|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
No. 74, Part II, 13 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 PRESIDENT STORMS OUT OF PARLIAMENT. President Leonid Kuchma on 12 April stormed out of the parliament during a heated debate on a bill that would give him the right to appoint the prime minister and cabinet without the legislature's approval, international agencies reported the same day. The current law requires the parliament's approval for the posts of prime minister and ministers of defense, foreign affairs, economy, and finance. The new one stipulates that a newly appointed government has to submit its program to the parliament for approval within two months. It also gives the parliament the right to veto the program. Left-wing deputies attacked the bill as anti-democratic and authoritarian. Kuchma reportedly wants the law adopted so that he can form a new government. The parliament last week passed a no-confidence vote in the current cabinet. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. HUNGER STRIKE IN BELARUS SPARKS CONFLICTING REPORTS. Conflicting reports have emerged on why nationalist deputies staging a hunger strike were evicted from the parliament building in the early hours of 12 April. Syarhei Naumchik, coordinator of the Belarusian Popular Front, told Interfax that security officials entered the parliament building at night to search for an alleged bomb. Some 200 armed police later stormed the building and threw out the hungers strikers, beating several in the process. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka admitted he had sent in the troops but claimed it was to protect the deputies in the wake of a bomb threat. ITAR-TASS quoted Lukashenka as saying he could think only of the deputies' security when he heard about the bomb. He said he knew nothing about the beatings but claimed the deputies had sought to hinder the bomb search. Prosecutor General Vasil Shaladonau said it would have been impossible for an anonymous caller to report a bomb to the police through the intercom since the dialing numbers are available only to senior government and police officials. An investigation into the events is to be launched. Meanwhile, another bomb was reported to have been planted in the national television and radio building. The anonymous caller who reported it said it would explode if the broadcasts did not stop. Lukashenka ordered the building cordoned off. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. BALTIC STATES, EU INITIAL EUROPEAN AGREEMENTS. Alan Mayhew, head of the European Commission's Foreign Affairs Directorate, and representatives of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania initialed the so-called Europe Agreements on 12 April in Brussels, Western agencies reported. The accords must now be approved by the European Parliament, the 15 national parliaments of the Union, and the three Baltic parliaments. Under their terms, the Baltic States will join Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria as associate EU members. Compared with agreements signed by the six Eastern Europe countries, the accords between the EU and the Baltic States are more ambitious as regards the timing of full membership. The Commission statement issued the same day says: "The transition period of the agreements will end at the latest on 31 December 1999 instead of 2004 or 2005." -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. ESTONIAN, LATVIAN FISHING DISPUTE. Latvian and Estonian officials in Riga on 12 April were unable to break the deadlock over a fishing dispute, Reuters reported. Estonian coastguard vessels have frequently detained Latvian trawlers trying to catch herring around the island of Ruhnu in the Gulf of Riga, which Tallinn considers its territorial waters. Aado Luksepp, director of the Estonian Maritime Inspectorate, said that the spawning grounds of the fish were primarily in Estonian waters, since the Dauguva River pollutes Latvia's share. Latvia has threatened to take the matter to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LITHUANIA LIMITS RUSSIAN MILITARY FLIGHTS. Lithuania has not issued a single permit for Russian military planes to fly over its territory this month, although several planes have flown with permits issued in March, BNS reported on 12 April. The low-altitude flight on 29 March of three Russian MI-29 helicopters carrying rockets over residential areas of Vilnius prompted the opposition to call a special Seimas session on 5 April and to propose a total ban on all Russian military flights. Foreign Minister Povilas Gylys noted that permits for military flights have been issued in accordance with temporary regulations adopted on 20 July 1992. He added that a formal protest has already been sent to Russia over the flights. Russia admitted that the pilots violated safety regulations and said they would be punished. The Seimas on 11 April rejected the proposed ban. The Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party faction decided the previous day that a ban was unnecessary and that new flight regulations should be drawn up. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY ASSURES POLAND OF EVENTUAL EU, NATO MEMBERSHIP. Douglas Hurd, on a one-day visit to Poland on 12 April, said after a meeting with Polish Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski that "We in Britain are convinced that Poland will join as a full member of NATO and the EU, that these are irreversible processes." He said it was too early to suggest when Poland might enter the EU. Countries wishing to join have first to implement the necessary economic reforms, and the EU has to amend, among other things, its agricultural policy. In an interview with Rzeczpospolita on 12 April, Hurd said: "There is no link between Russia's meeting its obligations under the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty and decisions about expanding NATO." He invited President Lech Walesa to attend the V-Day celebrations in Britain, but Walesa's office announced that the president will stay in Warsaw. Foreign Minister Bartoszewski will attend the ceremonies in London. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. RENEWED CONTROVERSY OVER CZECH REGIONS. President Vaclav Havel on 12 April told parliament leaders that a constitutional amendment subdividing the Czech Republic into regions should be adopted before next year's parliament elections to prevent the issue from being politicized during the election campaign. The president was indirectly responding to a statement by Parliament Chairman Milan Uhde one day earlier saying that regions are unlikely to be set up before 2,000. The Czech Constitution, adopted in 1992, requires the creation of regions, but the parliament has been unable to pass a constitutional amendment. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus has repeatedly said that regional reform is not a priority for his Civic Democratic Party, which dominates the Czech government. Representatives of two coalition parties--the Civic Democratic Alliance and the Christian and Democratic Union--said on 12 April that their parties will push for the creation of regions before the 1996 parliament elections. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK PRESIDENT SIGNS VETOED LAWS. Michal Kovac on 11 April signed three laws that he vetoed earlier this year and the parliament recently passed again, Pravda reported on 13 April. The laws are on the residence of foreigners in Slovakia, on the organization of ministries and other central bodies of the state administration, and on the Slovak Information Service. Hungarian Christian Democratic Movement chairman Bela Bugar, at a press conference on 12 April, expressed fear about the possible use of the SIS to discredit opposition politicians. The party's spokesman noted that the HCDM wants the opposition to unite to send the laws to the Constitutional Court for review. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK MINISTERS ON MOCHOVCE. Slovak Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Sergej Kozlik, meeting with EBRD representatives in London, told bank president Jacques de Larosiere that the Slovak government is opposed to several points of the agreement on the completion of the nuclear energy plant at Mochovce, Praca reported on 13 April. Kozlik said the cabinet's main concern are the high costs of completing the project. He also noted that the recent decision by Standard and Poors to increase the National Bank of Slovakia's rating means that Slovakia should have no problem finding funds from other sources if necessary. The Slovak government is interested in working out a deal involving the EBRD, Electricite de France, and Siemens, together with a loan from Russia and the participation of the Czech Republic, in order to keep down expenses. Meanwhile, Slovak Foreign Minister Juraj Schenk on 12 April said that regardless of who builds Mochovce, it must meet current safety standards. Responding to a statement by Austrian Foreign Minister Alias Mock on 10 April that Slovakia will have difficulties joining the EU if it chooses to complete Mochovce, Schenk said he is convinced that when the time comes to decide about EU membership, the problem of Mochovce will be resolved, Sme reports. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SUZUKI TO SUPPLY EUROPE FROM HUNGARY. Suzuki Motors President Osamu Suzuki told a news conference on 12 April that his firm has stopped exporting cars from Japan to Europe and will sell cars assembled in Hungary through the European dealer network, Western news agencies reported. He said the change is prompted by high European import duties. To meet the demand of the European market, Magyar Suzuki will double its output in 1995 to 40,000 vehicles and increase its work force from 840 to 1,000. The parent firm will invest 2-3 billion forint ($17-$25 million) this year to finance the expansion. Suzuki said his firm plans to raise the Hungarian content in its vehicles to around 80% from the current 52% and increase the Western European content, now about 11%. -- Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN UPDATE. International media on 13 April continue to report on the escalating violence throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina. A mortar shell the previous day hit Sarajevo, wounding at least seven people. Reuters reported that Bosnian Serb commander General Ratko Mladic has sent a strongly worded protest to the UN military command saying that all recent allegations of Serbian attacks on Sarajevo are "incorrect [and] tendentious." According to Vjesnik, Bosnian army helicopters attacked Serbian positions, including around Donji Vakuf, in central Bosnia. Hina reports that Serbian forces have launched attacks on several fronts. Meanwhile, representatives of the international Contact Group postponed a scheduled visit to Sarajevo on 12 April, after failing to receive safety guarantees from the Bosnian Serbs. Nasa Borba reported that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, following meetings with representatives of the Contact Group, said that rump Yugoslav recognition of Bosnia-Herzegovina in exchange for a lifting of sanctions against Belgrade is not in the offing. Finally, a new suspension bridge was opened in Mostar on 12 April at the site of the historic medieval structure destroyed in late 1993 when fighting erupted between Croats and Muslims. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. MILOSEVIC MAY BE LINKED TO WAR CRIMES. The New York Times on 13 April carries a story suggesting that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and high-ranking members of his regime may be directly responsible for war crimes throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina. The story is based in part on documents smuggled out of Serbia by 45-year-old Cedomir Mihailovic, a former member of Serbia's secret police who recently defected. "One of the documents, dated May 24, 1992, appears to include directions from the Serbian state security services in Belgrade on the running of concentration camps in Bosnia," The New York Times reports. If the documents prove authentic, they will provide concrete evidence directly linking Belgrade to war atrocities. Milosevic has consistently denied any direct involvement in the conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. ITALIAN-SLOVENIAN COOPERATION INCREASES. Italian regional official Alessandra Guerra, at a press conference in Ljubljana on 12 April, announced that Italy has plans to invest in Slovenia's infrastructure. She said that Italian interest in Slovenia was prompted by a "need for developing the infrastructure between western and eastern Europe" in order to yield "strengthening international cooperation," AFP reported. Slovenian-Italian relations have improved of late, not least because of Italy's decision in early March to cease opposing Slovenian efforts to negotiate associate membership in the European Union (see OMRI Daily Digest, 6 March 1995). -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN NATIONALIST PARTY WANTS CULTURE MINISTRY. Senator Mircea Valcu, spokesman for the Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR), told journalists on 12 April that his party was ready to abide by the pact with the Party of Social Democracy in Romania. With regard to a possible government reshuffle, Radio Bucharest quoted Valcu as saying that the PUNR was entitled to another ministerial portfolio and would be interested in the post of culture minister in the event that it became vacant. The extreme nationalist PUNR joined the government in August 1994. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN NUCLEAR PLANT TO BEGIN OPERATING SOON? Romania's first nuclear power plant is expected to begin generating power next month, Atomic Energy of Canada told RFE/RL on 12 April. The Canadian company is helping build the facility, which is located at Cernavoda. The project was started in 1979 by former communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu with Canadian government loans and technical assistance. It is years behind schedule and has been plagued by construction problems. Ken Petrunik, vice president of Atomic Energy of Canada, said his company is to assist in the construction of a second reactor in Romania, estimated to cost about $710 million. Romania hopes to cover part of the expenses by selling electricity to neighboring countries. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. UPDATE ON MOLDOVAN STUDENTS' PROTEST. Some 5,000 students and professors demonstrated again outside the government building in Chisinau on 12 April, Reuters reported. They formed a human chain and chanted such slogans as "Down with the government" and "We are Romanians." Protesters also picketed the building of the state TV and radio company for the second consecutive day, demanding air time and fair coverage of their protest action. In a separate development, Moldovan President Mircea Snegur told a group of Moldovan journalists on 12 April that he was "amazed" at the stance of "various Russian circles" on the Transdniester issue. He singled out the State Duma's recent decision to debate the "inadmissibility" of withdrawing the 14th Russian army from the Dniester region. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN POLICE CHIEF RESIGNS. Col. Hristo Gatsov, chief of the Bulgarian National Police, resigned on 12 April after a young man died in police custody, Bulgarian newspapers reported the following day. Gatsov, who was appointed police chief in November 1994, said he felt "morally obliged" to quit under the circumstances. Hristo Hristov, a 22- year-old, was arrested in Sofia on 6 April and died a few hours later of a massive hemorrhage. The autopsy showed he had a torn aorta and several broken ribs as a result of severe beating. The six policemen who questioned him were arrested; Sofia City Prosecutor Nestor Nestorov said they will be charged with murder. If found guilty, they face prison sentences of up to 20 years or the death penalty. The opposition called for the resignation of Interior Minister Lyubomir Nachev, who was quoted by Duma as saying he cannot be considered guilty "in this concrete case." Nachev has refused to step down. Pari reported that personnel changes in Sofia's police force are expected within the next few days. Meanwhile, Standart cited Gen. Mincho Bengarski, secretary at the Interior Ministry, as saying that 18 people have died over the past year owing to "carelessness" on the part of the police." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIA, TURKEY SIGN MILITARY AGREEMENT. Albanian Defense Minister Safet Zhulali and his Turkish counterpart, Mehmet Golhan, on 12 April signed a military cooperation agreement in Tirana, Western agencies reported the same day. Under the terms of the agreement, Turkey will train Albanian officers and provide material assistance to the Albanian army. Zhulali and Golhan stressed that the agreement is not directed against a third country. Golhan, who was in Tirana on a three-day visit, said his country is concerned about the resumption of hostilities in Bosnia- Herzegovina, as there is a risk that "the conflict will spill over into the entire Balkans." He said "Turkey will spare no effort to prevent this." -- 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. 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 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
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.