|Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened. - Sir Winston Churchill|
No. 83, Part II, 27 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 WORLD BANK MAY FINANCE UKRAINIAN POWER PLANTS. The Monetary and Credit Council of the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers is to discuss providing state guarantees to the World Bank for the reconstruction of the country's hydroelectric power plants, Interfax reported on 26 April. The bank agreed earlier this month to extend a $114 million credit for the project, but the release of the loan is contingent on a bilateral agreement that includes government guarantees. The sum would cover half of the costs to reconstruct Ukraine's hydroelectric plants and would have to be paid back over 17 years at floating interest rates. In other news, the EBRD has agreed to an $8 million credit to the Ukrainian- British Poltava Petroleum Company for an oil and gas project in Ukraine. Ukraine produces 20% of its gas needs and 10% of its oil. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIAN DAILY SAYS WEST IS MORE SUPPORTIVE OF UKRAINE THAN RUSSIA. Nezavisimaya gazeta on 26 April claimed that Western officials have become more supportive of Ukraine than Russia. The daily, commenting on a recent conference on Ukrainian security in Berlin, says Western officials were not only optimistic about Ukraine and its economy but also adamant in their defense of Ukraine's interests vis-a-vis Russia. Claiming that prior to the Chechen conflict the West had not adopted such an attitude, the newspaper pointed out that Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma's handling of the Crimean situation has helped him gain points with his new Western allies. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. BELARUS PRESIDENT BANS COMMERCIAL ACTIVITIES IN GOVERNMENT STRUCTURES. Alyaksandr Lukashenka has signed a decree banning commercial activities in the Defense Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the KGB, and the main directorate of border and railway guards, Belarusian radio reported on 26 April. The decree calls for the Security Council and Presidential Control Service to cooperate with the appropriate authorities to investigating commercial activities within those structures and to put an end to them. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. OSCE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONER IN ESTONIA. Max van der Stoel arrived in Tallinn on 26 April for a two-day visit, BNS reported. He met the same day with Estonian Foreign Affairs Minister Riivo Sinijarv, saying he was concerned about the failure of many Estonian non-citizens to apply for residence permits. He is also scheduled to meet with President Lennart Meri; Ants Paju, presidential representative on Estonia's ethnic minorities roundtable; members of the parliament foreign affairs commission; and the director of the Citizenship and Migration Department. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LATVIA TO DEPORT SOME ASIAN REFUGEES TO RUSSIA. The Latvian Interior Ministry on 26 April said that 16 Asian refugees who entered Latvia illegally would be deported to Russia, Reuters reported. Eight of them were among the more than 100 refugees whom Latvia unsuccessfully tried to deport in March. Their long detention in two railroad cars attracted international attention, forcing Latvia to transfer them to a make-shift detention center. The other eight were arrested in various places, including Riga's sprawling central market. Latvia says it has documents proving that all the refugees arrived from Russia. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. POPULARITY POLL IN LITHUANIA. Monthly polls conducted by the Lithuanian- British joint venture Baltic Surveys show that the popularity ratings of almost all political figures were higher in April than in March, BNS reported on 26 April. The ratings of left-wing politicians registered larger increases than those of center or right-wing politicians. President Algirdas Brazauskas's rating rose eight points to 49%, probably due in part to his refusal to go to Moscow in May for the 50th anniversary celebrations of the end of World War II in Europe. Center Party Council Chairman Egidijus Bickauskas remained the most popular figure, with 57% or five points higher than in March. Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius and Foreign Minister Povilas Gylys gained six points each, raising their ratings to 30% and 20%, respectively. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. POLISH RULING COALITION SCORES TAX LAW VICTORY. The Polish Sejm on April 27 voted by 303 to 130 to override the Constitutional Tribunal's ruling that personal income tax rates scheduled to be introduced in 1995 were unconstitutional, Polish media reported. The law, which increases top rates from 40% to 45%, has caused discord between the ruling coalition and President Lech Walesa. Walesa's veto of the bill was overruled by the coalition, and the president was forced to sign the law on 20 January. But he appealed to the Constitutional Tribunal, which agreed with him that since the law was promulgated after 1 January, it would have to be applied retroactively and was therefore illegal. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. CZECH REPUBLIC AND UKRAINE SIGN FRIENDSHIP TREATY. Presidents Vaclav Havel and Leonid Kuchma on 26 April signed a friendship and cooperation treaty and expressed the need to deepen bilateral economic relations, Czech media reported. Kuchma, on the final day of his two-day state visit to Prague, held talks with Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, who said that Ukraine could become a member of the Central European Free Trade Zone (CEFTA). He also told a seminar that Ukraine intends to close down the Chornobyl nuclear power station by the end of the century. But, he added, Ukraine needs help from the world community to solve energy and technical problems before the facility can be shut down completely. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. CZECH FOREIGN TRADE DEFICIT. The Czech Republic's foreign trade deficit deepened in the first three months of 1995, according to provisional data from the Statistics Office published by Hospodarske noviny on 27 April. Imports in the first quarter totaled 120.3 billion koruny and exports 102 billion koruny, leaving a deficit of 18.3 billion koruny. Foreign trade has registered a deficit since the second quarter of 1994, but the shortfall of 8.8 billion koruny in March this year was the largest monthly deficit in the past 12 months. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. NEW LEFTIST GROUPING IN SLOVAKIA. A number of leftist groups on 26 April held a working meeting to discuss establishing a new leftist forum, Sme reported the next day. Representatives of the Social Democratic Party, the Party of the Democratic Left, the Movement of Peasants, the Green Party, two leftist youth organizations, and several trade unions participated. The forum is expected to be created on 17 May. Miroslav Kocnar, who recently broke away from the Association of Workers of Slovakia, also participated in the meeting. He is now an independent deputy in the parliament but has initiated the formation of a new group- -the Slovak Party of Labor. According to Kocnar, the new party wants to fulfill everything the AWS promised," Pravda reported. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. FORMER SLOVAK MINISTERS CALL FOR REFERENDUM ON PRIVATIZATION. Two former Slovak privatization ministers, Milan Janicina and Ivan Miklos, have called for a referendum on privatization, Sme reported on 27 April. The former ministers have created a Committee for the Protection of the Rights of Owners of Investment Coupons, which Janicina called "a response to the arrogance of the current governing power." In an effort to raise the amount of property sold during the second wave of coupon privatization to at least 62 billion koruny, the group intends to establish a petition committee by 5 May and hold a referendum in late June. Social Democratic Party Chairman Jaroslav Volf recently started a petition demanding that property worth at least 60 billion koruny be sold, and the two groups may combine efforts. Meanwhile, Jozef Krumpolec, chairman of the board of the KOVO trade union, continued his criticism of the government's privatization program. In an interview with Sme on 27 April, he criticized the fact that the amount of property to be privatized in the second wave is only 34-40 billion koruny. He also claimed that the government program favors top management. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARIAN PREMIER ON VISEGRAD COOPERATION. Guyla Horn, addressing the Council of Europe in Strasbourg on 26 April, argued that the efforts of Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovakia to integrate into Western structures require "close cooperation." But he noted that Hungary is not in favor of "institutionalizing" cooperation among the Visegrad four, Hungarian and international media reported. The prime ministers of two Visegrad members--Poland and Hungary--agreed on 25 April to coordinate their countries' efforts to join NATO and the European Union. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN SERB LEADERS SLAM WAR CRIMES CHARGES. Accused war criminal Dusan Tadic, a former guard at the notorious Bosnian Serb concentration camp at Omarska, told the Hague-based court investigating Yugoslav war crimes that he is innocent. International media on 27 April also reported that the Bosnian Serb Ministry of Information issued a statement brushing aside moves by the court to investigate civilian leader Radovan Karadzic and his military counterpart, General Ratko Mladic. The document claims- -incorrectly--that the court is ignoring war crimes committed by Croats and Muslims. The text also says that the charges lack proof and are the work of "countries historically hostile toward the Serbs." It notes the "undisputed military and political supremacy of the Serbs over the side which was predestined for destruction. The victory the Serbs gained through the regular means of a liberation struggle cannot be proof that [they] have committed a crime." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. BOSNIAN GOVERNMENT AND CROATIAN FORCES READY FOR NEW FIGHTING. Radio Bosnia and Herzegovina on 27 April quotes UN sources as saying that government forces in the Bihac enclave have taken two strategic heights and driven back the Serbian defenders. The mainly Muslim army also damaged a Serbian radar station in the Pljesevica mountain range, which runs from west of Bihac into Krajina. Oslobodjenje on 26 April quoted Bosnian army commander General Rasim Delic as saying his forces "are ready for the end of the cease-fire [on 30 April]. The aggressor will not be able to surprise us in any part of the country." Reuters added that Delic's men have used the four-month period to re-equip and to rethink strategy and tactics. They now make the most of their advantage in manpower and do not give the Serbs a chance to exploit preponderance in tanks and artillery. The news agency also reported the local Croatian forces in an upbeat mood, saying they are within easy striking distance of the Krajina capital Knin, as well as Glamoc and Bosansko Grahovo, which control access from Croat-held western Herzegovina to Serb- controlled western Bosnia. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. OTHER DEVELOPMENTS ON THE WAR FRONT. UN officials have largely given up hope that talks with Bosnian Serb representatives will succeed in reopening Sarajevo airport. Reuters on 26 April said that Serbian civilian negotiators have been hamstrung by their own military, which wants a veto right over the passenger list for UN planes. Meanwhile, Nasa Borba reported that Karadzic, who recently visited front-line troops, paid a special Easter visit to Greek volunteers, whom he presented with a souvenir medal. Finally, the Krajina Serb government has rejected any new mandate for UN peacekeepers that includes the term "Croatia." This has been just one of several objections by Knin to the proposed mandate, but the Krajina parliament will have the final word. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. MILOSEVIC REVIVING OLD GHOSTS? The state-run Borba on 27 April runs a story claiming to demonstrate that the international sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia are robbing not just Serbia but the entire Balkans of their political and economic independence. The daily also resurrects the theme of the "satanization of the Serbs," employed periodically by Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to shift attention away from Serbia's and Serbs' involvement in the wars of the former Yugoslavia. In other news, Nasa Borba reported that the governments of Serbia and Montenegro have voted to establish 27 April as an official state holiday to commemorate the founding of the present rump Yugoslav state on that day in 1992. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. MACEDONIAN ALBANIANS RALLY IN TETOVO. Ethnic Albanians rallied in Tetovo on 26 April to protest the trial of Fadil Sulejmani, director of the self proclaimed Albanian-language university, Flaka reported the next day. Sulejmani is charged with instigating mass rebellion at the inauguration of the university in February 1995. Five minor parties-- including the Party for Democratic Prosperity of Albanians, led by Arben Xhaferi--called for the 26 April rally. The Party for Democratic Prosperity, the government coalition partner headed by Abdurrahman Aliti, announced initially it would not support the demonstration. But on 25 April it gave its "unreserved support" to Sulejmani, MIC reported the following day. The party said it would attempt to institutionalize and legalize the Tetovo university through its parliamentary group and ministers. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. GENERAL STRIKE IN MACEDONIA. A general strike called by the League of Independent and Autonomous Trade Unions of Macedonia is scheduled for 27 April, the news agency MIC reported the previous day. The union is demanding improved social benefits and wages. If its demands are not met, the union will press for the government's resignation and early elections, Union Chairman Stojan Nikolov told the press. A number of opposition parties support the union's demands. But Nikolov, stressing that the strike is not political, said they will not be allowed to address protest meetings due to take place in Skopje and a number of other cities. Macedonian television cited a government official as saying that the government sees no reason for talks with the union. Meanwhile, the Macedonian Trade Union Association issued a statement saying it does not support the protest action, which it calls "purely political." The association is preparing its own general strike, which will take place if talks with government officials on the general situation of workers yield no results. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN PRESIDENT ON DEVELOPMENTS IN STRASBOURG. Ion Iliescu on 26 April said that Romania will ratify only those international documents that correspond with its policies and interests, Radio Bucharest reported. Iliescu was responding to the 25 April vote in the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly in favor of making Recommendation 1201 on ethnic minority rights mandatory for all council members. Also on 26 April, presidential spokesman Traian Chebeleu rejected a statement by Parliamentary Assembly President Miguel Angel Martinez likening the issue of the Hungarian minority in Romania to that of the Romanian minority in Ukraine. Chebeleu stressed that the Romanian government has never asked for territorial autonomy for Romanians in Ukraine, has not summoned the leaders of ethnic organizations to Bucharest to give them instructions, and is not "systematically funding" political parties based on ethnic criteria in other countries. Romania opposes the inclusion of Recommendation 1201 in a basic treaty with neighboring Hungary. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. JOURNALISTS AT BUCHAREST DAILY RESIGN. Romanian media on 26 April reported that 24 journalists, including editor-in-chief Monica Zvirjinschi, resigned from Tineretul liber, a daily read mainly by Romania's youth. The journalists complained of a political shift to the Left allegedly imposed by the publishers. They also denounced the main publisher of trying to enforce a suit-and-tie dress code and other strict rules in the editorial offices. The daily announced that it is forced to suspend its publication for several days pending reorganization. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIA CONCEDES RUSSIAN VETO OVER ITS NATO ENTRY. Romanian Deputy Defense Minister Ioan Mircea Pascu on 26 April conceded that Russia has an effective veto over Romania's entry into NATO. Pascu is quoted by RFE/RL as saying in Washington that it was a "striking coincidence" that NATO expansion seemed to move ahead only when Russia said it would compromise on the issue; as soon as Russia hardened its position, the issue seemed to lose momentum. Pascu added that East European countries would lose "an historic moment" unless negotiations led to Russian acceptance of their entry into NATO. He also noted that Romania and Poland should be the first allowed to join NATO, since the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Bulgaria would automatically become de facto members by virtue of being located between two NATO countries. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIAN DUMA REJECTS TROOP PULLOUT FROM MOLDOVA. The Russian State Duma on 26 April adopted a resolution opposing plans to withdraw the Russian 14th Army from Moldova's breakaway Dniester region, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported. The vote was 267 to zero with two abstentions. The non-binding document, claiming the troop pullout could increase tension in the region, praises the 14th army as a stabilizing factor there. It also recommends that the government takes steps to ensure the normal functioning of the army. Russia and the Republic of Moldova initialed an agreement in October 1994 on the withdrawal of the 14th army over three years. Moldova insists that the agreement does not need to be ratified by the Russian parliament. -- Dan Ionescu, 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. 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