|As courage endagers life even so fear preserves it. - Leonardo Da Vinci|
No. 46, Part II, 6 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 ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT ELECTIONS: SWING FROM THE RIGHT. Preliminary results of the Estonian parliament elections on 5 March indicate that the governing right-of-center Pro Patria was severely defeated by more leftist parties, Western agencies report on 6 March. Official results will be announced on 8 March, but the division of mandates in the 101- seat parliament already seems to have been determined. The clear winner is the Coalition Party and Rural Union (CPRU), with 41 seats. The Reform Party has 19 seats; the Center Party 17; Pro Patria seven; and the Moderates, the Rightists, and the Russian-speakers' coalition "Our Home Is Estonia" six each. Coalition Party chairman Tiit Vahi appears to be the future prime minister, but the CPRU will have to form a coalition either with the Reform or Center Parties or with two of the other winning parties. Nine parties and coalitions did not gain the required 5% of the vote to obtain seats. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. POLISH SEJM APPROVES NEW GOVERNMENT. The Sejm on 4 March voted by 272 to 99 with 13 abstentions to approve the cabinet and government program presented by Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy, Gazeta Wyborcza reported. President Lech Walesa, who must still formally appoint the government, did not attend the Sejm session devoted to debate on the new cabinet, but its composition is a clear victory for him. The ruling coalition opted in the end to accept his candidates for the three "presidential" ministries: Andrzej Milczanowski (internal affairs), Wladyslaw Bartoszewski (foreign affairs), and Zbigniew Okonski (defense). Two factors prompted the coalition's decision to back down: the president's evident determination to have his way (as demonstrated in his rejection of all candidates proposed by Oleksy) and the coalition parties' assumption that presidential elections in October or November would remove Walesa. Oleksy, in his address to the Sejm on 3 March, appealed to the president to sign the 1995 budget. He pledged to cooperate with Walesa but also warned that the government could not be divided "into so-called presidential ministries or ministries belonging to one party or another." The new government's priorities, as listed by Oleksy, include strict budgetary discipline, fighting unemployment, rapid privatization, and pension and health insurance reform. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. VETERANS DOMINATE POLISH CABINET. Although party proportions remain roughly the same, the new lineup suggests that government policy may be more coherent and less oriented to the demands of the farmers' lobby. The new agriculture minister, Roman Jagielinski, is viewed within his own Polish Peasant Party (PSL) as a "landlord" (that is, a proponent of efficient large-scale farming, rather than small peasant holdings). Former Finance Minister Marek Borowski will head the public administration. The old Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) economic team remains largely intact. Grzegorz Kolodko stays on as finance minister, as do Wieslaw Kaczmarek as privatization minister, Leszek Miller as labor minister, and Barbara Blida as construction minister. Former communist youth activist Jerzy Jaskiernia takes over as justice minister from Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, who was elected deputy speaker of the Sejm. Jozef Zych of the PSL was voted Sejm speaker to replace Oleksy. New faces in the government include the PSL's Klemens Scierski (manager of a Katowice power plant) as industry minister and former Deputy Health Minister Jacek Buchacz (PSL) as foreign trade minister, replacing the discredited Leslaw Podkanski. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINE RESISTS G7 PRESSURE ON CHORNOBYL. Following three days of talks in Kiev between G7 and Ukrainian officials on the future of the Chornobyl nuclear power station, Ukraine is still refusing to close down the plant, AFP reported on 3 March. The G7 promised in July 1994 to provide $800 million to help Ukraine shut Chornobyl. Kiev has argued that the sum is insufficient and says it cannot close Chornobyl's Nos. 1 and 3 reactors until alternative energy supplies are secured. The oldest reactor, No. 2, is to be brought back into service in 1996. Meanwhile, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Ihor Mityukov said Ukraine will repay a 1992 EU loan worth $35 million to buy medicine, Interfax reported on 4 March. The EU sent a letter in mid-February to the Ukrainian Finance Ministry demanding payments on the credit. Failure to make those payments would have jeopardized a new 85 million ecu ($111 million) credit from the EU. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. NEWS FROM BELARUSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY. Interfax on 3 March reported that deputy Uladzimir Hribanau has voiced concern over the fact that not a single diplomat on the staff of the Belarusian embassy in Russia is a Belarusian citizen. Hribanau said the problem stems from legislation on foreigners and state-less persons adopted in 1991. Stateless people continue to hold high positions, even though this contravenes the constitution. Hribanau went on to say that the current state of affairs explains why "Russia handles Belarus as part of itself." Meanwhile, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has issued a decree appointing four non-Foreign Ministry officials as ambassadors, Belarusian Radio reported the same day. The first deputy parliament speaker and head of the Belarusian Socialist Party, Vyacheslau Kuznyatsou, was named ambassador to China; Mayor of Minsk Alyaksandr Heramsimenka, ambassador to Bulgaria; deputy Mikalai Vaitsyankou, ambassador to the Czech Republic; and the chairman of the Mahileu Regional Council, Mikalai Hrineu, ambassador to Moldova. Deputy Foreign Minister Pyotr Belyayeu said he saw no problem with the appointment of non-professional diplomats, since there was a shortage of trained career diplomats in Belarus. He also said the appointments corrected several anomalies, citing the fact that since early 1992, Belarus has had no ambassador to China even though the Chinese have had representatives in Minsk. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. KALVODA RE-ELECTED DESPITE SCANDALS. Czech Deputy Prime Minister Jan Kalvoda was re-elected chairman of the Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA) at its 4-5 March congress, Lidove noviny reported. As sole candidate for the post, Kalvoda received 174 of the 231 votes. The only changes in the party leadership were the election of Privatization Minister Jiri Skalicky as a deputy chairman and the failure of two incumbent deputy chairmen to retain their posts. Several delegates criticized the way Kalvoda and other party leaders have handled various issues, including repayment of the ODA's 52 million koruny debt to a now-bankrupt bank and Kalvoda's public assertions that the secret service (BIS) illegally spied on his and other parties. Those assertions have not been proved. During the month after the BIS affair broke, the ODA, a junior partner in the four-party coalition government, lost almost one-third of its support among voters. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK PRESIDENT ACCEPTS RESIGNATION OF INTELLIGENCE DIRECTOR. Michal Kovac has accepted the resignation of Slovak Information Service Director Vladimir Mitro, despite the fact that a new director has not yet been named, Sme reported on 5 March. Several members of the government parties have announced support for a proposal that would shift the power to appoint and remove the SIS director from the president to the cabinet. Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, speaking on Slovak Radio on 3 March, said "it would be correct if the control and guarantee of impartiality were governed by the cabinet, which is under the control of the parliament and not the president, who considers himself an individual beyond the control of the parliament." He added that "the system of control through the government would be significantly more democratic and safe." -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK PREMIER WILLING TO NEGOTIATE ON MOCHOVCE . . . Vladimir Meciar, during a one-day visit to Vienna on 3 March, said he is prepared to discuss alternatives to completing Slovakia's nuclear plant at Mochovce, which is already 80% finished, AFP and Reuters reported. His statement came after Austrian Chancellor Franz Vranitzsky offered Slovakia 500 million schillings ($50 million) to convert the plant into a gas-powered facility. Meciar called the offer inadequate, noting that "it would take three to four gas-powered plants to replace Mochovce," and said if the other options are found unacceptable, the plant at Mochovce will be completed. Austria is worried about safety at the new plant and has strongly opposed its completion, causing friction in otherwise good bilateral relations. Meciar noted that the problem of Mochovce will not disrupt Slovak-Austrian relations and that the visit helped "strengthen mutual trust," TASR reported. The EBRD is expected to decide by the end of March whether to offer Slovakia a DM 412 million ($274 million) loan to help complete Mochovce. The European Parliament on 16 February voted to suspend funds to complete the project. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. . . . AS PROTESTS AGAINST THE PLANT GROW. Austrian and Slovak environmentalists on 4 March stretched a 70 kilometer-long banner from Bratislava's main square to Vienna's St. Stephen's Cathedral, TASR and dpa reported. The banner contained the signatures of some 1.2 million citizens opposed to the completion of the Mochovce plant. Protesters then delivered a letter to the French Embassy in Bratislava, urging French investors to consider backing alternative energy projects. (The plant is being constructed by Slovensky Elektrarne and Electricite de France.) Meanwhile, returning on 3 March from a two-day visit to the U.S., Austrian Environmental Minister Maria Rauch-Kallat said the U.S. Department of Energy has promised to intervene to delay the EBRD's decision on granting the loan for Mochovce. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARIAN ORGANIZATIONS ON BASIC TREATIES. The World Federation of Hungarians, together with representatives of the Hungarian minorities in Romania and Slovakia, has called on the Hungarian government to sign only treaties with Romania and Slovakia that guarantee "administrative autonomy" for Hungarian-populated areas, MTI reported. The Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania and the Hungarian Coalition in Slovakia said the basic treaties should be approved by ethnic Hungarians living in those countries. They stressed that reconciliation between peoples was impossible without guarantees of minority rights. The WFH warned that "bad or hasty" treaties would stand in the way of solving the problems of ethnic Hungarians. -- Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SERBS PLAY CAT-AND-MOUSE WITH UN AID CONVOYS. International media reported on 5 March that Bosnian Serbs let through a convoy with 30 tons of food to peacekeepers in the besieged enclave of Srebrenica, in eastern Bosnia. The 500 or so Dutch UNPROFOR troops had run out of food in the UN-declared "safe area." But the Serbs did not let a medical convoy pass. Nor have Serbs or Muslim rebels allowed any relief vehicles through to Bihac, in western Bosnia, where some 200,000 people are threatened by starvation. News agencies on 4 March quoted a UN spokesman as urging the combatants to show "maximum restraint" toward civilians and peacekeepers. He also said that the organization will not tolerate the Serb blockade against Srebrenica, Zepa, and Gorazde. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. MACEDONIA TO RECEIVE $42.5 MILLION FROM EBRD. Macedonia and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development signed a loan agreement in Ohrid on 4 March, Vecher reported. Macedonia will receive $42.5 million over the next ten years to modernize its telecommunications system. Ivan Ginovski, director of the Macedonian Post and Telecommunications Company, said some 340,000 new telephone lines will be installed and 100,000 old telephones replaced. Finance Minister Jane Miljovski was cited as saying he is pleased that the EBRD is helping Macedonia "at one of the most difficult moments." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. SLOVENIAN-ITALIAN RELATIONS IMPROVING. AFP on 4 March reported that Slovenian Foreign Minister Zoran Thaler has welcomed a decision by Rome, announced the previous day by Italian Foreign Minister Susanna Agnelli, to drop its veto against Slovenian attempts to negotiate associate member status in the European Union. The news agency quoted one unnamed Slovenian Foreign Ministry source as saying the Italian government's decision will help lay the foundation for "a positive and relaxed atmosphere" in which, it this hoped, both parties will be able to advocate "balanced solutions to problems." -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN PRESIDENT TO RUN FOR THIRD TERM? Ion Iliescu, on the occasion of his 65th birthday, said that he has no intention yet "to lay down arms" and that he "felt duty-bound to the country" to "stay true for the rest of my life" to his "publicly expressed credo," the independent daily Evenimentul zilei reported on 4 March. Those remarks may have been an allusion to his intention to run for an additional term in 1996. Adrian Nastase, the executive president of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania, was quoted by Evenimentul zilei as saying that the party's presidential candidate in the next elections will again be Iliescu. But it is unclear whether Iliescu's candidacy would be constitutional. The basic law, approved in a December 1991 referendum, limits the presidential terms to two; Iliescu served as elected president between 1990 and 1992 and was re-elected to that post in 1992. Proponents of Iliescu's third candidacy claim the provision should not apply retroactively to the approval of the constitution. Some 2,000 people, including leaders of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania, came to the presidential palace on 3 March to congratulate Iliescu. The celebrations were covered extensively by Romanian Television. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. WORLD BANK LOAN TO ROMANIA CONTINGENT ON PRIVATIZATION. Arntraud Hartman, the World Bank representative in Bucharest, told a press conference on 3 March that the second installment of a loan to Romania will be released only if privatization is accelerated, the independent daily Romania libera and international media reported on 4 March. Hartman said the World bank was eager to see what results from the current debate in the parliament on the privatization bill. But she added that the mere passage of the law will not be enough and that the bank wants assurances in the form of "concrete mechanisms" to achieve privatization targets. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. MOLDOVAN GAGAUZ REFERENDUM. Preliminary results of the 5 March referendum in five Moldovan districts on whether to become part of the Gagauz autonomous region suggest that not only the Gagauz but also other ethnic groups voted in favor of joining, international agencies reported. Moldovan Radio said voter turnout was 79%, exceeding the required 60%. The final results are expected on 6 March. Villages in which the Gagauz make up more than half of the population will automatically become part of the autonomous region, whose creation was approved by the parliament in December 1994. The referendum, which was monitored by observers from the Council of Europe, the OSCE, and Turkey, is to determine which other areas become part of that region. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY LEADER SACKED. Eduard Selami was dismissed at the Democratic Party's extraordinary party congress on 5 March, AFP reported the next day. President Sali Berisha had called for his dismissal, saying that Selami had "obstructed" party policy. Selami had demanded that the posts of party leader and prime minister be combined, arguing that the government was not properly implementing the party program. He had also opposed Berisha by demanding that the new Albanian constitution be adopted by the parliament and not through a referendum. An earlier referendum in November 1994 was defeated. Meanwhile, a committee composed of representatives of the Socialist Party, the Social Democratic Party, Aleanca Demokratike, and the Party for Human Rights has published a proposal for a new Albanian constitution, the Albanian- language service of Deutsche Welle reported on 2 March. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. GREECE DROPS VETO AGAINST EU-TURKEY CUSTOMS UNION. Greece on 3 March announced that it has lifted its veto against a customs union between the EU and Turkey, Reuters reported the same day. Greek government spokesman Evangelos Venizelos said Greece was ready to accept the agreement because all EU members are committed to starting membership talks between the union and Cyprus six months after an intergovernment meeting scheduled for 1996. Greek European Affairs Minister Georgios- Alexandros Mangakis was quoted as saying that "the agreement satisfies Greek demands" and that the government of the Republic of Cyprus, "as the sole voice of the Cypriot people, including the Turkish Cypriots, has the responsibility to negotiate Cyprus's entry [into the EU]." Under the agreement, another Greek condition for lifting the veto, namely financial support for its textile industry, will be examined in 1996. -- Stefan Krause, 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. 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