|The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. - Eden Phillpotts|
No. 111, Part II, 8 June 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 AND PRESIDENT REACH COMPROMISE ON POLITICAL REFORM BILL. The Ukrainian legislature and President Leonid Kuchma on 7 June reached a compromise over greater executive authority to implement political and economic reforms, international and Ukrainian new agencies reported the same day. Lawmakers voted 240 to 81 to approve a so-called constitutional agreement allowing the law on separation of powers to take effect until Ukraine adopts a new constitution. Kuchma told legislators that the treaty, to be signed on 8 June, may prompt him to cancel the 28 June plebiscite on confidence in himself and the assembly. Kuchma called the legally non-binding poll in an effort to break the political deadlock over his political reform law. Kuchma told the parliament that his drastic measure indicated that Ukraine was only one step away from the kind of violent confrontation seen in Russia and other CIS states as a result of similar standoffs. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. CRIMEAN PRIVATIZATION CHIEF DEMANDS LIFTING OF KIEV'S MORATORIUM. Oleksander Kotelnikov, chairman of the Crimean State Property Fund, has demanded that Ukrainian authorities lift a moratorium on privatization in the region and allow Crimean lawmakers to adopt a privatization program for the peninsula, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 7 June. Kotelnikov told Crimean deputies that the protracted dispute between Kiev and Simferopol over who has jurisdiction over the region's property means Crimeans will get a much smaller share of the privatization pie than Ukrainians from other regions. He said the moratorium has prevented the Crimean authorities from adopting an economic development program for the peninsula. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. FORD TO OPEN ASSEMBLY PLANT IN BELARUS. Representatives of the Ford Corporation in Minsk met with President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 7 June to finalize plans to set up an auto assembly plant in Belarus, Interfax reported the same day. Lukashenka promised government support for the project, which should be ready to assemble Fords from ready-made components within 15 to 20 months. The American executives said Ford chose Belarus for its geographical location, cheap labor, and internal stability. They also pointed to the removal of trade barriers with neighboring Russia, which, they said, will broaden the market for their cars. Lukashenka inquired about the possibility of setting up a joint venture to manufacture special cars for the country's 400,000 handicapped. He said Belarus needed about 1,500 such vehicles annually, while Russia delivered only 25 to 30 a year. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. ESTONIAN PRIME MINISTER VISITS FINLAND. Tiit Vahi, accompanied by Foreign Minster Riivo Sinijarv, was in Helsinki on 7 June for a one-day visit, BNS reported. Vahi held talks with President Matti Ahtisaari and Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen. He also visited the energy concern IVO International, whose subsidiary ESTIVO is cleaning up radioactive water at the former Soviet submarine base at Paldiski, 35 kilometers west of Tallinn. Sinijarv and his Finnish counterpart, Tarja Halonen, signed a treaty on cooperating to fight crime. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LATVIAN MILITARY PLANE CRASHES. One of Latvia's two L-410 Turbolet transport planes crashed at the Lielvarde airfield, 40 kilometers south of Riga, on 7 June, BNS reported. The two pilots were killed in the crash, whose cause has not yet been officially determined. Latvian Prime Minister and acting Defense Minister Maris Gailis were scheduled to fly on the plane the following day to Brussels for a meeting of defense ministers participating in NATO's Partnership for Peace program. The L- 410s were built in Czechoslovakia but donated to Latvia by Germany. Latvia also has two AN-2 Colt aircraft and five MI-2 helicopters. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. UZBEK PRESIDENT IN LITHUANIA. Islam Karimov, at the start of his two-day visit to Lithuania, met with his Lithuanian counterpart, Algirdas Brazauskas, on 7 June, RFE/RL reported. The two presidents signed a declaration on increasing cooperation. Foreign Ministers Abdulaziz Kamilov and Povilas Gylys signed agreements on trade and economic cooperation, joint efforts to combat customs violations, as well as cultural, educational, and scientific cooperation. Karimov is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius, Seimas Chairman Ceslovas Jursenas, and Lithuanian businessmen on 8 June. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST IN POLAND. Sergei Kovalev who was recommended by the Solidarity trade union and the Freedom Union party for the Nobel Peace Prize, met with Polish President Lech Walesa on 7 June. Kovalev praised Walesa's decision to refuse an invitation to attend VE Day commemorations in Moscow last month. Meeting with the Freedom Union caucus, Kovalev said: "We are children of European culture. We should fight together with those who know better what is good for us," Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 8 June. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. FRENCH PHILOSOPHER HONORED BY CHECHENS IN WARSAW. French philosopher Andre Glucksman on 7 June was awarded the Knight of the Grand Cross of Honor by Abdul Kadyrov, the European representative of Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev. The opposition Confederation for an Independent Poland and the Chechen Information Center in Cracow organized the award ceremony, which took place in the Sejm. Glucksman said that Chechens were "martyrs who have suffered for all of Europe and who, today, are the victims of a new form of red and black fascism," Polish and international media reported. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. CZECHS TO UNILATERALLY SCRAP PAYMENTS SYSTEM WITH SLOVAKIA. The Czech government on 7 June decided to unilaterally abolish the clearing system that has governed trade payments with Slovakia since the two countries split, Czech media reported. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus said he has received no reply to a letter sent to his Slovak counterpart, Vladimir Meciar, in which Klaus proposed abolishing the system. Slovak Finance Minister Sergej Kozlik, apparently contradicting other officials' statements that Meciar has already written to Klaus, told Sme that Meciar's reply was "hanging in the air." If the parliament abrogates the necessary legislation at its June session, the system will likely be scrapped on 1 October and all future trade will be conducted in hard currency. Ending the system, under which the Czechs have run up monthly deficits for more than a year, will be a further step toward making the Czech koruna convertible and will remove one barrier to the Czech Republic's entry into the OECD. -- Steve Kettle CZECH RAIL WORKERS DECLARE STRIKE ALERT. The Czech Republic's 105,000 rail workers on 7 June threatened to call an all-out strike if their wage and other demands are not met within eight days, Czech media reported. Rail unions, claiming their members' wages have fallen behind other groups, have rejected offers of modest increases as inadequate. They are also calling for the resignations of all railroad heads, saying they are mismanaging the rail network. The railroad general manager has already submitted his resignation but is still in office. "We are ready to compromise on all points except raising wages," union leader Jaroslav Dusek said. The management and the Transport Ministry say that they do not have the funds to meet the workers' demands and that any substantial pay increase will have to be accompanied by a reduction in staff. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK OPPOSITION ECONOMIST CRITICIZES PRIVATIZATION SCHEME. Brigitta Schmoegnerova, a leading member of the Democratic Left Party, has described the Slovak government's voucher privatization plans as "another nail in the coffin of the Slovak Republic," Slovak media reported. Under the government proposal, the 3.5 million Slovak citizens who have already signed up for voucher privatization will each receive government bonds worth up to 10,000 koruny with five or six years maturity (See OMRI Daily Digest, 7 June 1995). Schmoegnerova called the bond scheme a "populist move" that would only confuse voucher holders. Distributing bonds rather than vouchers that are exchangeable only for shares in companies is not equal to voucher privatization, she argued. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, speaking on Slovak Television on 6 June, revealed yet another aspect of his government's new privatization strategy--the ban on privatizing strategically important state enterprises. Meciar explained that this would enable the government to acquire what he termed "golden shares" in power, gas, weapons, and chemical facilities. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION NOMINATES PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. Hungary's parliamentary opposition parties--the Christian Democrats, the Hungarian Democratic Forum, and the Young Democrats/Hungarian Civic Party--agreed on 7 June to field a joint presidential candidate to challenge the incumbent, President Arpad Goncz, who has been nominated by the ruling Liberal-Socialist coalition. Hungarian media reported that the opposition candidate is Ferenz Madi, a university professor and education minister in the previous government. His chances are considered slim because the ruling coalition has a two-thirds parliamentary majority needed to elect the president. The vote is scheduled for 19 June. -- Jiri Pehe SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE U.S. RESCUES PILOT DOWNED OVER BOSNIA. International media reported on 8 June that Captain Scott F. O'Grady, who piloted the F-16 shot down by the Serbs on 2 June, has been picked up near Bihac by "NATO search and rescue forces" and taken to the USS Kearsarge in the Adriatic. A NATO spokesman added that the mission took place once contact with O'Grady had been made. President Bill Clinton said that "Captain O'Grady's bravery and skill are an inspiration. So are the bravery and skill of those who took part in the operation to rescue him. They are all American heroes." -- Patrick Moore SERBS TO FREE MORE HOSTAGES? The Bosnian Serbs may soon free more of the remaining 145 UN peacekeepers they are holding captive. The BBC on 8 June quoted the independent Serbian news agency Beta as saying the operation is being held up only because the men are scattered over a wide range of territory. A Serbian lobbyist told the VOA that the Serbs took the hostages as "the least hostile action" they could think of. Speculation is rife inside former Yugoslavia and abroad as to what exactly prompted the Pale leadership to take nearly 300 UN personnel captive in the wake of NATO air strikes and what the role of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic has been. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. WILL THE RAPID RESPONSE FORCE BE TOOTHLESS? British, French, UN, and Russian diplomats have been talking at length about the mandate and command structure of the proposed RRF, the BBC reported on 8 June. It appears that the force will be simply an extension of UNPROFOR, restricted in its ability to punish aggressors and subordinated to the UN's hesitant civilian command. The UN head of peacekeeping operations, Kofi Annan, told AFP that "it will use force as it is allowed under peacekeeping operations. It is not going to go into a combat mode. It is not a fighting force.... We will have such presence that at some local levels perhaps we will not be harassed as much." It is difficult to see how such remarks can be reconciled with those of French Foreign Minister Herve de Charette, who said: "We have decided to get out of the morass in Bosnia. We have proved this from the military angle, and we have the political will." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SERBS POUND SARAJEVO. Bosnian Serbs on 7 June continued to blast Sarajevo with heavy weapons, which are supposed to be banned from the area, prompting a response from government forces. In Washington, the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff continued efforts by the Clinton administration to distance itself from or qualify the president's recent remarks to the effect that U.S. ground troops might be sent to Bosnia if requested by NATO. Secretary of Defense William Perry told a Congressional committee that he does "not believe that the Bosnian war poses a threat to U.S. interests grave enough to risk the lives of thousands of our troops." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. GROWING TENSIONS WITHIN KRAJINA LEADERSHIP. The Croatian Serb rebel government on 6 June held a meeting in eastern Slavonia with nine out of 17 ministers present. Frictions are growing in the wake of the loss of western Slavonia and in the face of Croatian military inroads near Knin. The main split is between those around President Milan Martic, who favors a still vaguely defined union with the Bosnian Serbs, and allies of Milosevic close to the recently sacked prime minister, Borislav Mikelic. The latter argue that the union would mean that sanctions against Pale would be imposed against Knin. Former President Goran Hadzic, an enemy of Martic, threatened that resource-rich eastern Slavonia will secede if the union goes ahead. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. U.S. ENVOY LEAVES FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. U.S. envoy Robert Frasure has left former Yugoslavia after failing to secure an agreement with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic providing for the lifting of sanctions against rump Yugoslavia in exchange for Belgrade's recognition of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Nasa Borba reported on 8 June. The daily also noted that the U.S. envoy appears to think that Milosevic has little influence over the Bosnian Serbs. Nasa Borba also reported that former rump Yugoslav Premier Milan Panic visited Belgrade on 7 June. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. KOSOVAR PARLIAMENTARIANS AT FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTRY. A delegation from the Kosovar shadow-state parliament visited the French Foreign Ministry, Kosova Daily Report said on 7 June. The Kosovar legislators warned of an escalation of the situation in the region and stressed that the Kosovars have been pursuing a policy of peaceful resistance in recent years. A French Foreign Ministry representative expressed his admiration for that policy and said France has been closely watching developments in former Yugoslavia. He added that his country is aware of the complexity of the Kosovo crisis and supports "an acceptable and just solution." -- Fabian Schmidt ROMANIAN UNIONS VOW TO CONTINUE PROTESTS. Romania's three main labor organizations --the National Confederation of Romania's Free Trade Unions-The Brotherhood, the National Labor Bloc, and Alfa Cartel--told journalists on 7 June that they plan to hold a two-week protest beginning 14 June. They also said they were not prepared to stay out of politics and will continue to demand the cabinet's resignation. The planned rally will coincide with the fifth anniversary of a 1990 anti- government protest that was brutally crushed by the authorities. Opposition parties also plan rallies on that day, but the unions said their protests are separate. President Ion Iliescu urged the three organizations to suspend their protests and resume talks with the government. He said union leaders were playing "a dangerous [political] game that contradicted the unions' social mission." -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. UNESCO HEAD IN ROMANIA. Federico Mayor, director-general of UNESCO, began an official visit to Romania on 6 June, Radio Bucharest reported. He was received the same day by Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu and the next day by President Iliescu, Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu, and Culture Minister Viorel Marginean. Mayor pledged that his organization will continue to support educational programs for Romania's youth as well as programs for the preservation of its cultural heritage and natural environment, including a series of ecological projects in the Danube Delta and Dobruja. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT MEETS TIRASPOL LEADER. Mircea Snegur on 7 June held talks in Chisinau with a delegation from the breakaway Dniester region headed by Igor Smirnov, Interfax and BASA-press reported. The meeting was opened by Michael Wygant, head of the OSCE mission to Moldova, who read out an appeal for reconciliation from OSCE acting chairman Laszlo Kovacs. Snegur, in a statement released after the meeting, spoke of "constructive and productive" negotiations. But most press reports said there was no breakthrough on the future status of the Dniester region within the Republic of Moldova. The two sides announced another round of talks for 5 July. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT ADOPTS CONTROVERSIAL LAW ON RALLIES. The Moldovan parliament on 7 June adopted a law on public demonstrations at its first reading, Infotag and BASA-press report. The law says that rallies may be prohibited if their aim is to slander the state and nation or subvert the constitutional system. It also prohibits rallies near public buildings, including hospitals, railway stations, and enterprises. The opposition voted against the law, calling it an anti-democratic document. It vowed to bring the issue to the attention of international organizations, including the Council of Europe. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIAN PRESIDENT MEETS ITALIAN NATIONAL ALLIANCE DEPUTIES. President Sali Berisha met with deputies from the Italian National Alliance, Rilindja Demokratike reported on 7 June. Berisha told the Italian parliamentarians that "relations and cooperation between the two countries have developed well and brought good results." He also praised Italy for considering the possibility to issue visas for Albanian seasonal workers. -- 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 OMRI 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) 1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.
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