|He who knows nothing is nearer the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors. - Thomas Jefferson|
No. 39, Part II, 23 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 DATE SET FOR PAWLAK'S REMOVAL. The Sejm leadership has scheduled the constructive no-confidence motion for 1 March, Rzeczpospolita reported on 23 February. The Sejm will vote simultaneously to remove Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak and confirm Jozef Oleksy as his replacement. Only after President Lech Walesa formally appoints Oleksy as prime minister can the proposed cabinet be submitted to parliament. No final cabinet lineup has been settled. Oleksy meets with Walesa for a fifth time on 27 February to discuss candidates for the disputed defense and foreign affairs portfolios. In public statements Oleksy has insisted that the coalition will propose its own candidates for confirmation regardless of presidential opposition. Rzeczpospolita reported, however, that Oleksy has privately told party colleagues that he will give up the mission if agreement is not reached on the two posts. Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Grzegorz Kolodko has set conditions for remaining in office, including clear authority over decision-making and a coalition commitment to carry out long-delayed pension reform. Gazeta Wyborcza reported that Kolodko also wants to build a strong new economic policy team (to include Marek Borowski, Dariusz Rosati, and current Minister of Industry Marek Pol). Oleksy's determination to exclude ministers facing misconduct charges is meeting opposition from the Polish Peasant Party (PSL). Pawlak is particularly insistent that Foreign Trade Minister Leslaw Podkanski remain in office, and PSL officials have begun reciting arguments about the "presumption of innocence." -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINE ESTABLISHES NEW SECURITY AGENCY TO FIGHT ORGANIZED CRIME. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has ordered the establishment of a new government agency to combat growing organized crime in the country, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 22 February. Kuchma announced the measure after he reprimanded three top law enforcement officials, Prosecutor- General Vyacheslav Datsyuk, Interior Minister Volodymyr Radchenko, and Security Service Chief Valery Malikov, for unsatisfactory and inefficient performance in fighting extortion and racketeering. The new agency would serve to supplement the existing law enforcement agencies, but would focus mainly on "mafia activities." Select employees of the Ukrainian Security Service, the successor to the former KGB, are expected to undergo an additional year of special training to make up new specialized units within the new agency. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. LEFTIST FORCES DEMAND MORE AIR TIME ON UKRAINIAN TELEVISION. Over 500 members of communist and socialist parties and organizations picketed in front of Ukrainian Television and Radio's broadcasting facilities in Kiev on 22 February demanding more air time, Reuters and Ukrainian Television reported the same day. Organizers of the protest met with the management of the state-run television company to air their grievances, which focused on what they called an anti-communist bias in the station's programming. Management said it has carefully abided by Ukraine's law on the mass media, adopted by parliament, and has not favored any political group in its programming. The leftist leaders addressed the crowd of mostly older people by calling for new elections and a return of communists and socialists to power in Ukraine. In order to accomplish this, leftists need greater access to the media, organizers said. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARIAN DEBATE ON TREATIES. The basic treaties currently under negotiation with Romania and Slovakia were the focus of discussion on 22 February in a parliamentary debate on foreign policy, MTI and Radio Budapest report. Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs and Prime Minister Gyula Horn stressed that the treaties would improve the situation of the Hungarian minorities and promote Hungary's integration into Western institutions. Alliance of Free Democrats foreign policy spokesman Matyas Eorsi also spoke out in favor of signing the treaties, stressing that they should be signed even if they do not contain guarantees for the minorities' cultural autonomy. Eorsi recently warned that Hungary should only sign treaties which contain adequate guarantees for minority rights. The opposition parties said the government would betray the Hungarian minorities if it made further concessions on minority rights. Describing the plight of Hungarian minorities as "dramatic," Hungarian Democratic Forum chairman Lajos Fur warned that by giving up guarantees on minority rights the government would "help sacrifice over three million Hungarians." (See related Romanian story in Southeastern Europe section). -- Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc. HAVEL: GERMANS SHOULD BE AT WWII CEREMONIES. The Czech government, during its session on 22 February, approved plans for official commemorations of the end of World War II, but disagreements emerged among government members and other politicians over whether German officials should be invited to participate. Both President Vaclav Havel and Parliament Chairman Milan Uhde said they were in favor of inviting Germans. Havel said on Czech television that "if a decision is made to invite representatives of major war powers, then the contemporary democratic Germany should also be represented." Transportation Minister Jan Strasky and representatives of the Czech Union of Freedom Fighters (war veterans) said they were opposed to German participation. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus urged that the issue not be made into "a domestic political problem." -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK INFORMATION SERVICE DIRECTOR RESIGNS. The head of the Office of the President, Jan Findra, said at a press conference on 22 February that SIS Director Vladimir Mitro handed in his resignation to President Michal Kovac, Sme reports. The directors of intelligence and counterintelligence, Igor Cibula and Stefan Straka, respectively, also resigned from their posts but will work until 1 March if no replacements are found. In an interview with CTK, Cibula said he and Straka handed in their resignations to Mitro on 13 February, and on the same day Mitro handed in his resignation to Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar. Cibula resigned because he does not have Meciar's trust, which he considers "the basic condition for the performance of the . . . director of intelligence." He said the SIS leadership resigned mainly to avoid confrontation with the government. According to Sme of 22 February, one of the candidates for SIS Director is Movement for a Democratic Slovakia parliament deputy Ivan Lexa, whom Kovac rejected for that post as well as that of privatization minister in 1993. According to the constitution, the president is responsible for removing and appointing the SIS director. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK PETITIONERS COLLECT 100,000 SIGNATURES. According to Sme of 23 February, organizers of a petition "against the violation of freedom of speech in Slovakia" have collected 100,512 signatures. The petitioners are most concerned with the cancellation of three political satires which were among the most popular programs on Slovak TV: "An evening of Milan Markovic," "Apropo TV" and "Halusky." On 22 February they sent a letter to parliament chairman Ivan Gasparovic and STV Director Jozef Darmo asking for a meeting. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. ESTONIA TO BECOME EU ASSOCIATE MEMBER WITHOUT TRANSITION PERIOD. Estonian Foreign Ministry Deputy Chancellor Priit Kolbre, the leader of his country's 17-member delegation for talks with the European Union in Brussels, said that Estonia would sign its association agreement with the EU without a transition period, BNS reported on 22 February. Estonia was also the only East European country to sign a free-trade agreement with the EU without a transition period. Estonian ambassador to Brussels Clyde Kull noted that by accepting such terms the EU recognized that Estonia's transition to a market economy is working. The associate membership agreement is expected to be initialed in March, signed by the end of June at the latest, and would go into effect after ratification by the Estonian and European parliaments. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IN ESTONIAN PRE-ELECTION POLL. Eesti Sonumid published on 20 February the results of a telephone poll on the 5 March Estonian parliament elections, BNS reported. The poll was conducted on 14-15 February by the EMOR agency. The leading party, with 17% of the votes, was the Reform Party led by Bank of Estonia President Siim Kallas. The Center Party was second with 9%, followed by the Coalition Party and Rural Union (CPRU) electoral alliance with 8%, the Pro Patria and National Independence Party union with 6%, and Moderates and Rightists with 3%. An EMOR poll in late January had placed the Reform Party in fourth position with 9.4% behind the CPRU (28%), Moderates (13.6%), and the Center Party (11.6%). (OMRI Daily Digest, 7 February 1995). -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE WHAT IS HAPPENING OVER TUZLA? The BBC on 23 February reports on the fast-developing story surrounding the mysterious flights of C-130 transport planes over Tuzla on 14 February. The Washington Post broke the story two days earlier, and more discussion appeared in Nasa Borba on 22 February and Globus the following day. According to the BBC, it no longer appears that NATO denied UN reports that the flights had taken place in order to cover up its own incompetence. Instead, it seems that the U.S. may be trying to mask its own operations to supply the Bosnian army or to protect other countries engaged in such an effort. The BBC concluded that what had taken place over Tuzla was a low-altitude supply drop of a kind that only the U.S., British, or French air forces have the technology to make. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. TENSIONS BUILDING BETWEEN SERBS AND CROATS. Nasa Borba on 23 February carried several stories reflecting the general anticipation that a new Serb-Croat conflict could break out once UNPROFOR leaves by 30 June. Croatian Prime Minister Nikica Valentic said that peace is possible by the end of the year provided UNPROFOR gets out. This reflects President Franjo Tudjman's belief that ending the peacekeepers' mandate will provide the necessary impetus for a negotiated settlement, but the remarks could also be taken another way. The paper goes on to cover a visit by Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic to the embattled Posavina corridor connecting Serbia with Serb-held territories in Bosnia and Croatia. His parliamentary speaker, Momcilo Krajisnik, told crowds that "without Posavina there is no [Bosnian] Serb Republic, and without that it is not possible for all Serbs to live in one state." Meanwhile, prominent Krajina politician Milan Babic said that the recent decision of Krajina and Bosnian Serbs to set up a Supreme Defense Council is a step toward a greater Serbian federation. Nasa Borba, for its part, suggests that the purpose of the agreement may have more to do with putting political pressure on Croatia than with real military aims. That paper pointed out the previous day, moreover, that Bosnian Serb "foreign minister" Aleksa Buha was in Belgrade on a visit to meet top Serbian officials, probably including President Slobodan Milosevic. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. UN AID CONVOY REACHES CAZIN. International media reported on 23 February that a 10-truck relief convoy finally entered Bosnian government-held territory in the Bihac pocket the previous day after being held up by Serbs and their allies. AFP notes that fighting continued in the Velika Kladusa and Bosanska Krupa areas, with tensions rising around Srebrenica as both sides dig more trenches. Not all is gloomy, however. Vjesnik reports on the meeting between Croatia's Cardinal Franjo Kuharic and the Serbian Orthodox Metropolitan Jovan Pavlovic, who is responsible for "Zagreb, Ljubljana, and all of Italy." Nasa Borba notes that Roman Catholic Bishop Ratko Peric has gone to Trebinje in Serb-held eastern Herzegovina to bring some relief supplies and to hold talks with Serbian Orthodox leaders. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. WITHER AVRAMOVIC? Nasa Borba on 23 February carries a story which reports on speculation entertained in some political circles that National Bank Governor Dragoslav Avramovic has been "removed from public life" for about the past two months, and not only because of personal, especially health, reasons, but because there may be serious disagreements within official circles over the further implementation of Avramovic's economic reform programs. Avramovic has been widely credited within the rump Yugoslavia for effecting an economic miracle, when in January 1994 he stemmed hyperinflation raging at a monthly rate of 315 million%, bringing it down to low single digits by pegging the value of the dinar to the German mark and the country's hard currency reserves. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. BLEAK SOCIAL PICTURE FOR CROATIA. Nasa Borba on 21 February reported on recent studies and polls regarding the state of Croatian society. The prognosis is poor, with every fifth person living below the poverty level. Some 30% of the population eat meat only once a week, and half of the people have only one meal per day. Another 45% view their future as uncertain, and over 100,000 people have emigrated in the past four years. Deteriorating social conditions have apparently given the lie to President Franjo Tudjman's 1992 campaign slogan: "From victory to prosperity," although the war and the accompanying dislocation and devastation have been as much to blame as any policy that the government has or has not followed. One last statistic: with 25 suicides per 100,000 people, Croatia has the fifth-highest suicide rate in Europe. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIA REPORTS PROGRESS IN NEGOTIATIONS WITH HUNGARY . . . A spokesman for the Romanian Foreign Affairs Ministry said on 22 February that experts from the ministry and from the Hungarian Foreign Affairs Ministry had finalized the aide-memoire which is to accompany the basic treaty between the two countries, Radio Bucharest reported. Mircea Geoana said the aide-memoire will be signed by the two sides at the end of the month or in early March. Romania had hitherto said there was no need for any other document to accompany the basic treaty. The new round of negotiations began in Bucharest on 21 February. On the treaty itself, Geoana said some progress has been made but it was too early to "make a global judgment." (See related Hungarian story in East-Central Europe section) -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. . . . AND ON NATO PROPOSAL TO RUSSIA. Geoana told Reuters on 22 February that NATO plans to offer Russia a broad new security relationship, which would allow NATO to expand eastwards. He said he learned about the plan from German Defense Minister Volker Ruehe when he visited Bucharest last month. Geoana did not give details of the proposal, but said Romania supports it because it believes that a partnership relationship between Russia and an enlarged NATO would bring "stability and security." -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. TIRASPOL ANNOUNCES REFERENDUM. The Supreme Soviet of the self-styled Dniester republic has decided to hold a referendum on the withdrawal of the Russian 14th army, Radio Bucharest reported on 22 February. The referendum will be held concomitant with the local elections scheduled for 26 February. In a press release, the Dniesterian Supreme Soviet says the accord initialed between Chisinau and Moscow on the withdrawal of the 14th army had been concluded without the participation of Tiraspol and without taking into consideration its opinion. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN PRESIDENT REJECTS RESTITUTION LAW. Zhelyu Zhelev returned an amendment to the restitution law to parliament on 22 February, Pari reported the following day. The amendment, which was passed on 9 February, provided that tenants can stay another three years in restituted property. Zhelev was cited as saying that the new law is the easiest way of doing something, but that it does not solve the problems. A law defending the rights of the tenants as well as those of the owners is necessary, the president added. Zhelev also rejected the law on formal grounds, as both the first and second reading took place on the same day. Krasimir Premyanov, leader of the Socialist parliamentary faction, said that the BSP was dissatisfied with Zhelev's decision, and that he hoped the law would be passed a second time by 24 February, the day the old reclamation ban expires. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. LEADER OF BULGARIAN BUSINESS BLOC UNDER FIRE. Georges Ganchev's election as deputy might be declared null and void, Demokratsiya and Pari report on 23 February. According to the Bulgarian constitution, only Bulgarian citizens without another citizenship can be elected to parliament or as president. According to Demokratsiya, the US embassy in Sofia confirmed that Ganchev is still a U.S. citizen. Chief State Prosecutor Ivan Tatarchev declared that in this case he will ask the Constitutional Court to annul Ganchev's election. Ganchev had declared that he gave up his U.S. citizenship in order to run for president in the 1991/1992 elections. The U.S. embassy said it never received the respective documents. Ganchev did not comment on the reports, telling journalists "do not bother me with nonsense." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. CONFLICT BETWEEN ALBANIAN PRESIDENT AND PARTY LEADER. Democratic Party leader Eduard Selami said that he is under pressure to resign from within his own party, Koha Jone reported on 22 February. Selami had offered his resignation in late January after criticizing the government for failing to realize certain points in the party program. Selami then demanded that the party leader should also be prime minister, arguing that this would help promote the party's interests and adding that there is a gap between the government and the party. In early February, however, the party leadership, including Albanian President Sali Berisha, rejected Selami's resignation, but meanwhile Selami said that Berisha called for his resignation after a meeting of the party's national council on 21 February. The president's spokesman said that Selami's demands for a change of government were unacceptable, Rilindja Demokratike reported on 22 February. An extraordinary party congress on 5 March will decide on Selami's future. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Pete Baumgartner 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. 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