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No. 31, Part II, 13 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. EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE WALESA WANTS DIFFERENT COALITION. The Polish Peasant Party (PSL) voted on 10 February to approve the ruling coalition's decision to replace Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak with Jozef Oleksy of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD). But while the PSL endorsed its chairman's recommendations, it selected a negotiating team that excluded Pawlak's closest advisers (a sign of rising dissent within the party). The SLD predicted optimistically that the new government would be ready by the end of this week, Rzeczpospolita reports. But President Lech Walesa let it be known that he will attempt to engineer the formation of an entirely new ruling coalition, which would exclude the PSL. Presidential legal adviser Lech Falandysz told journalists on 9 February that "the enlightened postcommunist element and the best people from the [Solidarity] opposition must join together in a single government"-- meaning a coalition between the SLD and the opposition Freedom Union (UW). In comments meant to inspire a renewed sense of vulnerability among coalition politicians, Falandysz also claimed that the constitution gives the president the right to block the appointment of any government approved in a parliamentary "constructive no-confidence vote." As in the case of earlier threats to dissolve the parliament, this argument distorts the sense of the Constitution (which says simply that "the president appoints" a government formed in this fashion). But it suggests that Walesa is determined to obstruct the coalition's attempts to build a new cabinet. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. NEW ELECTIONS ON THE HORIZON? New parliamentary elections appear likely should the two ruling parties fail to agree quickly on the composition of a new cabinet. SLD leaders indicated privately that new elections would be inevitable if Jozef Oleksy fails in his mission, Gazeta Wyborcza reports. Meeting on 12 February, the opposition UW adopted a strategy of maintaining "equal distance" from both the ruling coalition and President Lech Walesa. UW floor leader Bronislaw Geremek compared the coalition upheaval to "stirring the tea without adding sugar." The party leadership instructed UW deputies to be prepared either to propose the creation of a non-party government to serve until new elections, or to lodge a no-confidence motion to clear the way for the dissolution of the parliament. Walesa indicated on 12 February that, in the event of new parliamentary elections this year, he would attempt to postpone the presidential elections due this November. UW leaders revealed that Walesa last month said he would try to strike a bargain with any new Sejm to put off presidential elections by a year. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Andrzej Olechowski (who is still waiting for the president to accept his resignation) announced that he is withdrawing from political life and will not serve in a new government. He added that he will not run for president if Walesa is a candidate. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINE DELAYS INAUGURATION OF NUCLEAR REACTOR. The recently-completed sixth reactor at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, considered the largest in Europe, will not be brought on line until the second quarter of the year instead of the first quarter as planned because of a breakdown in state financing, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 12 February. Mikhail Umanets, head of Ukraine's civilian nuclear energy agency, told Interfax the government had failed to provide the more than one billion karbovantsi they promised last year in time to bring the sixth block on line for testing this quarter as scheduled. The delay means that the unit will not be fully operational until December. The other five reactors at the plant, built in the 1980s, generate about 6% of the energy produced in the country. The sixth block was one of three reactors in Ukraine that were only partially constructed at the time of the USSR's breakup and was only recently completed in Ukraine's campaign to further develop the nuclear industry in light of its heavy energy dependence on Russia and other CIS states. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. DEVELOPMENTS IN UKRAINE'S MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX. The sole working prototype of the Antonov AN-70, which Ukraine was developing jointly with Russia and Uzbekistan, crashed in a mid-air collision on 10 February, killing all seven crew members, international agencies reported. The monitoring aircraft with which it collided, an AN-72, landed safely. In other news, Interfax reported on 12 February that the Ukrainian State Committee for Nuclear Energy plans to invite US, French, German and Russian firms to take part in a tender to design a factory producing nuclear fuel for its reactors. Ukraine currently relies entirely on Russia for its supplies. An official from Ukraine's Space Agency has said that Ukraine plans to participate in this year's air show at Le Bourget where it will display a small scale model of an aerospace complex. The project, known as the Svityaz, will cost $500-600 million and will be capable of launching an 8-ton payload to a near earth orbit, and a one-ton payload to a geostationary orbit. On 10 February, Ukrainian radio reported that US President Bill Clinton has refused Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma's request to remove a permanent delegation of Americans monitoring Ukraine's Pavlohradsk mechanical plant, which previously produced ballistic missiles. Kuchma made the request because he said the country could not afford the upkeep of the delegation. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA WARNS ESTONIA OVER SUPPORT FOR CHECHNYA. The Russian Foreign Ministry on 10 February summoned Juri Kahn, Estonia's ambassador to Moscow, to hand him an official protest about the debate in the parliament on a resolution entitled "On the Right of Self-Determination of the Chechen Nation," Western agencies report. The protest called the debate "barefaced interference in domestic affairs of the Russian Federation, fresh evidence of Estonian authorities' support for the Dudaev regime and of their attempts to undermine the foundations of Russian statehood." The ambassador was warned that "if Tallinn continues its anti-Russian activities, it will have a serious impact on Estonian- Russian relations." -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LATVIA WARNS IT WILL EXPEL FORMER RUSSIAN SOLDIERS. Interior Minister Janis Adamsons said on 11 February that Russian military soldiers who retired after 28 January 1992 and remained in Latvia in defiance of the troop withdrawal agreements have to register by 15 February to obtain residency permits or face expulsion, Interfax reports. The soldiers were supposed to have left by 31 August 1994, but primarily due to a housing shortage remained in Latvia. Adamsons noted that only 602 Russian retirees were registered as of 8 February. Latvia claims that there are about 4,000 such retirees while Russia says they number only about 1,000. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. HAVEL WARNS OF "NEW YALTA." A "new Yalta" or division of Europe could happen if the West accepts that certain, particularly Central European, countries belong to Russia's sphere of influence and thus should not be allowed to join NATO, Czech President Vaclav Havel said. In an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel published on 13 February, Havel said the opening up of NATO will serve the interests not just of the reforming states of Central and East Europe who want to join, but also benefit the West. Russia does not have the right to dictate to NATO who it should accept as members and who not, he added. Havel said the admission of new countries to NATO is a logical and natural way to overcome a security vacuum in Central Europe, and for the Czech Republic admission to NATO is a more urgent concern than joining the EU. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. PUBLIC HEARING ON SLOVAK NUCLEAR PLANT. A hearing on Slovakia's nuclear plant at Mochovce was held in Budapest on 10 February. Participants included officials from the Hungarian Environment Ministry, members of the Slovak and Hungarian Green Parties, as well as representatives of the two firms building the plant, Slovenske Elektrarne and Electricite de France. The Greens criticized the project, expressing concern about nuclear waste and safety, TASR reports. A public hearing scheduled in Vienna in January was canceled after the two firms building the plant refused to attend; however, a panel discussion is expected to take place there on 14 February. According to a Financial Times report on 11 February, the Austrian parliament voted unanimously on 9 February to ask the government to consider pulling out of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development if the bank chooses to give Slovakia the loan it needs to finish the project. The EBRD will vote on the decision in April. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE UN CONDEMNS SERB FLIGHTS OVER BOSNIA. The BBC's Serbian and Croatian Services reported on 13 February that the UN ruled that all sides in the Bosnian conflict have broken flight restrictions in that embattled republic but that the Bosnian Serbs have been "especially active." The report noted daily flights from Serb airfields in Banja Luka and in Krajina in the past two weeks. The Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA quotes Radovan Karadzic as saying that if Croatia attacks the Krajina Serbs, his men will defend them, and that this would be the first practical step toward the unification of the two rebel Serb states. The latest UN report and the course of fighting around Bihac, however, help recall that the two groups have long been working hand-in-glove and in cooperation with authorities in Serbia proper. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. BIHAC FIGHTING AT CENTER OF ATTENTION. International media report on 13 February that combat in the Bihac pocket intensified over most of the weekend and that Krajina Serb land reinforcements have arrived. The Bosnian government singled out the situation around Bihac as demanding immediate attention if the ceasefire that is largely holding elsewhere is to be maintained. UN commander Lieutenant-General Rupert Smith met on 12 February with his Bosnian government counterpart General Rasim Delic and now wants to see Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic. The 13 February Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung notes fighting on three fronts: Bihac itself, Velika Kladusa, and Bosanska Krupa. Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic, for his part, already seems to have soured on the ceasefire, saying it should not be extended when it expires on 1 May. He charged that an extension "would serve the purpose of our enemies, and that is to keep the status quo here forever." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. A SHAKY FUTURE FOR BOSNIAN CROATS. Among the worst victims of the Croat- Muslim war of 1993 were the Croats of Bosnia, who, unlike those of Herzegovina, live in widely scattered communities that are frequently far from Croatia or other solid areas of Croatian settlement. Vecernji list of 13 February quotes Bishop Franjo Komarica of Serb-held Banja Luka as saying that his people are frightened and confused, wanting only to get out. He laments, however, that the continued exodus on top of the Serbs' own ethnic cleansing could mean the end for many age-old Croatian communities in Bosnia. Meanwhile in northern Bosnia, on 12 February the cantonal legislature of Posavina met in Orasje amid the presence of many Bosnian and Bosnian Croat dignitaries, including federal President Kresimir Zubak. The session dealt with a number of questions in Croat- Muslim relations and marks a step toward the normal functioning of the joint federation in northern Bosnia. The region has its own distinct profile, and the Croats in nearby Gradacac kept their alliance with the Muslims even in 1993. Many Posavina Croats suspect, moreover, that the Zagreb and Herzegovinian authorities have repeatedly sold out their interests. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman has often tried to mollify the angry people of Posavina, many of whom feel he deliberately abandoned their city of Bosanski Brod in a secret deal with the Serbs. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. FIVE KILLED IN BLAST NEAR BELGRADE. Tanjug reported on 11 February that five persons were killed and one seriously injured in a blast at a factory at Lucani, some 140 kilometers southwest of Belgrade. AFP accounts suggest the victims worked for a firm which produces chemicals for the military. In other news, the international sanctions applied against the rump Yugoslavia continue to receive media attention; on 12 February Reuters reported that Belgrade's UN ambassador, Dragomir Djokic, told a local radio broadcaster in Kragujevac that same day that in his opinion sanctions may be eased, on humanitarian grounds, to allow for the importation of gas from Russia. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN OPPOSITION LEADER WARNS HUNGARIAN PARTY. Emil Constantinescu, the chairman of the Democratic Convention of Romania, the country's main opposition alliance, on 11 February warned the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania that further cooperation depended on the HDFR leadership making a "clear and unequivocal" statement that it was prepared to respect Romania's Constitution and legislation. The HDFR, which is the main political organization of Romania's large Magyar minority and a DCR member, recently stirred controversy by suggesting that it favored a higher degree of autonomy for ethnic minorities. In a separate development, a seven-person delegation from Romania, including HDFR leaders Bela Marko and Laszlo Toekes, arrived in Atlanta, Georgia, to take part in a seminar on ways to defuse interethnic tension, staged by the Princeton-based "Project on Ethnic Relations" and the Carter Foundation. On 10 February, the HDFR threatened to boycott the conference if a deputy for the chauvinistic Party of Romanian National Unity attended. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. MOLDOVA'S FOREIGN MINISTER SETS PRIORITIES. The Foreign Minister of the Republic of Moldova, Mihail Popov, was quoted by Interfax on 11 February as saying that close ties with Russia, Ukraine and Belarus are top priorities for his country's foreign policy. Popov added that this was the core of a foreign policy concept approved by the Moldovan parliament a few days ago; he also suggested that closer cooperation with the three countries was the only way for Moldova to overcome its current economic problems. Among Moldova's other foreign policy priorities, Popov listed Romania and several Western countries, including the US, Germany and France. Popov stressed that neutrality was the main principle of Moldovan foreign policy and expressed the belief that the agreement on the withdrawal of the 14th Russian army from Moldova, which was initialed in October 1994, will be signed and implemented in due time. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN PROPERTY RECLAMATION BAN EXTENDED. The Bulgarian Parliament on 9 February extended a 1992 measure protecting tenants from being thrown out of restituted property for a further three years, Reuters reported the following day. Krasimir Premyanov of the Bulgarian Socialist Party said "the law aims to attain greater social justice," as without it there is "fear that 120,000 people will be left on the streets." The opposition sees it as a step back towards communism, arguing it was unjust. Aleksandar Dzherov of the People's Union said it "means an explicit restriction of the rights" of owners of homes due to be restituted. The ban on the reclamation of property nationalized after 1944 would have expired on 24 February. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. MACEDONIA SAYS GREECE OFFERED SECRET TALKS. The Macedonian government on 10 February said it rejected an offer by Greece to establish secret contacts, AFP reported the same day. Macedonian Interior Minister Ljubomir Frckovski said Greek envoys came to Skopje at the end of January to propose secret contacts, adding that Macedonia has no interest in them for the time being. Macedonia agrees to discuss technical questions such as visa problems or contacts between firms "on a professional level," but the Greek envoys soon raised political subjects such as the controversy over Macedonia's name and flag. Greek government spokesman Evangelos Venizelos on 10 February denied that Greece proposed any such meetings and said that Frckovski's declarations "are purely a product of his imagination." Greece never had any intention and no reason to make any proposals to Macedonia, AFP cited Venizelos as saying. Meanwhile, Greek Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias and his rump-Yugoslav counterpart Vladislav Jovanovic met in Thessaloniki the same day. Nasa Borba reported on 11 February that the Macedonian question was the main subject of their talks, but gave no details. The same day AFP cited Papoulias as saying that Greece supports moves to lift the UN sanctions against rump-Yugoslavia because "we believe that the international community's attitude towards Slobodan Milosevic is unjust, considering the decisive contribution he has made to peace in the region." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE AGAINST PRESIDENT OF ALBANIAN PARLIAMENT. Twenty- seven legislators, mainly from the opposition Socialist Party and Democratic Alliance, initiated a no-confidence vote against President of Parliament Pjeter Arbnori, Aleanca reported on 11 February. Also among the deputies who signed the petition were Abdi Baleta from the ruling Democratic Party and Kosta Makariadhi from the ethnic Greek party Omonia. The legislators claim that Arbnori deliberately broke parliamentary rules and did not make regular reports as he is obliged to do. They also accused him of exceeding his authority and using state funds for personal purposes, including using a helicopter to travel to Saranda to launch his new book. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. [As of 1200 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. 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
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