|If there is anyone listening to whom I owe money, I'm prepared to forget it if you are. - Errol Flynn|
No. 99, Part II, 23 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 FINANCE MINISTERS MEET WITH EAST EUROPEAN COUNTERPARTS . . . European Union finance ministers held the first formal talks with their Central and East European counterparts on 22 May, international agencies reported. Discussions focused on the EU Commission white paper outlining how EU applicants can bring their legislation and institutions into line with EU standards. French Finance Minister Alain Madelin, who holds the EU's rotating Presidency, said Eastern Europe has made considerable progress but some countries have a longer way to go than others. British Chancellor of the Exchequer Kenneth Clarke commented there is still much to be done by both the EU and the applicants. Ministers from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia attended the session. The white paper is expected to be approved at the EU summit in June. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. ...AND AGREE ON AID TO UKRAINE. The EU finance ministers agreed to extend aid to Ukraine to balance its payments on the condition that Kiev closes the Chornobyl nuclear power plant by 2000, Ukrainian Radio reported on 22 May. The new credit would be worth 200 million ECU ($254 million), to be released in two 100 million ECU installments, in addition to an 85 million ECU credit promised earlier. In other news, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Pynzenyk told Interfax that the second tranche of World Bank credits (worth a total of $250 million) cannot be used to pay off Ukraine's gas debt to Russia. Pynzenyk said that Kiev was obliged to show the World Bank customs declarations of imports for which the credits are used; since imports of Russian gas are not declared, no such documents exist. Ukraine has to pay Russia $100 million for gas deliveries in June. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. CRIMEAN DEPUTIES PROPOSE COMPROMISE WITH KIEV. Crimean lawmakers have offered to cancel a referendum on the recently banned Crimean Constitution if the Ukrainian parliament rescinds its decision to annul the document and allows it to be restored without those articles that contravene the Ukrainian Constitution, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 May. The deputies said they would also seek to bring Crimean legislation into line with Ukrainian law if Kiev overturns its decision to abolish the region's Presidency. The legislators said their compromise offer was based on recommendations by the OCSE, which recently hosted a special round-table discussion on Crimea in Locarno, Switzerland, attended by representatives of the peninsula's separatist movement and the Ukrainian authorities. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT DISMISSES PROSECUTOR-GENERAL. Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 22 May issued a decree replacing Prosecutor-General Vasil Shaladonau with Vasil Kapitan, a department chief from the Prosecutor-General's Office, Interfax reported. Shaladonau reportedly tendered his resignation earlier this month. The president's investigative services have gathered information alleging that Shaladonau illegally privatized an apartment for himself and one for his son. He is also blamed for not imposing controls on the adoption of Belarusian children by foreigners. Shaladonau is running for the parliament and has made it to the second round of elections, which are to be held on 28 May. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. THREE ESTONIAN DAILIES ANNOUNCE MERGER. The Tallinn dailies Paevaleht, Hommikuleht, and Rahva Haal on 22 May announced that they will merge to put out a new newspaper called Eesti Paevaleht beginning 5 June, BNS reported. The main reason for the merger appears economic, since Hommikuleht and Rahva Haal have both been operating at considerable losses. The three newspapers have a combined print run of about 50,000 and a total of 400,000-500,000 readers. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LITHUANIAN, LATVIAN SEA BORDER. Lithuanian and Latvian Presidents Algirdas Brazauskas and Guntis Ulmanis met on 20 May in the town of Maisiagala, 15 kilometers north of Vilnius, where they signed a memorandum on the delimitation of their sea border, RFE/RL reported on 22 May. Prime Ministers Adolfas Slezevicius (Lithuania) and Maris Gailis (Latvia) also attended the meeting. It was decided that Lithuania and Latvia would sign associate membership treaties with the European Union on 12 June. Brazauskas, in his weekly Monday radio broadcast, said Ulmanis accepted his invitation to pay an official visit to Lithuania on 5-6 June. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. POLISH POLICEMEN ON TRIAL FOR FATAL BEATING UNDER MARTIAL LAW. Two former policemen went on trial in Warsaw on 22 May accused of beating to death the 19-year-old Grzegorz Przemyk, who was arrested in May 1983 in Warsaw. A former chief of the Police Investigation Office also appeared in court on charges of destroying documents in 1990 to cover up police responsibility for the boy's death, Polish and international media reported. Przemyk's death became a symbol for martial law illegalities and his grave a site of pilgrimage. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. CZECH OPPOSITION PARTY CONTINUES TO GAIN SUPPORT. The gap in popularity between the leading Czech government party, the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), and the opposition Social Democrats (CSSD) narrowed sharply from 10 to 5.5 percentage points over the last month, according to an opinion poll conducted by the Institute for Public Opinion Research. Support for the ODS dropped from 27% to 25%, while the CSSD's rating rose from 17% to 19.5%. Over the past six months, the CSSD has almost doubled its popularity rating, while those of government parties have declined. The Civic Democratic Alliance's popularity dropped from 8% to 6.5%, its lowest rating since the June 1992 elections. Support for the Christian Democratic Union-People's Party fell from 7% to 5%, the threshold for gaining parliamentary representation. But if the poll results were translated into parliamentary seats, the governing coalition would have 117 deputies (compared with the present 111) while the opposition would have 83 (instead of 82). -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK POLICE TO REVIEW OPPOSITION PARTY'S ELECTION LISTS. Narodna obroda on 22 May reported that police have begun to check the signatures on the Democratic Union's election lists. The ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) has questioned the validity of the 10,000 signatures collected by the DU in order to run in last fall's parliamentary elections. Interior Ministry spokesman Peter Ondera told Pravda on 23 May that the police are checking the lists on the basis of a request by a Bratislava resident to the prosecutor-general in January. Both the Election Commission and the Constitutional Court have dismissed HZDS complaints, which are viewed as an attempt to gain more parliamentary seats for the ruling parties. DU Deputy Chairman Jan Budaj said that the HZDS wants to "discredit the DU and renew fear in Slovak society" by investigating citizens who signed the petition list. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST SLOVAK INFORMATION SERVICE DIRECTOR? Sme on 23 May reported that former SIS director Vladimir Mitro has filed criminal charges against current director Ivan Lexa for breaking his secrecy oath. Until recently, Lexa headed the Separate Control Organ (OKO), which was set up by the parliament in November to oversee the SIS. Following the presentation of an OKO report to the parliament on 5 May, coalition deputies approved a no-confidence motion in President Michal Kovac. The report has triggered a series of accusations: Lexa filed charges against Mitro and former SIS intelligence director Igor Cibula earlier this month, and chairman of the opposition Christian Democratic Movement Jan Carnogursky filed suit against members of the OKO. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN PRIME MINISTER EXPECTS SERBIAN RECOGNITION. Haris Silajdzic told Radio Bosnia and Herzegovina on 23 May that he expects Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to recognize his embattled republic soon because that "is the only way to peace." A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman told a Western agency the previous day that Belgrade will make a decision later this week. The Bosnian Serb parliament began an emergency session at which it is expected to condemn any recognition of the Sarajevo government by Serbia. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic again said that any Serbian recognition of the Bosnian government is a matter for his people alone and that "we will never do it." Meanwhile in New York, the UN Security Council extended sanctions against the Bosnian Serbs for another four months because Pale refuses to accept the current peace plan, international media reported. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. RIFTS AMONG SERBS. "Only solidarity saves the Serbs" is the historic Serbian motto, but Serbian and international media on 23 May suggested that unity is in short supply as Serbian forces prove increasingly vulnerable on the battlefield. The Krajina Serbs are divided over whether to draw closer to Pale or to trust Belgrade. The Bosnian Serbs are similarly split between hard-liners Karadzic and Chief-of-Staff General Manojlo Milovanovic, on the one hand, and pro-Milosevic army commander General Ratko Mladic and his backers Generals Zdravko Tolimir and Milan Gvero, on the other, AFP reports. Karadzic is quoted by a Western agency as saying that "only the [Serbian Orthodox] Church can now preserve the unity of the Serbs." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SERBS TAKE GUNS, KILL THREE IN SARAJEVO. Bosnian Serb forces staged a pre-dawn raid on a UN heavy weapons collection point near the Bosnian capital on 22 May, taking two artillery pieces with them. They subsequently resumed shelling the town and renewed sniper fire, killing three and wounding six, international media reported. It is not clear whether the two cannons seized were used in the latest attacks, but artillery and rockets seem to be the Serbian response to their recent defeats by Muslims and Croats on various fronts. Meanwhile in Banja Luka, Croatian Bishop Franjo Komarica on 23 May entered the sixth day of his hunger strike. He is protesting Serbian attacks on Croats, the clergy, and churches, Vecernji list repored. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SLAVONIAN SERB REFUGEES MOVE INTO EASTERN SLAVONIA. Nearly 4,000 Serbs displaced by the Croatian Operation Blitz on 1-2 May have left their temporary shelters in Bosnian Serb-held territory for eastern Slavonia, or Sector East, as the UN calls it. It is widely believed that Milosevic intends to hold onto that area--even if he turns his back on the rest of Krajina--since eastern Slavonia is rich in gas, oil, and first-class agricultural land. Not all of the refugees were enthusiastic about moving into Sector East, AFP said on 21 May. It appears that Belgrade wants to use the refugees to consolidate its hold on eastern Slavonia and Kosovo as well. Elsewhere, the Croatian authorities have admitted that at least 20 Serb civilians were killed in crossfire during Operation Blitz. UN investigators are on the scene, news agencies reported on 22 May. But previous UN reports said that the Croats behaved properly toward Serbian civilians, whose confidence they are anxious to gain. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. MILOSEVIC REJECTS U.S.-BACKED PEACE PLAN. The New York Times on 23 May reported that Milosevic has rejected a US-backed plan providing for the suspension of sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia in exchange for Belgrade's recognition of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Milosevic reportedly insists that "the United Nations permanently lift all sanctions . . . rather than conditionally suspend them." -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. KOSOVO UPDATE. A Pristina court has sentenced Pal Krasniqi, secretary of the Independent Teachers Trade Unions of Kosovo, to two months in prison for calling a meeting of his trade union branch at the premises of a Pristina secondary school on 17 November 1994. Meanwhile, the Serbian authorities in Rahovec have said they will accommodate Serbian refugees from western Slavonia in a local secondary school. According to the Democratic League of Kosovo, the school building has already been converted into a hotel and the first batch of refugees are expected to move in soon. The school has not been used since 1990 owing to the lack of Serbian students in the town. Local Albanian students have been attending classes in private homes, Kosova Daily Report said on 22 May. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. MACEDONIA, U.S. AGREE ON MILITARY COOPERATION. Macedonian Defense Minister Blagoj Handziski, on returning from an eight-day official visit to the U.S. on 20 May, said Macedonia and the U.S. have agreed on new forms of military cooperation, MIC reported. Macedonian military personnel will receive training in the U.S. in September, and the 1996 U.S. draft budget will allocate $1 million for Macedonia from the funds intended for member states of NATO's Partnership for Peace program. Handziski said that "a new page" in U.S.-Macedonian relations has been turned as a result of Macedonia's constructive internal and foreign policy and its efforts to preserve peace in the region. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH TRADE UNION LEADERS. Ion Iliescu on 22 May received the leaders of Romania's five main labor organizations: the Alfa Cartel, the Confederation of Democratic Trade Unions in Romania, the National Confederation of Romania's Free Trade Unions-The Brotherhood, the National Labor Bloc, and the Convention of Non- Affiliated Trade Union Confederations. The meeting was also attended by a government team led by Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu. The union leaders handed over a memorandum to Iliescu asking for the dismissal of the current cabinet for mismanaging the economy. Iliescu said he did not have the power to dismiss the cabinet but pledged to continue mediating in the conflict between the government and unions, Radio Bucharest reported. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CRITICIZES ROMANIA. Amnesty International, in a report released on 22 May, said there were "grave violations of human rights" in Romania. The report criticized Romania for ill-treating detainees, imprisoning homosexuals, and failing to protect its Gypsy minority. Anne Burley, Amnesty's regional director, told a press conference in Bucharest that the organization was "concerned by Romanian laws allowing people to be imprisoned for their opinions, and by the country's delay in implementing international treaties which it signed on the defense of human rights." Romanian police and a spokesman for the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania denied any systematic violation of human rights and suggested that the report referred to isolated cases only. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. LEBED TO ATTEND DUMA HEARINGS. Lt. Gen. Alexander Lebed, commander of the 14th Russian Army headquartered in Tiraspol, has been given permission to participate in a Russian State Duma hearing on 23 May on the situation in the Dniester region and the role of the 14th Army. ITAR-TASS reported the previous day that the Russian Defense Ministry gave Lebed permission to attend at the request of Duma Chairman Ivan Rybkin. In a draft resolution published in advance of the debate, Russian parliamentarians expressed concern about planned changes in the 14th Army command and appealed to the government to reject them. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIA, RUSSIA TO LAUNCH JOINT ARMS PRODUCTION. A bilateral defense commission on 22 May signed an accord on military-industrial cooperation, Reuters reported the same day. The agreement was signed by Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade Kiril Tsochev and Genady Voronin, deputy chairman of Russia's Defense Industry Committee. In 1994,a bilateral commission was established on restoring links between the Bulgarian and Russian defense industries. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. JOINT MILITARY EXERCISES IN GREECE. Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, and the U.S. began military maneuvers in southern Greece on 22 May, AFP reported the same day. The "New Spirit 1995" exercise, which is part of NATO's Partnership for Peace program, is to held over five days in the town of Kalamata, where more than 300 soldiers will practice an urgent, coordinated response to major earthquakes. It is the first time that Albanian soldiers are taking part in maneuvers outside their own country. AFP cited a military expert in Athens as saying that the exercise is symbolic because it shows the deep interest of the U.S. in the Balkans and "the links between certain countries in this sensitive region." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. CONFERENCE OF ALBANIAN, TURKISH POLICE. Representatives of the Turkish and Albanian police are meeting in Ankara from 22-25 May, Rilindja Demokratike reported on 23 May. The conference is focusing on organized crime, drug trafficking, and possible cooperation on educational projects. The Turkish and Albanian interior ministers are expected to meet later this year. -- 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. 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