|Experience is in the fingers and head. The heart is inexperienced. - Henry David Thoreau|
No. 97, Part II, 19 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 UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES BILL ON SEPARATION OF POWERS. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma scored a major political victory on 18 May when the Ukrainian parliament voted by 219 to 104 to approve a compromise version of his bill on the separation of powers, Interfax-Ukraine and Ukrainian TV reported the same day. The new law gives the president the exclusive right to form a government; previously, he was required to obtain the parliament's approval for his choice of key ministers. The motion was passed after presidential spokesman Fedir Burchak proposed a compromise version excluding articles that would have empowered Kuchma to dissolve the assembly and allowed the legislature to impeach the president. According to the final draft, Kuchma's right to call a referendum is limited to issues related to the adoption of a new post- Soviet constitution. Communists and socialists voted against the bill, warning that it would lead to authoritarian rule. In addition, they argued that the vote was illegal because it drew only a simple majority. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. CRIMEAN TATARS MARK DEPORTATION ANNIVERSARY BY DEMANDING GREATER RIGHTS. Nearly 30,000 Crimean Tatars marked 51 years since Stalin ordered mass deportations of their people with a rally in Simferopol demanding greater political and economic rights, Interfax-Ukraine and AFP reported on 18 May. Protesters called for official recognition of the Mejlis, the Crimean Tatars' self-styled assembly, as their chief representative body. They also demanded more money for the resettlement of Tatars in Crimea and for urgent steps to restore their language, culture, and religion. Mejlis speaker Mustafa Dzhemilev condemned Crimean separatist forces and warned "We will not let the separatists trigger another Chechnya here." The crowd observed a period of silence for Moslem Chechen victims of Russia's military crackdown. On 18 May 1944, Soviet forces deported 200,000 Crimean Tatars to central Asia and Siberia. Many have since returned, and Tatars now make up about 10% of the region's population. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIAN FOREIGN AFFAIRS UPDATE. Ukrainian Radio reported on 18 May that Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn arrived in Kiev on an official visit, the premier's first to Ukraine since that country gained independence. It was also reported that Ukrainian parliament speaker Oleksandr Moroz met with Moldovan ambassador to Ukraine Ion Russu. Moroz said that "procedural obstacles" should not prevent the ratification of the Ukrainian-Moldovan treaty. Russu noted that there were no obstacles on the Moldovan side to the document's ratification. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. BELARUSIAN EDUCATION MINISTRY ON LANGUAGES IN SCHOOLS. The Belarusian Ministry of Education has sent a letter to regional authorities asking that they guarantee parents' rights to choose which language their children be taught in during the first years of schooling, Belarusian radio reported on 18 May. This decision appears aimed at forestalling protests by parents following the 14 May referendum, in which 83% of those who voted came out in favor of giving Russian the status of official language, alongside Belarusian. Since 1992 there has been a move to teach primary school students in Belarusian. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. BELARUS RECEIVES MORE MONEY TO SCRAP MISSILE SITES. Belarusian First Deputy Foreign Minister Valeri Tsepkalo told Interfax on 18 May that the United States will allocate an additional $6 million to dismantle the launching pads for Russian SS-25 missiles deployed on Belarusian territory. These missiles were stored in garages with sliding roofs that permitted them to be fired from the storage sites. The START-I treaty requires that the concrete foundations of such garages be destroyed either by explosion or evacuation. Two of the 81 sites have already been destroyed by explosion, but Tsepkalo termed this method "unacceptable." He explained that it caused "great ecological damage to the local environment. A lot of trees get destroyed by pieces of concrete flying in all directions." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. WORLD BANK HELPS FINANCE BALTIC SEA CLEANUP. The World Bank on 17 May announced that it will join the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank, the Nordic Environmental Finance Corporation, and Nordic Investment Bank in financing seven projects, costing $240 million, to clean up the Baltic Sea, Reuters reported the next day. Lithuania and Latvia will undertake two projects each and Estonia, Russia, and Poland one each. The projects are part of a broader, long-term initiative that will focus on 132 trouble spots and cost an estimated $1 billion. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. ESTONIA, UKRAINE INITIAL FREE TRADE TREATY. Tiit Reiman, head of the Foreign Trade Department at the Estonian Economics Ministry, announced that Estonia and Ukraine on 18 May initialed a bilateral agreement on free trade and an accord on maritime affairs, BNS reported. The free trade agreement covers all products, including agricultural ones. The Ukrainian government delegation is also scheduled to sign a protocol outlining future activities, such as speeding up the conclusion of a bilateral accord on avoiding double taxation. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. POLISH PRESIDENT, PREMIER DISCUSS FOREIGN POLICY. Lech Walesa and Jozef Oleksy on 18 May discussed Russian protests against plans to open the "Free Caucasus" radio station in Poland. They also discussed the 4 June commemoration of the Soviets' 1940 massacre of Polish officers at Katyn. In other news, Gazeta Wyborcza on 19 May published an appeal by 130 intellectuals supporting former Minister of Labor Jacek Kuron's presidential candidacy. Two days earlier, Adam Strzembosz, head of the Polish Supreme Court and another presidential candidate, met on 17 May with leaders of five parties that do not support his candidacy. He declared that he would withdraw from the race if a right-of-center candidate emerged who had better chances of winning than either himself or Walesa. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. CZECH FINANCE MINISTER WANTS TO END WAGE REGULATION. Ivan Kocarnik on 18 May said he would like to end wage regulation immediately, Hospodarske noviny reported the following day. Kocarnik told a forum of managers that wages are expected to increase by between 16.5% and 18% this year. "Of course, we will abolish wage regulation at some point. I'm for doing it as quickly as possible," he said. Under current regulations, some wage rises are linked to inflation and do not take into account the performance of the company concerned. Labor and Social Affairs Minister Jindrich Vodicka recently said that wages will most likely not be deregulated this year. He and trade unions argue that the regulations limit the inflationary pressures that would result from a free wage market. Despite being a major bone of contention, the issue of wage regulation was not discussed at a meeting of ministers, employers, and unions on 18 May. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER ON TREATY WITH HUNGARY. Juraj Schenk said at a press conference on 18 May that the bilateral state treaty signed by the Slovak and Hungarian prime ministers in March will not be submitted to the parliament in the near future, Narodna obroda reported. He noted that the framework agreement on the protection of national minorities will be discussed at the next parliament session, to be held in June. Only after that agreement has been approved will the interstate treaty be presented to the parliament, Schenk said. The framework agreement is the main document on which the treaty is based and calls for individual rights for minorities. Schenk suggested that if that agreement is passed, the controversial Council of Europe Recommendation 1201, which was included in the Slovak-Hungarian treaty, can be interpreted as also guaranteeing individual rather than collective rights. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK PRESIDENT SENDS OPEN LETTER TO SLOVAK TV. Michal Kovac on 18 May wrote an open letter to Slovak TV Director Jozef Darmo in connection with his appearance on STV the previous day. Kovac recorded a statement for STV in response to calls by Premier Vladimir Meciar for a referendum to remove him. He said he was told by STV staff that the statement would be broadcast during STV's main newscast or shortly afterward. Instead, it appeared much later than expected, with no prior announcement. "I do not feel offended as an individual, but I can hardly consider the STV's attitude as anything other than intentional manipulation, particularly in relation to the public," Kovac said. The president also suggested that the electronic media in Slovakia are not "sufficiently plural or free," Pravda reported. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE IS MILOSEVIC PLANNING TO RECOGNIZE BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA? Politika on 19 May reports that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic has signaled to U.S. envoy Robert Frasure that the rump Yugoslavia may be prepared to extend recognition to Bosnia-Herzegovian. According to the daily, the two have met to discuss the details of such a move. Nasa Borba quoted Lord Owen as saying in an interview with the BBC the previous day that recognition on Milosevic's part would constitute "a momentous step" in halting hostilities in the war-torn country. Meanwhile, ultranationalists within Serbia are said to be furious by the reports. Nasa Borba on 19 May noted that the Serbian Radical Party, led by ultranationalist and accused war criminal Vojislav Seselj, is planning to hold protest meetings on 17 June to show that the Serbian people [will not] tolerate sell-outs." Vladimir Lazarevic, a member of the New Democracy party, which is supportive of Milosevic's Socialists in the Serbian legislature, is quoted by Nasa Borba as saying that recognition of Bosnia-Herzegovina would be "acceptable." -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. BOSNIAN UPDATE. International media say that fighting in Sarajevo was lighter on 18 May than on the previous two days. Only sporadic shelling was reported, following intense clashes during the previous 48 hours. Meanwhile, Hasan Muratovic, a Bosnian government minister without portfolio, said at a conference in Morocco on 18 May that the arms embargo against his country should be lifted as a means of bringing the Serbian side to the negotiating table. "We need a big success on the battlefield to bring the Serbs to discussions," he said. Nasa Borba on 19 May reported that General Rasim Delic, commander of the Bosnian Muslim army, has said his troops are ready to liberate Bosnia. Finally, Reuters on 18 May, citing UN sources, reported that some 155,000 residents of Bosnia's western Bihac pocket face real prospects of starvation unless "its rebel Serb and Muslim besiegers stop blocking relief convoys to the enclave soon." -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. REFUGEES FROM SLAVONIA TO BE SETTLED IN KOSOVO. The Serbian administration of Kosovo is preparing to settle thousands of Serbian refugees from other former Yugoslav republics, Kosova Daily Report said on 17 May. About 10,000 Serbian refugees from western Slavonia are expected to arrive in Kosovo soon. They will initially be housed in hotels, hostels, and tourists resorts until permanent accommodation is found. Humanitarian organizations, including the UN High Commission for Refugees, will reportedly cater for their food needs. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. COUNCIL OF EUROPE DELEGATION IN MACEDONIA. A delegation from the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly arrived in Macedonia for a two-day visit on 18 May, Flaka reported the following day. The delegation met with parliament chairman Stojan Andov to discuss economic developments in Macedonia. Meetings are also scheduled with President Kiro Gligorov, Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski, representatives of various political parties, members of the Ethnic Relations Council, non-governmental organizations, and religious communities. The delegation also plans to meet with the rector of Skopje University to discuss higher education in Albanian. Meanwhile, the university's Faculty of Drama has decided to launch acting courses in Albanian and Turkish beginning this fall. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN PRESIDENT REFUSES TO EXPLAIN KGB ALLEGATIONS TO PARLIAMENT . . . Presidential spokesman Traian Chebeleu on 18 May said Ion Iliescu will not explain to the parliament his position on allegations that he had KGB links (see OMRI Daily Digest, 18 May 1995). Chebeleu said that while several parliamentarians have suggested that Iliescu appear before the parliament, the constitution does not state that the president is politically accountable to the legislature. Radio Bucharest announced that five opposition parties represented in parliament have agreed to issue a joint declaration demanding a response to the allegations, which they called "very serious" and possibly "detrimental to the country and the institution of the Presidency." -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. . . . AND ATTEMPTS TO SPLIT HUNGARIAN MINORITY. One week before the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) is scheduled to hold its congress, Iliescu has made an obvious attempt to exacerbate differences between the UDMR's "radical" and "moderate" factions. At a press conference carried by Radio Bucharest on 18 May, presidential spokesman Chebeleu said Iliescu "appreciated" the "constructive attitude" of Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn toward the negotiations on the Hungarian-Romanian basic treaty. Consequently, he continued, the president was all the more concerned about the "extreme-nationalist positions" adopted by some UDMR leaders. Iliescu called on the "responsible leaders" of the UDMR not to follow the "extremist path, which never brought anything positive anywhere." As a possible solution to differences with Budapest over the treaty's provisions, Iliescu suggested that the document embrace the priniciples of Council of Europe Recommendation 1201 but not mention it by name. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK DEFENSE MINISTER IN ROMANIA. Jan Sitek, visiting Romania from 17-18 May, met with Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu, with whom he discussed integration into Euro-Atlantic structures and cooperation within the Partnership for Peace program, Radio Bucharest reported. The two leaders also discussed Slovakia and Romania's relations with Hungary and the problem of the Hungarian national minorities in their countries. Both sides agreed that minorities should be granted individual, rather than collective rights. Sitek also met with his Romanian counterpart, Gheorghe Tinca, who said agreement was reached on "a number of concrete measures" for joint military maneuvers within the Partnership for Peace program and cooperation in the field of military technology. Finally, Sitek held talks with Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu, who said the two countries had many common interests--above all, that of integration into Euro-Atlantic structures. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. MOLDOVAN OFFICIAL REJECTS LEBED PROPOSAL. Interfax on 17 May quoted Lt. Gen. Alexander Lebed as suggesting that the 14th army perform "peacekeeping functions" in the breakaway Transdniester region. Deputy Chairman of the Moldovan parliament Nicolae Andronic responded by saying the proposal aimed at "keeping Russian troops in east Moldovan districts by any means," BASA-press reported on 18 May. He noted that the Russian Defense Ministry was not authorized to make such a decision, since it would contravene the agreement between Presidents Mircea Snegur and Boris Yeltsin of July 1992. Also on 17 May, Interfax reported that Moldova and Russia will discuss the withdrawal of the 14th Army at a meeting scheduled for late July. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. SIGNING OF BULGARIAN-RUSSIAN AGREEMENTS POSTPONED. Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Trade Minister Kiril Tsochev on 17 May announced that two agreements between Russia and Bulgaria will not be signed during Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's visit to Sofia on 18-19 May, Reuters reported the same day. He said that the two countries are ready to sign an agreement on nuclear fuel but that there are objections from Ukraine and Moldova, which are concerned about the safety of nuclear fuel transports via their territory. The second agreement is on preferentially priced natural gas deliveries from Russia to Bulgaria. The present agreement expires in 1997, and experts from both countries have been unable so far to reach agreement on new prices. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. G-24 MEETING ON ALBANIAN INFRASTRUCTURE. A G-24 meeting on infrastructure investment in Albania was held on 17 May in Brussels, the European Commission reported the following day. The Albanian delegation was led by Minister for Construction and Tourism Dashnor Shehi. The meeting was also attended by officials from Austria, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Switzerland, Turkey, the United States, and representatives of the IMF, the World Bank, and the EBRD. Discussions focused on implementing the public investment program adopted by Albania in 1994 and on the external assistance required for its implementation. The participants reviewed projects submitted by the Albanian government for possible external financing. These projects were in the transport, energy, telecommunications, and water supply sectors. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. DIPLOMATIC INITIATIVE TO SOLVE GREEK-TURKISH RIFT WITHIN NATO. NATO Secretary-General Willy Claes, announced that a diplomatic effort will be undertaken to resolve differences between Greece and Turkey before a meeting of defense ministers in June, international news agencies reported on 18 May. Speaking in Ankara following talks with Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Ciller, Claes said a NATO delegation would shuttle between Ankara and Athens to find a solution to disputes over budget matters and the stationing of a rapid deployment force in the region. The row has resulted in Turkey's blocking of NATO's military budget and the forestalling of a 1992 decision to establish two new military bases in the region. -- Lowell Bezanis, 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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