|Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith. - Christopher Fry|
No. 114, Part II, 13 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 EU AGREES ON MORE AID FOR EASTERN EUROPE. The EU foreign ministers, meeting in Luxembourg on 12 June, agreed to more financial aid for Eastern Europe in a compromise that highlights divisions within the EU over its future orientation, international agencies reported the same day. Northern EU states, led by Germany, have been pressing for increased aid to the East and wider opening of markets, while southern EU states have requested more for Mediterranean countries and have resisted greater trade liberalization for textiles and agricultural products. Eastern Europe will receive $1.62 billion next year, an increase of 7% over current levels, and the Mediterranean countries $ 917 million, an increase of 27%. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINE WILL NOT PARTICIPATE IN G-7 SUMMIT. According to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko, the G-7 has rejected Ukraine's request to participate in the 15 June summit in Halifax, Canada, UNIAN reported on 12 June. Udovenko said that President Leonid Kuchma wanted to speak at the summit, which will address the issue of financing the closure of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant. Kiev has said the closure will cost $4 billion, but Ukraine's environment minister has admitted that this sum is negotiable and depends on what kind of power station is built to replace Chornobyl. The G-7 has offered $200 million in assistance toward the closure. Reuters reported that a German government source said Kiev should not expect more from the G-7. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. ECONOMIC FORECAST FOR UKRAINE. Government forecasters predict that Ukraine's economy will improve by the end of the year, Radio Ukraine reported on 12 June. The monthly decline in production is expected to fall to only 1% in December, compared with a monthly rate of 27.7% in December 1994. The officials also believe monthly inflation will drop to 2% by December. Anders Aslund, the Swedish economist and adviser to the Ukrainian government, is less optimistic, however, Radio Ukraine reported. He predicts a very difficult time ahead for Ukraine, pointing to its huge debt to Russian Gazprom and likely pressure for new subsidies for the harvest season from the conservative agrarian lobby. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. UPDATE ON BELARUSIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS. Belarusian Radio on 12 June reported that in the local elections the previous day, 36,808 candidates competed for 28,000 local deputy seats in 6,698 electoral districts. A total of 47.6% of the electorate voted, and elections were invalid in a number of districts because turnout was below 50%. The lowest voter turnout was in Minsk (19.1%). Smaller cities and rural areas had higher turnouts. In other news, Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Soviet Ivan Bambiza met with deputies to discuss the May 1995 parliamentary elections. They decided that at the 14 June parliamentary session, they would debate the issues of making the newly elected parliament a legal entity, holding new elections, and amending the electoral law. Not enough deputies were elected in May to form a new parliament, and it is unlikely that a two-thirds quorum will be achieved under the current electoral law. -- Ustina Markus BALTIC STATES SIGN EU ACCORDS. Prime ministers Tiit Vahi (Estonia), Maris Gailis (Latvia), and Adolfas Slezevicius (Lithuania) on 12 June in Luxembourg signed the so-called Europe agreements, Reuters reported. They joined Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria as associate members of the European Union. The three Baltic ministers were invited to attend the EU summit in Cannes, France, on 26- 27 June. The target date for the Baltic States' completing the transition phase for membership was set at the end of 1999, compared with 2003 and 2004 for the other six. Vahi said after signing that "our integration into Western Europe is not directed against Russia, on the contrary it should facilitate relations with Russia." Russia has opposed any expansion of NATO eastward but has not expressed concern about the broadening of the EU. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. ESTONIA WANTS DEFENSE COOPERATION AGREEMENTS. Estonian Defense Minister Andrus Oovel on 12 June said that during the recent meeting in Brussels of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, he discussed with the defense ministers of Norway, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, and Canada the signing of bilateral defense cooperation agreements, BNS reported. Jorgen Kosmo (Norway), who will visit Tallinn on 14-15 August to sign the agreement, pledged continued aid to help create the Estonian navy. An agreement was made with Vilem Holan (Czech Republic) to start drafting a cooperation agreement that would probably be signed in December or January, when Oovel visits Prague. Jelko Kacin (Slovenia) agreed that delegations of defense experts would visit the countries to learn more about defense structures. David Collenette (Canada) pledged support for the Baltic peacekeeping battalion and received requests for used transport helicopters and financial aid to set up a new air space monitoring system. -- Saulius Girnius LATVIA'S BANKA BALTIJA. Four members of the Banka Baltija's juridical board staged a one-day strike on 12 June demanding the reinstatement of the board's director, Vizmands Eberlins, BNS reported. President Uldis Klauss dismissed Eberlins on 8 June for ignoring the order to hand over several of the bank's branches to Unibank and the Bank of Latvia. In an effort to reduce expenses, the bank has recently dismissed 403 workers, including guards and cashiers. Prime Minister Maris Gailis in an interview in Lauku Avize on 9 June said the bank owes depositors 120 million lati ($235 million). He noted that as the average deposit in the bank was 400 lati, the bank would probably fully restore the savings of 82% of the depositors by paying out up to 500 lati. He also said deposits of more than 500 lati would be paid out later. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. POLISH DEPUTY DEFENSE MINISTER RESIGNS. The Polish Defense Ministry on 12 June said Deputy Defense Minister Jerzy Milewski's resignation has been accepted. Milewski, a former close associate of President Lech Walesa, supported former Defense Minister Piotr Kolodziejczyk in his recent conflict with Walesa. He also publicly criticized current Defense Minister Zbigniew Okonski (OMRI Daily Digest, 9 June 1995). Former Defense Deputy Minister Bronislaw Komorowski of the opposition Freedom Union party said Milewski's departure signals the end of civilian control over the army, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 13 June. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. CZECH INFLATION STEADIES IN MAY. Consumer prices in the Czech Republic rose by 0.4% in May, resulting in an inflation rate over the previous year of 10.2%, according to figures published by the Czech Statistical Office on 12 June. Prices rose 3.9% in the first five months of this year, compared with 3.4% in the same period of 1994. A rise of 1.0% in April, mainly caused by sharp increases in various services, was not repeated in May. Hospodarske noviny quoted a senior Finance Ministry official as saying the May result was in line with the government's aim of keeping inflation under 10% this year. Price hikes for gas and electricity are expected to affect June inflation figures. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS. The opposition Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) has refused an offer to begin political discussions with the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS). KDH official Martin Srank said the parties' policies are "diametrically" opposed and that they cannot even agree on the meaning of democracy, Narodna obroda reported on 13 June. Meanwhile, the opposition has made numerous complaints about Slovak TV's biased reporting following personnel changes by the ruling coalition. Pravda's monitoring of the news program from 3-10 June showed that the ratio of coverage for coalition versus opposition members was 47 to 3. Pravda also reported on 13 June that a legal conflict between the poet Lubomir Feldek and HZDS deputy and former Minister of Culture Dusan Slobodnik has ended after nearly three years. The conflict arose in 1992 after Feldek accused Slobodnik of having a "fascist past." On 25 May, Slovakia's highest court found Feldek guilty on 5 out of 6 charges. Feldek said he will bring the case to the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARIAN COURT DISSOLVES NEO-NAZI ORGANIZATION. The Hajdu County Court on 10 June dissolved a local neo-Nazi organization, the Eastern Front Comrades' Federation (KABSZ), MTI reported. The court ruled that the organization's activities violated the law. "Although the right to assemble is a basic constitutional principle, social organizations must not pursue activities breaking the law," the court said. KABSZ leader Andras Kiss, together with another member of the organization, is currently awaiting trial for setting fire to the Debrecen synagogue on 6 January, destroying 17 Torah scrolls that belonged to Jews deported from Debrecen during the Holocaust. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE KARADZIC FREES 130 HOSTAGES. The BBC on 13 June reported that Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic told a press conference in Pale at 11:00 local time that 130 hostages were being freed at that moment. Many could leave directly from the Sarajevo area to rejoin their units, while others would be freed via Serbia. He claimed that "technical reasons" prevented the release of an additional 14 men, which presumably meant that they are being held at widely scattered locations. It also could mean that Pale wants to hold onto some captives as insurance against any retaliatory moves. AFP quoted Karadzic's parliamentary speaker, Momcilo Krajisnik, as saying of the hostages: "We have always wanted to free them as soon as possible. These young boys have all of our sympathy." Karadzic added: "We consider this crisis closed and we hope it will never happen again." -- Patrick Moore WHAT ROLE DID SERBIA PLAY IN THE HOSTAGE RELEASE? At the same time as Karadzic held his press conference, Tanjug ran a communique from Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic announcing the release of the 130 men. As before, Milosevic's security chief, Jovica Stanisic, was in Pale and was directly involved in the hostage release. Questions remain as to exactly what Belgrade's role has been all along in taking and freeing the peacekeepers. Articles in The New York Times on 11 June and Newsday the following day pointed to the integral links between the Belgrade and Pale military structures. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. FRENCH PRESIDENT CALLS SERBS "TERRORISTS." Milosevic had recently assured Jacques Chirac in a telephone conversation that he was doing all he could to help free the hostages, most of whom are French. But Reuters on 12 June quoted Chirac as telling those assembled at a dinner with Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou on 9 June how disgusted he felt when talking to Milosevic. Papandreou had been making a speech in which he asked for understanding for the Serbs, who were fighting for their religion. Chirac interrupted him, saying: "Don't talk to me about wars of religion. These people have no faith and know no law. They are terrorists." Meanwhile, international media reported on 13 June that the first contingent of 200 French soldiers for the new Rapid Reaction Force has begun arriving in Split. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. KRAJINA SERBS GET NEW PRIME MINISTER. Knin's foreign minister and longtime political figure, Milan Babic, became prime minister on 12 June, Tanjug reported. He replaced Borislav Mikelic, who was sacked in May because he was regarded as too pliant toward both Belgrade and Zagreb. Babic is now the ally of his old rival, President Milan Martic, in calling for some sort of union with the Bosnian Serbs, despite objections from eastern Slavonian Serbs and from Belgrade. Meanwhile at the United Nations, Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali said in a report that it will not be possible to redeploy UNCRO peacekeepers by 30 June as expected. Zagreb had demanded that the men be stationed on Croatia's external borders as part of the deal to renew the UN's mandate. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SERBIAN ECONOMIC NEWS. Nasa Borba on 13 June reported that over the past several days, the rump Yugoslav currency, the so-called "super dinar," has experienced a free fall against the German mark. The currency was introduced in January 1994 and pegged to the value of the mark at a rate of 1:1. It came under similar inflationary pressures in late March 1995, trading unofficially in Belgrade at up to 5 to DM 1 (see OMRI Daily Digest, 28 March 1995). -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. EU OPENS TALKS WITH CROATIA, ITALY BLOCKS SLOVENIAN ACCORD. The EU foreign ministers on 12 June agreed to open talks with Croatia on a trade and cooperation accord, international agencies reported the same day. The ministers tentatively agreed to such a move in April, after Croatia extended the mandate for UN peacekeepers, but they backed off in May when Croatia took territory in western Slavonia. The EU ministers linked success in the negotiations to Croatia's continued cooperation in the UN peace process and its respect for democracy and human rights. Meanwhile, Italy continued to block the signing of the EU association accord with Slovenia in a long-running dispute over property rights for Italians who fled the country after World War II. -- Michael Mihalka KOSOVO UPDATE. The Albanian shadow-state University of Pristina has announced a competition for 6,077 new students to enroll this year, Kosova Daily Report said on 12 June. The university went underground in 1991 when the Serbian regime declared the Albanian-language departments of the University of Pristina illegal and sacked almost 1,000 teachers and over 20,000 students. Meanwhile, the trial of 72 ethnic Albanian former policemen resumed in Pristina the same day. The policemen are accused of involvement in establishing a shadow-state police force. Defendants have said that the trial is "aimed at incriminating the Albanian democratic movement." Detainees have reportedly been subjected to torture during pre-trial detention. Elsewhere, former policemen are reported to have been evicted from their apartments by Serbian authorities. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. MACEDONIAN ALBANIANS AGAINST MEMBERSHIP IN COUNCIL OF EUROPE. A letter from the ethnic Albanian Party for Democratic Prosperity (PPD) to the Council of Europe saying that Macedonia does not meet the criteria to be accepted into the council has sparked an outcry in the Macedonian media. Vecer on 13 June called the letter an "anti-Macedonian pamphlet." The PPD argues that accession should follow only "after the true democratization of Macedonia begins," MIC reported on 12 June. It claims that the Albanian minority has been deprived of the constitutional status it has enjoyed since 1974. The PPD further criticized the electoral law and the ban on Albanian-language higher education. It also expressed doubts about the independence of the judiciary. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN PRESIDENT DEFENDS CRACKDOWN ON JUNE 1990 RALLY. Ion Iliescu, in an interview with Romanian TV on 12 June, defended the brutal repression of a pro-democracy marathon rally in downtown Bucharest in April-June 1990. He said that after the National Salvation Front's victory in the 20 May 1990 elections, most demonstrators ceased protesting, except for a group of "fundamentalists." According to Iliescu, those "rebels" and "aggressors" were responsible for the acts of violence on 13 June that prompted the Jiu Valley miners to come to Bucharest the following day to defend the government. The president rejected accusations that the 13 June violence was staged by agents provocateurs and that the miners were called in by the authorities. He expressed the hope that rallies planned by the democratic opposition and the unions on 14 June will not turn violent. Iliescu also dismissed as "fabrication" press reports on his alleged collaboration with the KGB. Rather, the KGB and Securitate had focused attention on him because of his political ideas, he said. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. FORMER COMMUNIST ELECTED HEAD OF GAGAUZ REGION. Gheorghi Tabunshik, a former local communist leader, was elected bashkan (head) of the autonomous Gagauz region, in southern Moldova, Infotag reported. He won 64% of the votes in the second round of elections on 11 June. The 55- year-old Tabunshik pledged to support market-oriented reforms and concentrate on the region's economic problems. He is credited with enjoying the favor of the authorities in Chisinau, which granted Gagauzia broad autonomy last year. The Gagauz population is made up of Turkish Orthodox Christians. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. SMIRNOV SAYS DNIESTER REGION A SEPARATE STATE. In an interview with Nezavisimaya Moldova on 10 June, Igor Smirnov, leader of the self-styled Dniester republic, reiterated the idea that the breakaway region is a separate state. He accused Chisinau of "conducting a quiet economic blockade" against Tiraspol, while dragging its feet over drafting a new status for the region that would recognize its separate statehood. Smirnov also said that Chisinau's insistence that the 14th Russian Army leaves the region means that Moldovan leaders were "still cherishing hopes to install their own order" in the Dniester area. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. CHIEF OF BULGARIAN PRIVATE SECURITY FIRM KILLED. Georgi Nikolov, a former riot policeman and chief of First Private Militia, was killed in the Black Sea town of Burgas on 10 June, Demokratsiya reported. The assailant shot Nikolov three times in the head and fled before police could block nearby roads. Nikolov's security firm, the largest in Burgas, was banned by the police in May on suspicion of involvement in an extortion racket. But guards from the company continued to provide security to hotels, restaurants and bars in the area. Well-informed sources allege that Nikolov was killed because he wanted to abandon providing security services in favor of "clean business." -- 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 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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