2 February detailing the withdrawal of the 14th Army (see OMRI Daily Digest, 3 February 1995). Those protocols complete the framework of the bilateral agreement concluded on 21 October 1994. ITAR-TASS quoted Vladimir Kitayev, head of the Russian delegation to the talks, as saying in Chisinau on 3 February that the 14th Army would take some assets when it withdraws, while the remaining weapons and ammunition would be sold or destroyed on the spot. Dniester leader Igor Smirnov issued an order the same day "categorically prohibiting the removal from the republic's territory of any assets belonging to the 14th Army." Those assets were declared "property of the Dniester Republic." -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER CHARGED WITH ARMS SMUGGLING. Deputies from the opposition party Aleanca Demokratike have charged Zafet Zhulali with involvement in arms smuggling to the former Yugoslavia, Koha Jone reported on 4 February. Deputy Perikli Teta and Aleanca Demokratike secretary-general Arben Imami have claimed that in at least one case, weapons were sent to Montenegro, suggesting they were destined for Bosnian Serbs. In another case, weapons allegedly were brought to Croatia on board the Vela Luka, which was loaded in Durres but arrived empty in Slovenia. Documents submitted to the press by Teta and Imami show that from April 1992 to February 1993, eight cargoes were sent to Slovenia but do not appear in Slovenian customs records. Another document, reportedly signed by Zhulali, authorized the Albanian company Mjekes to export mortars to Croatia. Zhulali, in an interview with Rilindja Demokratike on 4 February, described the charges as irresponsible. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. [As of 12:00 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: firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone: (42 2) 6114 2114 Fax: (42 2) 426 396
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