|The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion. - Thomas Paine|
No. 102, Part II, 26 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 ISSUES ULTIMATUM OVER CRIMEAN REFERENDUM. The Ukrainian legislature has said it may dissolve the Crimean parliament if that body refuses to cancel a 25 June regionwide referendum on the banned Crimean Constitution and does not submit the draft of a new one by 1 June, international and Ukrainian agencies reported on 25 May. Crimean deputies missed a 15 May deadline set by Kiev for drafting a new document. Ukraine requires the new draft to be in line with a 1992 Ukrainian law delineating authority between Kiev and Simferopol. Its most recent move amounts to a rejection of a recent offer by Crimean parliament leaders to cancel the poll if Kiev overturns its annulment of the disputed Crimean Constitution. Crimean deputies said that in such a case, they would be willing to abolish those articles that contravene Ukrainian law. -- Chrystyna Lapychak , OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIAN SOCIALISTS PROPOSE COMPROMISE ON SEPARATION OF POWERS LAW. The socialist caucus in the Ukrainian parliament has submitted a compromise version of a resolution and constitutional amendment allowing the formal implementation of the law on the separation of powers, Ukrainian Radio and Interfax-Ukraine reported on 25 May. Sixty-eight articles of Ukraine's current Soviet-era constitution need to be suspended by a two- thirds majority in order for the landmark legislation, giving Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma greater powers to carry out reforms, to take effect. Leftist forces who oppose reforms have threatened to block the passage of the amendment because it would significantly dilute the legislature's authority. But the socialist faction on 25 May said it might agree to a temporary arrangement whereby the articles would be suspended until 1 January 1996, when parliament would review implementation of the law. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. OFFICIAL RESULTS OF BELARUSIAN ELECTIONS. The Central Electoral Commission on 24 May announced the official results of the 14 May parliamentary elections and referendum, Belarusian Radio reported. A total of 2,348 candidates competed for 260 parliamentary seats, and 18 succeeded in being elected. The Agrarian Party won five seats and the communists three. Turnout was 64.7%. A second round of elections will be held in 216 electoral districts on 28 May. As for the referendum, 83.3% voted to give the Russian language state status, alongside Belarusian; 75.1% voted to change the country's national symbols to Soviet-type ones; 83.3% were in favor of integration with Russia; and 77.7% voted to give the president the right to dissolve the parliament. The last question is not legally binding, like the others. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. NEW LATVIAN FINANCE MINISTER. The Saeima on 25 May confirmed the nomination of Indra Samite as finance minister, BNS and Interfax reported. Samite replaces Andris Piebalgs, who resigned because of the continuing banking crisis. Born in Philadelphia in 1959, Samite emigrated to Latvia in 1991 where she worked as a consultant to a Saeima commission. In September 1994, she was appointed state minister for credit distribution. Also on 25 May, Bank of Latvia President Einars Repse appointed his adviser Uldis Klauss as the new president of Baltija Bank. -- Saulius Girnius , OMRI, Inc. LATVIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES ELECTION LAW. The Saeima on 25 May approved the law on its election, BNS reported. Under the new legislation, the Saeima is to be elected by direct, proportional, and secret voting, with only political parties and alliances having the right to field candidates. Parties have to surpass a 5% barrier to gain parliament seats. Those who cannot run for office include former officials from foreign security services as well as those who held office after 13 January 1991 in the communist party, the Latvian SSR International Workers' Front, the United Council of Workers, the War and Labor Veterans Organization, and the Committee for Saving Latvia's Society. Candidates must be able to demonstrate a high proficiency in Latvian. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LITHUANIAN, POLISH AGREEMENT ON EXTRADITION PROCEDURES. Following two days of talks in the Polish town of Suwalki, a Lithuanian delegation, headed by Prosecutor-General Vladas Nikitinas, reached an agreement with Polish officials on procedures for extraditing criminals and handing over material evidence in such cases, BNS reported on 25 May. The two countries already have signed a legal assistance treaty and an agreement on cooperation between prosecutor's offices, but the absence of an extradition order has created problems for border authorities. Kestutis Vagneris, chief Lithuanian prosecutor for information and international relations, said that the two sides also exchanged information on organized crime, smuggling, and illegal migration. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. POLISH FOREIGN MINISTER ATTACKED BY FORMER PREMIER. The Sejm on 25 May debated Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski's presentation the previous day of Poland's foreign policy priorities. Polish and international media quote former Premier Waldemar Pawlak of the United Peasant Party as asking: "Did the minister appear as Poland's foreign minister or as an EU and NATO expert?" He commented that "our contemporary pro-Europeanism is turning into an ideology of servility towards the wealthy capitalist world." Deputies from other parties defended Bartoszewski. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. POLISH COLONEL'S SPYING SENTENCE QUASHED BY SUPREME COURT. The Supreme Court on 25 May revoked the sentence handed down to Ryszard Kuklinski, an army colonel accused of spying, Polish and international agencies report. Kuklinski fled Poland in November 1981 after allegedly passing over to the U.S. plans for the introduction of martial law the following month. He was sentenced in absentia to death for high treason in 1984. The Supreme Court ruled that the 1984 military tribunal did not have sufficient evidence to convict Kuklinski. Its acting president, Stanislaw Rudnicki, was quoted by Reuters as saying that Kuklinski was perhaps trying to counter "the direct threat of invasion by informing rulers of countries who had influence over the world's fate." -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK CONSTITUTIONAL COURT DECISION FAVORS OPPOSITION. The Constitutional Court on 24 May ruled that a law passed by the parliament in November canceling 54 direct sale privatization projects approved by the previous government is unconstitutional. Stefan Gavornik, president of the National Property Fund's Presidium, said the parliament's decision was taken "in the interest of society," but he stressed that it is necessary to respect the decision of the court. Slovak National Party Chairman Jan Slota said that he is "very sorry" about the court's decision and that it could cause "large-scale damage" to Slovakia. Peter Weiss, chairman of the opposition Party of the Democratic Left, said that "If the government coalition was not so arrogant . . . , our republic could have spared the needless damage to its reputation," Pravda reports on 26 May. Christian Democratic Movement Chairman Jan Carnogursky said the court's decision confirms that, despite many difficulties, "democracy still functions" in Slovakia. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK RULING COALITION REMAINS FUNCTIONAL. A 25 May meeting of the representatives of the four ruling parties has confirmed that the coalition remains united. Premier Vladimir Meciar, who is also chairman of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, said the talks "confirmed that the coalition is functional and the interest of every partner is to maintain it . . . Basic political differences among the coalition parties do not exist." Slovak National Party Chairman Jan Slota said the coalition is "100% solid," while Association of Workers of Slovakia Deputy Chairman Stefan Gavornik commented that the coalition functions better at higher levels than at the district level, Sme reports. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. WALESA IN HUNGARY. Polish President Lech Walesa, on a three-day official visit to Hungary, met with Hungarian President Arpad Goencz, Prime Minister Gyula Horn, Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs, and other politicians on 25 May. Goencz and Walesa agreed to cooperate in their efforts to join NATO and the European Union. "We see the world very similarly," Goencz told reporters after his talks with Walesa. The Polish president confirmed that the two countries had agreed to coordinate their views and "support each other." In what appeared to be indirect criticism of the Czech Republic's unwillingness to coordinate its efforts to join NATO and the EU with Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia, Walesa said that East European states are not cooperating enough in their bids to join Western institutions. Walesa travels on 26 May to Keszthely, on Lake Balaton, to participate in a meeting of eight Central European presidents focusing on regional cooperation. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE NATO AIR STRIKES IN BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA. Six NATO planes on 25 May struck a Bosnian Serb ammunition depot near the Bosnian Serb stronghold of Pale, outside Sarajevo, Nasa Borba and international agencies reported the following day. The NATO attack came after Bosnian Serb forces failed to comply with an ultimatum that they return four heavy guns stolen near Sarajevo. The Bosnian Serbs responded swiftly by launching attacks against five of six of the country's designated safe areas: namely, Sarajevo, Srebrenica, Tuzla, Gorazde, and Bihac. In Tuzla, a shell exploded in a downtown area lined with cafes. The town's mayor has said that at least 50 people were killed in the incident, while as yet unconfirmed reports say the toll may be at least 70 dead and some 150 wounded. Meanwhile, UN spokesman Major Guy Vinet has told Reuters that "all nine weapons collections points have been blocked by Bosnian Serb soldiers." -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. REACTIONS TO NATO AIR ATTACKS. Bosnia's Muslim-led government welcomed NATO's actions against the Bosnian Serbs. Vice President Ejup Ganic told reporters at a press conference following the Bosnian Serb response that further NATO action was needed. "NATO must carry out a massive bombardment of the Serb artillery . . . What happened in Tuzla tonight and in Sarajevo and Gorazde must not go unpunished," he said. Meanwhile, NATO officials have indicated that their organization is prepared to launch other strikes against the Bosnian Serbs if they do not withdraw heavy weapons from the exclusion zone around Sarajevo by 10:00 GMT on 26 May. The Belgian news agency Belga quoted NATO Secretary-General Willy Claes as saying that NATO has targets of "importance." He gave no further information. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. FORMER KOSOVO POLICEMEN ON TRIAL. Some 44 ethnic Albanian former policemen went on trial in Prizren on 25 May, international agencies reported the same day. They are accused of forming a shadow Kosovar police force and face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty. The defendants have denied the charges, saying the only reason they formed an independent police union was to protect their rights. The state prosecutor has claimed the union served "as a shield for forming an illegal police force." An ethnic Serbian defense lawyer said that the trial is purely political and that the defendants were tortured by the police during interrogation. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN CABINET DISCUSSES COUNCIL OF EUROPE CONVENTIONS. The Romanian government convened a special meeting on 25 May to discuss ways to bring Romania's human rights legislation into line with Council of Europe standards, Radio Bucharest reported. A government spokesman said the ministers approved the signing of the council's charters on local autonomy and on minority and regional languages. The government also decided to start ratification procedures for other conventions, including those on extradition and combating terrorism. The spokesman added that the legislation package on Romania's relations with the CE will soon be sent to the parliament for emergency debate. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. CZECH FOREIGN MINISTER IN ROMANIA. Josef Zieleniec on 25 May began a three-day official visit to Romania, Radio Bucharest reported. Zieleniec and his Romanian counterpart, Teodor Melescanu, discussed ways to speed up NATO's expansion as well as their countries' integration into European structures. Both ministers praised the development of Czech- Romanian trade relations. Melescanu stressed that Romania regards the Czech Republic as a model for political and economic transformation. Zieleniec, who was also received by President Ion Iliescu and Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu, pledged his government's help for Romania's ethnic Czech minority. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. IMF WITHHOLDS LOAN INSTALLMENT FOR ROMANIA. An International Monetary Fund mission concluded an eight-day visit to Romania on 25 May, Radio Bucharest reported. The delegation, headed by IMF's chief negotiator with Romania Maxwell Watson, was received by President Ion Iliescu, Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu, and other senior government officials. Watson said at a press conference on 25 May that Romania was making progress on reforming its economy but that the process was hampered by serious problems, including hesitant mass privatization and enormous inter- company debts. He suggested that the IMF continue examining Romania's economic situation before a second installment of a $250 million loan is released. Another IMF inspection team is expected to visit Romania in June. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. MOLDOVAN FOREIGN MINISTER CRITICIZES DUMA. Mihai Popov, in an interview with Interfax on 25 May, expressed concern over what he described as the Russian State Duma's attempt to "torpedo" an October 1994 bilateral agreement on the withdrawal of the 14th Army from eastern Moldova. Popov said that a law recently adopted by the Duma on preserving the 14th Army's arsenals amounted to a moratorium on the withdrawal, since it linked it with a settlement to the crisis in the Dniester region. In a related development, a Moldovan delegation led by parliament deputy chairman Nicolae Andronic left for Budapest on 25 May to attend the North Atlantic Assembly session there. Andronic said Moldova will seek international support for the implementation of the Moldovan-Russian agreement on the withdrawal of the 14th Army. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. NEW BULGARIAN POLITICAL ALLIANCE IN THE MAKING? Duma on 26 May reports that President Zhelyu Zhelev sees a realistic chance for forming a new political alliance. Dimitar Ludzhev, chairman of the Center New Policy party, was quoted as saying that the United Democratic Forces would not be a presidential grouping but an alliance for the people. Ludzhev, together with Asparuh Panov and Stefan Gaytandzhiev of the Radical Democratic Party (RDP), met with Zhelev on 25 May. Ludzhev's party has already held talks on the formation of a new alliance with the People's Union, and talks with the RDP are scheduled. The RDP, in turn, has invited the Union of Democratic Forces to attend talks but so far has not received a reply, Gaytandzhiev said. -- Stefan Krause , OMRI, Inc. MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT URGES GREECE TO START TALKS. Kiro Gligorov, on a state visit to Italy, has urged Greece to lift its embargo against Macedonia and start direct talks with his country, Reuters reported on 25 May. Gligorov was quoted as saying that Macedonia will not be "an equal partner in direct talks" if the embargo is not lifted. He also urged Greece to take a bigger role in the Balkan peace process, saying it has "a responsibility as the only Balkan country in the European Union and NATO to bring stability to the region." Gligorov praised the UN peacekeepers stationed in Macedonia and said their presence is a sign that "the war cannot expand south." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. GREEK-ALBANIAN TALKS START IN "GOOD ATMOSPHERE." Greece and Albania have started wide-ranging talks to try to improve bilateral relations, AFP reported on 25 May. Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Konstantinos Bikas said the first sessions in Athens and Tirana, held on 23 and 24 May respectively, took place in a "good atmosphere." The talks focused on immigration and legal and consular problems. Further meetings will take place in Tirana on 26 May-6 June to discuss public order, cultural links, and military cooperation and in Athens on 5 June to debate economic relations. AFP cited an unnamed Greek source as saying Athens is considering granting 100,000 seasonal work permits to Albanian citizens. -- 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 (c) Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.
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