|The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none. - Thomas Carlyle 1975-1881|
No. 116, Part II, 15 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 LAWMAKERS DRAFT NEW ELECTORAL BILL. The Legal Policy and Judicial Reform Commission of the Ukrainian parliament has drawn up a new draft electoral law, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 14 June. The bill would provide for half of the 450 deputies to be elected directly by constituencies and the other half by party lists. It would drop the requirement of a minimum voter turnout of 50% plus one vote for elections to be considered valid. It would also abolish the requirement that candidates gain at least 25% of the vote in their constituencies to be declared winners. The changes are aimed at preventing costly run-off elections. Deputies would be elected for four-year terms and would have to be at least 25 years old to run for office. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTER REQUESTS MORE PEACEKEEPERS FOR FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. Valerii Shmarov has officially requested that the parliament approve sending additional peacekeepers to the former Yugoslavia, Reuters reported on 13 June. Ukraine already has 1,200 troops in Bosnia- Herzegovina and Croatia. Since Ukraine began participating in peacekeeping operations in 1992, a dozen Ukrainians have been killed, 39 injured, and 58 were recently taken hostage and later released by Bosnian Serbs. The UN has asked Ukraine for an additional 600 troops. Shmarov said there were political "dividends" in sending more troops since it showed the international community that Ukraine cared about peace in Europe. He also noted that it was very good training for Ukraine' s armed forces. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. POLITICAL CRISIS CONTINUES IN BELARUS. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka appealed to the outgoing Belarusian parliament to reduce the parliamentary quorum to two-fifths so that the new parliament can convene, Reuters and Belarusian Radio reported on 14 June. Such a move would put an end to the political crisis that followed the failure last month to elect enough deputies to form a new parliament. The old parliament, whose legal status remains in limbo, failed in two separate votes to reach a decision on transferring power to the new parliament so that it can pass legislation. It decided instead to hold new by- elections in November . -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. BALTIC STATES AND EFTA. Foreign Ministers Riivo Sinijarv (Estonia), Valdis Birkavs (Latvia), and Povilas Gylys (Lithuania) attended the ministerial meeting of the European Free Trade Association in Bergen, Norway, on 13-14 June, BNS reported. With the transfer of Sweden, Finland, and Austria to the European Union, Baltic States' trade with EFTA' s four remaining members (Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, and Liechtenstein) is significantly smaller. The two blocs are still interested in negotiating free trade agreements. The Baltic ministers also held separate talks with Norwegian leaders. Birkavs noted that the possibility of obtaining natural gas from Norway might be discussed at the meeting of Baltic and Nordic prime ministers in Vilnius on 1 July. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. ESTONIA AMENDS LAW ON FOREIGNERS. The parliament has passed on first reading amendments to the law on foreigners that provide for people who do not apply for residence and work permits by 12 July to be stripped of social welfare benefits and the right to vote in the fall regional elections, BNS reported on 14 June. Sergei Ivanov, chairman of the Russian faction in Estonia' s parliament, urged Russian-speakers to hand in their applications as soon as possible. The amendments, however, allow for later registration with a penalty fee. The parliament rejected the faction' s proposal to automatically issue permanent resident permits to all people who lived legally in Estonia before 1 July 1990. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LATVIAN-RUSSIAN COOPERATION ON BORDER CROSSINGS. Latvian border officer Aris Jansons has said that talks in Pitalov with the leadership of the Russian North West border guard region were fruitful, BNS reported on 14 June. He said that Russia seemed more willing to take back illegal refugees who entered Latvia from Russia. The guards discussed ways of shortening the long lines of cars at the border check points of Vientuli, Grebeneva, Terehova, and Paledze. Latvian guards proposed that computers due to be installed at Russian border control points be linked up with computers at Latvian check points to allow immediate reporting about stolen vehicles and persons who do not have permits for entering the other country. Russia proposed joint training exercises for border guards to promote increased exchanges of experience. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. UPDATE ON GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER' S VISIT TO POLAND. Klaus Kinkel, after meeting with President Lech Walesa on 14 June, said he assured the president that Germany would continue to support Poland' s aspirations for membership in NATO and the European Union. No agreement was reached on 13 June in Kinkel' s talks with Polish Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski on returning German manuscripts from the Prussian Library currently kept at the Jagellonian University in Cracow. Bartoszewski said both countries have to look for complex solutions to cultural goods lost, destroyed, or confiscated during the war, Polish and international agencies reported. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. POLISH PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION ON PRESIDENTIAL POWERS. The Polish parliamentary commission drafting the new constitution has decided to retain many presidential powers granted by the 1992 interim constitution but curb the president' s legislative veto powers, Polish and international agencies reported on 14 June. The commission reduced the number of votes needed to override a presidential veto from two-thirds to 50% plus one vote. Presidential spokesman Leszek Spalinski said the ruling coalition parties "are coming to realize they may lose the elections . . . and want to safeguard themselves should this happen." -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. CZECH GOVERNMENT REJECTS DEMANDS BY TEACHERS, DOCTORS. The Czech government on 14 June decreed 10% wage rises for public sector employees, turning down demands by teachers and doctors for larger increases. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus said awarding bigger pay increases would fuel inflation, Mlada fronta dnes reported. Education Minister Ivan Pilip argued for teachers to receive more pay, but all other ministers voted for the 10% rise, which is effective from 1 August and will cost the state budget 2.2 billion koruny. Unions representing the teachers and doctors, who have threatened to strike if their demands are not met, rejected the government' s decision. Meanwhile, Richard Falbr, head of the trade union association, requested an urgent meeting with Klaus to discuss the rail unions' threat to go on strike, possibly next week, if pay and other demands are not met. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. CZECH CABINET APPROVES HARD CURRENCY LAW. The Czech government on 14 June approved a draft law that could make the koruna convertible in the fall, Czech media reported. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus said the economy was ripe for the freeing of the currency and that the new law will bring the Czech Republic in line with IMF conditions. The parliament will discuss the draft law after the summer recess. If it is passed quickly, it could come into effect on 1 October. Among its provisions are lifting restrictions on individuals buying foreign currency and transferring money abroad. Holding bank accounts in other countries, however, will be subject to the approval of the Central Bank or the Finance Ministry. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK PREMIER IN UKRAINE. Vladimir Meciar on 14 June began a two-day official visit to neighboring Ukraine, accompanied by a delegation of ministers, other top officials, and businessmen. Meciar commented to TASR before his departure that there are no regular political contacts between Slovakia and Ukraine and that bilateral trade has declined. He said that unresolved issues included payments in bilateral trade and possible direct participation by Slovak firms in Ukraine' s privatization program. Meanwhile, TASR reports that a delegation from Meciar' s Movement for a Democratic Slovakia visited Serbia on 14 June to meet with officials from the Serbian Socialist Party, while Foreign Minister Juraj Schenk traveled to Slovenia. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK POLITICAL ROUNDUP. Representatives of three opposition parties-- the Christian Democratic Movement, the Democratic Union, and the Party of the Democratic Left (SDL)--met on 13 June to discuss ways to cooperate, Sme reported. SDL Chairman Peter Weiss said his party will hold talks with the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia on 23 June. Meanwhile, a new faction, called the Revival of Social Democracy and led by Boris Zala, has been created within the opposition Social Democratic Party. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SERBS HOLD BACK ON RELEASING LAST HOSTAGES. The BBC on 15 June reported that Bosnian Serb authorities will release the 26 remaining hostages only if UNPROFOR lets go four Serbs it has detained as "guests." The four were captured on 27 May when UNPROFOR retook the Vrbanja bridge in Sarajevo. The remaining hostages in Serbian hands include 15 UN military observers and 11 Canadian soldiers. Canadian authorities said they feel the hostage crisis is far from over. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. CLINTON WARNS SARAJEVO AGAINST MILITARY SOLUTION. Leading authorities from the U.S., the U.K., France, Russia, and the UN have expressed alarm at the reported massing of 20,000-30,000 Bosnian government troops north of Sarajevo. President Bill Clinton told Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic on 14 June that "in the end, the military solution is not available to the Bosnian government," the VOA reported. British State Secretary Douglas Hogg said he feared a new Bosnian offensive would set off "a cycle of increasing violence." Bosnian Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey announced in Vienna, however, that his government had to take "preventive measures" because the Serbs are moving new weapons into the UN exclusion zone around Sarajevo, Reuters said. Sacirbey did not deny reports about the massing of government troops in an apparent attempt to break the siege of the capital, but he argued that the people of Sarajevo have no intention of spending another winter cut off from the world. -- Patrick Moore 50 KRAJINA SERBS RETURN TO CROATIA. The Croatian government has approved requests by 50 Krajina Serb refugees in Bosnia to go back to their homes in western Slavonia, which Croatian forces retook in Operation Blitz on 1-2 May. All will receive Croatian citizenship, as have the 1,600 Serbs who never left, news agencies reported on 14 June. Slobodna Dalmacija noted the following day that a Serbian family left Benkovac in Krajina for Zadar, complaining about "impossible living conditions" in the impoverished rebel Serb territories. The Croatian authorities realize that they must treat the Serbian minority fairly if Zagreb is to enjoy the good graces of its friends and allies abroad. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. HOW BADLY ARE SANCTIONS HURTING SERBIA? Nasa Borba on 15 June reported that rump Yugoslav National Bank Governor Dragoslav Avramovic has said that much of the foreign exchange injected over the past twelve months into the rump Yugoslav economy came from Serbian citizens with offshore assets in Cyprus. According to Avramovic, there is still money available from Cyprus and "other parts of Europe." Such revelations raise speculation about the sincerity of rump Yugoslav officials, notably Milosevic, in alleging that international sanctions against Belgrade are causing irreparable harm to the rump Yugoslav economy. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. NEW RIFT IN SERBIAN OPPOSITION RANKS? Reuters on 15 June reported that the leaders of two of Serbia' s main opposition parties--Zoran Djindjic of the Democratic Party (DS) and Vojislav Kostunica of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS)--remain adamant that they will not support a nationalist, anti-Milosevic 17 June rally. Vojislav Seselj, leader of the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party and an alleged war criminal, organized the demonstration. This latest development may signal a rift between the three parties, which formed an electoral alliance in February for upcoming municipal elections. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. SERBIAN RADICAL LEADER' S PRISON TERM EXTENDED. A Pristina court has extended the prison term handed down to Seselj in an apparent move to prevent him attending the 17 June rally, Nasa Borba reported. Seselj, together with party deputy chairman Tomislav Nikolic, was arrested in Gnjilan on 2 June after clashes with police. Seselj' s original 20-day sentence has been extended to 60 days. Seselj recently criticized Milosevic for supporting the Contact Group' s peace plan and called him a traitor. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. MACEDONIAN ALBANIANS AGREE TO COOPERATE. Ethnic Albanians in Macedonia have agreed to meet in Tetovo to "jointly review and present the fundamental questions" on improving the situation of Albanians in Macedonia," MIC reported on 14 June. Agreement was reached at a meeting of representatives of ethnic Albanian political parties and associations. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN OPPOSITION COMMEMORATES JUNE 1990 EVENTS. Thousands of Romanians on 14 June marched through downtown Bucharest to mark the fifth anniversary of the violent crackdown on a pro-democracy rally in June 1990. Radio Bucharest reported that the march was staged by the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR), the Confederation of Democratic Trade Unions, the PROPACT trade union, and several student associations. CDR Chairman Emil Constantinescu, addressing a crowd of about 10,000 on University Square, said the 1990 government-sponsored violence was intended to crush the democratic opposition. He read out a seven-point program aimed at lifting Romania out of its political and economic crisis. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN UNIONS, GOVERNMENT FAIL TO REACH AGREEMENT. Romanian trade union leaders, following several rounds of negotiations with political parties supporting the government, announced on 14 June that no breakthrough has been reached over better pay and work conditions, Radio Bucharest reported. The unions intend to proceed with plans to stage protests over the next two weeks. Union leaders reiterated their distrust of the left-wing cabinet but said they are willing to continue negotiations with the government. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIA REJECTS MOLDOVAN CRITICISM OF TREATY. Mircea Geoana, a spokesman for the Romanian Foreign Ministry, told journalists on 14 June that negotiating a basic treaty between Romania and Moldova was "a complex process." Referring to a statement made by Moldovan Premier Andrei Sangheli, Geoana denied that Romania wanted a special document to be annexed to the treaty denouncing the 1939 Nazi-Soviet secret pact under which Romania lost Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina. He announced that talks over the text of the future treaty will soon be resumed in Bucharest. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. WATER RESTRICTIONS IN BULGARIAN CAPITAL TO BE LIFTED. Normal water supplies will resume in Sofia next week following eight months of rationing, Reuters reported on 14 June. The decision was taken by the Sofia municipality after experts reported that 190 million cubic meters of water flowed into the Iskar reservoir over the first five months of this year. Officials said they expect another 300 million cubic meters to flow into the reservoir by the end of 1995, thereby guaranteeing the city' s minimum required supplies until March 1996. Under the rationing scheme, monthly water consumption in Sofia fell from an average of 17-18 million cubic meters to some 11 million. Meanwhile, Bulgaria still has not ratified a $98 million loan from the World Bank aimed at improving water supplies and repairing the antiquated pipelines. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN CONSTRUCTION TROOPS POPULAR IN AFRICA. Bulgaria' s military construction troops have just finished building a bridge across the Limpopo River between South Africa and Zimbabwe, BTA reported on 12 June. The troops' General Administration has signed contracts for more projects in both countries and is studying additional ones in Swaziland and Mozambique. The agency said the construction troops have created two-thirds of Bulgaria' s infrastructure. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. NAA PRESIDENT SAYS EAST EUROPEAN ENTRY INTO NATO POSSIBLE BY 1998. Karsten Voigt, president of the North Atlantic Assembly, told a security seminar in Sofia on 13 June that NATO should be ready to accept new members by 1998, international agencies reported. He repeated his assertion made last month at the NAA meeting in Budapest that because NATO expansion was not directed at an external threat, foreign troops or nuclear weapons need not be deployed on new members' territories. Voigt said that Bulgaria' s prospects in joining NATO early depended on its own actions. He praised Bulgaria for its efforts in developing positive relations with its neighbors and quickly recognizing the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. STRONG EARTHQUAKE IN GREECE CLAIMS AT LEAST 10 LIVES. An earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale hit Central Greece on 15 June, international agencies reported. Its epicenter was near the town of Eratini, on the Gulf of Corinth. At least 10 people were killed and some 100 injured. One apartment building and one hotel in Aigion are reported completely destroyed, while the port facilities of Eratini have sunk into the sea. The BBC said that the town of Aigion is the scene of "complete devastation." Damage is also reported in other nearby towns. According to Reuters, ancient Delphi suffered considerable damage, too. Rescue operations are severely hampered by afterquakes and the breakdown of electricity and communications lines. Northwestern Greece was hit by a strong earthquake last month. -- 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. 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