|It is the chiefest point of happiness that a man is willing to be what he is. - Erasmus|
No. 64, Part II, 30 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 PRESIDENT WAITS FOR RUSSIAN APOLOGY. Lennart Meri, in an interview with Die Welt on 29 March, said he would not attend the celebrations in Moscow marking the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II before Russia "properly apologized" for its occupation and annexation of the Baltic States, BNS reported. Die Welt noted that President Boris Yeltsin has apologized to the people of Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary for the actions of the Red Army. But the newspaper commented that "Moscow has not distanced itself by so much as a single word from the Soviet policy of violence against the Baltic States." The presidents of the Baltic States received invitations to the ceremonies in Moscow but decided, as a sign of Baltic solidarity, that either all three or none would attend the Moscow celebrations. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. FATE OF TWO RUSSIAN ARMY DESERTERS IN LITHUANIA UNCLEAR. Two 18-year-old Russian soldiers stationed in Kaliningrad were detained by Lithuanian police near Vilnius on 25 March, Interfax and BNS reported. Aleksandr Vaselkov and Ruslan Kurdiukov wanted to avoid being sent to fight in Chechnya and had sent letters on 27 March to the Lithuanian president and parliament asking for political asylum. Russian officials have demanded the soldiers extradition. Russian Ambassador in Vilnius Nikolai Obertyshev told Lithuanian Foreign Ministry Secretary Albinas Januska that Russian embassy officials should at least be allowed to talk to the deserters. Seimas Deputy Chairman Aloyzas Sakalas was quoted by Interfax on 29 March as saying that the Seimas's Committee on Human Rights and Nationalities had recommended that the soldiers not be extradited. Since there is no legislative basis for extraditing deserters to Russia, it is likely that the Seimas will make the final decision on their future. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. IMF TO DELAY LOAN TO UKRAINE. The International Monetary Fund on 29 March announced that it is postponing a final decision on granting Ukraine a $1.8 billion credit package pending the passage in the parliament of the 1995 budget, international agencies reported. The loan was to be considered by the IMF board on 31 March. Oleksander Sundatov, the IMF's representative in Kiev, said that although Ukraine's parliament had approved the budget on its first reading the previous week, the document did not list all revenues and expenditures. A final vote on the budget is not expected for a month. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. BELARUSIAN NEWS. The presidential press service has announced that Minsk courts have been unable to confirm any of the corruption charges made by deputy Syarhei Antonchyk in his December report against the head of presidential affairs, Ivan Tsitsyankou, according to Belarusian Radio on 29 March. Antonchyk's report has been dismissed as a ploy to gain attention in his bid for a parliament seat in May. Belarusian Television reported the same day that 71 deputies have signed an appeal to the Constitutional Court to review President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's decree dismissing Iosif Syaryedzich, chief editor of the parliament newspaper Narodna hazeta, and creating an oversight committee for mass information. Finally, it was reported on 28 March that an international meeting was held in Minsk to discuss the coordination of legal affairs between Belarus's Ministry of Justice and the parliament. Representatives from the Council of Europe said the two bodies must regulate procedures forconcluding and implementing international agreements. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. POLAND'S CONCORDAT STILL ON HOLD. The Sejm on 29 March voted 184 to 166 to remove from the agenda of its current session the report declaring that the concordat does not violate the current constitution. The vote was carried by Democratic Left Alliance and Union of Labor deputies; the Polish Peasant Party (PSL) and most opposition deputies favored debate. The Sejm also voted down a PSL motion that would have made possible a vote to ratify the concordat before the new constitution is completed. The final deadline for the ratification vote remains 31 December 1995. Gazeta Wyborcza on 30 March argued that the two votes show that anti- clerical forces are better organized and more motivated than parties sympathetic to the Church and that compromise on Church-state relations in the new constitution is becoming less likely. "Attacking the concordat is the result of political calculation," Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek commented from Rome. Pieronek added that the Church would accept a formulation on "worldview neutrality" in the new constitution if there were an explicit guarantee that the state would not promote atheism. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. WALESA PONDERS DECREE POWERS. President Lech Walesa, speaking to reporters before departing for an official visit to Sweden on 29 March, argued that presidential elections should be held only after work on the new constitution is completed, Gazeta Wyborcza reported. Walesa also proposed that citizens be asked in the constitutional referendum to grant the president the right to rule by decree for five to ten years. Constitutional Commission Chairman Aleksander Kwasniewski said that work on the new constitution could be completed within two months but that the timing depended largely on Walesa, who has six months to propose changes to the draft approved by the parliament. Kwasniewski argued that the presidential elections should take place according to the current legal schedule--between 22 October and 22 December, on a date to be set by the Sejm speaker. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. COMMUNIST SECRET POLICE AGENTS TO BE NAMED IN RELEASED FILES. The Czech government on 29 March announced that citizens will be able to learn the names of former communist secret police agents when a new law enabling them to inspect files comes into effect next year, Czech media report. Files of the StB security service are classified according to code names given to agents and collaborators, but the cabinet decided that real names will be disclosed. But Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus said the names of some informants will be blacked out to distinguish between who was "a chattering neighbor and who was an agent who worked purposely, knowingly, and to order for the StB." A list of thousands of purported StB agents, with real and code names, was published several years ago by a Czechoslovak newspaper. The official files will be open for inspection for five years from 1 January 1996. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK PREMIER ON CABINET'S FIRST 100 DAYS. Vladimir Meciar on 29 March evaluated the first 100 days of his government as "successful," Slovak media reported. He said his cabinet's accomplishments include the preparation of two budgets (one of which was provisional), the passage of the "clean hands" program to fight corruption, the creation of a construction ministry, and the signing of the Slovak-Hungarian treaty. Meciar said coupon privat-ization will start in June, and property worth 55 billion koruny will be sold. He criticized opposition parties for not cooperating with his government, saying that only his coalition partners are willing to work together in the interest of Slovak citizens. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. CONTROVERSY OVER SLOVAK-HUNGARIAN TREATY CONTINUES. Representatives of the Slovak National Party, a member of the ruling coalition, have said the party will not support the ratification of the Slovak-Hungarian treaty. But Meciar said on 29 March he believes the parliament will support it anyway, Slovenska Republika reported. Jan Luptak, chairman of Meciar's other coalition partner, the Association of Slovak Workers, told the newspaper that he viewed the government's progress on the treaty positively but added that the inclusion of the Council of Europe Recommendation 1201 is "unacceptable" to his party. Hungarian Christian Democratic Movement Deputy Chairman Pal Farkas said it is necessary to start implementing the agreement and stressed that the government should finally start discussions with representatives of minorities. Another ethnic Hungarian party in Slovakia, the Coexistence movement, has called for constitutional changes to give minorities the right to self-government. At a press conference on 28 March, the party said that cultural and educational autonomy cannot exist without territorial autonomy. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARIAN, SLOVAK COMMENTS ON NATO. Hungarian Defense Minister Gyorgy Keleti has said that within the next three years, Hungary will complete the reforms necessary to prepare its armed forces for full integration into NATO. He told Reuters on 28 March that Hungary will meet all the military and technical requirements for NATO membership. He also said that Hungary will make its military and civilian air traffic control systems NATO-compatible within the same time frame, allowing the country to take part in joint air defense operations with NATO. Meanwhile, Slovak Foreign Minister Juraj Schenk, in an interview with The Washington Times on 28 March, stressed his country's position that the Visegrad countries should enter NATO as a bloc and not individually, as advocated by the Czechs. He said "the partial, individual approach can end in undesirable results." He also commented that NATO should reach an understanding with Russia on eastward expansion "so that Russia doesn't feel in danger." -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARY, AUSTRIA DISCUSS SCHENGEN AGREEMENTS. Hungarian Internal Affairs Minister Gabor Kuncze and his Austrian counterpart, Franz Loeschnak, met at the Austrian-Hungarian border on 29 March to discuss the impact of the so-called Schengen agreements. Under those accords, seven member countries of the European Union recently abolished border controls at their joint borders, causing huge traffic jams at border crossings between EU and non-EU states in particular. Austria is planning to sign the Schengen agreements next month and implement them fully within two years. Hungarian media report an unnamed Hungarian official as saying that Hungary would find Austria's implementation of the agreements "discriminatory" toward Hungarians. He warned that Hungary's tourist trade could be threatened if tourists had to wait for hours at border crossings to enter or leave Hungary. Poland recently protested attempts to separate EU and non-EU traffic at its border with Germany, saying it would not allow Poles to be treated like "second class citizens." -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE RUSSIANS COVER SERBIAN TROOPS AND TANKS MOVING INTO CROATIA. Newsday reports on 30 March that the Russian commander of UN forces in Serbian- occupied eastern Croatia told Belgian troops recently not to block a Serbian military convoy moving in from Serbia. The shipment involved at least 900 rump Yugoslav soldiers, up to 20 tanks, ground-to-ground rockets, and various other weapons. The paper says that "this was the largest movement of Yugoslav troops into the zone since they withdrew as part of a ceasefire negotiated in 1991." It also notes that the arrival of new M-84 and T-72 tanks tips the military balance in the area in the Serbs' favor. Croatia has protested the development as proof of the UN's inefficiency and of Belgrade's direct involvement in the conflict. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. IZETBEGOVIC WARNS THAT MILOSEVIC STILL WANTS A GREATER SERBIA. Slobodna Dalmacija on 30 March quotes Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic as telling his mainly Muslim party's convention two days earlier that Serbian President Slobadan Milosevic has cut ties to Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic but that Milosevic remains close to the Bosnian Serb military establishment. He also noted that the Serbian president still aims at setting up a greater Serbia at the expense of Croatia and Bosnia. Meanwhile on the Bosnian battle fronts, the VOA says that heavy snowfalls have reduced fighting to sporadic levels, while Vjesnik reports that Serbian forces still control the key television transmitter in the Majevica hills northeast of Tuzla. Nasa Borba covers Karadzic's latest statements, in which he threatens to take Tuzla and Sarajevo if the government offensive continues. He also said he will consider UN forces hostile if the world body calls in NATO air strikes against his troops. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. MACEDONIAN ALBANIANS MEET WITH VAN DER STOEL. Bedredin Ibrahimi, secretary of the ethnic Albanian Democratic People's Party (PDP), and other party representatives met with the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel, Flaka reported on 30 March. The PDP representatives claimed that the Macedonian government is making no serious effort to eliminate discrimination against ethnic Albanians and to improve the human rights situation in the country. The PDP recently boycotted parliament sessions following a police crackdown on the self- declared Albanian-language university in Tetovo in February. Van der Stoel called on the Albanians to continue a dialogue with the Macedonian government in order to solve the university conflict and other problems. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. MACEDONIA SEEKS FINANCIAL AID. Nova Makedonija on 30 March reported that Macedonia is seeking loans totaling $85 million from the EBRD and the World Bank. The money is intended for Macedonia's private sector, primarily for small industrial, agricultural, and tourist companies. Deputy Minister for Development Spase Lazarevski was quoted as saying that talks with the EBRD are about to start, while negotiations with the World Bank have reached the final stage. It was also reported that a fund aimed at creating and securing new jobs in the private sector will be set up. Macedonia and Germany will each pay 10 million German marks ($7 million) into the fund. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN TV UNION LEADER CONTINUES HUNGER STRIKE. Television Union leader Dumitru Iuga, who has been on a hunger strike for the past 28 days to protest alleged political interference in state television, talked for four hours to journalists on 29 March. He vowed to continue his protest and said the parliament was dragging its feet over the confirmation of a new TV management board, whose members were elected by the staff on 25 July 1994. According to Iuga, the administration is seeking to put its appointees in top management posts. Radio Bucharest reported that groups of demonstrators picketed the TV building in a show of support for the union leader, whose condition was said to be deteriorating rapidly. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. PROTESTS CONTINUE IN CHISINAU. Students continued to strike in the Moldovan capital on 29 March, despite reports the previous day that a compromise had been reached with the Moldovan government, Reuters reported. Some 5,000 students rallied in front of the government building, while hundreds of others marched through the city calling on residents to join them. The students are protesting plans to replace courses in the history of the Romanians with courses in the history of Moldova. Moldovan President Mircea Snegur met the same day with representatives of students and teaching staff in an attempt to defuse the crisis. Romanian TV, citing Moldpres, said that Snegur proposed a moratorium until a solution was found. He also suggested that the controversial Article 13 of the country's constitution, which defines the official language as Moldovan rather than Romanian, could be revised by the parliament. In a related development, a spokesman for the Romanian Foreign Ministry dismissed speculation in the Moldovan media that the Romanian embassy in Chisinau had been involved in the protests. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN JUDICIAL COUNCIL WANTS INVESTIGATION SERVICES HEAD DISMISSED. The Supreme Judicial Council on 29 March recommended that Ani Kruleva, director of the National Investigation Service, be dismissed for incompetence, BTA reported the same day. The 25-member council voted in a secret ballot to relieve Kruleva of her duties. Under Bulgarian law, President Zhelyu Zhelev has to approve the decision. Kruleva, who was appointed by Zhelev in 1992, came under fire when eight members of the council introduced a motion for her dismissal on 15 March on the grounds of serving political interests, incompetence, and lack of professionalism. The Presi-dent's Office did not comment on the council's vote, but Kruleva was cited by Reuters as saying that "only a presidential decree can relieve me from my post . . . . I am still NIS director until such a decree is issued." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. TWO MAIN ALBANIAN OPPOSITION PARTIES SAY THEY COOPERATE. The leaders of the Albanian Socialist Party and the Democratic Alliance passed a declaration on 29 March saying that their parties "are not in conflict," Gazeta Shqiptare reported the following day. The Democratic Alliance considers itself a center-right party, while the SP is the successor of the Communists. SP deputy leader Namik Dokle stressed that both parties cooperate on "many important political questions, such as supporting the creation of a constitutional state, the battle against corruption, the protection of human rights, and especially efforts to base privatization on a law passed in the parliament and not on decisions by the government." -- 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. 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