|The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none. - Thomas Carlyle 1975-1881|
No. 56, Part II, 20 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 PRESIDENT PLEDGES TO ENFORCE LAW ON SEPARATION OF POWERS. Leonid Kuchma said in Kiev on 29 May that he will implement the law on separation of powers even if the Ukrainian parliament fails to approve amendments suspending 68 articles of the constitution that contradict the new legislation, Interfax-Ukraine and Ukrainian Television reported the same day. Kuchma told reporters he has not abandoned the idea of calling a national plebiscite on confidence in the parliament and the president. He said parliament speaker Oleksander Moroz failed to hand over the legislation for the president's signature within the 10 days required, thereby holding up his appointment of a new government. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. EU APPROVES TRADE CONCESSIONS TO UKRAINE. International agencies reported on 29 May that the EU has approved a package of trade concessions to Ukraine. The agreement is seen as an interim accord that may lead to increased political ties between Ukraine and the EU. The EU will also grant Ukraine a $110 million loan to help balance its budget. That loan was contingent on Ukraine's shutting down the Chornobyl nuclear power station by 2000. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. REFERENDUM ON CRIMEAN CONSTITUTION CALLED OFF. Four factions that have a majority in the Crimean legislature decided on 29 May to call off a referendum on the banned Crimean Constitution, scheduled for 25 June, Interfax-Ukraine reported the same day. The Crimean parliament's press service told Interfax that the Russia, Russia-Unity, Republic, and Agrarian-Communists groups will start drafting a new constitution based on the 1992 Ukrainian law on power-sharing between Ukraine and Crimea. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. UPDATE ON BELARUSIAN ELECTIONS. According to further results reported by international agencies on 29 May, 102 deputies were elected during the second round of parliament elections the previous day. This brings the total up to 120, well short of the 174 necessary for the new parliament to begin work. The Agrarian Party has the most seats, with 31, and the communists 27. Most other elected deputies are independents. Among the successful candidates are Chairman of the Supreme Soviet Mechyslau Hryb, Lukashenka's former rival for the Presidency and former Prime Minister Vyacheslau Kebich, and the head of the KGB Uladzimir Yahorau. Opposition leader Zyanon Paznyak and former Chairman of the Supreme Soviet Stanislau Shushkevich failed to get elected. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. TWO ESTONIAN PARTIES TO MERGE. Mart Laar, chairman of the Pro Patria Party, and Tunne Kelam, leader of the National Independence Party, signed on 28 May an agreement to unite the parties before the fall local elections, BNS reported the next day. The two parties formed the core of the ruling coalition elected in September 1992 but performed poorly in the March 1995 elections when they ran together. Kelam said that other parties, such as the Forest Party and the Estonian Farmer's Party, neither of which passed the 5% threshold to gain parliament seats, could join the new party. He also commented that the new grouping will work closely with the Reform Party of former Bank of Estonia President Siim Kallas. -- Saulius Girnius , OMRI, Inc. PARLIAMENT CONVENTION ON TIBET IN VILNIUS. Eighty parliamentarians from 21 countries attended a convention in Vilnius on 26-28 May to discuss the status of Tibet from the point of view of international law, demographic policy in Tibet, and its relations with China, BNS reported the next day. The convention agreed to send an international delegation to Tibet and Beijing to investigate the situation there and to press for talks on a peaceful settlement of the conflict between China and Tibet. Lawmakers from 13 countries--the three Baltic States, Russia, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Albania, Iceland, Canada, New Zealand, India, and Japan--also decided to set up an international group that will seek solutions to the Chechnya conflict. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LITHUANIAN CAR BOMB VICTIM DIES. Rimantas Grainys, one of the largest shareholders in the Vilnius-based commercial bank Ekspres, died on 29 May from injuries sustained from a car bomb attack in Vilnius three days earlier, BNS reported. Grainys was alleged to have been involved in laundering money belonging to the so-called "Chechen mafia". It is unclear whether the car bomb was planted by a rival gang known as the "Vilnius brigade" or the Chechens. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. POLISH NATIONAL BANK REVERSES COURSE, LOWERS RATES. The Polish National Bank on 29 May lowered basic lending rates by four points (to 31% for the refinancing credit rate) after raising interest rates in February for the first time in five years. National Bank President Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz argued that the rate cut was justified by weakening inflationary pressures and the zloty's recent strengthening following the introduction of a semi-floating exchange rate regime. This move is the latest in a series of tussles between the NBP and the government. According to a report in Gazeta Wyborcza, the rate cut is widely seen as a "capitulation" by Gronkiewicz-Waltz to Deputy Prime Minister Gregorz Kolodko, who sharply criticized the NBP's decision to raise interest rates in February. Also, Gronkiewicz-Waltz said on 27 May that she does not exclude running in the upcoming presidential elections. -- Jakub Karpinski and Ben Slay, OMRI, Inc. CZECHS AND POLES DISAGREE AGAIN OVER VISEGRAD GROUP. Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus on 29 May again rejected Polish desires for closer ties among the four Visegrad countries of Central Europe, Mlada fronta dnes reported the following day. Polish Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, at a meeting with Klaus, called for greater cooperation among Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. But Klaus repeated his long-held view that the Visegrad group should not become institutionalized. The two however agreed on their countries' strategies for joining NATO and European institutions and on relations with Germany. On the first day of his two-day official visit to Prague, Bartoszewski also had talks with his Czech counterpart Josef Zieleniec. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAKIA TO CAMPAIGN FOR FULL EU MEMBERSHIP. Slovak Foreign Minister Juraj Schenk told journalists in Brussels on 29 May that Slovakia may seek to gain full EU membership at the 26-27 June union summit in Cannes, TASR reports. He noted that the invitation from French President Jacques Chirac for Slovakia to participate in the June summit marked another concrete step toward closer ties with the EU. French Foreign Minister Herve de Charette announced on 29 May in Brussels that the French president is extending an invitation to attend the EU summit to the prime ministers and presidents of all countries that have already signed association agreements with the EU or are in the process of signing such agreements. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARY'S SCUD MISSILES DETONATED. A U.S. demolition expert detonated on 29 May Hungary's remaining Soviet-made Scud missiles, international and Hungarian media reported. U.S. Ambassador to Hungary Donald Blinken told journalists that the action was a joint effort by the U.S. and Hungary to prevent the spread of dangerous weapons. He said the destruction of the missiles demonstrated Hungary's determination to join Western security structures. Hungarian Defense Minister Gyorgy Keleti said Hungary's remaining seven Scud missiles were never targeted and were put in storage in 1989. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. NORTH ATLANTIC ASSEMBLY MEETING IN BUDAPEST. The North Atlantic Assembly ended a four-day meeting in Budapest on 29 May, Western agencies reported the same day. It was the first time the assembly had convened in a former communist country. NAA President Karl Voigt and Hungarian military expert Tamas Wachsler submitted a report calling for new members of NATO to be "fully integrated into the NATO structure" and stating that in peace time, no foreign troops and nuclear weapons need be deployed in these countries. Russian delegates argued that any expansion of NATO would threaten the division of Europe. The assembly passed a resolution condemning the "barbaric" actions of the Bosnian Serbs in taking UN peacekeepers as hostages and called for the UN mandate in Bosnia to be strengthened. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN SERBS REMAIN DEFIANT. International media on 30 May report that the Bosnian Serb supreme command has issued a statement saying that the UN is siding with the Bosnian government and that the Serbs now regard "all Security Council resolutions, all NATO ultimatums, and all accords with the UN that have been abused...[as] null and void." General Ratko Mladic said that UN soldiers will still be used as human shields by keeping them at sites where NATO aircraft might strike but that they will no longer be chained to fences and poles. The Serbs denied they had any hostages, preferring to call their captives "prisoners of war." Pale nonetheless did not call for a pullout of UN forces because, in the opinion of the BBC, that would pave the way for Washington to arm the Bosnian government. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SERBS HOLD NEARLY 400 HOSTAGES. Nasa Borba reports on 30 May that the number of UNPROFOR soldiers held captive by Bosnian Serb forces is rapidly approaching 400. The French lead the list with 174, followed by 55 Canadians, 41 Ukrainians, 37 Russians, and 34 British. The 26 remaining hostages come from various countries, including three from the Czech Republic. The BBC notes that the Serbs have developed a taste for their involuntary guests' belongings and now wear French uniforms and drive British vehicles. They nonetheless appear to have lost ground in the Mt. Ozren area, north of Sarajevo, to attacks by Bosnian government forces. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. CONTACT GROUP IS "BACK IN ACTION." This is how British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd described the 29 May session in The Hague of the foreign ministers of Germany, France, Russia, the U.K., and the U.S. They condemned the Bosnian Serbs' "outrageous acts" and threatened "consequences if [the hostages] are not correctly treated and returned unharmed." But they neither specified what those consequences would be nor gave a deadline for freeing the captives. The five called for "strengthening" UNPROFOR but also urged renewed diplomatic efforts, especially toward securing Belgrade's recognition of Sarajevo. International media noted that Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev stressed the need for negotiations, while U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher would not rule out further air strikes. Meanwhile, EU foreign ministers said on 29 May that Pale would be held responsible for the fate of the hostages. -- Patrick Moore , OMRI, Inc. MILOSEVIC'S MAN IN KRAJINA SACKED. Borislav Mikelic was ousted as prime minister by the Krajina Serb legislature in Knin on 29 May, Nasa Borba reported the next day. He was regarded as Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's main ally in the Krajina leadership, which otherwise favors closer links--including an ill-defined "union"--with the Bosnian Serbs. Mikelic's popularity has nose-dived recently, because he is suspected of being willing to accept Krajina's reintegration into Croatia. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SERBIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON UNIFICATION, BOSNIAN CRISIS. Foreign Minister Vladislav Jovanovic on 29 May said the unification of Serbia with Serb-held territories in Bosnia and rebel Serb-occupied areas of Croatia was an eventuality that would spell only "catastrophe" and amount to defiance of the international community. Jovanovic, in what seems to be a break with the Bosnian Serb leadership over the escalation of the conflict in Bosnia, said the taking of UN hostages and their use as human shields against possible future NATO air raids was "unacceptable." Politika on 30 May reported that Jovanovic has described the sacking of the Krajina premier as "an internal question" for the Republic of Serbian Krajina. This statement may be seen as an attempt by Belgrade to distance itself from its former rebel Serb clients in Croatia. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIAN PARTY CONGRESS IN MACEDONIA. Iljaz Halimi, leader of the ethnic Albanian Democratic People's Party, was reelected at a party congress in Tetovo on 28 May, Flaka reported the following day. The congress adopted two documents--one dealing with economic and social questions and the other demanding improved Albanian-language education and the closer integration of ethnic Albanians in the fields of culture and science. A proposal to change the party's name to Democratic Party of Albanians was rejected. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN SENATORS DENOUNCE HUNGARIAN MINORITY PARTY. Several senators on 29 May, responding to the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania's (UDMR) program adopted at its recent congress (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29 May 1995), attacked the party's demand for territorial autonomy. Socialist Labor Party First Deputy Chairman Adrian Paunescu and Greater Romania Party leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor (both former Ceausescu "court poets") called on the prosecutor-general to take legal action against the UDMR for violating the constitution. The UDMR was also denounced by Vasile Dumitru, a member of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania, and by Senator Vasile Vetisianu, a member of the opposition National Peasant Party-Christian Democratic, Radio Bucharest and Romanian Television reported. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. NEW JEWISH RELIGIOUS LEADER IN ROMANIA. Rabbi Mark Yeheskel was elected first rabbi of Bucharest on 28 May, Radio Bucharest announced, citing a press release by the Federation of Jewish Communities. Federation president Nicolae Cajal told RFE/RL that Rabbi Yeheskel was born in Romania and has taught in the U.S. The press release said he will have jurisdiction over all Jewish communities in Romania. Nonetheless, he was not appointed chief rabbi of Romania, the position occupied by Rabbi Moses Rosen, who died last year. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. GAGAUZ ELECTION UPDATE. BASA-press, citing sources from the Central Electoral Commission, reported on 29 May that only 28 of the 35 parliament seats in the autonomous Gagauz region have been filled. Run- offs for the vacant seats will be held on 11 June. The second round of elections for the region's leader will also be held that day. The electorate will choose between George Tabunshchik, who gained 45% of the vote in the first round, and Mikhail Kendigelean, who received 28% . Turnout at the 28 May election was approximately 70%. The Moldovan Communist Party has expressed its support for Tabunshchik, BASA-press reported. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN PRESIDENT URGES NATO MEMBERSHIP . . . Zhelyu Zhelev on 29 May said that full membership in NATO is "the political ticket to enter the European Union." He argued in an interview with state-run Radio Horizont that no former East bloc country will be admitted to the EU without being a member of NATO. Zhelev commented that there are no obstacles to prevent Bulgaria from becoming a full member of NATO by the end of the year "if NATO is willing to accept us." With regard to the EU, Zhelev said reforms are Bulgaria's "visiting card." He added that consensus must be reached on a free market economy and democracy. Also on 29 May, Zhelev met with Russian Ambassador Aleksandr Avdeev. Duma on 30 May quoted Avdeev as saying that Russia's position on NATO expansion remains unchanged. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. . . .BUT POLITICIANS FAIL TO AGREE. The Consultative Council on National Security has failed to bridge different views on Bulgaria's possible membership in NATO, Demokratsiya reported on 30 May. The council, headed by the president, is composed of members of the government, the main political parties, and the president's staff. President Zhelyu Zhelev asked the council to convene to discuss applying to join NATO, but the meeting ended with a vague statement that the parties "agreed to continue discussing [Bulgaria's] concrete position." Three opposition parties supported Zhelev's stance that Bulgaria must clearly state its desire to join NATO. Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, government members, and representatives of the Bulgarian Socialist Party argued that "there is no social consensus as yet on Bulgaria's membership in NATO." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIAN JOURNALISTS THREATEN STRIKE. The Albanian Association of Professional Journalists has threatened to suspend publication of all independent newspapers in response to an order that all papers be sold only at state-owned book shops and kiosks in Tirana. The order, issued by Mayor of Tirana Sali Kelmendi, would place severe restrictions on the number of copies of each newspaper, international media reported. The association also said it will begin legal proceedings to reclaim lost earnings for street sellers who were prevented by the police from selling newspapers on 26 May. Meanwhile, Adrian Krasta, a journalist for Albanian TV, was beaten by unidentified individuals, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 30 May. The paper said the attack was probably in connection with Krasta's professional work as a journalist. -- Fabian Schmidt , OMRI, Inc. ALBANIAN RIGHT-WING PARTY HOLDS CONGRESS. One of the founders of the extreme right-wing Democratic Party of the Right (PDD), Abdi Baleta,was sacked from the party's leadership at the PDD congress on 27 May, Aleanca Nacionale reported the next day. The congress was attended by representatives from all over Albania, except from Baleta's stronghold, Pogradec. Baleta's defeat comes after his de facto break from the party on 27 April, when he publicly denounced elements within the PDD. -- 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 Copyright (c) Open Media Research Institute, Inc. 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