|Life is what happens to us while we're making other plans. - John Lennon|
No. 54, Part II, 16 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 CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT POSTPONES DEBATE OVER DUAL CITIZENSHIP BILL. The Crimean legislature voted on 15 March to delay debate over a bill that would provide for joint Russian-Ukrainian citizenship, Interfax-Ukraine reported the same day. Such a provision would contravene the Ukrainian Constitution. Serhiy Tsekov, who was recently reinstated as parliament speaker, urged deputies to postpone the debate to avoid destabilizing the situation in the autonomous region and complicating Russian- Ukrainian relations. The issue of dual citizenship has been a major sticking point in those relations. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIAN LEGISLATORS CRITICIZE DRAFT BUDGET. Members of several commissions of the Ukrainian parliament have expressed disapproval of the government's 1995 draft budget, Interfax-Ukraine reported 15 March. Deputies from both the Left and the Right complained about the austerity measures and cuts in both social spending and subsidies to ailing industries and farms. Legislators said the draft, which aims to cut the budget deficit to 7.3% of GDP, unjustifiably calls for increased spending for the military. It would also cut spending for law enforcement by half. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINE TO SELL BOMBERS TO RUSSIA AT BARGAIN PRICE. Segodnya on 14 March reported that Ukraine has agreed to sell Russia the strategic bombers it inherited from the Soviet Air Force for $75 million, the sum offered by the Russians. Ukraine had originally demanded $800 million for the 19 Tu-160 "Blackjack" supersonic jets and the 25 Tu-95MS "Bear" turboprop missile-carrying aircraft left on its territory. Ukraine had no use for the strategic bombers and could afford neither to fly nor to destroy them. Segodnya said the bombers--and some cruise-missiles carried by them--would be handed over to Russia in May. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT SIGNS PRIVATIZATION DECREE. Belarusian Radio on 14 March reported that Alyaksandr Lukashenka has issued a decree renewing the country's privatization program, which was suspended last summer because of abuses and irregularities. The decree calls for the creation of a data base that would inventory and evaluate all state assets. It also instructs local authorities and the Ministry for State Property and Privatization to work out a privatization program for communal properties by 20 March. All shops, public catering facilities, cargo transportation, and other services are to be privatized by the end of the year. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIAN STRATEGIC MISSILES OUT OF BELARUS BY JULY. Interfax quoted the chief of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces press center as announcing on 15 March that the remaining SS-25 "Topel" strategic intercontinental ballistic missiles would be withdrawn from Belarus by 25 July. Col. Vladimir Krivomazov said 18 of the single-warhead mobile missiles were stationed near Lida, along the Lithuanian border, and another 18 in Mozyr, in southeastern Belarus, near the border with Ukraine. Krivomazov said that while the missiles and their warheads would be returned to Russia by July, it would take until the end of the year to withdraw all the missile divisions' other equipment. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. ESTONIA, RUSSIA SIGN PROTOCOL ON BORDER GUARDS. Col. Gen. Andrei Nikolaev, head of the Russian Federal Border Guard Service, and Tarmo Kouts, director-general of the Estonian Border Defense Department, signed on 15 March a protocol regulating the activities of the two countries' border guards and a plan for cooperation in 1995, Interfax reported. They also coordinated a draft protocol on temporary regulations for simplifying border crossing rules for residents of border territories. Nikolaev, who was on a three-day visit to Tallinn, invited his Estonian colleagues to observe the Russian border guards' spring maneuvers, codenamed Zapad (West). -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LATVIAN PREMIER FIRES LATVE-NERGO BOARD. Maris Gailis has dismissed the board of the state company Latvenergo, the largest energy monopoly in Latvia, BNS reported on 15 March. He justified this move by saying the board had ignored recommendations by the State Auditing Office. Gailis named State Energy Minister Juris Ozolins to take over the board's duties until new members are appointed within a week. The government the previous day agreed to recapitalize Latvenergo based on the recommendations of an economic and technical analysis of the company to be carried out by the Deutsche Bank. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. POLISH TAX RATES RULED ILLEGAL. The Constitutional Tribunal on 15 March ruled that the 1995 tax law is unconstitutional because it took effect after the start of the calendar year, violating the principle that the law cannot have retroactive effect. The law retained the higher rates of 21%, 33%, and 45% that were imposed temporarily in 1993, rather than restore the 20%, 30%, and 40% rates previously in force. After the Sejm overrode a presidential veto last year, President Lech Walesa twice challenged the law before the tribunal. Under Poland's current constitution, the Sejm can override tribunal verdicts with a two-thirds majority. The coalition's votes fall just short of this mark. In order to get the necessary votes to override the president's veto in December, the government struck a bargain with the left-wing Union of Labor, promising to introduce a new 18% tax rate for low-income families in 1996. The new government will likely be forced to reaffirm that pledge to secure necessary support in the Sejm. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. MORE CHURCH-STATE SPARRING IN POLAND. "The acceptance of capitalism does not in itself signify a rejection of Marxist principles," Polish Primate Cardinal Jozef Glemp told a press conference on 15 March. Glemp was commenting on the Democratic Left Alliance's (SLD) indignant response to his statement that Poland remains a "people's republic." Poland has yet to "settle accounts" with the past and, in a moral sense, with former communists, according to Glemp. "The shape of the new constitution will prove whether the government is communist or not," Glemp said. Gazeta Wyborcza reported that the primate will soon meet with Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy. Meanwhile, Oleksy's seeming support for ratification of the concordat has prompted fierce protests from within his own (generally anti-clerical) SLD. The Sejm on 15 March voted down a motion from the Polish Peasant Party to debate the Sejm committee report concluding that the concordat does not violate the current constitution. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. NO MORE POLISH TANKS FOR IRAN? Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, responding to a question from a Western journalist, announced on 14 March that Poland is halting its sale of tanks to Iran, PAP reported. He said that the previous government of Waldemar Pawlak had decided to wind up such trade and that it was the new government's intention to continue that policy. In the 1980s, Poland's communist government supplied more than 1,000 tanks to Iran. Recent Polish tank sales to that country were not public knowledge. Col. Jerzy Kade, director of the defense department in the Polish Ministry of Industry and Trade, took exception to Barto-szewski's announcement. He told PAP on 15 March that "Our position is that our obligations must be ful-filled . . . . We shall agree to end the sales when the Americans show us the way to other markets, or compensate for our losses." The agency noted that there was no UN embargo on arms sales to Iran. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. POPE TO VISIT CZECH REPUBLIC AND POLAND IN MAY. The Vatican confirmed on 15 March that Pope John Paul II will visit the Czech Republic and his native Poland in May, Czech media reported. He is due to visit Prague and Olomouc in Moravia, where he will canonize a medieval Czech saint. It will be the Pope's second visit to the Czech Republic; the first was in 1991. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. NEW COMMUNIST PARTY FOUNDED IN CZECH REPUBLIC. The Party of Czechoslovak Communists (SCK) was registered with the Czech Interior Ministry on 10 March, Rude pravo reported on 16 March. Among the founders of the party is a leading member of the former communist regime, Miroslav Stepan, who served a jail sentence for abuse of power after putting down student demonstrations in 1988 and 1989. A spokesman for the existing Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM), which has 10 seats in the 200- member parliament, told Rude pravo that the creation of the new party will strengthen the KSCM. It will be clear to the public that the SCK is formed of "ambitious political bankrupts who . . . admit that they themselves contributed to the fall of socialism and who now would like to take control of the Left," the spokesman said. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER ON RELATIONS WITH HUNGARY. Juraj Schenk, on returning from Budapest on 15 March, told reporters that six questions have to be resolved before the Slovak-Hungarian basic treaty can be signed, Pravda reported. Those issues, he said, related mainly to the Danube River and Gabcikovo dam project, the drawing of the common border, and the question of minorities, particularly the interpretation of European standards. Emphasizing that territorial autonomy for minorities is "unacceptable," Schenk stressed that "the Slovak side wants to sign a pact of stability, not a pact of instability." Premiers Vladimir Meciar and Gyula Horn, scheduled to meet in Komarno on 16 March, hope to sign the treaty before the Conference on the Pact of Stability opens in Paris on 21 March. In related news, Hungarian Christian Democratic Movement Chairman Bela Bugar told Sme on 15 March that contrary to allegations made by Meciar on Slovak Television the previous day, "the Hungarian proposal does not discuss territorial autonomy." Bugar added that his party does not support territorial autonomy but rather educational and cultural autonomy. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE U.S. BRINGS TOGETHER LEADERS FROM CROATIA AND BOSNIA. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman left for the U.S. on 15 March for talks on the new international force to be deployed in his country. He will also attend a ceremony and discussions with American, Croatian, and Bosnian leaders to mark the first anniversary of the Croatian-Muslim federation and to help shore it up. Participants include Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic, Defense Minister Gojko Susak, Bosnian federal President Kresimir Zubak, and Vice President Ejup Ganic. Tatjana Ljujic-Mijatovic will represent the "forgotten Serbs" of Bosnia and Herzegovina who remain loyal to the multiethnic republic, news agencies report. Nasa Borba on 16 March says that Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic will also attend. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SESELJ OFF TO BOSNIA. Among the issues to be discussed in Washington is the case of Herzegovinian General Vlado Santic, whom the Croats claim was kidnapped by Muslims on 8 March. The Muslims deny that account, which nonetheless still appears daily in the Croatian press. Meanwhile, Nasa Borba reports on 16 March that Serbian Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj is in Bosnia. An official of his party told reporters that he has 1,000 "volunteers" from Sandzak, "who will be a decisive factor in solving the national problem of the [Bosnian] Serbs." Seselj's paramilitary forces were among the most notorious shock troops and "ethnic cleansers" in the Croatian and Bosnian conflicts. Finally, UN officials told journalists that the Serbian blockade of Bihac is causing widespread hunger and malnutrition. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. BALKAN DIPLOMATIC UPDATE. Nasa Borba reported on 16 March that Macedonia, like Croatia, also wants the mandate for UNPROFOR troops stationed there changed. It appears that Skopje is pleased with the work of the peacekeepers but wants them to have an organizational structure distinct from that of UNPROFOR in Croatia and Bosnia. The independent Belgrade daily goes on to say that Greek Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias is off to the Serbian capital to brief President Slobodan Milosevic on his talks last week with the foreign ministers of Bosnia and Iran. Vecernji list adds that Croatian Deputy Foreign Minister Ivo Sanader has just returned from Athens. In an interview with the daily, he stressed that relations between Croatia and Greece, a traditional ally of Serbia, were good and friendly. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. RUMP YUGOSLAV ARMY OFFICERS ARRESTED. Nasa Borba on 16 March reported that three rump Yugoslav army officers have been arrested and charged with spying for Croatia. According to Tanjug accounts, "the security service of the Yugoslav army and the security service of the Serbian Interior Ministry put an end to the intelligence activities" of Lts. Zoltan Kovac and Benjamin Zuban and Captain Enver Cavkusic. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIAN LEGISLATORS END BOYCOTT OF MACEDONIAN PARLIAMENT. A number of ethnic Albanian deputies in the Macedonian parliament took part in the parliament session on 15 March, Flaka reported the next day. The deputies, who boycotted the legislature after the police crackdown on the Albanian-language university in Tetovo on 17 February, said they will try to reach an "institutional solution" to the question of higher education in Albanian. Members of the Democratic Peoples' Party and independent candidates from the Arber Xhaferi group continued their boycott. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. SLOVENIA BEGINS TALKS WITH EU. International news agencies on 15 March reported that Slovenia's Foreign Minister Zoran Thaler has opened talks with the European Union aimed at concluding an association agreement. Italy recently dropped its veto against Ljubljana's efforts to reach such an agreement. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIA'S MAGYARS MARK HUNGARIAN NATIONAL DAY. Ceremonies marking the 147th anniversary of Hungary's 1848 revolution took place on 15 March in many towns in Transylvania and the Banat with large ethnic Hungarian populations, Radio Bucharest reported. More than 10,000 people participated in a rally in Sfantu Gheorghe, while some 5,000 people gathered in Targu Secuiesc. Bela Marko, leader of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania, and Erno Rudas, the Hungarian ambassador to Bucharest, attended the meetings in Targu Secuiesc and Targu Mures. In Cluj, some 300 people, ignoring a ban by the town's extreme nationalist mayor Gheorghe Funar, laid wreaths at monuments honoring 1848 revolutionaries. No incidents were reported, but Radio Bucharest quoted Funar as protesting the presence of diplomats from the Hungarian, U.S., and Swedish embassies in Bucharest at the Cluj ceremonies. Funar noted that those embassies did not send representatives to celebrations of Romania's national holiday on 1 December. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. NATIONAL BLOC SET UP IN ROMANIA. Radio Bucharest on 15 March reported that three political parties have formed an alliance called the "National Bloc." The organizations are the extreme nationalist Greater Romania Party (PRM), the Romanian Party for a New Society, and the Bratianu Liberal Union. The protocols of the new alliance were signed at the PRM's headquarters by the leaders of the three formations. The name "National Bloc" was used previously to designate a group in the Romanian Senate that included the PRM and the Socialist Labor Party, Romania's re-born communist party. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. MOLDOVAN OFFICIALS ON TRANSDNIESTER. Parliament chairman Petre Lucinschi told the Tiraspol-based Soldat otechestva on 14 March that the Moldovan leadership intends to publish its own version of a draft document on the future status of the self-styled Dniester Republic unless a common language with Tiraspol is found soon. According to Lucinschi, the draft provides for broad territorial autonomy for that breakaway region, including its own executive and legislative bodies. Interfax on 15 March quoted Moldovan Deputy Foreign Minister Nicolae Osmochescu as saying that the negotiations over the status of Transdniester were deadlocked, with Tiraspol returning to the position adopted in September 1994. At that time, Tiraspol proposed the signing of an interstate agreement between Moldova and the self-styled republic. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN JUDICIAL COUNCIL CALLS FOR INVESTIGATION SERVICE HEAD TO BE DISMISSED. The High Judicial Council on 15 March signed a proposal asking President Zhelyu Zhelev to dismiss Ani Kruleva, head of the National Investigation Service, Demokratsiya reported the following day. The council said that during the last three years, the service's work had deteriorated under her leadership, and it accused her of serving "political interests." Kruleva was quoted as saying that "these are accusations against all my colleagues." The High Judicial Council is expected to vote for Kruleva's dismissal next week. Under the law on the judiciary, the president has to issue a decree on dismissing Kruleva. If the council votes in favor of her dismissal for a second time, he is obliged to accept the decision. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN ARMS FACTORIES TO BE PRIVATIZED. Minister of Industry Kliment Vuchev wants to privatize the country's military industry, Standart reported on 16 March. Under a law passed by the parliament in 1992, the sale of arms factories is prohibited until the end of 1995. But Vuchev said the government can ask the moratorium to be lifted before that date. The ministry plans to sell 60 factories and to begin privatization procedures for another 70. Vuchev also said that some 100 firms may have to be closed, as there are no prospects for selling or reconstructing them. -- Stefan Krause, 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. 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