|Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most times he will pick himself up and carry on. - Winston Churchill|
No. 101, Part II, 25 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 DELEGATION APPEALS FOR WESTERN INVESTMENT. A Ukrainian delegation headed by Acting Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk has appealed for greater Western private investment as Ukraine enters the second phase of economic reforms, Reuters and Radio Ukraine reported 24 May. The delegation was taking part in a London conference for foreign investors organized by the Adam Smith Institute. Marchuk told the gathering that the Ukrainian leadership was ready to endure the pain of reforms but stressed that much of their success depended upon a "serious inflow" of private capital. He said foreign investors are viewed as equal to their domestic counterparts. Viktor Pynzenyk, deputy prime minister in charge of reforms who was also part of the delegation, warned that opponents of free-market changes are expected to continue resisting reforms. -- Chrystyna Lapychak , OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT CONFIRMS SECURITY CONCEPT. Ukrainian Radio on 24 May reported that Ukraine's parliament has adopted the Concept on National Security on its first reading. The document sets out Ukraine's priorities as ensuring state sovereignty, preserving its territorial integrity, and upholding the inviolability of borders. It also calls for overcoming the economic crisis, developing democratic institutions, and integration into the world and European community. Among the threats listed to Ukraine's security are interference in the country's internal affairs, territorial claims, instability and conflicts in neighboring states, separatism, and violations of the constitutional system. The document also lists economic threats to the nation's security. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. CRIMEAN LAWMAKERS PROTEST DIVISION OF PROPERTY. Crimean legislators have called on the Ukrainian government to suspend a 5 May order dividing up jurisdiction over long-disputed property on the peninsula between Kiev and regional authorities, Interfax-Ukraine and Ukrainian Television reported. The decision turned over 729 properties-- including state farms, Defense Ministry installations, research and training institutes, and several sanitariums and boarding houses--to Kiev. Some 230 factories, institutes, and organizations remain under Crimean control. Some of that property is earmarked for privatization. The deputies have asked the Ukrainian parliament to set up a joint commission to settle the property dispute. The government ruling says that all proceeds from privatization in Crimea will remain in the hands of local authorities. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. STUDENT DEMONSTRATIONS IN MINSK. Reuters reported on 24 May that some 300 students demonstrated in Minsk to protest the referendum decision to restore Soviet-era state symbols. The students marched in front of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's residence and flung one of the newly approved Soviet-type flags into a public toilet. Police broke up the demonstration, beating several students and detaining 29. As the referendum must still be confirmed by parliament, it is uncertain whether the Soviet-type flag or the red-and-white Belarusian one is legal. The day after the referendum, an aide to the president tore down the Belarusian flag from the president's building and shredded it. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. MEETING OF BALTIC, NORDIC DEFENSE MINISTERS. The annual meeting of the defense ministers of the three Baltic States and four Nordic Council states was held on 22-23 May on the Danish island of Bornholm, BNS reported the following day. The Nordic ministers described the formation of the Baltic Peacekeeping Battalion as a model for East-West military cooperation and praised the Baltic States, especially Lithuania, for their active participation in NATO's Partnership for Peace program. Lithuanian Defense Minister Linas Linkevicius noted that although financial difficulties prevented Lithuania from participating in all 11 planned PfP military exercises, it would participate in six. The next annual meeting of the defense ministers will take place in Vilnius in the spring of 1996. -- Saulius Girnius , OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT IN ESTONIA. Leonid Kuchma, on the first day of his visit to Tallinn on 24-25 May, signed a declaration on developing cooperation and partnership with his Estonian counterpart, Lennart Meri, BNS reported. The 14-point declaration is intended to give the "necessary dynamism" to the Friendship and Cooperation Treaty, signed on 26 May 1992. Both sides expressed the desire to increase cooperation vis-a-vis international organizations, particularly in gaining membership in the European Union. Foreign Ministers Henadii Udovenko (Ukraine) and Riivo Sinijarv (Estonia) signed agreements on free trade and cooperation in the sphere of sea navigation. Kuchma will also meet with Prime Minister Tiit Vahi and visit the Estonian parliament before returning to Kiev. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LATVIA'S BANKING CRISIS. Prime Minister Maris Gailis on 24 May accepted the resignation of Andris Piebags as finance minister, BNS reported. Gailis also expressed his support for retaining Einars Repse and Ilmars Rimsevics as Bank of Latvia president and vice president. A no confidence vote in the two bank officials, proposed by 16 deputies from the Popular Concord Party, the Political Union of Economists, and the Democratic Party, is to be held in the Saeima on 25 May. Jukka Paljarvi, International Monetary Fund representative in Estonia, praised the lats stability and Repse's role in setting up a stable state financial system. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. POLISH FOREIGN MINISTER ON POLICY PRIORITIES. Wladyslaw Bartoszewski on 24 May presented to the Sejm the country's foreign policy priorities, which, he said, have remained unchanged since 1989. These include membership in NATO and the European Union as well as friendly relations with all neighbors. Poland considers NATO membership a guarantee for security in the region. Bartoszewski commented that Moscow's objections to the pact's enlargement have caused fear that a policy of the "spheres of influence" is returning, Polish media reported. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. POLISH ZLOTY TO BECOME CONVERTIBLE? Polish Finance Minister Grzegorz Kolodko and Polish National Bank President Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz on 24 May sent a letter to the International Monetary Fund committing Poland not to limit currency exchanges and asking the IMF to approve the convertibility of the zloty, Polish media reported. Of the 179 IMF members countries, 100 have convertible currencies according to IMF standards. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. CZECH PARLIAMENT FAILS TO OVERRIDE HAVEL'S VETOES. The Czech parliament on 24 May failed to pass two draft laws that President Vaclav Havel recently refused to sign. The two bills are on rewarding resistance fighters who fought against the Nazis in World War II and on restricting smoking and reducing alcoholism and other drug dependency. Havel objected to the first bill because he considered it would exclude those resistance fighters who later collaborated with the communist regime. He argued that it was not acceptable to make the rewarding of heroism during the war conditional on subsequent acts and behavior. In vetoing the anti-smoking bill, Havel said that while he was not opposed in principle to restrictions on smoking, the bill contravened the Paris Convention on the Protection of Industrial Products. He also commented that it would cause economic losses. Some deputies said after the unsuccessful attempt to override Havel's vetoes that they would modify both bills toreflect the president's objections and resubmit them to the parliament. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. UPDATE ON DEMOCRATIC UNION ELECTION LISTS. Police officials are questioning the 14,929 citizens whose names appeared on the Democratic Union's petition lists to ensure that their signatures are valid, Sme reported on 24-25 May. The DU needed 10,000 signatures to run in last fall's parliamentary elections, but the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia has claimed that a number of the signatures it collected were forged. Attorney-General Michal Valo said on Slovak Radio on 23 May that although some people could be prosecuted for forging signatures, the composition of the parliament should not be affected. He also stressed that citizens whose names appear on the lists with false signatures will not be considered guilty. DU Chairman Jozef Moravcik said in an interview with Smena on 24 May that his party regards the investigation as a violation of the criminal code. He commented that the police should be used for matters other than "political persecution." -- Sharon =46isher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK ECONOMIC OVERVIEW. The Slovak cabinet on 23 May discussed the budget deficit, which reached 4 billion koruny during the first quarter of 1995, Sme reported. But contrary to expectations, it did not debate options for the Czech-Slovak clearing agreement. Although Slovakia recently revalued its currency by 4 percentage points against the clearing ECU, the Czech Republic prefers to cancel the agreement. In other news, Narodna obroda on 24 May reported that in April, Slovak imports totaled 19.2 billion koruny and exports 21 billion koruny. In the first four months of the year, Slovakia registered a trade surplus of 1.4 billion koruny. Slovakia's biggest export markets in 1994 were the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Austria, Italy, and Russia. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES AUSTERITY PACKAGE. The Hungarian parliament on 23 May passed the bulk of an austerity package designed to reduce the country's $4 billion deficit, international and Hungarian media reported. The package includes the introduction of new taxes and university tuition fees, and the abolition of family allowances as a civic right. A final vote is scheduled to take place in a few days after experts have made sure that none of the amendments are mutually exclusive. The drive to cut the deficit began on 12 March when the government announced it would slash 170 billion forint ($1.35 billion) from the 450 billion forint budget deficit. While most of the measures proposed by the government were approved, the parliament rejected a proposed 20% cut in financial support for municipal governments. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE UN THREATENS AIR STRIKES . . . The United Nations on 24 May issued an ultimatum to the warring sides around Sarajevo either to silence their heavy weapons by noon local time the following day or face the threat of NATO air power. It also demanded the return by the same time of four heavy guns pilfered by Bosnian Serb forces just outside Sarajevo. All other heavy weapons are to be surrendered to the UN or removed from the exclusion area around the city by noon local time on 26 May. If they are not removed, the warring sides will again face the possibility of air strikes, according to the ultimatum. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has reacted forcefully, insisting that Bosnian Serb forces will treat UN soldiers as "hostile" if NATO launches air strikes. Reuters quotes Karadzic as saying that "if the UN orders air strikes, we are going to treat the UN as the enemy." According to international media, Sarajevo and its environs were relatively calm and quiet on the morning of 25 May. -- Stan Markotich , OMRI, Inc. . . . AFTER VIOLENCE FLARES IN SARAJEVO. UN calls for NATO air strikes come in the wake of some of the most serious fighting to hit the Bosnian capital over the past year at least. The Croatian news agency Hina on 24 May reported that at least five people were killed and 30 injured when Bosnian Serb artillery pounded the city and surrounding areas the same day. It also observed that phosphorous bombs, forbidden by Geneva conventions, were among those used in the latest attacks. -- Stan Markotich , OMRI, Inc. PEACEKEEPING IN BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA. Reuters on 24 May reports that UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali will formally outline by 26 May a series of proposals for the future of peacekeeping operations in Bosnia, which may include withdrawals, greater use of air strikes, or scaling back operations. It is reported that unlike in the past, Boutros Ghali is likely to refrain from preferring one option over the other. Meanwhile, Nasa Borba and Vjesnik on 25 May report that if UN peacekeepers do withdraw from Bosnia, up to 50,000 NATO forces may be dispatched to offer the peacekeepers protection during the withdrawal process. The dailies also observe that U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry has suggested that half the NATO contingent may come from the U.S. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. OTHER NEWS FROM FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. Nasa Borba on 25 May quotes UN human rights envoy Tadeusz Mazowiecki as suggesting at a press conference in Pakrac the previous day that the Croatian army may have committed some human rights violations against Serbs during its advance on rebel Serb- held parts of western Slavonia earlier this month. But the daily also notes that Mazowiecki offered few details to back this claim. Hina observed that Mazowiecki noted his understanding of the situation was still somewhat "murky." The envoy's probe into alleged human rights violations continues on 25 May in Zagreb. Meanwhile, Nasa Borba also reports on Moscow envoy Alexander Zotov's second day in Belgrade, noting that the Russian representative has already said he sees little reason for the international community to insist on the continued imposition of sanctions against rump Yugoslavia. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. ANOTHER ETHNIC ALBANIAN CONVICTED IN MACEDONIA. Musli Alimi, a former university professor from Kosovo, was sentenced to eight months in jail on 24 May, international agencies reported the same day. He was convicted on charges of obstructing the police during riots in February when thousands of ethnic Albanians tried to prevent policemen from closing down the self-declared Albanian-language university in Tetovo. One Albanian died during the clashes. Alimi is the fifth ethnic Albanian sentenced in connection with the riot. -- Stefan Krause , OMRI, Inc. MACEDONIAN COALITION ABOUT TO SPLIT? The ruling Macedonian coalition, currently facing its most serious crisis since it was formed seven months ago, may be on the verge of splitting, Reuters reported on 24 May. The Liberal Party, second-largest of the three members of the ruling Alliance for Macedonia, has announced it will press embezzlement charges against Finance Minister Jane Miljovski, deputy leader of the Social Democratic Alliance, the largest coalition partner. Miljovski is accused of depositing into his party's account 8.1 million denars ($212,000) designated for the Liberals. The Liberal Party has invited the two major opposition parties to attend its next congress, which will discuss the future of the coalition. The Alliance for Macedonia won 93 of the 120 seats in the fall 1994 parliamentary elections. The Liberals hold 29 of these seats. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES LAW ON SPEEDING UP PRIVATIZATION. The two chambers of the Romanian parliament on 24 May voted by 249 to 147 to approve a report by a mediation commission on the draft bill on accelerating privatization in Romania. Radio Bucharest said the report's approval amounted to the de facto ratification of the law itself. The controversial legislation had already been passed by both chambers but in slightly differing forms. The same source described the 24 May debates as "heated and occasionally even tense." Members of the opposition announced that they would ask the Constitutional Court to block the law. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIA'S STRATEGY FOR JOINING EU TAKES SHAPE. The government commission charged with working out Romania's strategy for joining the European Union convened on 23-24 May at Snagov, near Bucharest, Radio Bucharest reported. The commission pledged to present in early June the drafts of a framework program for joining the EU and a "white charter" on Romania's integration into that organization at the beginning of the 21st century. The conference was attended by senior officials, including Mircea Cosea, the head of the government's Council for Economic Coordination, Strategy, and Reform, and National Bank Governor Mugur Isarescu, as well as leading religious and cultural figures. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. DUMA PASSES LAW ON 14TH ARMY ON FIRST READING. The Russian State Duma on 24 May approved by 227 to two with five abstentions a draft law on the 14th Army on its first reading, Interfax reports. The bill provides for a moratorium on plans to reorganize the army and withdraw it from the Dniester region as well as continued financing for the army from the federal budget. The Duma also adopted a resolution on ensuring the safety of all weaponsagreement signed during Russi4I=EFy=A3_=81=81=C4=F5W=9D=DC=9DW=A6=B8=D2=C4O/epresentative Istvan= Gyarmati, who is paying a visit to Chisinau, that he was opposed to the idea that the 14th Army be granted peacekeeping functions. -- Danepresentative Istvan Gyarmati, who is paying a visit to Chisinau, that he was opposed to the idea that the 14th Army be granted peacekeeping functions. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIA'S LAST COMMUNIST PREMIER TO HEAD STATE-RUN COMPANY. Andrey Lukanov is to head the Bulgarian-Russian gas company, which will be set up in accordance with an agreement signed during Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's visit to Sofia on 18-19 May, Standart reports on 25 May. The newspaper says that his return to an official post after five years puts him in a key position both in the field of economics and in relations with Russia. Lukanov was first deputy prime minister in the 1980s and was elected to the Politbureau in 1989. From 1989 to 1990, he was Bulgaria's last communist premier. In order to head the new company, Lukanov will have to resign his seat in the parliament. -- Stefan Krause, 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 Copyright =A9 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.
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