|Life is what happens to us while we're making other plans. - John Lennon|
No. 78, Part II, 20 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 MORE BALTIC COMMENTS ON KOZYREV STATEMENT. Officials in Estonia and Latvia on 19 April reacted strongly to the remarks by Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev the previous day that Moscow reserves the right to use military force to protect Russian living abroad, Western agencies reported. Estonian President Lennart Meri considered the timing of Kozyrev's remarks very inappropriate, coming shortly before the celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. The Estonian Foreign Ministry asked Moscow for an explanation of Kozyrev's remarks but has not yet received a reply. It issued a statement noting with anxiety that Russia used similar slogans about defending the rights of Russian-speakers before invading Chechnya and killing tens of thousands of civilians. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LATVIA PREPARES AGREEMENT ON REFUGEES. Atis Sjanits, deputy state secretary for juridical and consular issues at the Latvian Foreign Ministry, said his ministry has prepared a draft agreement on taking back refugees who have no right to stay in the territory of a neighboring state, BNS reported on 19 April. Delegations from the Baltic foreign ministries and immigration officials will meet in Riga on 27 April to discuss this agreement and a similar one prepared by Estonia. Sjanits noted that although Latvia has sent notes to Russia and Belarus proposing talks on illegal migration issues, neither state has as yet responded. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. U.S. BANK SUGGESTS FINANCING HALF OF LITHUANIAN OIL TERMINAL PROJECT. Representatives of the U.S. company Fluor Daniel brought to Lithuania on 18 April a letter of intent signed by the vice president of the U.S.- based EXIM bank promising to meet 50-60% of the construction costs of the planned floating oil terminal at Butinge, BNS reported the next day. The offer is conditional on Lithuania's paying the remainder. Fluor Daniel designed the terminal project and began to help Lithuania to find financing for it when the Russian oil giant Lukoil refused to participate in the project, scaring away interested Western companies. The terminal is expected to cost around $200 million. All the equipment and technologies would be purchased in the U.S. if Lithuania and EXIM reach an agreement. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. WORK ON UNDERWATER CABLE BETWEEN ESTONIA AND SWEDEN HALTED. The Estonian National Maritime Inspectorate has ordered the Estonian Telephone Co. to stop installing an underwater cable between Estonia and Sweden because it runs through the spawning grounds of fish and a registered deposit of therapeutic mud, BNS reported on 18 April. The company may have to pay for damage inflicted on the country's fish reserves and for spoiling the mud deposit. These costs would undoubtedly result in higher telephone charges. The Environment Ministry is evaluating the damage and establishing a commission that will draw up a list of principles and regulations. The company will also have to pay fines to its Swedish and Danish partners. It is unclear when and how the work will continue. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. CRIMEAN DEPUTIES DENOUNCE PETITION TO KIEV. The Crimean parliament has denounced deputy Refat Chubarov's initiative to collect Crimean deputies signatures to a document urging Kiev to dissolve the Crimean legislature, Ukrainian Radio reported on 19 April. The Crimean parliament said in a statement that the claim that 50 deputies have signed such a petition is a "gross falsification aimed at abolishing Crimean autonomy." The statement added that only a minority of deputies signed the petition and that they had been elected on minority quotas. The statement also appealed to Kiev not to worsen the situation in Crimea by exploiting Chubarov's petition. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. HEAD OF BELARUSIAN ELECTORAL COMMISSION APPEALS TO PRESIDENT. Alyaksandr Abramovich, head of the Belarusian Central Electoral Commission, met with President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 18 April to discuss funding for the 14 May parliament elections, Belarusian radio reported the next day. Abramovich claims that the electoral commission has received less than half of the 68 billion Belarusian rubles ($6.5 million) allocated for the elections. He says the commission has received only 20 billion rubles for the elections and nothing for the referendum, scheduled to take place at the same time, or the 11 June local elections . He appealed to the president to release further funds. Each of the 2,502 registered candidates is entitled to 600,000 rubles ($52) for their campaign. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, ROMANIAN PRESIDENTS IN POLAND. European Parliament President Klaus Haensch arrived in Poland on 19 April for his first foreign visit since being elected in July 1994. He met with Polish Premier Jozef Oleksy and the leaders of all parliament factions. Haensch said that most European Parliament deputies supported Polish EU membership, but he stressed that Poland would neither be subject to special requirement nor receive any favors. Haensch is scheduled to visit his birthplace, Szprotawa, on 20 April. Meanwhile, Ion Iliescu also arrived in Poland on 19 April for the first visit by a Romanian president since 1989, the Polish press reported. Iliescu met with Polish President Lech Walesa, Premier Jozef Oleksy as well as with the Sejm and Senate presidents. Walesa was quoted as saying after the meeting that "we are nearly unanimous on the most important issues." -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK OPPOSITION REACTS TO NEW SIS CHIEF. Democratic Left Chairman Peter Weiss, reacting to the appointment of Ivan Lexa, a deputy from the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia and a close ally of Premier Vladimir Meciar, as director of the Slovak Information Service, said on 19 April that the SIS is no longer designed to protect the interests of Slovakia but rather those of the current governing parties. Complaining that no opposition deputies are represented on the SIS's supervisory body, Weiss expressed fears about the political abuse of the service. Democratic Union deputy Milan Knazko called the move "another arrogant provocation vis-a-vis the president," saying it shows that Meciar favors "ideology and obedience" over "professionalism." -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT TO REDUCE SUBSIDIES TO POLITICAL PARTIES. The Hungarian government on 18 April revealed plans to cut state subsidies to political parties by 15% as part of its austerity measures designed to reduce the budget deficit, Magyar Hirlap reported the next day. While the government cited economic reasons for the cuts, the opposition parties charged that the move was politically motivated and expressed fears that it would endanger multi-party democracy in Hungary. Many parties are experiencing financial difficulties because of loans they took out to cover the campaign costs for national and local elections. Several were forced to sell or rent party property and to reduce personnel. -- Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARY, MOLDOVA SIGN FRIENDSHIP TREATY. Hungarian President Arpad Goncz and his Moldovan counterpart, Mircea Snegur, signed a bilateral friendship treaty in Budapest on 19 April, international agencies reported the next day. Leading officials from various Hungarian and Moldovan ministries signed agreements on the avoidance of double taxation, investment protection, cultural cooperation, and civil aviation. Snegur and Goncz discussed at length the question of minority rights and stressed that their countries were in full agreement on the treatment of minorities. In the past, Hungary has expressed strong support for Moldovan policies on minorities in general and for granting territorial autonomy to the Gagauz minority in particular. -- Edith Oltay and Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SERBS SHELL SARAJEVO IN BOSNIA . . . News agencies reported on 19 April that Bosnian Serb forces shelled Sarajevo with heavy weapons placed in UN monitoring sites. The Serbs ignored shots fired by Ukrainian peacekeepers and verbal threats by French soldiers, but an overflight by NATO aircraft apparently prompted them to cease shelling. Meanwhile in New York, the UN Security Council unanimously passed French-backed Resolution 987, which condemns recent attacks on UNPROFOR and calls on the secretary-general to prepare recommendations on new measures to promote the peacekeepers' safety. Hina added that the text also urges an extension of the current Bosnian cease-fire after it expires on 30 April. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. .. . . AND DUBROVNIK IN CROATIA. Hina reported on 19 April that Serb forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina fired a mortar shell at the runway of the new Dubrovnik-Cilipi airport, which replaced the airport destroyed in the 1991 Serbian-Croatian conflict. Prime Minister Nikica Valentic, who had just arrived to dedicate the new terminal, called the attack "another proof of how unscrupulous our enemy is." He added that "this attack is aimed at provoking a conflict. Croatia will not tolerate such provocations anymore . . . If needed, we are ready to respond faster and stronger than [the Serbs] would expect." Croatia's ambassador to the UN, Mario Nobilo, sent a letter to Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali condemning "such terrorist acts." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. CAN THE CROATS SHELL KNIN? UN sources have said that Croatian and Bosnian Croat forces are now ensconced on Mt. Dinara to the east of the Krajina capital and that from that position they can hit Knin itself, Reuters reported on 18 April. The report points out that Croatian forces have been encroaching on the rebel Serbs' territory since UNPROFOR's mandate ran out at the end of March. The 19 April Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung adds that UN negotiators are far from hammering out a new mandate acceptable both to Zagreb and to Knin and are unlikely to meet their 21 April deadline. A central Croatian demand, which the Serbs reject, is that UN monitors be stationed on Croatia's frontiers with Serbia and Bosnia to monitor about two dozen major crossing points and scores of minor ones. Nasa Borba says that the UN already has 200 vehicles in place along the Croatian-Serbian border. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. MILOSEVIC OFF THE HOOK? Reuters reported on 19 April that the head of the UN war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has said that documents brought to public attention in a 13 April New York Times article do not in fact link Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to war crimes in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Chief Prosecutor Richard Goldstone said: "The documents referred to in the article were found by my office to be [of] no evidentiary or other value." -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. UPDATE ON KOSOVO TRIALS. The local court of Pec on 19 April sentenced nine former ethnic Albanian policemen to between one and five years in prison, international agencies reported the same day. The policemen were charged with creating a shadow Kosovar Interior Ministry of the Republic of Kosovo. According to the Serbian authorities, the ministry was set up in 1992 to "create the conditions for the secession of Kosovo from Yugoslavia." Also on 19 April, the trial of another seven ethnic Albanian policemen began, Politika reported the next day. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. NEW SLOVENIAN-ITALIAN ROW? Italy's Foreign Ministry on 19 April summoned Slovenia's senior diplomat for discussions about remarks allegedly recently made by Slovenian Foreign Minister Zoran Thaler, Reuters reported. The Ljubljana daily Delo quoted Thaler as saying that Slovenia's borders were "unjust," prompting Rome to respond by suggesting that the minister's statements amounted to claims against Italian territory. But Thaler, at a press conference on 19 April, said he had been misquoted by the daily and that his comments dealt only and specifically with Slovenia's borders with Croatia. Recently, Ljubljana's relations with Rome have been warming, following Italy's decision in early March to halt efforts at blocking Slovenia's negotiating associate member status in the EU. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. MAJOR ROMANIAN POLITICAL FORMATIONS HOLD SURPRISE MEETING. The leaderships of the Party for Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), the dominant government formation, and the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) held a surprise meeting on 19 April. Radio Bucharest and Romanian Television quoted the chairmen of the two formations as saying that the meeting should not be interpreted as indicating a "partnership" or "alliance" between the two groups. PDSR executive chairman Adrian Nastase said the participants discussed the possibility of organizing a "colloquium" of parliament parties to debate and clarify such disputed concepts as "autonomy." UDMR executive chairman Csaba Takacs said the PDSR must overcome its mistrust and collaborate with his formation "on those points where there is common ground." He stressed that both the UDMR and the PDSR support Romania's integration in "European structures." -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN OPPOSITION TO STRENGTHEN COLLABORATION. Emil Constantinescu, chairman of the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR), and Petre Roman, leader of the Democratic Party-National Salvation Front (PD-FSN), agreed at a meeting on 19 April to launch a "minimum program" aimed at coordinating the democratic opposition's policies. Radio Bucharest reported that the program includes collaboration in the parliament, at local government level, and "in the electoral realm." General elections are scheduled for the fall of 1996. The two leaders agreed to work together on an emergency program for overcoming the country's present crisis and to draw up a timetable for meetings at various levels of CDR and PD-FSN officials. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. NASTASE ON RADIO-TELEVISION CONFLICT. PDSR executive chairman Adrian Nastase, speaking in his capacity as president of the Chamber of Deputies, told Rompres on 19 April that the trade unions should play no role whatever in the elections for employees' representatives on the Radio and Television Administrative Council. He said he was convinced that the permanent bureaus of the parliament's two chambers will "invalidate" the vote if the provisions of the law on the elections to the council were to be interpreted otherwise. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DELEGATION IN MOLDOVA. Elisabeth Schrodter, head of the European Parliament delegation for relations with Moldova, Ukraine, and Belarus, said in Chisinau on 19 April that the withdrawal of the 14th Russian army should be internationally monitored, BASA-press reported. She said the delegation, which began a three-day visit to Moldova on 17 April, had seen "that Moldovan leaders are interested in settling the Transdniestrian conflict peacefully." Commenting on a meeting with General Aleksandr Lebed, Schrodter said she had the impression the general was not interested in a rapid withdrawal of the 14th army. Transdniestrian leaders told Schrodter at a meeting on 19 April that they insist on preserving the region as an independent state but that they would agree to a confederation with Moldova. Schrodter also praised Moldova's economic reforms and respect for minority rights. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. ANTI-SEMITES DEFACE BULGARIAN SYNAGOGUE. Anti-Semitic slogans and swastikas have been sprayed on the walls of the Sofia synagogue and a Jewish primary school, Reuters reported on 19 April. Eddie Schwartz, chairman of the Jewish Organization in Bulgaria, said the incident, which took place on the night of 18-19 April, showed that neo-nazi groups exist in Bulgaria. Reuters quoted Schwartz as saying that while the attack is "the work of a marginal group in society . . . , it does not mean that we should ignore what has happened." Mihail Ivanov, presidential adviser on ethnic issues, told a news conference that President Zhelyu Zhelev condemned such "anti-Semitic and racist actions." The incident coincided with the 106th anniversary of Hitler's birthday on 20 April and with the visit of an Israeli delegation to Sofia. A similar act of vandalism took place on 16 April in the northern town of Ruse. A neo-nazi organization calling itself "Brannik" (Warrior) after a World War II fascist group claimed responsibility for the desecration of a Russian military cemetery there. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. NEW ELECTRICITY PRICE HIKES IN BULGARIA IMMINENT. Demokratsiya on 20 April reported that electricity prices will increase by 65%, from 1.95 cents to 3.2 cents per kilowatt-hour. John Wilton, representative of the World Bank in Bulgaria, was quoted as saying that the government, while acknowledging that the increases are necessary, is trying to postpone their implementation because of a lack of protection for the socially weak. Wilton said that a group of World Bank experts has presented a mechanism to protect the poor from the price hikes. Electricity prices went up by 47% for private households and by 28.4% for industry on 1 March. The World Bank has repeatedly criticized the Bulgarian government for keeping electricity prices below the cost of production. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. FIRST ARRESTS IN ALBANIAN PRINTING MACHINE SCANDAL. Perparim Xhixha, former chief editor of the Socialist Party newspaper Zeri i Popullit, has been put under house arrest in connection with the disappearance in 1991 of $400,000 from a communist solidarity fund, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 20 April. The money was allegedly used to buy a printing machine in Canada for Zeri i Popullit, but the machine never materialized. Xhixha's arrest has diverted suspicion away from Socialist Party deputy leader Namik Dokle, who was chief editor of Zeri i Popullit before Xhixha. -- 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. 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