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No. 118, Part II, 19 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 G-7 ON UKRAINE. G-7 leaders, meeting in Halifax, Canada, praised Ukraine for its efforts to create a free market economy, saying Kiev could receive additional aid, AFP reported on 16 June. They said they would seek more international assistance to help Kiev shut down the Chornobyl nuclear power station. The G-7 so far has decided to grant Ukraine $3.9 billion to support economic reform in the country. At the end of the summit, it announced that if Ukraine continued to progress with economic reform, international financial institutions could make an additional $2 billion in credits available by the end of 1996. Ukraine was not represented at the summit, but Kiev made a number of statements that Chornobyl' s closure hinged on additional aid. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT FOCUSES ON INDUSTRIAL RESTRUCTURING. Leonid Kuchma recently visited Ukraine' s industrial centers to examine ways to overhaul the country' s ailing industrial sector, Interfax-Ukraine and Radio Ukraine reported on 16 June. During his trip, he said that some 40 so-called financial-industrial groups, which unite capital and industries in Ukraine and Russia, were to be set up within a month to make enterprises more viable. His administration has also set up a bankruptcy agency to identify and close down failing enterprises. Kuchma noted he intends to apply stricter discipline toward management in the state sector and plans to issue a decree to review the contracts of all directors of state-owned enterprises. In the meantime, he decreed the creation of a state commission on a stock market for privatized businesses. The decree is aimed at ensuring a single state policy on a securities exchange. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. IMF REACHES PROVISIONAL AGREEMENT WITH BELARUS. The IMF has provisionally agreed on an economic reform program with Belarus, Reuters reported on 16 June. The IMF representative in Minsk, Willen Middlekoop, said the program requires Belarus to approve a "revamped" budget, take steps toward slowing monthly inflation to 1% by the end of the year, and keep to a 3.2% budget deficit. Tariffs on rents and utilities are to be increased by July, while monopoly price controls are to be abolished. In addition, currency restrictions are to be eased. Keeping to the plan could pave the way for the release of a $250 million standby loan from the IMF. Earlier this year, part of the standby credit was denied to Belarus because Minsk failed to implement various requirements of an economic reform program that included freeing prices. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. ESTONIA, FINLAND MOVE TOWARD VISA-FREE TRAVEL. Estonian Foreign Ministry official Raul Malk and Finnish Foreign Ministry consular department head Marcus Laurent, meeting in Tallinn on 16 June, initialed an agreement on the readmission of illegal immigrants, BNS reported. The agreement will probably be signed by Interior Minister Edgar Savisaar during his visit to Finland later this month. It is one of Finland' s preconditions for signing a treaty on visa-free travel with Estonia. The two countries have signed an accord on cooperation in crime prevention and are concluding a bilateral agreement on the extradition of criminals. -- Saulius Girnius , OMRI, Inc. LATVIA SEEKS LOAN FROM JAPAN. Latvian Finance Ministry official Aivars Veiss told a press conference on 16 June that talks were being conducted with Japan on a 20-40 million lat ($39-78 million) loan, BNS reported. The loan, to be received in late July or early August, will be used to pay current government expenses. Veiss noted that the government has already spent 16 million of the 20 million lati loan it received from the Bank of Latvia on 25 May at an annual interest rate of 25%. The ministry will begin selling state treasury bills on 21 June in an effort to secure additional funds. -- Saulius Girnius , OMRI, Inc. SOVIET DAMAGE TO LITHUANIA' S ENVIRONMENT. Representatives of the Danish company Kruger Consult A/S, the Baltic consulting group, and the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences released a report on 15 June saying it will cost $1.1 billion dollars to repair damage caused to Lithuania' s environment by Soviet troops, Interfax reported the next day. The group inspected 426 former Soviet military installations covering a total area of 67,000 hectares, or more than 1% of the republic' s territory. They found heavy pollution from oil and other chemical products. Assessment of the damage began in late 1993 and was financed by the European Union PHARE program. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. POLISH EPISCOPATE ON CONSTITUTION DRAFT. The Polish episcopate on 18 June criticized the draft of the new constitution, which has been prepared in installments by a parliamentary commission. The bishops stressed the need to include a reference to God in the preamble. They had previously demanded constitutional guarantees for the protection of human life from conception and religious instruction in schools, Polish media reported on 19 June. Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy commented that the bishops have "passed judgement on a document that does not exist yet." President Lech Walesa said he would not support the constitution draft. "I demand a presidential system and even the president' s rights to issue decrees if need be," he said. He once again stopped short of declaring his presidential candidacy. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. TWO CZECH GOVERNING PARTIES AGREE ON MERGER. The Christian Democratic Party (KDS) on 17 June approved a merger with the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) of Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, Czech media reported. KDS chairman and Minister of Education Ivan Pilip said the party leadership voted 23 to seven with one abstention for the merger. The ODS executive committee had approved the merger agreement one day earlier. The pact guarantees KDS candidates four seats in the next parliament or five if the ODS wins more than 76 seats in the June 1996 elections. The KDS currently has five deputies, with a breakaway faction opposed to the ODS merger holding another five. The merger has to be approved by both the ODS and KDS congresses, due to be held at the end of this year. -- Steve Kettle , OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS. The ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) on 17 June demanded again the resignation of President Michal Kovac, Slovak media reported. The party criticized a recent interview Kovac gave to the Austrian weekly Profil in which he allegedly questioned Slovakia' s democratic system and thus "damaged Slovakia' s interests abroad." The HZDS claimed that Kovac has made a habit of such actions. The party went on to back the recent changes in the government' s privatization concept, stressing that the first wave of coupon privatization gave an unfair advantage to those who had information about firms being privatized. It also criticized investment funds for defending business interests rather than those of shareholders. Chairman of the HZDS parliamentary caucus Tibor Cabaj said the ratification of the Slovak-Hungarian treaty will not be discussed at the next parliament session, which begins on 21 June. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. WORLD BANK EXTENDS CREDIT TO HUNGARY. The World Bank on 16 June approved a $1.3 billion three-year credit line for Hungary, Reuters reported. Millard Long, head of the bank' s Budapest office, called the government' s recent measures to cut the 1995 budget and current account deficits "much needed" and "very significant." But he stressed that economic reforms must continue before Hungary will be allowed to fully utilize the credit line. Hungary' s net debt of $21.4 billion is the highest per capita debt in Central and Eastern Europe. A portion of the credit line is conditional on Hungary signing a deal with the IMF. Hungary hopes that working out a new standby loan agreement with that organization will boost business confidence and raise foreign investment. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN ARMY ADVANCES ON FOUR FRONTS. International media reported over the weekend that Bosnian forces were advancing near Tuzla, to the north and south of Sarajevo, and to the south of that city. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said on 19 June that key Serbian supply routes to the north and south of the capital had been cut, leaving the Bosnian Serbs attacking Sarajevo from the west under siege. The International Herald Tribune noted on 17 June that it was the government army' s best performance since the Serbs launched the war in the spring of 1992 and that for the first time Croatian artillery was backing the mainly Muslim army on the Sarajevo fronts. The Serbs responded by shelling the city, killing two in a hospital and seven at a water distribution center. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. IZETBEGOVIC SAYS BOSNIANS WILL FREE SARAJEVO. Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic said over the weekend that the capital will be free sooner or later and that the current offensive will not stop until the Serbs' strangle-hold has been eased. He noted appeals from the international community for a cease-fire but added that the world has done nothing for Sarajevo and that his government does not feel obliged to listen to such pleas. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the BBC, and the VOA carried the stories. -- Patrick Moore , OMRI, Inc. SERBS DECLARE SPECIAL MOBILIZATION, CONTINUE PRESS-GANGING. The BBC on 18 June said that Bosnian Serb authorities proclaimed a special mobilization of civilians and declared a "state of war" in the Sarajevo area. Nasa Borba notes on 19 June the continuing roundup of draft-age Serbian males from Bosnia and Krajina in Belgrade' s student center, in Valjevo, and elsewhere. Vreme adds that those in charge of the project have a list of 18,000 "deserters" they want to round up and send back to the front. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SERBS FREE LAST UN HOSTAGES. The last group of 26 peacekeepers held by Bosnian Serbs was released via Novi Sad on 18 June, just hours before the Serbs' own deadline of midnight for resolving the crisis. Serbian intelligence chief Jovica Stanisic was again present among Bosnian Serb leaders, as he was when the three previous large groups of hostages were freed. International media also reported that UNPROFOR has effectively withdrawn its peacekeepers from all Serb-held territory, including four heavy weapons collection points near Sarajevo. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SERBIAN SANCTIONS UPDATE. European Commission reports on sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia indicate that violations, especially stemming from Albania and Macedonia, continue to take place, Reuters reported on 18 June. The reports, which cover the first four months of 1995, also implicate Greek and Italian groups in the practice of funneling contraband fuel shipments to Albania, from where they are transported to the rump Yugoslavia. "Significant quantities of oil products, including thousands of tonnes of A1 aviation fuel declared ' for heating purposes' have been arriving in Albania during the reported periods," according to one report. It is also suggested that the 3,050 officially reported cases of sanctions violations by Macedonia "represent only a fraction of the consignments that have crossed the border in violation of the sanctions." -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. SERBIAN RADICAL RALLY FAILS TO MEET EXPECTATIONS. A 17 June rally sponsored by the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) attracted an estimated crowd of 5,000, Reuters reported the same day. SRS supporters had planned a massive ultranationalist, anti-Milosevic rally, but public interest did not meet expectations. Other major opposition parties-- including the Democratic Party (DS), the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), and the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO)--refused to endorse the rally. Organizers also attributed the low attendance to the fact that SRS leader and accused war criminal Vojislav Seselj was unable to attend because he is serving a two month sentence for a 2 June incident in which he clashed with the police. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. ARE RELATIONS BETWEEN ALBANIA AND MACEDONIAN ALBANIAN PARTIES IN CRISIS? Koha Jone on 14 June claimed that relations between Albania and Macedonian ethnic Albanian parties have deteriorated since the opposition Albanian Socialist Party met with the Macedonian ethnic Albanian Party for Democratic Prosperity (PPD) earlier this month. According to sources within the PPD, Shaban Murati, the Albanian ambassador to Skopje, was upset by "the warm reception and extensive publicity" the PPD gave to the Socialists. Meanwhile, AKS carried a report on 18 June stressing that the Albanian government has consistently supported the Albanian-language University in Tetovo and that Albanian President Sali Berisha repeatedly called for it to be established. It added, however, that Albania has recently changed its policy toward Macedonia to one of restraint. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN TRADE UNIONS SUSPEND PROTESTS. Leaders of Romania' s main labor organizations on 16 June announced they have canceled a two-week protest over wages and working conditions, Romanian media reported. A communique released by the National Confederation of Romania' s Free Trade Unions- The Brotherhood, the National Labor Bloc, and the Alfa Cartel accused the government of staging a campaign to misinform and bully rank-and- file union members, with the help of some union leaders. The statement further charged the government with trying to divide the labor movement and discredit union leaders unwilling to accept a compromise through a communist-style campaign. According to Radio Bucharest, negotiations between unions and the parties backing the current government over a social pact will re-start on 19 June. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN ETHNIC HUNGARIAN PARTY CRITICIZES EDUCATION BILL. The Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR), in a communique issued on 17 June, said that an education bill recently adopted by the Romanian Senate curtails the rights of ethnic minorities in Romania. The statement, signed by UDMR chairman Bela Marko, criticized the law for failing to conform with both the principles of the Romanian Constitution and European standards. The UDMR will make every effort, the communique added, to expose what it described as "the anti-constitutional and anti- democratic character" of the law. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN SOCIALIST PARTY HOLDS FIRST CONGRESS. The left-wing Socialist Party held its first nationwide congress in Bucharest on 17-18 June. The party, which split from the Socialist Labor Party earlier this year and claims to have some 13,000 members, vowed to continue the traditions of the Romanian socialist movement. More than 500 delegates attended the congress and approved the party' s program and the statutes. Tudor Mohora was elected chairman. -- Dan Ionescu , OMRI, Inc. PROTEST OVER LEBED' S RESIGNATION IN TIRASPOL. 14th Army officers on 16 June protested the resignation of Lt. Gen. Alexander Lebed as their commander, Interfax reported. They described Lebed' s replacement as "unlawful" and expressed regret that neither the Russian president nor the defense minister has found time to talk to Lebed. Also on 16 June, Lebed, on returning to Tiraspol, said he does not intend to leave office before being formally notified that his resignation has been accepted. In a related development, a group of women on 16 June blocked the runaway of a military airfield near Tiraspol for several hours to prevent the new commander of the army, Major General Valery Yevnevich, from landing. Hundreds of women later picketed the garrison' s hotel where Yevnevich is staying. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN OPPOSITION UPDATE. The Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization-Union of Macedonian Associations (VMRO-SMD) on 18 June decided to support the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) mayoral candidates in those areas where the SDS has signed no agreement with the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom (MRF), Demokratsiya reported the following day. In these constituencies, the VMRO-SMD will either nominate its own candidates or join forces with other "opposition patriotic formations." Alliances with the Bulgarian Socialist Party were categorically ruled out. VMRO-SMD local council candidates may run on joint tickets with the SDS anywhere in the country, since the agreement between the SDS, MRF, and the People' s Union (see OMRI Daily Report, 16 June 1995) concerns only joint candidates for mayor. In other news, Demokratsiya reported that Ivan Kurtev was reelected chairman of the Social Democratic Party on 18 June. -- Stefan Krause , OMRI, Inc. COMMUNIST PARTIES MEET IN ATHENS. Representatives of 25 communist and leftist parties met in Athens on 17-18 June to discuss perspectives of communism and the reasons for the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, AFP reported on 17 June. The conference was organized by the hard-line Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and attended by representatives from the Balkans, Russia, North Korea, Iraq, Canada, Australia, and several European and Middle East countries. The French, Portuguese, Cuban and Chinese parties failed to send delegates. Opening the session, KKE member Makis Mailis called the fall of communism in Eastern Europe a "step backwards for humanity" and urged delegates to fight "for the final victory of communism over capitalism." -- 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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