|The absence of alternatives clears the mind marvelously. - Henry Kissinger|
No. 40, Part II, 24 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 POLISH CABINET LINEUP SETTLED. Sejm speaker and prime minister candidate Jozef Oleksy announced on 23 February that the new cabinet lineup is complete and prepared for submission to the Sejm. The current education minister, Aleksander Luczak, of the Polish Peasant Party (PSL) will serve as the sole deputy prime minister, but without portfolio. Grzegorz Kolodko of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) will lose his post as deputy prime minister but will stay on in the cabinet as finance minister and head of the government's economic committee. According to Gazeta Wyborcza, Kolodko will also be appointed to oversee the consolidation of the government ministries. No other names are to be disclosed until after Oleksy meets with President Lech Walesa on 27 February. But both major dailies quoted leaked lists indicating that Oleksy has opted to exclude from the new cabinet the three most controversial PSL ministers: Agriculture Minister Andrzej Smietanko, Foreign Trade Minister Leslaw Podkanski, and Michal Strak, chief of the public administration. The PSL proposed multiple candidates for each of "its" ministries, apparently to burden Oleksy rather than the party leadership with excluding the compromised ministers. SLD officials indicated that Oleksy's candidates for defense and foreign affairs are not those backed by Walesa. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT APPOINTS MINISTERS, NATIONAL BANK HEAD. On 23 February President Arpad Goncz appointed Lajos Bokros Finance Minister, Tamas Suchman Minister without portfolio in charge of privatization, and Gyorgy Suranyi head of the Hungarian National Bank, MTI reported. All three named financial stabilization, cuts in expenditure, market liberalization, the acceleration of privatization and fight against the black market economy as their priorities during parliamentary hearings on 22 February. The appointments were greeted both inside and outside Hungary as a major step towards restoring international confidence in the commitment to reform and foreign investment of the government of Gyula Horn. -- Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc. KUCHMA AIDE WARNS OF DANGER OF POWER VACUUM IN CRIMEA. Volodymyr Hrynyov, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma's top advisor on regional matters, has warned that the current political deadlock within the Crimean Parliament, as well as between the Crimean legislature and the president, could lead to a dangerous power vacuum that could allow organized crime groups to yield more influence on the peninsula, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 23 February. During his visit to Simferopol, Hrynyov told Interfax that he feared that the power struggle between Crimean President Yury Meshkov and parliament could lead to either Meshkov's resignation or the legislature's dissolution, leaving Crimea vulnerable to increasingly powerful and dangerous organized crime activity. The aide said that closer political and economic cooperation between Crimea and Ukraine could help improve the region's ailing economy. With that in mind, the Ukrainian government has signed a forward contract with the Crimean government for the purchase of this year's grain harvest with a 50% advance payment to help finance the spring sowing. Recently, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma issued a decree granting Crimea budgetary autonomy, and allowing the Crimean government to keep all the tax revenues collected for use in the region. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. "WHAT THE PRESIDENT MEANT TO SAY." A Belarus government spokesman in Minsk said on 23 February that Belarus had no intention of abandoning the CFE agreement on conventional arms reductions in Europe and that President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's 17 February announcement of a halt in the destruction of weapons required by the treaty was prompted by a lack of money and not by concern over NATO's expansion. The spokesman explained that because of the large amounts of ex-Soviet equipment in Belarus it had to spend more than the U.S., Britain, and France combined to meet the treaty limits. While it had received a large amount of money for this purpose last year from the U.S., the spokesman said this had not been enough. However Lukashenka denied this interpretation the same day. Interfax quoted him as making it clear his decision was motivated by a "visible imbalance of forces in the world" rather than a lack of funds. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. LUKASHENKA ON BELARUSIAN PRESIDENTIAL LAW. The Belarusian parliament continues to disagree with President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's amendments to the Law on the Cabinet of Ministers and President, Interfax and Belarusian Radio reported on 22 February. Lukashenka is seeking to amend the article in the law which allows a popular referendum to dismiss the president. He says that the constitution already allows for the dismissal of the president under a variety of circumstances and therefore a referendum is unnecessary and unconstitutional. Lukashenka also seeks to change the article which states that in the event of the president's disability, power would be transferred to the chairman of the Supreme Soviet and only revested with the president once parliament has received a report on his recovery. According to Lukashenka, there is nothing in the constitution addressing the temporary disability of the head of state. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. UNEMPLOYMENT GROWS IN SLOVAKIA. Slovakia's unemployment rate grew by 0.6% in January to reach 15.2%, Narodna obroda reported on 23 February. A total of 387,086 people were registered as unemployed at the end of the month. In 11 districts the unemployment rate was above 20%, in 14 it was higher than 15%, and only 3 districts had a rate lower than 10%. The highest rate (28.9%) was in the district of Rimavska Sobota, while the lowest (5.1%) was in Bratislava. Of total unemployed, 48.9% were women. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. CZECH-SLOVAK CLEARING AGREEMENT TO BE CANCELED BY END OF YEAR. In a visit to Slovakia on 23 February, Czech Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Ivan Kocarnik said the clearing agreement between the Czech Republic and Slovakia will be stopped by the end of 1995 and the two countries will trade in convertible currency, Sme reports. Kocarnik nonetheless confirmed his interest in the continuation of the customs union. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. LAST SESSION OF CURRENT ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT. The parliament, elected in September 1992, held its last session on 23 February, Interfax and BNS reported. Holding further sessions would have been a great hindrance for many deputies who are seeking reelection on 5 March. Prime Minister Andres Tarand noted that the parliament had been very productive, adopting 426 laws and 100 decisions, declarations, and appeals in two and a half years. He said that a recent poll had indicated a positive attitude among Estonians toward the government and parliament and more confidence in the future. By a 52-1 vote (with two abstentions) the parliament approved a law on foreign loans and their state guarantees. The law states that foreign loans in one year can not exceed 15% of the year's budget and the sum total of foreign loans must not exceed 75% of budget revenues for the fiscal year. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LITHUANIAN PREMIER PRESS CONFERENCE. Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius devoted his attention on 23 February to two main issues: his trip the next day to Moscow and "deprivatization," an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Agreements on mutual travel, border crossings, and customs cooperation will be signed during his meeting with Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. The talks will also deal with border delimitation, return of Lithuanian embassy buildings in Paris and Rome, long term agreements on purchasing oil and gas from Russia, and other issues. Slezevicius also noted that he was opposed to the Seimas' decision to include the Ignalina atomic power plant and Kedainiai chemical plant in the list of enterprises not to be privatized until the year 2000. Similarly, he opposes the no-confidence motion against Industry and Trade Minister Kazimieras Klimasauskas that the Seimas commission for investigating economic crimes is intending to initiate for not taking a stand in the Kedainiai plant's earlier privatization. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE MACEDONIAN STUDENTS PROTEST AGAINST ALBANIAN UNIVERSITY. Around 2,000 Macedonian students demonstrated in front of the parliament building in Skopje on 23 February against higher education being taught in the Albanian language, AFP reported the same day. The students argued that teaching in Albanian serves as a pretext for the breakup of Macedonia. Following the police crackdown on a self-proclaimed Albanian-language university on 17 February, police arrested more Albanian activists on 22 February. The former leader of the Party of Democratic Prosperity (PPD) and a founder and current leader of the Party for the Peoples Union, Nevzat Halili, and a professor at the Albanian-language university, Musli Halimi, were arrested, the Macedonian-Albanian newspaper Flaka reported on 23 February. Meanwhile, the current leader of the PPD, Abdurrahman Aliti, met with British ambassador to Macedonia Tony Milson, Flaka reported on 24 February. Milson stressed that a policy of dialogue will bring results and praised the contribution of the PPD in averting the conflict. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. WASHINGTON ANNOUNCES THE "FRIENDS OF THE FEDERATION." U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke said that a new international group has been set up to support the joint Croat-Muslim federation in Bosnia- Herzegovina, Nasa Borba reported on 24 February. The "Friends of the Federation" will have their work cut out for them, and Novi list cites Bishop Pero Sudar as saying that Croats are being driven from their apartments in Sarajevo by Muslims and not given new housing. The Muslims are also having problems with the UN, which has now accused their military of conducting "an orchestrated campaign of harassment" against UNPROFOR, although government forces have not been as obstructive as the Serbs. News agencies also report that government and Serb officials met at Sarajevo airport on 23 February for a second day of apparently inconclusive meetings about humanitarian and other practical questions, as well as about the fighting in the Bihac pocket. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. CROATIAN CATHOLIC CHURCH SLAMS GOVERNMENT ATTEMPTS TO CO-OPT IT. Novi list on 24 February reprints a commentary from the latest issue of the Roman Catholic Church's weekly Glas Koncila. The editorial takes to task unnamed officials of the government or the ruling Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) for trying to use Catholicism as part of a "state ideology." The author notes that Christianity cannot be a political ideology and that democratic countries do not need official ideologies. The commentary particularly takes issue with those who have said that the church should not preach "love thine enemy" under the present circumstances in Croatia. On the contrary, while Croatian Catholics should defend their country out of patriotism, the article continues, they must never hate their enemies but rather love them as brothers. The commentary reflects views typical of Pope John Paul II and especially of Croatia's Cardinal Franjo Kuharic, who has kept a healthy distance from the government and openly criticized its war against the Muslims in 1993. The HDZ's attempts to use Catholicism for its own ends have struck many observers as bizarre, since President Franjo Tudjman is not know to be a particularly religious man and since his party contains agnostics, atheists, Jews, Muslims and others who reject the idea of making the HDZ a Christian democratic party. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. HELP FOR NASA BORBA. Nasa Borba reported on 23 February that on the previous day the Executive Commission of the European Union allocated some $120,000 in assistance to Nasa Borba, an independent daily, so that it may acquire much-needed newsprint. The aid is slated to be directed through the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), headquartered in Brussels. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN-HUNGARIAN BASIC TREATY NEGOTIATIONS. Radio Bucharest reported on a Romanian Foreign Ministry press release on 23 February that said "significant progress" had been made at the latest round of high-level negotiations in Bucharest on the basic treaty with Hungary. The ministry said the two sides had also come closer to an agreement on the article concerning the rights of national minorities. This article had been one of the main stumbling blocks in the negotiations. The Romanian side has submitted new proposals which will be discussed at the next high-level meeting, most likely next week in Budapest, according to the press release. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. VAN DER STOEL IN BUCHAREST. The OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Max van der Stoel, met on 23 February with Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu, Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu, the chairmen of the two houses of Romania's parliament, Adrian Nastase and Oliviu Gherman, as well as Viorel Hrebenciuc, the secretary of the government in charge of the Council on National Minorities. Radio Bucharest and Romanian Television reported that Melescanu told his guest about the progress in the negotiations with Hungary on the basic treaty. Max van der Stoel said he was under the impression that the efforts "necessary for a Romanian-Hungarian dialogue are being intensified" and expressed his hope that these will also bear fruit. After the Vacaroiu-van der Stoel meeting, the government spokesman said they had discussed, among other things, the pending education law's provisions on teaching in the languages of national minorities. The Hungarian minority says the law (which has been passed by the Chamber of Deputies and is to be discussed in the Senate) is discriminating. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. MARTINEZ IN CHISINAU. The president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Miguel Angel Martinez, arrived in Chisinau on 22 February for a one-day visit, Western and Romanian media reported. In an address to the Moldovan parliament, Martinez said Moldova's candidacy for the Council of Europe will be examined "in the first quarter of this year," Reuters reported. Martinez also said the constitution adopted by Moldova in July 1994 laid a solid framework for a democratic state, giving priority to human rights. He said Moldova's approach to national minorities could serve as a model for other former Soviet republics and for the former Yugoslavia. Martinez also met Moldovan President Mircea Snegur, Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli, the chairman of the parliament, Petru Lucinschi, and Foreign Minister Mihai Popov. Martinez met also with the chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the self-styled Transdniester republic, Grigore Marcuta. Reuters quoted Martinez as telling the Moldovan parliament that Russia could join the Council of Europe only if it proved it dealt with human rights in a "civilized way." he said the crisis in Chechnya has "had a negative impact on the timetable of Russia's accession" to the Council. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. UDOVENKO VISITS MOLDOVA. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko began a two-day visit to Moldova on 23 February. Quoting Moldpres, Radio Bucharest said on 23 February that Udovenko told his Moldovan hosts that Ukraine will not obstruct the transit of the 14th army troops and munition through its territory. However, he added that the transit is linked to "complicated matters," such as ecological problems, but also security problems posed by the arsenal and munition of the Russian army. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. HOLBROOKE VISITS SLOVAKIA, ROMANIA. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke visited Slovakia and Romania February 23 to discuss NATO enlargement issues, Reuters reports. After meeting Slovak president Michal Kovac in Bratislava, Holbrooke told reporters "I must stress that the United States considers central Europe of great importance for stability throughout Europe." In Bucharest, he praised Romania's role as a an "active participant" in NATO's Partnership for Peace program. He also discussed the U.S. plan to have NATO offer Russia "a security framework that we see parallel with NATO expansion." He stressed that this plan "would not give Russia veto power over NATO." Holbrooke further said that NATO would be sending a team to Eastern Europe to discuss expansion. Radio Bucharest reported that Holbrooke was "delighted" with the U.S. strategic relationship with Romania, thought political relations were "quite good," but was disappointed with the state of economic relations where American investments were lagging behind those in Hungary and the Czech Republic. He blamed the slow privatization process for this state of affairs. -- Michael Mihalka and Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES RESTITUTION LAW. The National Assembly on 23 February passed an amendment to the restitution law, which provides that tenants can stay another three years in restituted property, Demokratsiya reported the following day. Some 130 of the 240 deputies voted for the bill. The amendment had already been passed on 9 February, but President Zhelyu Zhelev had rejected it on 22 February (see 23 February OMRI Daily Digest). Demokratsiya wrote that the Socialist Party "blocks restitution for three more years," while Trud assesses that "the new prolongation of the restitution law does not solve the problem." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. GREEK POLICE DETAIN ALBANIAN IMMIGRANTS. Greek border guards detained and expelled 2,929 illegal Albanian immigrants between 17 and 21 February, Western agencies reported on 22 February. That is an average of some 600 Albanians expelled every day. According to Greek officials the expulsions are a reaction to an increased influx of illegal Albanians via the snowbound mountainous area since milder weather allowed people to cross the unmarked border. According to Greek estimates about 300,000 Albanians work illegally in Greece. Greek Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias is expected to discuss a possible regulation of seasonal work for Albanians in Greece with his Albanian counterpart, Alfred Serreqi, during his visit to Albania in March. -- 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. 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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