|I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of my existence, and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race. - James Joyce|
No. 87, Part II, 4 May 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 EU COMMISSION ISSUES WHITE PAPER ON EAST EUROPEAN MEMBERSHIP. The European Union Commission on 3 May issued a 300-page "white paper" delineating extensive legislative changes necessary for East European countries to join the EU, international agencies reported the same day. The report must still be approved by the EU summit in Cannes next month. EU Commissioner for Foreign Affairs Hans van den Broek stressed that the white paper was neither legally binding nor a guarantee of EU membership. But he added that its implementation "will be an important factor when the time comes to decide how closely aligned [the East European countries] are to us and when to begin [membership] negotiations," he said. The plan applies to the six East European countries that already have association agreements--Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia--as well as the three Baltic states, which are expected to sign such agreements at the Cannes summit. It includes provisions on competition and social and environmental standards. Van den Broek indicated that East European countries will have to fulfill most conditions before they can begin negotiations on membership. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINE REFUSES TO WITHDRAW TROOPS FROM CROATIA. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma told reporters in Rome on 3 May that Ukraine will not withdraw its peacekeeping troops from Croatia, Reuters reported. The UN Security Council on 29 April approved plans to cut peacekeeping forces there following a request from the Croatian government. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hennady Udovenko, who is accompanying Kuchma on his three-day official visit to Italy, said the UN request for the Ukrainian withdrawal was unexpected. He called it "illegal" and "groundless." Udovenko noted that Kuchma has sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali requesting an explanation. A total of 1,200 Ukrainian soldiers are participating in peacekeeping operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. COUNCIL OF EUROPE SECRETARY-GENERAL IN LITHUANIA. Daniel Tarschys, during a brief visit to Vilnius, held talks with Lithuanian President Algirdas Brazauskas and Seimas chairman Ceslovas Jursenas on 3 May, BNS reported. The main purpose of his visit was to attend the opening session of a two-day international conference on Yiddish culture, organized by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly's Committee on Culture and Education. Tarschys told Jursenas he was pleased that the Lithuanian parliament ratified the European Human Rights and Basic Freedoms Convention the previous week. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LATVIAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR DISCLOSING NAMES OF KGB AGENTS. Guntis Ulmanis, believing that the lists of Latvian KGB agents should be made public, is discussing with leaders of the Saeima factions the possibility of opening the KGB archives, Interfax reported on 3 May. Lidija Doronina Lasmane, an employee of the State Center for Documents on the Consequences of Totalitarianism, told the press that there are some former KGB agents among the 55 scientists, artists, and other public figures nominated for Latvia's highest award, the Order of the Three Stars, for their services to Latvia in restoring and fostering independence. Disclosing the names of the former agents would likely increase tension before the fall parliament elections. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. OPINION POLL ON PARTY PREFERENCES IN POLAND. Rzeczpospolita on 4 May published the results of an opinion poll on party preferences conducted in April by the Sopot Social Research Bureau. The postcommunist Democratic Left Alliance won the support of 25% of the respondents, the Freedom Union 18%, the Polish Peasant Party 12%, Solidarity 11%, the Labor Union 10%, and the Confederation of an Independent Poland 6%. According to the poll, these six parties would be represented in the Sejm if elections had been held last month. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. CZECH GOVERNMENT PREPARES TO ABOLISH CLEARING SYSTEM WITH SLOVAKIA. The Czech government on 3 May instructed Finance Minister Ivan Kocarnik to prepare plans for abolishing the clearing system with Slovakia, which has regulated bilateral trade payments since the breakup of Czechoslovakia. Under the system, goods up to 130 million ECU per month are paid in local currencies; amounts beyond that limit must be paid in hard currency. The Czechs have exceeded the limit every month since mid- 1994, blaming a 10% import surcharge imposed by Slovakia and a 5% overvaluation of the Slovak koruna. Hospodarske noviny reports that Slovak Finance Minister Sergej Kozlik said his government does not intend to cancel the import surcharge (originally intended to be lifted by the end of 1994) but would merely reduce it next year to 7.5%. Kozlik also said Slovakia was prepared for the end of the clearing system, which would mean all future bilateral trade would be paid in hard currency. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK POLITICAL NEWS. The Slovak parliament, at its session beginning on 3 May, voted to accept a statement on the 50th anniversary of the victory over fascism, Slovak media reported. It also voted to hold closed-door discussions on the body controlling the Slovak Information Service. Ivan Lexa, who was elected to the parliament last fall as a representative of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, currently heads both the SIS and its supervisory body. A bill presented by Economy Minister Jan Ducky on state support for small and medium-sized firms was also approved. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK PRIVATIZATION PETITION KICKS OFF. The Committee for the Protection of the Rights of Owners of Investment Coupons on 2 May approved the text of a petition calling for a referendum on the second wave of coupon privatization. The petition is sponsored by former privatization ministers Milan Janicina and Ivan Miklos as well as the opposition parliament deputies Mikulas Dzurinda, Viliam Vaskovic, and Laszlo Nagy. It asks that coupons be payable 10 months after the announcement of the referendum results and that property worth at least 80 billion koruny be sold off, Pravda reported on 4 May. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARY COMPLAINS ABOUT IMF. Hungarian Finance Minister Lajos Bokros on 3 May complained that the IMF and other international creditors are not providing the Hungarian government with enough support for planned economic reforms, Western news agencies report. Bokros, addressing a meeting in Budapest of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said "some of the foreign institutions, such as the IMF, are not supportive enough. They say more and more measures should be introduced within a shorter period of time." The IMF and the World Bank have made new loans to Hungary conditional on the successful implementation of the country's austerity package. Announced in March, the package includes sharp cuts in social welfare benefits, public sector wage caps, and redundancies among public sector employees. -- Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE MORE SERBIAN ROCKETS HIT ZAGREB. Another group of Orkan missiles landed on the Croatian capital on 3 May, killing one and wounding 43. A visiting Austrian ballet troupe and groups of children were involved, and UNICEF condemned the attack. International media reported that the mood in Zagreb was nonetheless defiant, and one journalist told the BBC that it is a mystery why the capital has not been hit more often in the four years of conflict. The nearest Serbian lines are 50 kilometers from Zagreb, and the Orkans have a range of 60 kilometers with payloads of 45 kilograms of explosives. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. CROATIAN TROOPS APPARENTLY IN CONTROL OF SECTOR WEST. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 4 May reported that the Croatian army appears to have largely retaken all of the former UN protected area in western Slavonia. The BBC on 3 May said that the flow of Serbian refugees into Bosnia has stopped because the Croats now control the north side of the Sava bridge to Bosanska Gradiska. UN personnel held hostage by the Serbs have been freed, and a cease-fire negotiated. The Serbs took journalists to see the refugees and charged the Croats with massive human rights violations, but it is speculated that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and his lieutenants in Knin and Pale earlier decided to write off Sector West as indefensible and cut their losses. A journalist for Globus said that Croatian President Franjo Tudjman is not trumpeting the victory but that it is a big success for him because it will enable 40,000 west Slavonian refugees to go home. The refugee problem is Croatia's biggest domestic political and social issue. The United States and Russia, however, have called on Croatia to withdraw its forces to the positions they occupied before the current offensive. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. WILL CROATIA'S APPETITE GROW WITH THE EATING? Up to 1,000 Croatian soldiers have begun moving into parts of Sector South of Krajina in the Dalmatian hinterland. Tensions are growing in the Gospic-Medak area in particular, as the Serbs fire back. AFP quoted France's UN ambassador and acting president of the Security Council as saying he "hopes this will not lead to new fighting." But the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung notes that France, which also holds the EU chair, has failed in its move to suspend that body's preliminary talks with Croatia on a trade and cooperation agreement in retaliation for the current offensive. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. OTHER DEVELOPMENTS SURROUNDING YUGOSLAV CONFLICT. International mediators Lord Owen and Thorvald Stoltenberg have invited Krajina President Milan Martic and Foreign Minister Milan Babic to talks in Geneva. Nasa Borba on 4 May reported that Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic has called off his planned trips to London and Paris from 6- 8 May in view of the current tensions in Croatia and Bosnia. Finally, 4 May marks the 15th anniversary of the death of former Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito. NIN, which features him on the cover of its latest issue, and Politika report on the debate over his legacy; and the daily runs the headline: "Tito lives, if only in polemics." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SERBIAN OPPOSITION BACKS KRAJINA SERBS. Serbian opposition leaders are emerging as strong backers of the Krajina Serbs. Nasa Borba on 4 May reported that Democratic Party of Serbia leader Vojislav Kostunica, at a news conference the previous day, sharply criticized Belgrade for its alleged failure to defend the Krajina Serbs against what he dubbed "the criminal act of the Croatian military against Serbian civilians." Kostunica stressed that Belgrade has an obligation to defend ethnic Serbs in Krajina. He also commented that the Croatian authorities' attacks have not been undertaken unilaterally but are part of an alleged anti-Serbian international conspiracy supported by Western powers, especially Germany and the U.S. Meanwhile, Vojislav Seselj, ultra- nationalist leader of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) and an accused war criminal, has urged anyone interested in supporting the Krajina war effort to contact a local SRS office for help, AFP reported on 2 May. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. SULEJMANI SENTENCED IN MACEDONIA. Fadil Sulejmani, director of the self- proclaimed Albanian-language university of Tetovo, was sentenced to two- and-a-half-years in prison for inciting a riot, Flaka reported on 4 May. One man was killed when hundreds of ethnic Albanians protested the closure by police of the university after its inauguration in February. Milaim Fejziu, deputy leader of the local branch of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, was sentenced to six months in prison for "participating in a rally obstructing the police from performing their duties." Macedonian law does not provide for universities teaching only in Albanian, but negotiations on Albanian- language courses at Skopje University are under way. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. COUNCIL OF EUROPE SAYS DISMISSED ROMANIAN MAYORS SHOULD BE REINSTATED. The Council of Europe delegation examining the case of 133 Romanian mayors who have been dismissed or suspended says they should be reinstated and granted "moral and material damages." At a press conference in Bucharest carried by Romanian Television on 3 May, the delegation also recommended curtailing the "excessive prerogatives" of prefects, who represent the government at local level. Radio Bucharest said a detailed report will be forwarded to the council's Parliamentary Assembly and Council of Ministers. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN NUCLEAR PLANT DUE TO OPEN IN OCTOBER. The manager of Romania's first nuclear plant has said the facility is expected to begin operations in October, Reuters reported on 2 May. Viorel Marculescu said tests at the Cernavoda power station were endorsed by experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency. The plant is located 170 kilometers east of Bucharest on the River Danube. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIA ON 14TH ARMY WITHDRAWAL. The Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a declaration carried by Radio Bucharest on 3 May, said it was "surprised" by the Russian State Duma's 26 April resolution on the withdrawal of the 14th army from Moldova (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 April 1995). The declaration calls the resolution "an attempt to delay the pullout of Russian Federation troops temporarily stationed on the territory of the Republic of Moldova." It also backs the Moldovan Foreign Ministry's position that the Russian government should act "in good faith" regarding the ratification of the withdrawal agreement initialed by Russia and Moldova on 21 October 1994. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. ELECTIONS IN GAGAUZ AUTONOMOUS REGION. Four candidates have registered with the Central Electoral Commission of the autonomous Gagauz region in Moldova to run in the elections for the region's bashkan (leader), Infotag reported on 2 May. The elections are due to be held on 28 May. The four candidates are Stepan Topal, former president of the self- proclaimed Gagauz republic; Gagauz parliament chairman Mikhail Kendigelean; George Tabunshik, former first secretary of the Komrat Committee of the Moldovan Communist Party; and Dimitri Croitor, chairman of the Ceadir-Lunga regional Executive Committee. Infotag says Tabunshik is the favorite to win the elections. At the same time as the elections for bashkan, the population of the autonomous region will elect a new Gagauz parliament and a referendum will be held to decide whether the region's administrative center will be at Komrat or Ceadir-Lunga. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN MINISTERS ANNOUNCE ANTI-CRIME MEASURES. Justice Minister Mladen Chervenyakov and Interior Minister Lyubomir Nachev on 3 May discussed measures against rising crime in Bulgaria, Bulgarian newspapers reported the following day. Chervenyakov was quoted as saying that "non-traditional crime necessitates non-traditional measures," including telephone-tapping and audio and video surveillance. He also noted that the proposed measures are temporary ones and will not turn Bulgaria into a police state. The measures are expected to be approved by the government on 4 May. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH BSP TO DISCUSS LAND LAW. Zhelyu Zhelev on 3 May met with representatives of the Bulgarian Socialist Party to discuss their controversial views on an amendment to the land law. Standart reported the following day that Zhelev proposed a compromise but the Socialist rejected his proposal. No details on the compromise were given. Zhelev vetoed the amendment on 27 April and said he will take the matter to the Constitutional Court if the parliament overrides his veto. Also on 3 May, the parliament approved the budget of the Justice Ministry, which amounts to 610 million leva ($9.4 million). The Supreme Judicial Council had asked for 2.5 billion leva ($38.5 million). -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. GREEK AND KURDISH DEMONSTRATORS ATTACK TURKISH MINISTER. Turkish government spokesman and Minister of State Yildirim Aktuna was attacked by about 500 demonstrators outside the Turkish consulate in Thessaloniki on 3 May, AFP reported the same day. The demonstrators threw stones, lemons, and other objects at Aktuna's car as he tried to enter the consulate to attend a dinner in his honor. At least two persons were injured, Reuters reported. Aktuna arrived in Greece on 2 May on an unofficial visit to Eastern Thrace and Thessaloniki. Speaking in Komotini, he referred to the Muslim population of Eastern Thrace as "Turkish." This remark triggered complaints from Greece, which insists there are only "Muslims of Greek citizenship." Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou described Aktuna's behavior as "unacceptable." Meanwhile, Turkey protested the attack on Aktuna to the Greek ambassador. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. UN SECURITY COUNCIL CONCERNED OVER ALBANIAN SANCTIONS BUSTING. A Security Council committee monitoring UN sanctions against rump Yugoslavia has expressed concern about the illegal flow of oil from Albania to Montenegro. According to Argentine Ambassador to the UN Emilio Cardenas, the Security Council believes that "between 100% and 150% in excess of local [Albanian] consumption may be flowing north." But he admitted that he does not know the origin of the oil, Reuters reported on 3 May. The Albanian government earlier announced it will take measures against oil smuggling. Other news agencies report that sanctions busting by Albanians has reduced drastically since prices for oil smuggled from Romania dropped. -- 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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