|[America,] it is the only place where miracles not only happen, but where they happen all the time. - Thomas Wolfe|
No. 73, Part II, 12 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 ESTONIAN COALITION APPROVES CABINET. The Coalition Party and Rural Union alliance and Center Party on 11 April reached an agreement on the new Estonian government, BNS reported. Prime Minister-designate Tiit Vahi is scheduled to present his 14 member cabinet on 12 April to President Mart Laar, who has three days to approve it. The Center Party will have five ministers, including its chairman, Edgar Savisaar, as interior minister. Coalition Party Deputy Chairman Riivo Sinijarv and Endel Lippmaa will be foreign and European affairs ministers, respectively, while the party's administrative secretary-general, Andrus Oovel, will be defense minister. The new government will probably be sworn in on 17 April. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. SOME ASIAN REFUGEES ESCAPE FROM LATVIAN HOLDING CENTER. At least nine of the 100 or so Asian refugees who were confined to two railroad cars for two weeks while Latvia unsuccessfully tried to deport them to Russia have escaped from the holding camp at Olaine, Reuters reported on 11 April. The Russian-language newspaper SM Sevodnya published complaints by the escapees that the conditions at Olaine were no better than on the train. They said the heating system at the camp had broken down. Interior Ministry press center head Normunds Belskis said the escape had been "well organized" and was probably aimed at complicating Latvia's negotiations with its neighbors on illegal immigrants, BNS reported. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. SURPRISE IN LITHUANIAN BY-ELECTION. Agriculture Minister Vytautas Einoris was elected on 8 April to the Seimas from the Kaisiadorys district, RFE/RL reported on 10 April. Einoris, nominated by the ruling Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party, defeated Homeland Union candidate Liudvikas Sabutis by 451 votes. In elections on 25 March, none of the five candidates won a majority, forcing a run-off between Sabutis, who won 38.4% of the votes, and Einoris (28%). Algirdas Brazauskas won the seat in October 1992, but gave it up on becoming president in February 1993. Sabutis received the most votes in four previous by-elections, but all were declared invalid because less than 40% of eligible voters participated. While 43.97% of eligible voters voted on 25 March, only 43% cast ballots on 8 April. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. HUNGER STRIKE IN BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT. Eighteen opposition deputies, headed by Belarusian Popular Front leader Zyanon Paznyak, staged a hunger strike in the parliament on 11 and 12 April, Reuters reported. The action was to protest President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's proposed referendum questions. The parliament rejected three of the four questions: one on enabling the president to dissolve the parliament, one giving the Russian language state status, and one introducing Soviet-era state symbols. The only question approved was the issue of establishing closer ties with Russia. Lukashenka told the parliament that the referendum will take place regardless of the vote and that he will dissolve the legislature if it violates the constitution. His speech was jeered by deputies. The hunger strikers refused to leave the parliament and were eventually dragged out of the building by the police. Foreign Minister Uladzimir Syanko regretted the strike, saying it would create a sensation abroad and had caused the most "unfavorable political situation" Belarus had experienced to date. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS PRIVATIZATION PLAN. Ukrainian Radio on 11 April reported that the parliament has rejected the privatization plan submitted by head of the State Property Committee Yurii Yekhanurov. Yekhanurov told the parliament that of the 2,000 enterprises slated for privatization last year, only 1,003 have passed to private hands. He said that the greatest opposition had come from the agricultural sector. On a more positive note, he said the creation of auction centers has allowed individuals to become owners of enterprises outside their regions . Yekhanurov said the parliament's decision to reject his plan will have little real influence and that privatization will continue. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. QUARREL IN WARSAW OVER MOSCOW V-DAY COMMEMORATIONS. Polish Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy has been invited to Moscow to participate in the ceremonies on 9 May marking the 50th anniversary of the allied victory in Europe, Polish media reported. President Lech Walesa's spokesman said that Oleksy has been pressing for an invitation, ignoring Walesa's decision not to go to Moscow but to preside instead over ceremonies in Warsaw. He accused Oleksy of not discussing his decision with the president. But according to the premier's spokeswoman, Oleksy has requested a meeting with the president several times to discuss the issue. Walesa's decision to stay in Warsaw for the V-Day commemorations came after German Chancellor Helmut Kohl failed to invite Walesa to the Berlin celebrations. Kohl has invited the leaders of only four countries: the United States, Britain, France, and Russia. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. CZECH POLICE ARREST COCAINE DEALERS. Czech police on 12 April announced the arrest of two men involved in "extensive trade with cocaine." The head of the National Anti-drug Center said the arrests ended a two-year undercover operation called "Blizzard," during which Czech policemen worked closely with colleagues from Germany, Britain, and the U.S. Some 700 kilograms of cocaine were seized during the operation. The arrested men were a Czech emigre from the Netherlands, who headed the drug ring, and a Czech entreprenuer. A large number of weapons were reportedly seized during house searches following the arrests. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK CABINET APPROVES MEMORANDUM ON ECONOMIC POLICY. The Slovak cabinet on 11 April approved its memorandum on economic policy, Sme reported. The draft, submitted by Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Sergej Kozlik, is intended to strengthen the trust of the IMF in the government's reform program. The fund delayed the third installment of Slovakia's stand-by loan earlier this year. The cabinet also approved a bill on supporting small and medium-sized businesses. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK DEFENSE MINISTER IN U.S. Jan Sitek, during his visit to the U.S., met on 11 April with Secretary of Defense William Perry, Pravda reported. The two leaders signed an intergovernment treaty on protecting secret military information. The document determines which information is to be exchanged between Slovakia and the U.S. Perry said the treaty signaled that the two countries "have reached a new phase of security cooperation," adding that the U.S. wants to help the country widen its activities with NATO. Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd, during a one-day visit to Slovakia on 11 April, met with President Michal Kovac, Premier Vladimir Meciar, and Foreign Minister Juraj Schenk to express "strong" support for Slovakia's membership in the EU and NATO. But he stressed the importance of further reforms, noting that only countries that have "shed the Communist system and are clearly open, tolerant, and democratic" will be welcome, Reuters and Sme reported. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. EBRD DROPS MOCHOVCE FROM AGENDA. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development ended its annual meeting with the issue of funding for the Slovak nuclear power plant at Mochovce dropped from the agenda, international agencies reported on 12 April. Slovakia had requested that the EBRD delay taking a decision on a loan to fund the completion of the Soviet-built reactor. Austria has campaigned against the reactor, and Austrian Foreign Minister Alois Mock told Slovakia on 10 April that adherence to strict nuclear safety standards should be a requirement for EU membership. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARY'S ROMA FORM OWN GOVERNMENT. Roma representatives from across Hungary elected a 53-member national Roma government at a meeting near Budapest on 9 and 10 April, international and Hungarian media reported. The new body will represent Roma interests in areas such as local self- government, rural development, employment, housing, and education. According to official estimates, 500,000 Roma live in Hungary; but unofficial estimates put the number at almost 1 million. Under the 1993 legislation on minorities, the Roma government will receive about $500,000 to finance Roma causes, a senior Internal Affairs Ministry official said. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN SERBS ATTACK GORAZDE. International media on 11 and 12 April reported on the fighting throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina, observing that Bosnian Serb forces have besieged the "safe area" town of Gorazde, in the eastern part of the country. An estimated 13 artillery shells pounded the city in the early evening of 11 April, prompting the UN to call for NATO planes to pass over the area. Bosnian government radio reported casualties, including "tens wounded," but those accounts remain unconfirmed. Intensifying clashes between Bosnian government forces and Bosnian Serbs on Mount Majevica in the northeast were reported on 11 April. The Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA said that Serbian forces prevented a communications tower in the area from being taken. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. NEWS FROM SARAJEVO. Reuters on 11 April reported that UN officials have been unable to forge an agreement with Bosnian Serbs on the reopening of Sarajevo airport, closed two days earlier when Bosnian Serb fighters sprayed bullets at a U.S. plane transporting relief supplies. Also on 11 April, Bosnian Serb soldiers removed a heavy gun from a UN storage site near Sarajevo, only to return it several hours later without explanation. Meanwhile, the Croatian news agency Hina, citing Bosnian television, quoted Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic as asking the UN and NATO to take action to prevent Serbian attacks on Sarajevo and "to declare a demilitarized area within a 20 km-radius of the city." Izetbegovic also warned Bosnian Serbs besieging Sarajevo of an all-out attack if their actions do not cease. He also threatened not to opt for an extension of the cease-fire, due to expire on 30 April, should Belgrade fail to recognize Bosnia-Herzegovina or if the Bosnian Serbs reject an international peace plan, The International Herald Tribune reported on 12 April. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. CROATIA TO DEMOBILIZE TROOPS. According to Hina on 11 April, Croatian Defense Minister Gojko Susak has announced that President Franjo Tudjman has resolved to demobilize some 30,000 troops. The demobilized soldiers will return to civilian jobs, especially in regions where production is adversely affected by labor shortages. "We'll demobilize our men but this will not reduce our combat readiness," Susak was quoted as saying. But he did not specify which troops will be affected by the decision. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. CROATIA WANTS ONLY EUROPEANS AMONG PEACEKEEPERS. Reuters and Nasa Borba on 11 April reported that a top Croatian spokesman has called for the removal of Asians and Africans from UN contingents in Croatia, soon to be known as UNCRO. The spokesman said that European troops better understand Croatia's problems and have more clout with the local Serbs. It is also well known that Croatia hopes that greater European involvement in UNCRO would mean more European support for Zagreb. Croatia regards the Jordanian, Argentine, Nepalese, and Kenyan units in particular as mainstays of the Serbian black market economy, and President Franjo Tudjman has criticized the Third World contingents as undisciplined and unprofessional. The UN, however, says that host countries do not determine the ethnic composition of peacekeeping forces, which must reflect the heterogeneous nature of the world body. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN MACEDONIA. Klaus Kinkel on 11 April arrived in Skopje on a one-day visit, international agencies reported the same day. Kinkel met with President Kiro Gligorov, Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski, Foreign Minister Stevo Crvenkovski, and other officials. He said the Greek embargo against Macedonia was a "mistake" and called on both sides to settle their dispute quickly. He also said that the EU members are showing solidarity with Greece but that the other 14 members are not trying to conceal the fact that the Greek embargo is "wrong." Kinkel promised to facilitate closer ties between Macedonia and the "European and transatlantic structures." He noted that it is particularly important that Macedonia be admitted into the OSCE. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN PRESIDENT REFLECTS ON ROMANIA'S ACHIEVEMENTS. Ion Iliescu, at a press conference on 11 April, delivered a long speech reminiscent of a "state of the nation" address. He said Romania has achieved a certain degree of macroeconomic stabilization and that there are signs that the country's political life is "maturing." Romania is increasingly perceived abroad as an "oasis of stability," he said. Iliescu praised his country's efforts to join Euro-Atlantic structures, stressing that Romania's decision to push for integration into NATO was based solely on defensive needs. He added that Romania was interested in consolidating relations with its neighbors, singling out those with Hungary, which he described as "normal." Iliescu expressed hopes that a basic treaty with that country could be signed soon. Finally, he deplored the early start to the election campaign, which, he said, could put a strain on political life at a time when political and social peace were needed. Elections are scheduled for fall 1996. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. WORKERS' PROTESTS IN ROMANIA. Some 20,000 people on 11 April marched through downtown Bucharest to protest a wage freeze in the state sector and other economic and social policies of Romania's current left-wing government. The protest was staged by the National Confederation of Romanian's Free Trade Unions--The Brotherhood, the country's biggest labor organization. Union representatives the same day reached an agreement with the government aimed at defusing the tension, but demonstrators continued to rally for several more hours. Also on 11 April, railway workers in the town of Pascani took control of the local station and depots, disrupting rail traffic throughout the whole region. Transport Minister Aurel Novac pledged to try to meet most of their demands for better working and living conditions. But the action continued until the early hours of 12 April, when it was ended by the police. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. STUDENTS BLOCK TRAFFIC IN CHISINAU. About 2,000 students on 11 April blocked traffic in downtown Chisinau, while several hundreds more picketed the headquarters of the state TV and Radio Company. According to Interfax and Radio Bucharest, the demonstrators requested firm guarantees that their social and political demands--including that Romanian rather than Moldovan be proclaimed the country's official language--be met. Negotiations with a government commission have apparently been deadlocked over the past few days. The students' protest is now in its fourth week. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT ADOPTS BUDGET ON FIRST READING. The Bulgarian parliament on 11 April adopted the state budget on its first reading, the domestic media reported the following day. The budget was approved by the government on 30 March. It provides for a deficit of 47 billion leva ($700 million) or 5.6% of GDP. Expenditures are estimated at 387 billion leva ($5.8 billion) and revenues at 340 billion leva ($5.1 billion). GDP is expected to amount to 800-850 billion leva ($12.0-12.8 billion), while it is estimated that inflation will drop to 40-50% from 121.9% in 1994. Prime Minister Zhan Videnov said average wages in industry will rise to 8,922 leva ($135) in 1995, Standart reported. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIAN PRIME MINISTER IN RUSSIA. Aleksander Meksi arrived in Moscow on 10 April for a two-day visit, dpa and Interfax reported the same day. Meksi and his Russian counterpart, Viktor Cherno-myrdin, signed on 11 April five agreements on economic and scientific cooperation, including accords on the prevention of double taxation and mutual investment protection. They also initialed a friendship and cooperation treaty that will go into force after being signed by the presidents of the two countries. Meksi's visit to Moscow is the first by an Albanian premier in 30 years, AFP reported on 10 April. Moscow and Tirana broke off diplomatic relations in December 1961 and did not restore them until 1990. -- Fabian Schmidt and Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIA IS NOT VIOLATING UN EMBARGO, FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS. Albanian Foreign Minister Alfred Serreqi, on a two-day visit to Croatia, has denied accusations that his country is violating the UN embargo against rump Yugoslavia, Reuters reported on 11 April. Hina cited Serreqi as saying that Albania respects and will continue to respect the embargo but that small amounts of fuel are being smuggled into rump Yugoslavia. The foreign minister said the accusations are aimed at neutralizing Albania's efforts to focus attention on the rights struggle of ethnic Albanians in Serbia's Kosovo province. He told Croatian radio that "a solution for Kosovo must be part of the overall solution" to the war in the former Yugoslavia. Serreqi and his Croatian counterpart, Mate Granic, signed a protocol on cooperation between their two ministries. -- 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. 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. 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