|Eat to live, and not live to eat. - Benjamin Franklin|
No. 113, Part II, 12 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 NUCLEAR REACTOR SHUT DOWN AFTER MINOR LEAK. A minor leak in the gasket of the generator in the No. 3 reactor at Pivdennyi nuclear power plant, in southern Ukraine, prompted the shutdown of the reactor only 24 hours before it was due to be taken off line for routine repairs, Interfax-Ukraine and Reuters reported on 10 June. There was no release of radiation reported in connection with the leak, which occurred in the non-nuclear power generator within the bloc. Meanwhile, Interfax-Ukraine on 11 June reported that former Crimean president Yurii Meshkov has been hospitalized with diphtheria. The hospital's chief physician said she was perplexed as to how Meshkov could have contracted the disease, since he has barricaded himself in the presidential office in Simferopol following Kiev's decision to abolish his post in March. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. IMF RELEASES MORE CREDITS TO UKRAINE. International agencies on 10 June reported that the IMF has released the second half of a $700 million credit to Ukraine. The decision to release the funds was taken by the IMF Executive Board the previous day because Ukraine has been abiding by its economic reform program. Kiev is now waiting for the IMF to release the first part of the larger $1.5 billion credit it has been promised. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. LOCAL ELECTIONS FLOP IN BELARUS. AFP and ITAR-TASS on 11 June reported that turnout at local elections in Belarus was below the 50% minimum required for the elections to be valid. If the elections are declared invalid, the local representatives appointed by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka will be the sole authorities in the regions. Belarusians failed to elect a new parliament in May, and even less interest has been shown in the local elections. Voter apathy has helped strengthen the president's authority. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. BALTIC FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET. Riivo Sinijarv (Estonia), Valdis Birkavs (Latvia), and Povilas Gylys (Lithuania) signed a trilateral agreement on visa-free travel in Riga on 9 June, BNS reported. Additional protocols list the 32 countries whose citizens need have a visa to only one Baltic State in order to enter the other Baltic States without a visa and stay there up to 30 days at a time but no more than 90 days a year. Lithuania and Latvia agreed to have six railroad and six road border control points for international traffic and 17 other crossings for Latvian and Lithuanian residents only. The agreements will go into effect on 1 July. The ministers also coordinated their positions on seeking membership in the European Union. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. CONSTRUCTION OF LITHUANIAN OIL TERMINAL STARTS. Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius opened the ceremonies marking the official beginning of the construction of a floating oil terminal at Butinge on 9 June, Interfax reported. Work has already begun on constructing roads, communication and power lines, as well as water and sewage systems on the mainland. The project is expected to be completed within 24 months under the supervision of the Flour Daniel Williams Company at an estimated cost of $220 million. The U.S. Eximbank has offered a $80 million credit, but the Lithuanian parliament has not yet authorized its signature. It is unclear where the remaining funds will come from. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. WALESA UNDER ATTACK AT SOLIDARITY CONGRESS. Solidarity's Seventh Congress ended in Gdansk on 11 June with delegates accusing Polish President and Solidarity founder Lech Walesa of giving too much support to the postcommunist ruling coalition. Walesa refrained from openly declaring his candidacy in the upcoming presidential elections, Polish media reported. In other news, the Sejm on 9 June voted 143 to 122 to amend the penal code to introduce a five-year moratorium on capital punishment. The amendment must still be approved by the Senate. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. POLISH-U.S. MILITARY AGREEMENT. Poland and the U.S. on 9 June reached a military agreement on the exchange of research and development information. The document was signed in Warsaw by visiting U.S. Defense Undersecretary Paul Kamin-ski and Polish Deputy Defense Minister Jan Kuriata, Polish and international media reported. Poland is the second country in East Central Europe, after Hungary, to sign such an agreement. Meanwhile, documents from the Special Operations Executive released in London on 9 June confirm that British authorities knew the truth about the 1940 Soviet massacre of Polish officers in Katyn but decided to conceal it so as not to turn public opinion against their wartime ally the Soviet Union, Polish and international media reported. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. CZECH TEACHERS CALL STRIKE, DOCTORS THREATEN ACTION. The Czech teachers' trade union on 10 June called a strike for the first day of the fall term to press demands for a 20% wage rise, Czech media reported. The teachers want the rise from July and a further 30% from next January. They have threatened an all-out strike if their demands are not met. Government ministers dealing with economic policy say that public sector employees will receive only a 10% rise this year. The main doctors' union, meeting over the weekend, also threatened strike action if doctors do not receive a 100% wage increase. It called on Health Minister Ludek Rubas to resign, saying that under his direction the health service is now in a critical condition. Rubas rejected the resignation call. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK PRIVATIZATION PROGRAM UNDER FIRE. Changes in the coupon privatization program (see OMRI Daily Digest, 7 and 8 June 1995) have drawn criticism from the opposition. Peter Zajac from the Permanent Conference of the Civic Institute said on 9 June that the new model will exclude citizens from privatization and create the possibility of "privatization without public control." He also told Sme that since the conditions for the program have changed, the government should return the 1,000 koruny that citizens have paid for coupon booklets to those who do not want to participate in the new program. Former National property fund chairman Viliam Vaskovic, in a round-table discussion on Slovak TV on 11 June, said the changes are a "negative step" that conflict with the government's program declaration. In an interview with Sme on 12 June, he described the government's draft law on privatization as "unconstitutional." -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARY TO RESTITUTE CHRISTIAN, JEWISH PROPERTY. Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn, meeting with World Jewish Congress leaders in New York on 9 June, pledged to reach an agreement by 30 September to restitute all Christian and Jewish property seized by the Nazis and later nationalized by the Communists, Reuters reported. Horn said he would order government working committees to start separate talks in July with Jewish, Catholic, Lutheran, and Calvinist Church leaders on the future of some 5,000 pieces of property worth millions of dollars. According to Horn, all religious property will be restored to its rightful owners within a decade and any property that cannot be returned will be paid for over a period of 20 years. The WJC said Horn's pledge was a major breakthrough in its fight to have East European countries return nationalized property worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Some U.S. leaders recently warned East European nations that relations with Washington would suffer unless they dealt with the issue of confiscated Jewish property. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. NATO MEETS PFP PARTNERS IN BRUSSELS. NATO defense ministers on 9 June met with their counterparts from the 26 countries that have signed up for NATO's Partnership for Peace program, international agencies reported the same day. NATO Secretary-General Willy Claes said that while "PfP is already producing tangible security benefits," many of the PfP countries have yet to strike the right balance between civilian authority and the military. He stressed that civilian control of the military was an important element in consolidating their democracies but admitted it could take "years and years." Meanwhile, the Polish Defense Minister Zbigniew Okonski announced at the meeting that Poland was willing to contribute up to half a Polish brigade to the 10,000-man rapid reaction force being considered by France, Britain, and the Netherlands for deployment to Bosnia. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE IS SERBIA CONTINUING TO SUPPORT BOSNIAN SERBS? The New York Times on 11 June reported that Belgrade seems to be still covertly helping the Bosnian Serbs, despite Serbian President Slobodan Milo-sevic's apparent break with the Bosnian Serb leadership in August 1994. The U.S. daily states that according to European and U.S. officials, the Yugoslav army has continued to pay the salaries of some Bosnian Serb officers and to supply Bosnian Serb troops with vital commodities such as fuel. But it is unclear how systematic and significant Serbia's support for the Bosnian Serbs is. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. BOSNIAN SERBS SEIZE AID. Bosnian Serbs on 11 June seized several tons of food aid earmarked for Muslims in the besieged enclave of Zepa. The aid, organized by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, was to have arrived at its destination on 10 June but was detained at a Bosnian Serb checkpoint. According to AFP, Bosnian Serb troops delayed the convoy after they discovered bullets in a sack of flour, which UNHCR officials suspect was planted by the Serbs. "We were given two options . . . Either the Bosnian Serb army would confiscate the convoy or it would go back fully laden to our warehouse in Belgrade," AFP quoted an UNHCR official as saying. In other news, international media on 11 June reported heavy fighting in eastern Bosnia, including near Gorazde, where government forces fought with Bosnian Serbs over control of strategic territory. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. BOSNIAN VICE PRESIDENT REJECTS BOUTROS GHALI'S PEACE PLAN. Hina on 11 June reported that Ejup Ganic has rejected UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali's proposal for a new peace plan for Bosnia-Herzegovina. The proposal was published by the German magazine Der Spiegel. It advocates bringing the Bosnian Serb side back to the negotiating table in order to restart the peace process. Ganic argues that the Contact Group's plan, which allocates 49% control of Bosnia-Herzegovina to the Bosnian Serbs and the remainder to the Bosnian Muslim and Croatian federation, remains the best solution. He also observed that to invite Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic to the table would again signal that he "can keep the occupied territories," which account for 70% of Bosnia. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. CROATIAN PRESIDENT GIVES SERBS ULTIMATUM. Krajina Serb aircraft on 9 June bombed Croatian positions in the Dinara range in response to a steady offensive by Zagreb's forces. The following day, Croatian President Franjo Tudjman visited Okucani in western Slavonia, which his forces took in Operation Blitz on 1 and 2 May, in his first visit to the area since the reconquest. International media said he told the Krajina Serbs that they will face further "lightning offensives" if they do not seek reintegration into Croatia by the time UNCRO's mandate runs out at the end of October. He added that he hoped that Croatian refugees from Serbia and the Banja Luka area of Bosnia would help repopulate western Slavonia. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. TURKISH-LANGUAGE SCHOOLS TORN DOWN IN MACEDONIA. Two buildings in which ethnic Turkish students have received schooling in their native language for the past two years have been torn down, MIC reported on 9 June. The buildings were in the districts of Zhupa and Papradnik and were reportedly destroyed by the Debar local authorities' "demolition service." Both schools were constructed without a building license in the grounds of mosques. The demolition is reportedly unrelated to the Education Ministry's ban on classes outside the state educational system. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT ATTACKS UNION LEADERS. The Romanian government, in a statement issued on 9 June, criticized the leaders of Romania's three main labor unions for allegedly rejecting a dialogue with both the government and employers, Radio Bucharest reported. The communique said the leaders of the National Confederation of Romania's Free Trade Unions-The Brotherhood, the National Labor Bloc, and the Alfa Cartel were trying to "hijack" the labor movement and "subordinate it to their own economic and political interests." It further accused them of indulging in "populist demagoguery" and of "artificially provoking social tension." The government appealed to rank-and-file union members not to respond to "inciting calls" for demonstrations aimed at "destabilizing the country and creating anarchy." -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIAN OFFICIAL SAYS 14TH ARMY TO STAY. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Krylov on 10 June suggested that the 14th Russian army might remain in Tiraspol for a long period of time, Interfax reported. He noted that the army has played a stabilizing role in the region over the past years. Krylov also said that although there has been some progress in talks between Chisinau and Tiraspol over the status of the Dniester region, negotiations have slowed down of late. Krylov's statement came shortly after a U.S. Defense Department delegation urged that the army be pulled out. The head of the delegation, Brigadier General Dale Nelson, told journalists on 8 June that the only solution was the withdrawal of the 14th army from Moldova. He added that many countries, including Russia and the U.S., have recognized Moldovan independence. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. NEW PARTY FOUNDED IN MOL-DOVA. The Party of Social Progress in Moldova held its founding congress in Chisinau on 8 June, Infotag and BASA-press reported. The congress was attended by 120 delegates, including some from the breakaway Dniester region. The party's program describes the formation as democratic, pragmatic, and multi-national, with a social- democratic orientation. Some Moldovan media suggested that prominent members of the ruling Democratic Agrarian Party of Moldova who are dissatisfied with the political line of President Mircea Snegur were behind the new formation. Petru Lucinschi, chairman of the Moldovan parliament, is regarded as the party's possible leader. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIA, ROMANIA SEEK LOCATION FOR DANUBE BRIDGE. Bulgarian officials on 11 June said the question of the location for a second Danube bridge linking Bulgaria and Romania will be solved by July, Reuters reported the same day. Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu discussed the issue with his Bulgarian counterpart, Georgi Pirinski, in Evksinograd. The new bridge is estimated to cost about $400 million and will ease bottlenecks from central and western Europe to the Middle East. At present, there is only one bridge, linking Ruse and Giurgiu, which has become heavily congested, especially since the UN embargo against rump Yugoslavia. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN PREMIER ON EU, NATO. Zhan Videnov, addressing the North Atlantic Assembly conference in Sofia on 11 June, said Bulgaria wants to join both the EU and NATO, AFP reported the same day. He noted that EU membership has top priority for Bulgaria but that it is still early to discuss either possible Bulgarian participation in NATO's military framework or the deployment of nuclear weapons and foreign troops on Bulgarian territory. Videnov also repeated his government's position that sanctions against rump Yugoslavia must be partially lifted. He advised against lifting the arms embargo against Bosnia and proposed a summit of the Balkan countries to discuss infrastructure problems in the region. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. ETHNIC TURKISH DORMITORY IN BULGARIA ATTACKED. A dormitory for ethnic Turkish students in Ruse was attacked on 10 June, international agencies reported the following day. The assailants threw stones and smashed the windows of the building, but no injuries were reported. Bulgarian media linked the event to the 12 June trial of Anton Rachev, a local skinhead leader accused of disseminating fascist propaganda. Rachev's prosecutor and local newspapers have received letters threatening new attacks if he is convicted. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIAN FORMER COMMUNIST LEADER TO REMAIN IN PRISON. A Tirana court on 10 June rejected Ramiz Alia's claim that he has served out his prison term and should be released under the new penal code and an amnesty law, international agencies reported on 10 June. The new penal code, which went into effect on 10 June, states that every day someone spends in prison between arrest and trial counts as one and a half days in prison. Alia was sentenced to nine years in prison in 1992 for "violation of the rights and freedoms of Albanian citizens." But his sentence was reduced by various courts of appeal and an amnesty last year. Alia is due to be released on 29 March 1996. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. GREEK PROSECUTOR ASKS FOR NEW PROBE INTO MAVI. Greek prosecutors have asked for a new investigation into the Greek extremist Northern Epirus Liberation Front (MAVI), which is charged with attacking military barracks in Albania last year, AFP reported on 10 June. They have asked the Supreme Court to investigate "anyone responsible . . . for troubling peaceful relations" between Greece and Albania. Five Greek citizens and four ethnic Greeks from Albania were arrested in March and indicted for illegal possession and trafficking of weapons. Seven were in possession of Kalashnikov rifles taken from the Albanian barracks in last year's terrorist attack. They may now face charges of murder and attempted murder. -- 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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