|When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain|
No. 81, Part II, 25 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 POLAND, HUNGARY TO COORDINATE NATO MEMBERSHIP EFFORTS. Polish Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy, speaking during his two-day official visit to Hungary, has said that Hungary and Poland will cooperate in their efforts to join NATO and the European Union. His Hungarian counterpart, Prime Minister Guyla Horn, noted that both Hungary and Poland regard the process of joining NATO as "irreversible." Meanwhile, Hungarian Defense Minister Gyorgy Keleti, who on 24 April began a three-day official visit to Germany, discussed the inclusion of East European countries in NATO with German Defense Minister Volker Ruhe. Hungarian and German media quoted Ruhe as saying that Hungary's membership in the EU and NATO are in Germany's interest. Ruhe also noted that Bonn feels an obligation to help clear the way for Hungary to join both organizations. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. FBI TRAINING ACADEMY OPENS IN BUDAPEST. FBI and other federal agents will start training 33 Hungarian, Czech, and Polish police officers at the International Law Enforcement Academy in Budapest. The academy was opened on 24 April. Hungarian and international media report that policemen from 23 former communist countries will attend the eight-week courses. "As crime becomes international, so crime prevention must turn international," Hungarian Internal Affairs Minister Gabor Kuncze said at the opening ceremony. U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno and FBI Director Louis Freeh were prevented from attending the ceremony by the Oklahoma bombing. Referring to the bombing, U.S. Ambassador Donald Blinken said the "reasons are self-evident for opening such a facility." The academy's faculty will initially consist of six teachers from the FBI and other federal and state agencies. As the courses evolve, the staff will become more international. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIAN MILITARY REORGANIZATION. The Ukrainian Ministries of Defense and Health have agreed that in peace time, military doctors will be removed from military units and organized into civilian medical groups, Ukrainian Radio reported on 22 April. The decision was taken to try to make better use of resources and manpower. The ministries are to draw up a plan for the reorganization of military units and submit it to the Cabinet of Ministers for confirmation. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. BELARUSIAN ELECTION UPDATE. Belarusian Television on 23 April reported that the registration period for candidates in the parliament elections has ended and the campaign period begun. In all, 2,396 candidates have registered to run for the 240 parliament seats. The opposition Belarusian Popular Front is fielding the most candidates, followed by the communist party and the centrist Party of Popular Accord. One-third of the candidates are independents. A number of candidates have been disqualified owing to irregularities in the registration process. In Vitebsk, the registration forms of one-third of all candidates have been declared invalid. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. BELARUS EXPANDS OIL PROCESSING. Belarusian oil processing in the first quarter of 1995 was up 45.6% on the same period last year, Interfax reported on 24 April. The total amount processed from January-March 1995 was 3.65 million tons. But oil extraction was down 97.9% or 488,963 tons. The Russian-Belarusian oil concern Slavneft estimates that 40% of the oil processed in Belarus will be sold on the domestic market and the rest abroad. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. BALTIC ASSEMBLY MEETING. The sixth session of the Baltic Assembly on 22 April adopted 14 documents but failed to pass resolutions on sea border agreements and a joint policy for illegal immigrants, BNS reported. Estonian parliament deputy chairman Arnold Ruutel was elected president and his Lithuanian and Latvian counterparts, Egidijus Bickauskas and Maris Budovskis, vice presidents for the assembly's next session, to be held in Tallinn in December. The Baltic deputies to the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly handed out three Baltic Assembly documents to the council's political committees on 24 April: resolutions on Chechnya and the end of World War II in Europe as well as a statement on Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev's recent remarks that Russia may use force to defend Russians living abroad. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. ESTONIAN FERRY RUNS AGROUND. More than 1,000 passengers and crew were evacuated safely from the ferry MS Tallink after it ran aground early in the morning of 22 April shortly after leaving Helsinki, Reuters reported. The accident, which occurred in heavy fog, was apparently caused by a "miscalculation" of the ship's pilot. The ship was towed back for repairs to Helsinki harbor within four hours and the passengers were taken to Tallinn later that day. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LITHUANIAN PRIME MINISTER IN SOUTH AMERICA. Adolfas Slezevicius, accompanied by Transportation and Energy Ministers Jonas Birziskis and Aleksandras Stasiukynas, Bank of Lithuania Chairman Kazimieras Ratkevicius, and other officials, began a three-day state visit to Venezuela on 23 April, BNS reported the next day. He is scheduled to meet with President Rafael Caldera, the parliament chairman, and various ministers. Slezevicius is to arrive in Colombia on 27 April for talks with President Ernesto Samper Pizano, Foreign Minister Rodrigo Pardo, and other government officials. He hopes, among other things, to find investors for the Butinge oil terminal and to discuss purchases of a new type of fuel costing 30% less than the Russian black oil currently used by the power plant at Elektrenai. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. POLISH DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER IN LATVIA. Grzegorz Kolodko on 22 April met with Latvian Prime Minister Maris Gailis to discuss prospects for cooperation, BNS reported. He noted that there are more than 250 Polish- Latvian joint ventures in Latvia and stressed the need for establishing a Liepaja-Gdansk ferry line. Kolodko also told a press conference that a free trade agreement between the two countries will probably go into effect on 1 January 1996. Poland is unwilling to sign such an agreement until Latvia has an association membership agreement with the European Union and joins either GATT or the World Trade Organization. Official talks on the free trade agreement will begin in July. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. POLISH FOREIGN MINISTER IN U.S. Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, on a three-day visit to the U.S., met with Vice President Al Gore and Secretary of State Warren Christopher on 24 April. Addressing the Washington-based Institute for Strategic and International Studies, he argued in favor of Poland's membership in NATO. Bartoszewski is scheduled to meet with Defense Secretary William Perry and National Security Adviser Anthony Lake. He will also hold talks with representatives of the Jewish community. (Bartoszewski was granted honorary Israeli citizenship for his part in rescuing Jews during the German occupation.) -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. BERLIN-MOSCOW TRAIN LINK TO BE IMPROVED. Representatives of German, Polish, Belarusian, and Russian railroads, meeting in Warsaw on 24 April, agreed to modernize the Berlin-Warsaw-Minsk-Moscow connection, international agencies report. The trains will travel at an average of 160 km per hour, and the Berlin-Moscow trip will be reduced by 9 hours. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. SHAKE-UP OF CZECH PRISON SERVICE FOLLOWING MURDERER'S DEATH IN JAIL. Justice Minister Jiri Novak on 24 April fired the head of the Czech Republic's prison service as well as the warden and deputy warden of a jail where a confessed murderer died under suspicious circumstances, Czech media reported. Frantisek Kahanek, who confessed to the sexually motivated murder of a 10-year-old boy, died in custody on 9 April, one day after being arrested. Police and prison officials initially denied that inmates or warders were involved in his death, but a post-mortem showed Kahanek died from injuries possibly sustained during his arrest or in jail. Four prison guards have been jailed on charges of assault and abuse of power, while a police spokesman who gave false information has been sacked. "After five years of trying to humanize the prison service came the Kahanek case. The relevant officials have to take responsibility," Mlada fronta dnes quoted Novak as saying. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. MAJOR SLOVAK TRADE UNION CRITICIZES PRIVATIZATION METHODS. The KOVO trade union, in an open letter to the Slovak government, notes that all post-revolution governments and parliaments have implemented economic reforms that were painless only for themselves and a narrow group of supporters. According to KOVO, current high-level political representatives "speak about the need to make the privatization process transparent [and] the necessity to decriminalize the process. Unfortunately, these are only words . . . reality is the direct opposite." The union also claimed that the course of privatization is decided by political loyalty to the current leader and governing power. Chairman of the KOVO board Jozef Krumpolec told Sme that since the revolution, current Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar has served in the government longer than any other official. Thus, his government is also responsible for the present "legislative gaps," Krumpolec argued. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. CONTROVERSY OVER EDUCATION IN SLOVAKIA. Ethnic Hungarian teachers and parents, meeting in the southern Slovak town of Komarno on 23 April, have issued an open letter to Slovak officials and citizens criticizing the government's preparations for "alternative" (bilingual) education. They also raised objections to the recent law on educational administration, which grants the Ministry of Education the authority to appoint school directors, and called for educational autonomy and collective rights. Democratic Union Deputy Chairman Roman Kovac, at a press conference on 25 April, said his party does not support educational autonomy for Hungarians living in southern Slovakia, since the region is mixed, not "ethnically clean." Michal Kovacic, who heads the Teachers' Forum of Slovakia and attended the meeting in Komarno, told Sme that the problems of Slovak and Hungarian teachers "are practically identical" and that both groups are opposed to the law on educational administration. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK ECONOMIC NEWS. Following a sharp drop in January, Slovak industrial production grew by 0.5% in February. Construction increased by 11.5% and goods transport by 5.5% percent. The unemployment rate fell in March to 14.59%, down from 15.12% the previous month. Unemployment was highest in the district of Rimavska Sobota (28.04%) and lowest in Bratislava (4.74%). Average monthly nominal wages in industrial firms with 25 or more employees fell by 6.4% to 6,199 koruny, Sme reported on 25 April. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL MOVES AGAINST BOSNIAN SERB LEADERS. International media reported on 25 April that the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague issued a statement the previous day naming suspected war criminals, including Bosnian Serb civilian leader Radovan Karadzic, his military counterpart, General Ratko Mladic, and former special police chief Mico Stanisic. Charges include genocide, torture, and rape. Chief Justice Richard Goldstone told a press conference that steps toward a formal indictment are now under way. Also named are Bosnian Croat forces for the deliberate murder of innocent Muslim civilians in the Lasva valley in 1992 and 1993. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. U.S. WILL KEEP CONTACTS TO SUSPECTED WAR CRIMINALS. A State Department spokesman told news agencies on 24 April that Washington welcomes the investigation of war criminals but that it will keep diplomatic channels open to the Bosnian Serb leadership. The 25 April Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung added that UN officials in Bosnia criticized the announcement from The Hague, which they said would make their relations with the Bosnian Serbs more difficult and hurt chances for an extension of the current cease-fire. AFP points out that Bosnian Serb media are ignoring the entire story. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. BOSNIAN PRIME MINISTER UNIMPRESSED BY INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY. Haris Silajdzic has said the closure of Sarajevo airport by Karadzic's men shows that the international community is allowing the Serbs to "humiliate them at will." He said the international community is "extremely impressionable" and its tolerance "unbelievable." Meanwhile a State Department spokesman said that Washington wants UN intervention to reopen the airport. He added that "we are not prepared to let the Serbs dictate the activities of our diplomats," AFP reported on 24 April. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. KRAJINA SERBS END BLOCKADE OF HIGHWAY. Croatian Serb rebels have ended their brief attempt to close the Zagreb-Belgrade highway at two points. President Franjo Tudjman's chief of staff, Hrvoje Sarinic, said earlier that Croatian forces would reopen the route if the Serbs did not do so voluntarily. Nasa Borba on 25 April reported that the Krajina Serbs will refuse to allow UN vehicles displaying the new name UNCRO, rather than the former UNPROFOR, to enter their territory. The Serbs reject any suggestion that they remain part of Croatia and are not an independent state. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SERBIAN ROUNDUP. Serbian Patriarch Pavle on 24 April dedicated a new church in the west Serbian city of Valjevo. The patriarch, in his address, alluded to the situation in the former Yugoslavia, noting that true believers have "brotherly love for all and even for enemies who know not what they do." Meanwhile, a new communist party has been founded in the rump Yugoslav republic of Montenegro. Serbia's opposition Democratic Party has sent a delegation to Germany headed by party leader Zoran Djindjic, Nasa Borba reported. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIAN KILLED AT MONTENEGRIN BORDER. An Albanian has been killed by Yugoslav border guards near a village between Podgorica and Shkoder, Koha Jone reported on 25 April. The 27-year-old Kol Lek Ivanaj was crossing the border to Montenegro on 23 April, together with two other Albanians, when they were stopped by border guards. According to the Albanian Interior Ministry, the three men were trying to reach Albanian territory when the guards shot Ivanaj in the back, seven meters inside rump Yugoslavia. Montenegrin and Albanian experts are expected to investigate the site on 25 April. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. MACEDONIAN ALBANIANS ANNOUNCE RALLIES. The ethnic Albanian Democratic People's Party and a group that split away from the Party for Democratic Prosperity (PPD) in April 1994 have said they will stage protest rallies on 26 April, Reuters reported on 24 April. The trial of Fadil Sulejmani, director of the self-declared Albanian-language university in Tetovo, is to begin on that date. Sulejmani is charged with instigating mass rebellion at the inauguration of the university in February 1995. The police prevented the university from opening, arguing that it was illegal and provoking clashes in which one Albanian was killed. Sulejmani had earlier warned the authorities not to attack the university, saying that "200,000 Albanians will rise to our defense, and they have guns and grenades." The PPD, the leading ethnic Albanian party in Macedonia, is not officially supporting the rallies. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. STOLEN JEWISH ART RETURNED TO BUDAPEST MUSEUM. Gen. Ion Pitulescu, head of the Romanian General Police Inspectorate, on 23 April handed over the remainder of a collection of Jewish art treasures stolen from a Budapest synagogue in December 1993, Radio Bucharest reported. Most of the artifacts were found in Romania and returned in August 1994. According to Hungarian National Police Chief Sandor Pinter, more than 30 gold and silver artworks and religious objects from the 16th to 18th centuries were returned on 23 April alone. Hungarian Jewish leader Gusztav Zoltai said the treasures, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, have to be restored before going on display in the Budapest Jewish Museum later this year. Pitulescu, at a ceremony in Budapest marking the return of the stolen artworks, seized the opportunity to praise cooperation between the Romanian and Hungarian police in general. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN BUCHAREST. Georgi Pirinski on 24 April paid a working visit to the Romanian capital, Radio Bucharest reported. He discussed with his Romanian counterpart, Teodor Melescanu, how to boost bilateral relations and regional cooperation. The two leaders agreed that the top priority was to improve the infrastructure, including roads and border crossing points. Melescanu said after the meeting that the two countries plan to build up to 10 new crossing points across the Danube. He noted that the traffic through the two states has dramatically increased in recent years owing to the situation in the former Yugoslavia. Melescanu also said that Romania and Bulgaria will ask the European Union for assistance to improve travel routes between the two countries. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER DENIES ATTEMPTS AT RECOMMUNIZATION. Zhan Videnov, addressing the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly on 24 April, said there are no attempts to reestablish communist structures in Bulgaria's administration and economy, 24 chasa reported the following day. Videnov warned of the consequences the sanctions against rump Yugoslavia may have for neighboring countries. He said the economic losses caused by the embargo threaten the political stability of these countries, and he called for a gradual lifting of the sanctions. Videnov stressed that Bulgaria will not participate in any military action in the Balkans, even under the auspices of international organizations. Also on 24 April, former Prime Minister Filip Dimitrov told RFE/RL that Videnov's position on Serbia was "scandalous and cynical." He urged the parliament and government "to express [Bulgaria's] will to join NATO." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. FRENCH NEGOTIATOR WILL NOT BE HEARD AT ALBANIAN TRIAL. Nicola Arsidi, a French citizen who was hired by the Albanian government in 1991 to negotiate forgiveness of Albania's foreign debts, will not be heard at a trial against former Prime Minister Vilson Ahmeti, former National Bank Governor Ilir Hoti, former Trade Bank Directors Ardian Xhyheri and Agron Saliu, and Trade Bank Deputy Director Agim Tartari. The five officials are charged with misappropriating $1.2 million intended as payment to Arsidi. In all, Arsidi was to have received $1.6 million. Andi Celiku, head of a Tirana court, said all efforts to summon Arsidi and his colleagues have failed, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 23 April. -- 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. 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
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