|The trouble with being punctual is that nobody's there to appreciate it. - Franklin P. Jones|
No. 68, Part II, 5 April 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. Back issues of the Daily Digest, and other information about OMRI, are available through OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/OMRI.html EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT LOSES CONFIDENCE VOTE. The Ukrainian parliament on 3 April voted 292 to 15 to pass a no confidence resolution in the government after hearing the cabinet's annual report on the state of the economy, Interfax-Ukraine and UNIAR reported the same day. Under Ukrainian law, a no confidence vote automatically leads to the government's dismissal, though legislators instructed cabinet members to remain in office until the Ukrainian chamber approves a new government. Deputies also voted to accept the resignation of Prime Minister Vitaliy Masol, who stepped down in late February. Parliament deputy speaker Oleh Diomin blasted what he called the government's failure to implement parliament resolutions and presidential decrees. Reaction to the government's dismissal was mixed. Presidential adviser and National Security Council secretary Volodymyr Horbulin told Interfax that it paves the way for President Leonid Kuchma to reform the entire system of government and make personnel changes he has long wanted to implement. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT PLEDGES FURTHER REFORMS, CALLS FOR UNITY. President Leonid Kuchma, in his annual state of the nation address to the Ukrainian parliament, promised further economic reforms but with a greater social orientation, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 4 April. While warning deputies not to delay approving the austere 1995 draft budget, he pledged to look into overhauling the social welfare system to help the neediest in Ukrainian society. Kuchma also appealed for an end to the ongoing struggle between the executive and legislative branches and called on legislators to pass the constitutional bill on the separation of government powers, which would him greater authority to implement reforms. He defended his recent crackdown on Crimean separatism as a peaceful solution to a potentially explosive conflict in Ukraine. Kuchma also said he supported giving the National Bank of Ukraine an independent status. The bank is currently under the Ukrainian parliament's jurisdiction. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT SUSPENDS INVESTMENT FUNDS. Alyaksandr Lukashenka has issued a decree suspending all specialized investment funds and calling for a comprehensive inquiry into their activities, Interfax reported on 4 April. The president's press secretary, Uladzimir Zamyatalin, said the decree should not be regarded as anti-market reform. He explained that it was issued because there are no appropriate legal mechanisms regulating the operations of the investment funds. Some 200 entities currently participate in the securities market, including 31 specialized investment funds. Belarusian radio on 3 April quoted the president of the first Belarusian investment fund, Alyaksandr Samankou, as saying that the more than 100,000 people who have handed their privatization checks over to such funds will suffer losses as a result of the decree. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. N0-CONFIDENCE MOTION AGAINST LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. The Seimas on 4 April decided to hold a secret no-confidence vote in Deputy Chairman Juozas Bernatonis, RFE/RL's Lithuanian Service reported. The opposition proposed the motion, saying that Bernatonis had acted improperly on 12 March when he ended a Seimas session before a vote on a resolution on Chechnya could be taken. Bernatonis has said he acted properly. It seems unlikely that the no-confidence motion will get the necessary 71 votes because the ruling Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party has said its members will not participate in the ballot. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LATVIAN GAS COMPANY TO CUT SUPPLIES TO TARDY ENTERPRISES. Adrians Davis, president of the state shareholding company Latvia's Gas, has begun implementing the government's decision to decrease gas supplies to companies that have not paid for gas this year, BNS reported on 4 April. Davis said households would not be affected as 80-85% are paying their gas bills. Latvia's Gas is now owed about 52 million lati ($100 million). But the company owes its largest supplier, Russia's Gazprom, about $18 million and the state about 8 million lati. If the debt to Gazprom is not paid by the end of April, Russia has threatened to stop sending gas to the Incukalns storage tanks where next winter's gas is to be stored. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. COMPROMISE ON CHURCH-STATE RELATIONS IN POLAND. The commission drafting the new constitution on 4 April voted to accept a compromise formula on Church-state relations proposed by the Freedom Union's Tadeusz Mazowiecki. Twelve versions were put to the vote, Rzeczpospolita reported. The final version of Article 16 uses the term "impartiality" rather than "neutrality" to describe the state's position on worldview questions. It guarantees equal rights for all faiths, says that Church and state are "autonomous and independent," and stipulates that a concordat will regulate relations with the Roman Catholic Church. These formulations address most of the objections raised by the Catholic hierarchy. Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek, the episcopate secretary, expressed satisfaction with the outcome. Complaints by left-wing deputies suggested that commission chairman Aleksander Kwasniewski will be hard- pressed to retain the support of his own Democratic Left Alliance when parliament votes on the draft, which is one-quarter finished. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. NUMBER OF FOREIGNERS IN CZECH REPUBLIC DOUBLES. Hospodarske noviny on 5 April reports that the number of foreigners with long-term residence in the Czech Republic grew by 56% in 1994, reaching 104,300. Of these, the biggest groups are Poles and Slovaks, while there are a significant number of Ukrainians, Vietnamese, Chinese, Germans, Americans, and citizens of the former Yugoslavia. A total of 319,000 Slovaks and 2,881 other nationals gained Czech citizenship in 1993 and 1994. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK CABINET TO DECIDE ON MOCHOVCE. The Slovak cabinet on 4 April began discussions on alternative financing to complete the nuclear plant at Mochovce. The EBRD was scheduled in late March to vote on whether to grant Slovakia a loan to complete the project in cooperation with Electricite de France (EdF). Just before the decision was to be made, Slovak officials asked the bank to delay the vote. Two other options are now being discussed: funding from Russia and an offer from the Czech firm Skoda Praha to be financed by Czech banks. The Czech offer reportedly undercuts the French one by a third. A fourth alternative is a combination of the Russian and Czech proposals. An official from the Slovakia's Nuclear Supervisory Authority submitted a report to the cabinet saying that security at the country's other nuclear plant, at Jaslovske Bohunice, has improved significantly over the past year. The EBRD has emphasized that the older reactors would have to be closed once Mochovce was running, but the Czech proposal does not stipulate this measure. According to TASR on 4 April, Skoda Praha has said it will implement all the security measures planned by the EdF. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK FOREIGN RELATIONS. Chinese Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Qian Chichen on 4 April completed a four-day official visit to Slovakia, where he met with top officials. Discussions focused on bilateral economic relations and Slovakia's efforts to integrate into European structures, Slovak media reported. The Chinese expressed interest in establishing a business center in Bratislava. In other news, Slovak and Austrian Transport Ministers Alexander Rezes and Viktor Klima agreed on 3 April that by the end of the century a new fast train will link Vienna with Bratislava and pass through the two cities' airports, Narodna obroda reports. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE FAIR WEATHER MEANS MORE WARFARE IN BOSNIA. The arrival of spring in the Balkans in recent days has meant intensified combat in Bosnia- Herzegovina. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 5 April quotes UN sources as saying that the Tuzla area, in the northeast, continues to be the scene of particularly stiff combat and that government forces have captured a key television relay station on Mt. Vlasic, just above Travnik in central Bosnia. But it appears that the Serbs' threatened counteroffensive has yet to materialize, although it could begin soon if the snows melt in the mountains. As late as last week, there were blizzards in western Bosnia's mountains, which led to five Croatian soldiers freezing to death and the rescue of the rest of their convoy, including Croatian Chief of Staff General Janko Bobetko, by UNPROFOR. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY CONTINUES PROTESTS, THREATS IN EX-YUGOSLAVIA. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 5 April reported that the UN has protested to the Serbs over continued attacks on Bihac and the five other UN-protected "safe areas" in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Nasa Borba said that the Contact Group, meeting in London, wants to apply more pressure on the Sarajevo government to extend the current ceasefire beyond its 1 May expiry date, although the agreement has largely broken down in recent weeks and was never really in force in the Bihac area. That paper also reported that international mediator David Owen told the Albanian- language Kosovo weekly Koha that the international community will not accept the secession of any parts of existing ex-Yugoslav republics-- namely, Krajina, Kosovo, and the largely ethnic Albanian areas of western Macedonia. He denied, however, that any solution eventually worked out for Krajina could be automatically applied to Kosovo. Owen advised the Kosovo Albanians to forget about independence and to talk to the Serbs about political autonomy. Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic abolished Kosovo's wide-ranging self-rule granted by Josip Broz Tito's 1974 Yugoslav constitution. Nasa Borba also reported on the cost of the current conflict for all parties in the former Yugoslavia and concluded that Austria has made more money out of that area than it has with its former trading partners in EFTA. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SERBIAN UPDATE. Reuters on 4 April quoted international sanctions monitors as saying that Belgrade appears to be keeping its border with Bosnia-Herzegovina closed. "We have given Belgrade a clean bill of health in our report to the Geneva headquarters of the Co-Chairmen of the International Conference on Former Yugoslavia," ICFY spokesman Geoff Gartshore said. Reuters adds, however, that some Western diplomats in Belgrade have said that while there is no evidence that Belgrade is violating its own blockade, "a vast body of pin-prick violations" and reports of helicopter supply flights from Serbia to Bosnian Serb-held territory are worrisome. Meanwhile, Nasa Borba on 5 April reports that farmers and agricultural workers staged protests in Belgrade against the government's agricultural policies. Farm representatives are scheduled to meet with Serbian government officials on 14 April. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT FAILS TO SOLVE TELEVISION CONFLICT. A joint session of Romania's bicameral parliament on 4 April failed to solve the conflict over the appointment of the Television Administrative Council. The legislature approved five of the 13 members endorsed by the parliament's commissions for mass media and culture but none of the candidates proposed by the opposition. Niculai Constantin Munteanu, who was elected by television employees and approved by the commissions, failed to win the necessary votes in the parliament to secure the nomination, Radio Bucharest reported. He is the second employees' candidate not to be appointed to the council. The failure of the commissions to approve the candidacy of philosopher Gabriel Liiceanu triggered the hunger strike of television Free Trade Union leader Dumitru Iuga, whose protest action has now lasted for more than one month. The elections were boycotted by the bulk of the opposition to show solidarity with Iuga and to protest the parliament majority's handling of the appointments. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. TAROM CRASH UPDATE. Radio Bucharest on 4 April, citing the Belgian daily Le Soir, reported that the cause of the Tarom aircraft disaster was technical failure, not a bomb explosion. The Romanian airline plane crashed on 31 March en route to Brussels. Le Soir said it had obtained the text of the last conversation between the co-pilot and the control tower in Bucharest. It reported that the co-pilot had complained about a technical problem just before the plane crashed. According to Romania libera on 4 April, the co-pilot had asked what was going on "in the back" of the plane. Radio Bucharest quoted the city's chief coroner, Vladimir Belis, as insisting that the crash was caused by an explosion but not necessarily by a bomb. Hoax bomb calls continued on 4 April. Romanian Television reported that a Tarom flight bound for Copenhagen made an emergency landing in Warsaw after a phone call claiming a bomb had been planted on board. Bucharest's Otopeni and Baneasa airports were again closed several times following anonymous bomb threats. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. CHRISTOPHER URGES ROMANIAN-HUNGARIAN ACCORD. US Secretary of State Warren Christopher on 3 April urged Romania and Hungary to settle through diplomacy their differences over the treatment of ethnic minorities, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Christopher said he was encouraged by the treaty, concluded in March, between Hungary and Slovakia and hoped a similar treaty could be negotiated between Hungary and Romania. He added that "we will do all we can to encourage it." Chrisopher was speaking at a conference of human rights activists and minority representatives at the State Department in Washington. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. SHUMEIKO WANTS RUSSIAN FORCES AND WEAPONS OUT OF MOLDOVA. Russian Federation Council Chairman Vladimir Shumeiko, arriving in Chisinau for a two-day visit on 4 April, said the 14th Army should withdraw from Moldova immediately, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. Shumeiko said "the experience of the Chechen conflict shows that weapons should be urgently withdrawn from hot spots." He also said the problems involving the breakaway region are Moldova's internal affair and should be settled by political means. Russia, he noted, should act "only as a mediator in the process." Radio Bucharest quoted Shumeiko as saying Moldovans were "fully justified" in protesting the presence of Duma deputies as observers in the recent referendum on the withdrawal of the 14th Army. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. UPDATE ON CHISINAU STUDENT STRIKE. Anatol Petrenco, leader of the strikers' committee, said the special commission set up by President Mircea Snegur was unable to meet the strikers' main demands, according to Radio Bucharest on 5 April. Some demands of an economic nature are reported to have been met. But the strikers want changes in the constitution's preamble, which refers to historical aspirations for an independent Moldova. They also want Article 13, defining "Moldovan" as the country's official language, to be amended. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER ON UN SANCTIONS, SCHENGEN AGREEMENT. Zhan Videnov, speaking at the Atlantic Club in Sofia on 4 April, said that countries hit by trade losses caused by the UN sanctions against rump Yugoslavia should appeal jointly to the UN and other international organizations for compensation, Bulgarian media reported the next day. He also considered the consequences of the Schengen agreement for Bulgaria. The Schengen countries, he noted, want to protect themselves against organized crime, drug trafficking, and terrorism. Videnov said his government will fight all these criminal manifestations so that the visa restrictions for Bulgarian citizens can be lifted. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIAN DAILY ALLEGES RELEASED ALBANIAN GREEKS INVOLVED IN MAVI TERRORISM. Gazeta Shqiptare on 5 April alleged that five ethnic Greeks from Albania who were arrested in April 1994 on charges of illegal arms possession and espionage were involved in terrorist activities. The five were released on 8 February following Greek diplomatic and economic pressure. Greek police, following the recent arrest of a group of seven armed men near the Albanian border, cracked down on MAVI activists and gathered evidence about the terrorist activities of the Greek nationalist Northern Epirus Liberation Front (MAVI). Gazeta Shqiptare quoted former Greek Transport Minister Theodoros Pangalos as saying that "it is very possible that [the five] have connections to the ultranationalist command that has been arrested recently." -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIAN TRADE UNIONS THREATEN STRIKE. The Albanian government has rejected trade union demands for a 35% rise in public sector wages, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 5 April. Dashamir Shehi, deputy head of the Council of Ministers, is quoted as saying that "the state's current finances do not allow it to meet these demands." Trade unions representing workers in the education, health, and telecommunications sectors have threatened to strike if their demands are not met. An unspecified number of newspapers also threatened protest action after the publishing house Demokracia raised printing costs by about 35%, Koha Jone reported on 31 March. -- 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. OMRI also publishes the biweekly journal Transition, which contains expanded analysis of many of the topics in the Daily Digest. For Transition subscription information send an e-mail to TRANSITION@OMRI.CZ To receive the OMRI Daily Digest by mail or fax, please direct inquiries to OMRI Publications, Na Strzi 63, 140 62 Prague 4, Czech Republic; or electronically to OMRIPUB@OMRI.CZ Tel.: (42-2) 6114 2114; fax: (42-2) 426 396.
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.