|There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in. - Graham Greene|
No. 43, Part II, 1 March 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 PRESIDENT SPURNS CONSULTATION ATTEMPT. Lech Walesa continued his game of cat and mouse with the ruling coalition on 28 February, refusing to discuss the composition of the proposed new cabinet with prime minister candidate Jozef Oleksy, Gazeta Wyborcza reported. The president's spokesman said Oleksy came to the meeting "unprepared." Unless he was actually appointed prime minister, the spokesman argued, Oleksy lacked the constitutional authority to conduct cabinet consultations. Walesa's move forces the coalition to proceed with the constructive no-confidence vote on 1 March, without any certainty that the president will cooperate afterward by naming Oleksy prime minister, as the constitution requires. The president may be aiming--as he has done in the past--to strengthen his bargaining position in talks on the new cabinet. But the sarcasm and nonchalance that have infused recent presidential statements suggest that Walesa is determined to try to block the formation of any new government and may even intend to use the constitutional ambiguity that will arise after Pawlak is ousted and before Oleksy is appointed to try to dissolve the parliament. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. COALITION PUSHES AHEAD, OLEKSY RELUCTANT. Party colleagues from the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) needed several hours on 28 February to persuade prime minister candidate Jozef Oleksy to continue attempting to form a new government, Gazeta Wyborcza reported. After his unsuccessful meeting with President Lech Walesa, Oleksy was apparently ready to give up. "I don't want to, but it looks as if I'm going to have to [try]," Oleksy reportedly told parliament deputies from the Polish Peasant Party (PSL), paraphrasing Walesa's familiar saying about running for president. Oleksy concluded that the president's attitude signaled a "lack of good will" that would undermine any new government. But SLD leader Aleksander Kwasniewski announced that "the new government will be elected, regardless of the president's opinion." Most PSL deputies also favored a tough stance, although some supporters of Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak see the president's opposition as a good reason to leave the current cabinet in office and simply change a few ministers. Both parties voted on 28 February to impose discipline in the constructive no-confidence vote. Any deputy who votes against will be thrown out of his caucus. The biggest opposition parties will abstain. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SEEKS TO SPEED UP REFORMS. Leonid Kuchma, on returning from a two-week working vacation in western Ukraine, has taken further steps to accelerate economic reforms, Interfax reported. He issued a decree on 27 February offering shares in restructured joint- stock companies on the Ukrainian stock exchange. Some 30% of those shares will be up for sale to individual and corporate investors, and the proceeds will finance the establishment of new voucher auction centers throughout Ukraine as well as a national electronic stock exchange. Ukraine's privatization agency, the State Property Fund, was instructed to compile a list of 100 joint-stock firms from the so-called "D category" of enterprises, which includes large monopolies, defense plants, and most enterprises whose value exceeds 45 billion Ukrainian karbovantsi. Shares in companies in the "C category" (comprising companies worth between 0.7 and 45 billion karbovantsi) that are not sold at voucher auctions will also be made available through the Ukrainian stock exchange. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. BELARUS DISBANDS POW COMMITTEE. Komsomolskaya pravda on 28 February reported that Belarus has decided to disband its committee for the exchange of information with the U.S. on MIAs and POWs. The committee helped determine the fate of 10 Americans shot down in Vietnam. Until the breakup of the USSR, the participation of Soviet servicemen in the Vietnam War was kept secret, and all servicemen who took part were pledged to silence. Some 150 retired air defense officers who participated in the war currently live in Belarus. Along with servicemen throughout the former USSR, they have been providing the U.S. with information on American MIAs and POWs. In exchange, the U.S. gave Belarus information on a dozen Belarusians captured or missing in Afghanistan. The head of the Belarusian committee, Lt.-Gen. Cherhinets, said he has information on another five US servicemen listed as missing. But now that the committee has been disbanded, it is uncertain whether this information will be made available to the U.S. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. LATVIAN-RUSSIAN RELATIONS. Russian Ambassador to Riga Aleksandr Rannikh on 27 February handed over to Latvian Prime Minister Maris Gailis a letter from his Russian counterpart, Viktor Chernomyrdin, Reuters reported the next day. Chernomyrdin promised to help find "a peaceful and conflict-free solution" to the problem of the estimated 2,000 Russian retired servicemen who are still in Latvia, despite agreements signed by Russia saying they would leave by 31 August 1993. Latvia agreed to give the Russian servicemen temporary residence permits until 30 April if they registered by 1 March. Less than half have done so and could therefore be deported. Russia has asked that the retirees be allowed to remain in Latvia until the end of the year so that problems with their resettlement can be resolved. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT IN ISRAEL. Algirdas Brazauskas--accompanied by the foreign affairs and health ministers, three parliament deputies, and 29 businessmen--arrived in Jerusalem for an official three-day visit on 28 February, Western agencies reported. At a welcoming ceremony hosted by President Ezer Weizman, Brazauskas said he was ashamed that some of his countrymen murdered Jews during World War II and pledged to prosecute war criminals. He was confronted outside the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial by dozens of protesters carrying signs reading: "No rehabilitation for Lithuanian Nazi murderers." Brazauskas also met with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. PIRATED SOFTWARE, VIDEOS, AND CDs FLOOD CZECH MARKET. More than 85% of all software programs marketed in the Czech Republic are pirated, causing legal producers to lose 5.5 billion koruny since 1993, Czech media reported on 1 March. Experts say 35% of video cassettes and 8% of compact discs are also illegal copies. The latter are mainly produced in Bulgaria. Pirating is one of the major sources of "dirty money" in the Czech Republic, alongside prostitution and drug dealing, according to Mlada fronta dnes. The newspaper quoted Alenca Kinclova of the Czech Anti-piracy Alliance as saying that courts regularly levy "ridiculously low" fines rather than imposing the maximum punishment for forgery or infringement of copyright. Offenders can be sentenced up to five years in prison or fined 2 million koruny. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. IMF RECOMMENDS SLOVAKIA SPEED UP PRIVATIZATION. An IMF representative is expected to take part in the 1 March session of the Slovak parliament committee on finance, currency, and the budget, at which the 1995 draft budget will be discussed. The last IMF mission to Slovakia was on 18 January-1 February, when representatives decided to delay the third installment of Slovakia's stand-by loan. Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Sergej Kozlik on 9 February said that the installment was delayed only because the 1995 budget had not yet been approved. The budget, approved by the government on 15 February and expected to be passed by the parliament in early March, has been criticized as unrealistic. It provides for a budget deficit of 21 billion koruny, GDP growth of 5%, 10% annual inflation, and a 14% unemployment rate. According to a Sme on 1 March, the IMF recommends the following goals: a budget deficit of 13 billion koruny, GDP growth of 2%, 8% annual inflation, larger foreign currency reserves, the implementation of structural reforms, lowering the import surcharge to 5% by the end of June and eliminating it by the end of 1995, speeding up privatization (by the coupon method, in particular), and gradually liberalizing energy prices for households. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARIAN-RUSSIAN TREATY RATIFIED. The Hungarian parliament on 28 February ratified the Hungarian-Russian basic treaty by a vote of 264 to 2, MTI reports. The treaty was signed by former Prime Minister Jozsef Antall and Russian President Boris Yeltsin in December 1991, but its ratification by the Russian parliament was delayed because of some deputies' objections to the passage condemning the former Soviet Union's intervention in Hungary in 1956. The State Duma finally ratified the treaty in January 1995. Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs emphasized that the document was very important for Hungary because Russia was its largest trading partner in Eastern Europe. The two countries will exchange documents on the treaty during Prime Minister Gyula Horn's visit to Russia next week. -- Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE "THE DIRTY JOB HAS STARTED AGAIN." This is how leading UN refugee official Sylvana Foa described the latest wave of Serbian "ethnic cleansing" in the Banja Luka area, where the Muslim population has dropped from 500,000 three years ago to 37,000. She said that "it looks like the mopping up of what is left, mainly old people," AFP reported on 28 February. Vecernji list on 1 March carries a similar report on the fate of the local Croats. Meanwhile, in the Bihac pocket, news agencies reported that fighting increased on 28 February and that unknown gunners subjected nine empty relief trucks to heavy shelling, forcing the crew to take shelter in armored vehicles nearby. Bosnia and Herzegovina marks its third anniversary of independence on 1 March with political, cultural, and sporting events in Sarajevo. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. "VENOMOUS ROW" BETWEEN UN AND NATO OVER TUZLA MYSTERY FLIGHTS. The New York Times on 1 March reported on the deepening feud between the world organization and the Atlantic alliance over at least two flights by unidentified aircraft near Tuzla in mid-February. NATO says they were its own normal patrols or "commercial aircraft on approved airways in Serbian airspace." The UN replies that "the idea that trained officers could mistake a low-flying transporter over Tuzla for a commercial aircraft flying at 35,000 feet in Serbian airspace is frankly ludicrous and insulting." The UN has hinted that the U.S., possibly together with Turkey, is secretly dropping arms to the Muslims, a charge NATO firmly denies. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. IS CROATIA HUNTING FOR AN ALTERNATIVE TO UNPROFOR? Nasa Borba reports on repeated hints by Croatia that it is willing to accept some form of international presence on its borders once UNPROFOR's mandate runs out on 31 March. Other accounts suggest that Zagreb is desperate to bring in NATO or WEU patrols as the only means to avoid another war. The problem is that to patrol Croatia's borders, the forces would have to position themselves between Krajina and both Bosnian Serb territory and Serbia proper, which the Serbs generally reject. NATO has also publicly rejected Croatian President Franjo Tudjman's calls for it to form a new international force in Croatia. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. ETHNIC ALBANIAN DEPUTIES BOYCOTT MACEDONIAN PARLIAMENT. The ethnic Albanian legislators in the Macedonian parliament have boycotted the parliament's latest session, Flaka reported on 1 March. The legislators, who have four minister posts in the coalition government, are demanding serious negotiations on higher education in Albanian and a solution to the conflict over the self-proclaimed Albanian-language university in Tetovo. They took the decision to boycott the 1 March session following the police crackdown on their university on 17 February. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. GRAVES DESECRATED IN NORTHERN SERBIA. Tanjug, citing local police sources, reported on 28 February that 63 Roman Catholic graves have been desecrated in the town of Novi Sad, in the Serbian province of Vojvodina. According to police sources, the incidents seemed to be random acts of vandalism, possibly with no connection to ethnically or religiously motivated groups. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. ANOTHER PARTY TO QUIT ROMANIAN OPPOSITION ALLIANCE? The executive board of the Liberal Party '93 announced on 28 February that it has recommended that the party's National Council not sign the revised protocols of the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR). A final decision on whether the LP '93 will withdraw from Romania's main opposition alliance is expected to be taken on 11 March, when the party's National Council is scheduled to meet. Dinu Patriciu, a leading member of the LP '93, was quoted by Radio Bucharest as saying that only a number of "noisy" political formations have remained in the alliance and are trying hard to "give the impression that the CDR still exists." -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN PRESIDENT FAVORS SENDING TROOPS TO ANGOLA. Ion Iliescu, in a letter addressed to Senate Chairman Oliviu Gherman on 28 February, asked the parliament to approve the participation of Romanian troops and a medical unit in the UN peacekeeping force in Angola, Radio Bucharest reported. Iliescu proposed sending an 800-strong infantry battalion and a field hospital with 200 staff. He said the troops could leave by mid- May and the hospital could be ready as soon as 15 April. Under the Romanian Constitution, the parliament must be consulted before any decision is taken on sending Romanian troops abroad. Romania sent a medical unit to the UN peacekeeping mission in Somalia last year, but this would be the first time it has contributed troops to a UN mission. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON FOREIGN POLICY ISSUES. Mircea Snegur, in a recent interview with RFE/RL, summarized by Infotag on 27 February, said the international community would like to see Moldova as a zone of security and stability in the region. He said he had witnessed once again the support of the international community during his visit to Washington in late January. According to Snegur, the United States believes Moldova has taken a step forward compared with other former Soviet republics and deserves support. Answering a question about the possible expansion of NATO, Snegur noted that membership in that organization should be based on mutually acceptable international accords and should not be damaging to any country. He further praised the economic advantages of Moldova as a member of the CIS. As for relations with Romania, he said "they remain priority ones for Moldova." -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN OPPOSITION CHANGES STATUTES. The National Coordinating Council of the Union of Democratic Forces on 28 February approved changes in the coalition's statutes, Demokratsiya reported the following day. The National Conference is to be the UDF's highest body. It will be called at least once a year and attended by representatives of the UDF's local and regional councils and member organizations. The conference will elect the chairman of the UDF and his deputies for two years. Until now, they were elected for one year by the National Coordinating Council, in which each of the 15 member organizations has one seat. A newly established National Executive Council--to include the UDF chairman, his deputies, the chief secretary, and the chairman of the parliament faction--will be in charge of day-to-day affairs. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. JOINT MILITARY MANEUVERS IN GREECE. Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, and the U.S. will hold joint military maneuvers in Greece in May within the framework of NATO's Partnership for Peace program, AFP reported on 28 February. The Greek army announced that Germany will attend as an observer and that Albania has been invited to participate in the same capacity. No answer has been received from Tirana yet. The Greek and Bulgarian chiefs of staff, Adm. Christos Lyberis and Gen. Tsvetan Totomirov, have also agreed on the details of joint naval exercises in the Black Sea. Totomirov is on a three-day visit to Greece and is to meet with Greek Defense Minister Gerasimos Arsenis. Arsenis visited Sofia last week where he signed a bilateral defense accord with his Bulgarian counterpart, Dimitar Pavlov. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. GERMAN PRESIDENT IN ALBANIA. German President Roman Herzog and Albanian Foreign Minister Alfred Serreqi have signed a joint declaration pledging to expand cooperation and deepen mutual ties, Rilindja Demokratike reported on 1 March. Herzog, on a two-day visit to Albania, expressed support for the re-establishment of Kosovo's autonomy and called on Albania to prevent the Yugoslav conflict from spreading. He also discussed Albania's further participation in NATO's Partnership for Peace program, minority questions, and the situation in Macedonia. Albanian Democratic Party leader Eduard Selami did not attend a reception at the German embassy in Herzog's honor, as expected, but instead went to a party meeting in Fier to discuss his own position within the party, Populli PO reported the same day. Selami had offered his resignation before the meeting because of continuing disputes with DP government members. An extraordinary party meeting on 5 March will decide on Selami's fate. -- 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. 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