|When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years. - Mark Twain|
No. 41, Part II, 27 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 KUCHMA ANNULS CRIMEAN PRESIDENTIAL DECREES. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has annulled decrees issued by Crimean President Yurii Meshkov on dissolving the Crimean parliament and local councils and on holding a referendum on a draft Crimean constitution for 9 April, Interfax-Ukraine and AFP reported on 25 February. Kuchma said the decrees contravened the Ukrainian Constitution, which stipulates that only the Ukrainian legislature has the authority to dismiss the Crimean parliament and local councils. Ukrainian law also states that councils, and not executive officials, have the power to schedule local plebiscites. The Crimean president and parliament have been locked in a power struggle since 1994. Crimean legislators stripped Meshkov of most of his powers last September and granted them to a new prime minister. Meanwhile, several explosions have recently been reported in the Crimean capital of Simferopol, believed to have been caused by rival gangs in an effort to intimidate one another. No injuries were reported. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINE SEEKS TO SECURE IMF LOAN. Reuters reported on 24 February that the Ukrainian government is still working out the details of its budget to clinch the $1.3 billion IMF loan. According to Mykola Azarov, the head of the parliament budget commission, Ukraine cannot maintain the 5% budget deficit demanded by the IMF. President Leonid Kuchma has been at odds with the parliament over economic reforms, and the passage of the budget is likely to rest on his ability to persuade deputies to approve it. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. CONFLICTING STATEMENTS ON CFE CUTS IN BELARUS. Following last week's announcement that Belarus has stopped dismantling military equipment to be destroyed under the CFE Treaty, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and the Foreign Ministry have issued somewhat contradictory statements on the reason for the suspension. Lukashenka stressed the disruption of the balance of power in Europe that would be caused by NATO's expansion as the primary motive. But Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Khvastau cited financial problems. The head of the Belarusian Security Council, Viktar Sheiman, stated the country's official position on 26 February. The decision to suspend the disarmament was caused by financial considerations, Sheiman noted. Minsk has been claiming for more than a year that aid donated by the West for disarmament is insufficient. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. LITHUANIAN AND RUSSIAN PRIME MINISTERS MEET. Adolfas Slezevicius, during an official visit to Moscow on 24 February, held talks with Viktor Chernomyrdin. Slezevicius called the discussions "constructive, businesslike, and benevolent" and said they should give new impetus to bilateral relations, Interfax reported. Agreements were signed on cooperation in customs and on border check-points. The two premiers also discussed the return of Lithuania's embassies in Paris and Rome and of Lithuanian deposits in Russia's Vneshekonombank, but no timetable was established. Chernomyrdin said Russia could not stop Lithuania becoming a member of NATO but hoped it would not join at a rapid pace. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. WALESA WANTS BIGGER SAY IN COMPOSITION OF CABINET. The tone of the meeting between President Lech Walesa and prime minister candidate Jozef Oleksy on 27 February will decide whether Poland gets a new government or faces new parliament elections. On his return from South America on 26 February, Walesa said he intends to express his opinion on all proposed cabinet members, not just the three "presidential" ministries required by the constitution. "The names of a couple of ministers are the result more of horse-trading than their abilities," Walesa explained. The president's objections center on Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Grzegorz Kolodko, who he has not yet decided whether to take a post in the cabinet. Oleksy has adopted a flexible approach to the meeting and intends to propose two candidates for each of the contested posts (defense and foreign affairs) or even to offer the president control over one in exchange for the coalition's control over the other. Oleksy indicated that he may still abandon the mission if presidential resistance is strong. "I cannot imagine how [the government] can function if it is in conflict with the president from the very start," he said. Oleksy's withdrawal would make new elections almost inevitable (which, in turn, would give Walesa a pretext to attempt to extend his term of office). At his 26 February press conference, Walesa said he has not decided whether to accept the resignation of legal adviser Lech Falandysz. He noted he would not remove his controversial minister of state, Mieczyslaw Wachowski. "I have no complaints [about him]," Walesa said. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. CZECH PREMIER SUPPORTS HAVEL'S STANCE ON CZECH-GERMAN RELATIONS. Vaclav Klaus, speaking in Hamburg on 24 February, said Czech-German relations must not be crippled by arguments about the past but built on trust and with a view to the future. Echoing President Vaclav Havel's speech on the same subject in Prague a week earlier, Klaus said every country has its extremists and nationalists who play on people's prejudices and fears. "It seems to me, however, that these forces do not play a significant role on either the Czech or the German side," Klaus added. "I have the feeling that the young generation, which is not burdened by the past, agrees with this point of view." During his two-day visit to Hamburg, Klaus also said that Czech-German relations are good and that the Czech Republic will be a reliable partner both for Germany and for Europe as a whole. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. ITALIAN PRESIDENT VISITS CZECH REPUBLIC. Oscar Luigi Scalfaro began a two-day visit to the Czech Republic on 26 February amid exceptionally tight security. Scalfaro is due to meet with President Vaclav Havel, Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, and parliament speaker Milan Uhde. He is also scheduled to visit Brno. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAKIA PREPARES FOR SECOND WAVE OF PRIVATIZATION. Meeting in Trencianske Teplice on 25 February, Slovak economic ministers, along with the minister of health and representatives of the National Property Fund, discussed preparations for the second privatization wave. Property with a combined value of 220 billion koruny will be sold, of which real estate worth approximately 50 billion koruny will be sold through the coupon method. Former Minister of Transportation Mikulas Dzurinda, in an interview with Sme on 27 February, noted that the previous government's program had provided for the sale of at least 70 billion koruny worth of property through coupon privatization. He said that current figures mean that the value of property for each coupon holder will fall from about 20,000 to 14,000 koruny. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. HOLBROOKE STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF POLITICAL STABILITY IN SLOVAKIA . . . U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke, during his two-day visit to Slovakia, stressed that countries wanting to join NATO will be judged in accordance with two requirements: military compatibility and political stability. Pravda on 25 February quoted Holbrooke as telling Slovak President Michal Kovac that by mid-1995, a NATO mission will visit Slovakia as well as other signatories to the Partnership for Peace program, although he warned that no decisions will be made this year. At the same time, he noted that the U.S. strongly supports Slovakia's entry into NATO. Holbrooke and Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar discussed security issues and Slovak relations with Hungary, and Meciar noted that there were no "basic differences." But in his meeting with parliament chairman Ivan Gasparovic, Holbrooke said the U.S. is dissatisfied with the confrontational tone on Slovakia's domestic political scene. Gasparovic stressed that the changes in television and radio are aimed at improving programming and broadcasting. Holbrooke also met with representatives of three opposition parties to discuss the stability of the presidential office, the mandates of the Democratic Union deputies, and press freedom. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. . . . AND PRAISES U.S.-HUNGARIAN RELATIONS. In Budapest for a meeting of U.S. ambassadors to eight Central and East European nations on how the region can integrate with Western institutions, Richard Holbrooke, together with Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs, told a press conference that Hungary and the U.S. are already partners and are on their way to becoming allies, MTI reported on 24 February. Holbrooke praised Hungary's efforts to conclude basic treaties with Romania and Slovakia and reiterated that NATO will not accept countries involved in conflicts with their neighbors. In talks with Prime Minister Gyula Horn on 25 February, Holbrooke stressed that the basic treaties will promote the stability and security of the region. -- Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARY'S OUTGOING FINANCE MINISTER WARNS OF STAGNATION. Laszlo Bekesi, at a press conference on 24 February, warned that Hungary's economy was at a crossroads between long-term stagnation and growth, MTI reports. Bekesi, who resigned last month effective 1 March, said that 3% growth and increased exports in 1994 compared with the previous year were accompanied by worsening balances and increasing debts. He said the growth could not be maintained or financed and that urgent measures were needed to stabilize the economy. Bekesi recommended that the new finance minister aim to cut the current $4 billion current account deficit by at least $1.5 billion and reduce the planned 282 billion forint budget deficit to 200 billion forint. Bekesi said many Hungarian Socialist Party politicians, including Prime Minister Gyula Horn, believed there was an easy way out of the economic crisis and had prepared programs aimed at maintaining growth at the expense of further indebtedness. -- Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SERBS START "FRESH TERROR CAMPAIGN AGAINST MUSLIMS." Reuters on 25 February reported that Bosnian Serb forces are completing their campaign of "ethnic cleansing" in the Gradiska area of northern Bosnia. Their methods include robbery, beatings, intimidation, and threat of rape or execution. UN representatives said they hold the Bosnian Serb authorities directly responsible: "We are not buying excuses that these are rogue elements or . . . people out of control." Elsewhere, Vjesnik noted continued Serbian helicopter flights over Bosnia and attacks on Croatian units there. The Independent on 26 February said that the U.S. is arming the Muslims through clandestine flights to Tuzla. The BBC's Serbian Service reports on growing tensions between UNPROFOR and Bosnian government forces, whose blockade of UN troops in Gornji Vakuf has entered its third day. Meanwhile, Vjesnik on 27 February notes yet another example of clerics active across battle lines, namely the visit two days earlier by Roman Catholic Cardinal Vinko Puljic to Serb-held Banja Luka. There have been a number of cross-border visits by Catholic and Serbian Orthodox figures in recent days, often in connection with charity groups and relief work. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. TUDJMAN ADDRESSES PARTY CONVENTION. Vjesnik on 27 February carries the text of Croatian President Franjo Tudjman's speech to the party faithful of his Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ). The convention marked the fifth anniversary of the HDZ's founding and provided Tudjman with the opportunity to take stock. He stressed that the party's policies have been consistent and correct and that the HDZ remains a party of the center that rejects extremism from either the Right or the Left. He identified upcoming tasks, including the reintegration of Serb-held territories and of the Serb population, but did not explicitly refer to the top issue in Croatia today, namely his decision to cancel UNPROFOR's mandate and the possibility of a new Croatian-Serbian war as a result. Novi list on 25 February nonetheless reported on a meeting of the Defense and National Security Council, which discussed the possibility of keeping on "international observers" once UNPROFOR's stay is formally ended. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. AKASHI MEETS MILOSEVIC. Nasa Borba on 25-26 February reported that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and UN special envoy Yasushi Akashi, meeting in Belgrade on 24 February, discussed the humanitarian and military situation in the northwest Bihac pocket of Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as conditions in Croatia, from where UN peacekeeping troops may withdraw soon. According to a Reuters report on 24 February, "Akashi's trip was the latest in a week of secretive efforts to persuade Milosevic...to help avert fresh fighting." Milosevic also met with representatives of the international Contact Group on 23 February. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. SITUATION IN MACEDONIA REMAINS TENSE. Supporters of the self-proclaimed Albanian-language university in Tetovo have continued their protests, Flaka reported on 27 February. Some 1,000 people gathered the previous day to honor Abdylselam Emini, who died in a shooting incident between Albanian students and Macedonian police on 17 February. The meeting was attended by representatives of all ethnic Albanian parties and the Albanian Writers Union of Macedonia. According to Flaka, the Albanians are preparing a "quiet civic revolt." The Senate of the Albanian- language university said it has found ways to continue the university's work. Meanwhile, Macedonian parliament deputies from Tetovo have denounced the university as illegal and unconstitutional. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. TWO PARTIES QUIT ROMANIAN OPPOSITION ALLIANCE. Romanian Social Democratic Party (PSDR) leader Sergiu Cunescu on 24 February reiterated that his formation will not sign the revised protocols of the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR), a decision amounting to that party's withdrawal from the country's main opposition alliance. Radio Bucharest quoted Cunescu as saying he favored the setting up of a new, unofficial grand coalition of opposition forces. He denied rumors of an imminent split in the PSDR but said some members may consider quitting the party following its break with the CDR. The Council of the Representatives of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania, the main political organization of Romania's large Hungarian minority, issued a statement in Targu Mures on 26 February saying that some documents adopted recently by the CDR implied that the HDFR and other political parties belonging to the coalition would separate from the coalition. In a related development, Nicolae Manolescu, chairman of the Party of Civic Alliance (another CDR member), on 25 February sent an open letter to Constantinescu accusing him of having provoked "the dismemberment" of the coalition. Constantinescu announced the previous day that the CDR will change its name to the Romanian Democratic Convention and that its future election symbol will be a key in a square instead of a circle. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINE TO HELP MOLDOVA SOLVE DNIESTER CONFLICT. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko on 24 February told journalists in Chisinau that his country was prepared to mediate in the conflict between the Republic of Moldova and the breakaway Dniester republic. He and his Moldovan counterpart, Mihai Popov, hailed the outcome of the visit as marking a new stage in relations between their countries. The two signed a number of agreements aimed at boosting bilateral ties. Udovenko met with both Moldovan and Dniester officials during his two-day official visit to Moldova. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN BAN ON EX-COMMUNIST ACADEMICS LIFTED. The Bulgarian parliament on 23 February scrapped a law preventing former communists from holding higher academic posts, Reuters reported the next day. It also called for new elections for the heads of state-run scientific bodies by the end of October. The old law, which was introduced in 1992, prevented former senior communist officials from taking up positions in governing bodies of universities, research institutes, and the Central Examination Board. It was criticized by international human rights organizations and by the Council of Europe. The Bulgarian Socialist Party had declared that one of its first goals was to overturn the 1992 law. It is now feared however, that new purges in education and science are imminent. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN PRESIDENT AND SOCIALISTS CLASH OVER ROLE OF MEDIA. Zhelyu Zhelev on 24 February accused the governing Socialists of censoring state television, Demokratsiya and Trud reported the following day. Demokratsiya cited Zhelev as saying Socialist deputy Klara Marinova was responsible for television censorship. Claiming to have been a victim himself, he reported on how some of his statements at a recent press conference had been cut and as a result his original meaning distorted. Zhelev was speaking at a meeting of intellectuals and artists who had gathered to defend a highly controversial film about the forceful Bulgarization of ethnic Turks' names during the 1980s. Marinova accused Zhelev in a letter published by Otechestven Front on 27 February of "losing his nerve" and not supplying any evidence against her. She added that in a state based on the rule of law, "such defamations are reason enough to meet at court." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. GREEK BORDER GUARDS KILL ALBANIAN. An 18-year-old Albanian was killed when he tried to cross illegally into Greece with another 17 Albanians, Reuters reported on 26 February. According to Greek police, the Albanian drew a knife before he was shot by a policeman. It was the second Albanian-Greek border incident in two weeks. A 24-year-old Albanian was injured on 18 February as he tried to cross the same border. Greek Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias will discuss border issues during a visit to Albania in mid-March. -- 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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