|We are always the same age inside. - Gertrude Stein|
No. 84, Part II, 28 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 RUSSIA SENDS BACK SOME ASIAN REFUGEES TO LATVIA. Latvian Immigration Police head Aivars Kurpnieks on 27 April said he cannot understand why Russian border guards sent back to Latvia on that morning's Moscow-Riga train five of the 15 Asian refugees that Latvia deported the previous day, BNS reported. He claimed that the Latvian and Russian foreign ministries had an agreement whereby Russia will accept refugees if it can be proven that they came from Russia. But Aleksandr Udaltsov, deputy director of the Second European Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, told Interfax that his department, which is responsible for the Baltic States, "knows nothing" about any such agreement. He added that Moscow notified Latvia of its willingness to "discuss the problem of illegal emigrants in principle." -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LITHUANIA RATIFIES CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS. The Seimas on 27 April unanimously ratified the 1950 European Human Rights and Basic Freedoms Convention, BNS reported. Lithuania accepted the convention by joining the Council of Europe in May 1993 and completed the formal ratification within the required two-year period. The Seimas did not consider ratifying Protocol 6 on the abolition of the death penalty, deeming it inappropriate because of the high crime rate in the country. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT ADDRESSES DEMONOPOLIZATION EFFORTS. Oleksander Zavada, head of Ukraine's State Antimonopoly Committee, told a government session devoted to the demonopolization program that some 250 associations, composed of nearly 5,000 enterprises, continue to function as monopolies, UNIAR reported on 27 April. He said many new joint-stock companies have maintained the monopoly they had under communism and continue to stifle competition in many sectors, particularly agriculture. Zavada added that the government is moving to speed up its demonopolization program, adopted in 1993, by completing work on 10 presidential draft decrees and government orders as well as five draft laws related to the issue. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. POLISH COLONEL'S SENTENCE TO BE EXAMINED BY SUPREME COURT. The Polish press on 27 April reported that the sentence handed down to Colonel Ryszard Kuklinski for high treason will be examined by the Military Chamber of the Supreme Court on 25 May. Kuklinski was involved in the planning of martial law, proclaimed in Poland in December 1981. He leaked those plans to the U.S. and escaped from Poland in November 1981. Three years later, he was sentenced in absentia to death. Some 19,000 people recently signed a petition, organized by Tygodnik Solidarnosc, urging that Kuklinski be acquitted. Many Polish commentators consider his case to be a litmus test for how the current Polish authorities deal with the country's communist past. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. SEJM TO CREATE PARLIAMENT COMMISSION OVERSEEING INTELLIGENCE SERVICES. The Sejm on 27 April changed its procedural rules to enable it to create a commission to oversee the intelligence services. The commission would consist of no more than seven deputies. Candidates would be selected by parliament factions or other groups of deputies with at least 35 members. Two opposition parties, the Freedom Union and the Labor Union, wanted guarantees that they would be represented on the commission. When they did not receive those guarantees, the two parties said they would have no part in the commission, PAP reported. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARIAN DEFENSE MINISTER IN WARSAW. Gyorgy Keleti, on the first day of an official visit to Poland, met with his Polish counterpart, Zbigniew Okonski, on 27 April, Polish and international media report. Keleti said that Hungary and Poland would cooperate to "examine the problems and conditions for joining NATO" with the goal of gaining entry within several years. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. CZECH PRESIDENT SAYS NATO SHOULD RE-DEFINE ITSELF BEFORE EXPANDING. Vaclav Havel on 27 April said NATO should re-define its aims and purpose before admitting new members, Mlada fronta dnes reported. "The expansion of NATO should be preceded by something even more important, that is, a new formulation of its own meaning, mission, and identity," the newspaper quoted Havel as telling a conference of NATO armed forces leaders in Mons, Belgium. Havel said the Czech Republic wants to join NATO not simply to be protected but also to take part in joint defense units. He said that membership in NATO should be open to all countries that have democratic values. Havel added that he cannot imagine Russia becoming a member but that the alliance should develop a strategic partnership with it. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. U.S. CONCERNED ABOUT REHABILITATION OF WWII SLOVAK PRESIDENT. U.S. congressman Tom Lantos, visiting Slovakia on 27 April, said the U.S. was concerned about steps to rehabilitate World War II Slovak President Jozef Tiso, particularly because representatives of the government coalition are participating in such actions, Narodna obroda reported. Lantos said that during discussions with Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, he made his position on the matter very clear. Slovak National Party Chairman Jan Slota later told TASR that Lantos "does not know the history of Slovakia" if he considers Tiso to be on the same level as Hitler and Mussolini. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. CONTINUED CONTROVERSY OVER SLOVAK-HUNGARIAN TREATY. Democratic Union Deputy Chairman Ludovit Cernak, at a press conference on 27 April, said his party will probably not support the ratification of the Hungarian- Slovak treaty because it is "disadvantageous" for Slovakia and because it grants minorities collective rights. Slovak Premier Vladimir Meciar said ratification of the treaty might be postponed owing to the negative stand of his coalition partner, the Slovak National Party, Narodna obroda reported. He commented that his party will try to get the SNP to change its mind. Meanwhile, the Slovak Ministry of Education called meeting of ethnic Hungarian educators in Komarno on 22 April a "destabilizing" step. It said the protesters' criticism of plans to implement bilingual education in Hungarian schools is "demagogic," Slovak media reported on 27 and 28 April. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARIAN PRIVATIZATION OFFICIAL RESIGNS. The Hungarian government on 27 April announced it had accepted the resignation of Istvan Farkas, commissioner in charge of state bank sales, Hungarian media and Reuters reported. A government spokesman told journalists that the cabinet relieved Farkas at his own request. His resignation came, however, just as Hungary unveiled plans to speed up the floundering sales of state property. The government is to abolish the post of commissioner. Selling off the state-owned banks will become the task of a new privatization authority that Hungary plans to set up in May. The new body will combine the various agencies now involved in the sale of public property. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN ARMY TO "LIBERATE SARAJEVO"? Hasan Muratovic, the Bosnian government's representative for relations with the UN, told the city council on 27 April that the army may have to free the capital from the Serbian siege if international negotiators fail to broker an agreement to demilitarize Sarajevo. AFP quoted the independent ONASA news agency as saying that preparations for talks are under way, but it is not clear which international body will sponsor them. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright wants the Contact Group to discuss at its 28 April meeting the Serbs' continued closure of the Sarajevo airport and their demand for a veto right over the civilian passenger lists. Meanwhile, Serbian shells continued to hit Sarajevo over night, and fighting goes on in the Brcko corridor connecting Serbia with its conquests in Bosnia and Croatia, Western agencies reported. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. CONTACT GROUP TO MEET AS BOSNIAN CEASE-FIRE RUNS OUT. The international negotiating body consisting of the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, and Russia is to meet in Paris on 28 April to discuss what to do when the four-month old Bosnian cease-fire expires on 30 April. Repeated attempts to bring the Bosnian Serbs around to accepting the current peace plan have failed, and neither side shows much interest in a formal prolongation of the cease-fire. The truce was never in effect in the Bihac pocket, where Krajina Serbs and Muslim rebels were not party to it, and the agreement has largely broken down in several other areas since mid-March. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. MILITARY BALANCE IN BOSNIA. The BBC on 28 April quotes British dailies as concluding that neither the government nor the Serbs have the strength to win an outright military victory. The mainly Muslim army has manpower, motivation, and mobility on its side, while Radovan Karadzic's forces have more heavy guns and tanks. The government has been trying to launch offensives in areas where the Serbian guns are of little value. Its weakness could be offset somewhat by Croatian artillery and armor, and attention is now on a battle line stretching roughly from the Bihac pocket down to the Croatian stronghold of western Herzegovina. A victory for the government's Fifth Corps and its Croatian allies could cripple links in this sector between Krajina and the Bosnian Serbs and open the way for the allies into Serb-held western Bosnia. In such a case, most observers feel that Belgrade would intervene militarily much more directly that it is now. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. UN FINALIZES TERMS FOR NEW MANDATE IN CROATIA. The Security Council is set to adopt a resolution clarifying the terms of a new mandate for peacekeepers to be known as UNCRO. AFP on 27 April said the text is based on a 18 April report by the secretary-general and will involve a cut in forces from about 12,000 to 8,750. This is a bigger reduction than the Serbs want but less than the Croats demand. Russia is likely to keep its troops in the area, which Knin insists on. But it is not clear whether Zagreb will get its wish to eliminate Third World units from UNCRO and have them replaced chiefly by NATO troops. Meanwhile, Nasa Borba on 28 April provides a list of 95 detention camps for Serbs in Croatia since 1991. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SERBIAN RADICAL LEADER ON WAR CRIMES CHARGES. Leader of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) and accused war criminal Vojislav Seselj said at a 27 April press conference that if Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadic and his military counterpart, Ratko Mladic, have been named war criminals by the International War Crimes Tribunal, then why not the SRS leader himself? Seselj has sided with Karadzic in his apparent feud with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, and his latest remarks likely signal continuing solidarity and support amid allegations that the Bosnian leadership is corrupt and accountable for crimes. Seselj continues to deny involvement in war crimes. He has said he does not fear prosecution and will willingly go to The Hague if summoned, Nasa Borba reported on 28 April. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. BELGRADE BRACES FOR WAR? Rump Yugoslav Foreign Minister Vladislav Jovanovic on 27 April told Tanjug that a resumption of wide-scale fighting in Bosnia-Herzegovina may be in the offing. He warned that the Bosnian Muslim authorities "lacked sincerity and [have been] massively violating the truce." As a result, he commented, any possibility that civil war will not resume in Bosnia has been destroyed. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. DIRECT TALKS TO START OVER SANDZAK? Nebojsa Leskovic, deputy leader of the tiny New Democracy Party in Serbia, announced that talks between the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) in the Sandzak and the Serbian government are likely to begin within the next two weeks. The SDA represents the Serbian Muslim minority, which mainly lives in the former Ottoman Sandzak of Novi Pazar, an area divided between Serbia and Montenegro. Since the outbreak of the Yugoslav wars, frequent human rights violations have been reported in the Sandzak, and this question is expected be discussed at the talks. The SDA is reported to have declared its respect for the territorial integrity of rump Yugoslavia, but party leader Rasim Ljajic has nonetheless demanded that talks take place under international mediation. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. MACEDONIAN PROTESTERS DEMAND GOVERNMENT'S RESIGNATION. Speakers at a rally in Skopje on 27 April demanded the government's resignation, international agencies reported the same day. The so-called Meeting of the Hungry was staged by the League of Independent and Autonomous Trade Unions to protest economic hardship. Union Secretary Atanas Lefterov told protesters that the government has to resign "because there is no room for it in this country." He also demanded early elections within the next three months. Previous talks between the union and the government failed to produce any results. Government spokesman Guner Ismail on 26 April announced that the government intends to adhere to its reform course. Nova Makedonija on 28 April cited Ismail as saying that the nationalist opposition was behind the protests, which he called "not a trade-union but a political action." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. UPDATE ON ROMANIAN RESPONSE TO STRASBOURG DECISION. A government spokesman on 27 April said that Romania was closely watching the debates in Strasbourg in order to formulate its own official stance after the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly voted to make Recommendation 1201 mandatory for all council members, Radio Bucharest reported. Chamber of Deputies Chairman Adrian Nastase admitted that the issue has been "somewhat dramatized." But he added that Article 11 of the recommendation, dealing with autonomy based on ethnic criteria, was "unacceptable" to Romania. Bela Marko, Chairman of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania, expressed satisfaction with the assembly's decision. He also said statements made the previous day by Romanian President Ion Iliescu and his spokesman, Traian Chebeleu (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 April 1995) were "shocking." Iliescu, in a statement released on 27 April, said documents adopted by the assembly were neither mandatory nor expected to be ratified by individual member states. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT WANTS OFFICIAL LANGUAGE RENAMED. Mircea Snegur, addressing the parliament on 27 April, suggested that the name of the country's official language be changed from Moldovan to Romanian, Interfax and Infotag reported the same day. Snegur admitted that the decision to use the term "Moldovan" in the 1994 constitution was politically motivated. He announced that a draft law on amending Articles 13 and 118 of the constitution, which deal with the language issue, will be forwarded to the parliament soon. The Constitutional Court, he added, had already endorsed the changes. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS DUMA RESOLUTION. The Moldovan parliament on 27 April adopted a declaration saying the recent Russian State Duma resolution on the 14th army was "an unfriendly act toward Moldova and a violation of UN and OSCE documents." Parliament chairman Petre Lucinschi, in an interview with Interfax, said the Duma document speaks of the "Dniester Moldovan Republic," despite Russian leaders' having repeatedly acknowledged that the Dniester region was part of the Republic of Moldova. He noted that the planned reorganization of the 14th army was Russia's internal affair. But he praised the army's commander, Lt. Gen. Alexander Lebed, as the "most suitable candidate" for this position under the present circumstances. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN PRESIDENT QUESTIONS LEGALITY OF LAND LAW. Zhelyu Zhelev on 17 April issued a decree returning the law on the restitution of farm land to the parliament for further discussion, Demokratsiya reported the following day. Presidential spokesman Valentin Stoyanov said the president opposes the land law in principle because it would effectively halt agrarian reform and because it contradicts the constitution. The law, passed on 14 April, restricts the right of land owners to sell their plots. If the Socialist majority reapproves the law, Zhelev will appeal to the Constitutional Court to overrule the amendments. Zhelev has so far contested three laws passed by the Socialist majority, but it is the first time he has said he will take the matter to the Constitutional Court. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. POLITICAL COMMISSION FAVORS ALBANIAN MEMBERSHIP IN COUNCIL OF EUROPE. The rapporteur of the Council of Europe's political commission dealing with Albania's membership has concluded that Albania should become a member of the Council of Europe, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 28 April. In a report presented to the council, he said that the Albanian government may resolve the issue of Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano, who is serving a 12-year prison term for embezzlement and falsification of documents, by announcing an amnesty. But it is more likely that his case will be reviewed later this year by a court of appeal. If Albania becomes a member of the council, it will have to sign a number of protocols dealing with human rights, including one stating that every citizen can appeal to the European Court of Justice. Such a move may offer another solution to the issue of Nano's prison term. -- 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. 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