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No. 52, Part II, 14 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 UKRAINIAN COMMUNISTS HOLD SECOND CONGRESS. The Communist Party of Ukraine, at its second national congress on 11-12 March in Kiev, claimed it was the legal successor to the Soviet-era Ukrainian Communist Party, banned by the Ukrainian parliament after the failed August 1991 coup, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 13 March. Petro Symonenko, who was re- elected as the party's leader, demanded that the ban be lifted and the former party's property and assets restored to its successor. The party blamed the country's economic crisis on the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the introduction of capitalism in Ukraine. Symonenko also accused Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma of failing to keep his campaign promises and adopting the nationalist position of former President Leonid Kravchuk. But he added that his party was willing to cooperate with Kuchma if reforms meant that social welfare improved. Elsewhere, some 400 separatists demonstrated on 12 March in Sevastopol to demand the annulment of the Belaya Vezha accord of December 1991, which formally dissolved the Soviet Union, Interfax reported on 13 March. The rally organizers denounced what they called Ukraine's isolationist policies and called for civil disobedience in a campaign to formally re-unite Crimea with Russia. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. KUCHMA DECREES FUNDS FOR ENERGY SECTOR. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has issued a decree appropriating government funds and credits to the country's troubled energy sector, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 13 March. He ordered the Finance Ministry to allocate money to the Ukrainian Nuclear Energy Committee to complete construction and make fully operational the sixth reactor at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. The decree also provides for a stabilization fund for the energy sector, which currently has to deal with skyrocketing prices and huge debts for fuel imports. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. GAZPROM BIDS FOR STAKE IN UKRAINIAN ENTERPRISES. The Russian gas monopoly Gazprom has drawn up a list of Ukrainian enterprises slated for privatization in which it wants shares, Interfax reported on 13 March. The list names 15 enterprises, including ferrous alloy plants and gas storage and transport facilities. All enterprises on the list are profitable and well-equipped. Gazprom wants a 30-50% share in all the enterprises as partial payment for Ukraine's $1.5 billion debt but is facing opposition within Ukraine. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. BELARUSIAN PRIME MINISTER IN IRAN. Before leaving for Teheran on 12 March, Mikhail Chyhir told reporters that the main purpose of his visit is to promote economic cooperation between Belarus and Iran, Belarusian Television reported. He noted Iran's close ties with the USSR and its familiarity with Belarusian industry and technology, saying that it could provide Belarus with materials Russia can no longer supply. Trade with Iran in 1994 amounted to less than $2 million. Chyhir said this indicated that there is plenty of room to develop economic ties, especially since Belarusian enterprises are having difficulty breaking into Western markets. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. U.S. VICE PRESIDENT VISITS TALLINN. Al Gore, accompanied by Estonian President Lennart Meri, flew to Tallinn from Copenhagen on 13 March for a six-hour visit, BNS reports. In a public address at Town Hall Square, Gore said: "No outside power should ever again cast a veto over your future; you must not be consigned to a 'gray zone' of fear and uncertainty." He witnessed the signing of a U.S.-Estonian memorandum on environmental protection in which the U.S. pledges $2 million for the clean-up of the former Russian submarine base at Paldiski. Gore also met with prime ministers Andres Tarand (Estonia), Maris Gailis (Latvia), and Adolfas Slezevicius (Lithuania). He proposed that the three countries take part in the development of an air traffic control system in Central Europe. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. NEW VISA REGIME BETWEEN LITHUANIA AND RUSSIA. Lithuania has reached a bilateral agreement with Russia modifying the visa regulations for cross-border visits, according to Interfax on 13 March quoting Deputy Director of the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry's Consular Department Arturas Zurauskas. Beginning April 1996, citizens of one country permanently residing in the other will be able to travel to and from their "ethnic motherland" without visas if they have an invitation. There will be no charge for visas for visitors taking part in scientific-technical and cultural exchanges, sports competitions, or funerals of close relatives. Visas for children under 16 will also be free of charge. The agreement gives law enforcement and other government bodies the right to bar someone from entering the other country or limiting the length of his stay without justifying their decision. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. POLISH PREMIER SUPPORTS CONCORDAT, FOREIGN POLICY CONTINUITY. Attempting to ease friction in Church-state relations, Jozef Oleksy on 13 March proposed a meeting with Cardinal Jozef Glemp, saying the government "will not refrain from doing all in its power to see that the concordat [with the Vatican] is ratified," Rzeczpospolita reported. The parliament voted last year to postpone ratification until a new constitution is adopted, despite formal (if half-hearted) support from the government. Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek on 13 March signaled that a compromise may be in the offing on Article 15 of the draft constitution, which will define Church-state relations. According to Pieronek, the Constitutional Commission appears to be willing to refrain from using the terms "separation" or "division." The Catholic hierarchy favors the statement that the Church and state are "independent and autonomous" but "cooperate for the human good." Commission chairman Aleksander Kwasniewski prefers to bar religious denominations "from the exercise of public power." Elsewhere, Oleksy told a gathering of foreign diplomats on 13 March that his cabinet will pursue integration with the EU and NATO. He also said it will "continue the foreign policy undertaken after 1989, which is an achievement [to be attributed to] society and not to specific parties and thus may not be the object of domestic conflict." -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. MAFIA BOMB KILLS TWO IN WARSAW. A bomb attack in Warsaw on 13 March killed two men associated with the "Wolomin gang," which reportedly runs a local protection racket. This was the 17th criminal explosion in Poland so far this year, and the 11th in Warsaw. No arrests have been made in the bombings, but police on 26 February detained Grzegorz Lindenberg, the publisher of the daily SuperExspress, after the paper's staff scheduled a press conference to demonstrate how easily explosives can be acquired in Poland. Lindenberg said he needed only three hours and $2,000 to procure explosives from the anti-terrorist brigade at Okecie Airport. He has been charged with illegal possession of explosives. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK OPPOSITION PARTIES CRITICIZE PARLIAMENT SESSION. Koloman Pranay, deputy chairman of the extraparliamentary Democratic Party, said on 13 March that the parliament's fifth session confirmed that the governing coalition places its own interests above those of society. He cited the setting up of what he called the unnecessary Ministry of Construction and Public Works, the increased powers of state secretaries, the passage of the "scandalous" budget for the National Property Fund, and the reduced budget for towns and villages, Pravda reported. Meanwhile, the Democratic Union said the session had centralized control in the hands of the governing coalition, limiting the power of one of the country's last independent institutions, the Slovak Information Service, Narodna obroda reported. Party of the Democratic Left Chairman Peter Weiss criticized the "schizophrenia" of the government parties. He said that Association of Slovak Workers Chairman Jan Luptak's declaration on Slovakia's neutrality during the recent workers' conference in Banska Bystrica conflicts with the cabinet's program. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. CLINTON ON SLOVAK-HUNGARIAN TREATY. U.S. President Bill Clinton, in a letter to Slovak Premier Vladimir Meciar, has praised Slovak efforts at concluding a basic treaty with Hungary, Narodna obroda reports. Clinton wrote "I was pleased by the news of your efforts leading to the signing of the basic agreement with Hungary . . . Resolving the potential sources of misunderstanding and tension in Central Europe is the most important condition for stability in this region and the future of European integration." Meetings between Slovak and Hungarian officials continue in Bratislava and Budapest in an effort to secure the final wording of the treaty, which Meciar and his Hungarian counterpart, Gyula Horn, hope to sign by 20 March. If necessary, Meciar and Horn will meet later this week in an effort to work out final details, Sme reported on 13 March. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIAN MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL MISSION IN SLOVAKIA. Russian Security Council Secretary Oleg Lobov, in Slovakia for a four-day official working visit, has met with Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar and Defense Minister Jan Sitek to discuss cooperation in the production of military equipment. One project involves setting up a Russian-Slovak holding company in Povazska Bystrica for the production of RD-35 motors for Russian JAK 130 planes, Pravda reported. Lobov will also visit defense industry firms in Dubnica nad Vahom and Trencin. His visit comes after an agreement on cooperation in aircraft production signed during Russian Premier Viktor Chernomyrdin's trip to Slovakia in mid-February. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SERBIAN TANKS MOVE INTO KRAJINA. The New York Times reported on 14 March that "in the last couple of days, there has been a considerable movement of tanks into eastern Croatia from Serbia" in apparent anticipation that international monitors will soon be stationed on that border. Reuters says that the U.S. has a draft proposal that would place about 5,000 troops in Croatia under a new mandate after UNPROFOR's expires on 31 March. Some 500-600 troops would patrol crossings on Croatia's borders with Serbia and Bosnia and the whole force might be under the supervision of the Contact Group, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. WILL THE SERBS AGREE TO THE US-CROATIAN DEAL? American diplomats said the Krajina Serbs have already given their tacit approval to the project, but other observers doubt this. One Krajina spokesman said "no one has the right to push us toward Croatia." The New York Times suggests that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic will have the last word in any case. The Frankfurt Allgemeine Zeitung and Nasa Borba point to a fierce power struggle in Krajina between local strong men and those taking their cues from Milosevic. The New York paper and Croatian officials call the new situation "a triumph" for President Franjo Tudjman, who has attracted international attention and obtained Western pledges for troops to be stationed between the Krajina Serbs and their allies in Serbia and Bosnia. The VOA said on 13 March that U.S. soldiers will probably play a part. Government-controlled Croatian dailies on 14 March paint a rosy picture of domestic reaction. But some opposition parties expressed doubts or criticism, while the BBC's Croatian Service quotes The Independent as saying many Croatian refugees from Krajina fear they will never be able to go home. Many Croats feel that any international presence on the front lines with the Krajina Serbs will mean the continued partition of their country. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. CROATS AND MUSLIMS REACH NEW POLITICAL AGREEMENT . . . Nasa Borba and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported on 11 March that leaders of the Bosnian Croats and Muslims concluded a pact in Bonn the previous day to strengthen their federation. Federal President Kresimir Zubak and Vice President Ejup Ganic called for a series of steps to promote joint communal and cantonal government structures as well as measures to be considered by a federal constituent assembly. Details appear sketchy, but the thrust seems to be to establish a strict timetable and to create a police system that would facilitate movement and permit refugees to go home. The two leaders stressed that the federation is open to the Bosnian Serbs. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. . . . BUT MILITARY LINKS SEEM LESS FIRM. Nasa Borba on 11 March also quoted Bosnian civilian and military authorities as saying that the Bosnian-Croatian joint staff set up on 6 March will play only a coordinating role and that Sarajevo will retain command over Bosnian forces. Previous reports suggested there would be a truly unified command headed by Croatian Chief-of-Staff General Janko Bobetko. Some sort of military integration will nonetheless be necessary, since the republics have common enemies and since close links between Zagreb and Sarajevo seem the best way of bringing Herzegovinian Croat military units into line with Bosnian government forces. Relations have soured in recent days because of what the Herzegovinian Croats call the kidnapping of General Vlado Santic in the Bihac pocket by Bosnian government forces on 8 March. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN MAYOR BANS MAGYAR RALLIES. Gheorghe Funar, controversial mayor of Cluj, has banned rallies planned by ethnic Hungarians to mark Hungary's national holiday on 15 March. Funar, who is also president of the extreme nationalist Party of Romanian National Unity, was quoted by Reuters as saying he has banned all public meetings because several organizations, including Romanian nationalist groups, applied to hold rallies the same day. A leader of the Cluj branch of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania described Funar's ban as "illegal" and said that ethnic Hungarians would ignore it. Meanwhile, Radio Bucharest on 13 March reported that Funar has urged Romanian President Ion Iliescu to consult all parliament parties on the draft treaty with Hungary. Funar sharply criticized the provisions of the treaty requiring Romania to guarantee the rights of its large Hungarian minority and Hungary to recognize existing borders. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. CZECH PRIVATIZATION MINISTER IN ROMANIA. Jiri Skalicky on 13 March began a two-day visit to Romania, Radio Bucharest reported. Skalicky, who is heading a delegation of experts, met with Mircea Cosea, head of the Romanian government's Council for Economic Coordination, Strategy, and Reform, to discuss progress toward privatization in their countries. Cosea asked for technical assistance in implementing a new Romanian law on speeding up privatization, which is expected to pass soon through the Chamber of Deputies. The two ministers also expressed willingness to expand mutual economic ties. Skalicky is scheduled to meet with Romanian President Ion Iliescu and Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. NATO OFFICIAL IN BULGARIA. NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe George Joulwan arrived in Sofia on 13 March for a two-day official visit, BTA reported the same day. Joulwan, who was invited by Bulgarian Chief of Staff Tsvetan Totomirov, will discuss Bulgaria's participation in NATO's Partnership for Peace program. Asked if Russian aversion toward NATO's expansion eastward has consequences for Bulgaria's possible NATO membership, Joulwan said this is a decision only Bulgaria can take. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN OFFICER ARRESTED IN MOSCOW. Reserve Colonel Stoyan Tsakov, former deputy head of the Bulgarian Defense Ministry's Supply and Trade Department, was arrested in Moscow on 10 March, 24 chasa reported on 14 March. Tsakov was dismissed last year together with his superior, Colonel Valentin Popinski. Both have been charged in connection with an alleged arms deal with Albania in which 100 mortars disappeared and probably ended up in the former Yugoslavia. "I escaped to Moscow in order not to be killed in Sofia," Tsakov was quoted as saying. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. GREEK FOREIGN MINISTER IN ALBANIA. Karolos Papoulias met with Foreign Minister Alfred Serreqi in Tirana on 13 March, international agencies reported the same day. Papoulias said his government was determined to improve relations with Albania. The two ministers agreed to establish a joint committee to regulate seasonal work for Albanians in Greece. They also decided to open more border crossings and to develop economic, educational, and military cooperation. Papoulias, who expressed concern about the human rights situation of the ethnic Greek minority in Albania, will meet with Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi and President Sali Berisha on 14 March. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. SS-SEIZED GOLD TO RETURN TO ALBANIA. Albania and the U.S. on 10 March signed an agreement on the return to Albania of gold worth $13 million and the settlement of U.S. property claims in Albania, Gazeta Shqiptare reported the next day. The gold, appropriated by Nazi Germany during World War II, is currently in the Bank of England and remains under the jurisdiction of an Anglo-French-U.S. commission, whose three members must all agree to the return. Deputy Prime Minister Dylber Vrioni said a similar agreement will be signed with France soon, Reuters reported on 10 March. Britain gave its consent in 1992. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. [As of 1200 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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