|Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson|
No. 120, Part II, 21 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 GERMAN DEFENSE MINISTER ON BALTIC STATES' ENTRY INTO NATO. Volker Ruhe, at a meeting of ministers and parliamentarians from Germany, Sweden, Finland, and the Baltic States in Visby, said the Baltic States will not be among the first new NATO members in the year 2000, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported 20 June. He said it is "totally unrealistic" that the Baltic States will join NATO at the same time as Poland and the Czech Republic. Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt described Ruhe's suggestion that the Baltics seek closer security cooperation with their northern neighbors as "dangerous," noting that Sweden and Finland were not capable of exporting security and stability. Former Swedish Foreign Minister Margaretha af Ugglas urged the Germans to remember the so-called "Acheson effect" of 1950. The failure of Secretary of State Dean Acheson to mention South Korea as a US security interest helped prompt its invasion by North Korea. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. ESTONIAN PREMIER SAYS BALTIC SECURITY IS ALSO GOOD FOR RUSSIA. Tiit Vahi, at a NATO seminar on political and military cooperation in Dresden on 20 June, said the closer relations between the Baltic States and Western Europe do not necessarily mean worsened relations with Russia, BNS reported. On the contrary, he affirmed the Baltic States' security is also good for Russia. Defense Minister Andrus Oovel also attended the seminar, arriving from a three-day visit to France, where he held talks with his French counterpart, Charles Millon, on French assistance in building up Estonia's national defense, exchange of delegations, and cooperation in European organizations. Latvian Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs and Lithuanian Defense Minister Lina Linkevicius also spoke at the seminar on their countries participation in NATO' Partnership for Peace program. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LATVIAN LEADERS BELIEVE IN SABOTAGE OF BANKS. President Guntis Ulmanis and Prime Minister Maris Gailis, after an extraordinary meeting of the Latvian government on 19 June, told reporters that deliberate attempts have been made to wreck Latvia's banking system, BNS reported the next day. The bankruptcy of Banka Baltija could result in Russia exerting political pressure, since the bank remains primarily indebted to Russian financial groups. Ulmanis noted that Latvia's four intelligence services at the Interior Ministry, the Defense Ministry, the Home Guard, and the newly created Constitution Protection Bureau had all failed to perform adequately. The meeting commissioned the Finance Ministry, the Bank of Latvia, and the Prosecutor's Office to submit to the cabinet before 26 June a plan for normalizing the finance and banking system. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIAN INFORMATION MINISTER ON STATE OF THE PRESS. Mykhaylo Onufriichuk, in an interview with Demokratychna Ukraina on 20 June, said the number of publications in Ukraine has increased to more than 3,000, despite financial difficulties and declining circulations. He said plummeting living standards and rising subscription rates caused the total circulation of Ukrainian publications to fall from 63,700,000 copies in 1992 to 14,700,000 in 1994. He said Ukrainian publishers are heavily dependent on imports from other CIS countries. Some 80% of their supplies, mainly paper, are imported. Onufriichuk also said he was concerned about the small number of Ukrainian-language publications. Of the 400 nationwide newspapers, only 103, or 25%, are published in Ukrainian. Most are in Russian, he said. While several printing companies are scheduled for privatization this year, many publications will remain subsidized by the government. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. CHINESE PREMIER IN BELARUS. Li Peng arrives in Belarus on 21 June for an official visit, Belarusian Radio reported the previous day. He is slated to meet with President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and Prime Minister Mikhail Chyhir. He will also visit the country's military-industrial enterprises. At the same time, the Belarusian Cabinet of Ministers will present to the parliament for ratification several agreements signed in Beijing by China and Belarus in January. Lukashenka, in an interview with the Chinese paper Guangming Ribao on 18 June, stressed the importance for Belarus of economic cooperation with China, which is its sixth largest trading partner outside the CIS. Lukashenka also praised the peaceful way in which China has implemented reforms. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. POLITICAL NEWS FROM BELARUS. Yauhen Luhin, head of the Belarusian Peasant Party, has suggested that upcoming parliamentary by-elections be held on the basis of party lists, Belarusian Radio reported on 20 June. Viktar Chikin, a leader of the Party of Communists of Belarus (PCB), stated that the abolition of the presidency is not the party's current priority, although it is on the party's agenda. He said the PCB's main goal is to have as many members elected in the by-elections as possible. It was also reported that the Party of Popular Accord has a new leader. Henadz Karpenka was replaced by the newly elected deputy Lanid Sechka. The party has espoused the idea of uniting all centrist factions into one social-democratic party. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. POLISH PRESIDENT ON ANTI-SEMITISM. Polish President Lech Walesa, in a telephone conversation with Knesset President Shevakh Weiss on 20 June, said that "as long as he is president, he will not allow any manifestation of anti-Semitism" in Poland. Walesa apologized to Jews if they felt offended by a comment by Walesa's priest in Gdansk earlier this month (see OMRI Daily Digest, 20 June 1995). Walesa the same day issued a statement saying that "all manifestations of anti-Semitism, in Poland as elsewhere, should encounter general contempt and condemnation." In related news, Polish Foreign Affairs Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski on 20 June told the Sejm Foreign Affairs Commission that he intends to appoint former Ambassador to Morocco Krzysztof Sliwinski as his plenipotentiary for contacts with the Jewish Diaspora, Polish media reported on 21 June. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. NEW POLISH ECONOMIC MINISTRIES. The Polish government on 20 June approved the reorganization of the country's economic ministries as of 1 January 1996. The new ministries are Treasury, Economy and Foreign Trade, and European Integration. The ministries to be abolished are Industry, Economic Foreign Cooperation, Territorial Economy and Building, as well as the Central Planning Office, Rzeczpospolita reported on 21 June. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. CZECH RAILWORKERS CALL OFF STRIKE. The Czech Republic's 105,000 railworkers on 20 June called off a strike at the last minute after the government met most of their pay and other demands. Union leaders, in a final meeting with Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus and Transport Minister Jan Strasky, won a monthly pay rise of an average 840 koruny per employee as well as promises to replace the administrative board of Czech Railroads and halt the transformation of the rail system, which includes plans to privatize part of the network. An indefinite strike was planned to begin just after midnight after earlier talks ended in deadlock. "If the government had intervened earlier, this critical situation need not have occurred," Mlada fronta dnes quoted the leader of the largest rail union, Jaromir Dusek, as saying. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. CHINA PROTESTS TAIWAN PREMIER'S VISIT TO PRAGUE. China on 20 June expressed "deep dissatisfaction" over a private visit by Taiwan's Prime Minister Lien Chan to Prague earlier this week, Czech media reported. Newspapers quoted a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus violated the principles of Czech-Chinese relations by meeting with Lien. To reinforce the protest, Chinese officials refused to sign a prepared agreement with the Czech government on student exchanges and left Prague earlier than planned. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK CABINET APPROVES DRAFT LANGUAGE LAW. The Slovak government on 20 June approved a draft law on the state language that limits the use of other languages in schools, state institutions, and the media. The law provides for the establishment of so-called "language police," who would serve as inspectors under the Ministry of Culture. The cabinet also passed a draft law on large-scale privatization effectively canceling the second wave of coupon privatization. It approved Slovakia's application to the European Union, which will be presented at the upcoming EU summit in Cannes. At the Slovak parliament session beginning on 21 June, deputies will discuss, among other issues, the ratification of the framework agreement on the protection of national minorities, Slovak media reported. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK PRESIDENT WILL NOT RUN AGAIN. Michal Kovac, during a visit to the southern town of Komarno on 20 June, announced that he will not run for office again, Pravda reports. At the same time, he stressed he will not resign from his post before his five-year term ends in 1998. Kovac, a former member of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), has been involved in a long-term dispute with HZDS Chairman and Premier Vladimir Meciar. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. NATIONAL BANK OF SLOVAKIA AIMS FOR CONVERTIBLE KORUNA. NBS vice governor Marian Jusko, in an interview with Narodna obroda on 21 June, said the Slovak koruna should be convertible by January 1996, at the latest. In the meantime, limits on the purchase of foreign currency will be liberalized. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SARAJEVO'S "WORST FIGHTING SINCE FRIDAY." The VOA quoted UN observers on 21 June as saying that the Bosnian government's offensive around Sarajevo and the Serbian counteroffensive have intensified. Fierce combat is reported on the hills surrounding the capital. The Bosnian army on 20 June denied permission for two large UN aid convoys to proceed beyond Kiseljak to Sarajevo and for two smaller ones to head for Serbian-held territory. The soldiers first said that the roads were not safe and then claimed they had no authorization for the convoys. UN officials are investigating. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. FRENCH DESTROY SERBIAN TANK. French UNPROFOR troops, in an unusual display of fighting spirit, fired 90mm anti-tank rounds at a Bosnian Serb tank north of Sarajevo. The International Herald Tribune on 21 June quotes a spokesman as saying that "the turret was [then] separated from the main body of the tank." The pesky Serbian vehicle had generally kept itself well hidden but had been a source of problems for the peacekeepers. It destroyed an armored personnel carrier and fired 15 shells at a UN observation post before the French shot back. Elsewhere, international media quoted UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali as calling the UN operation in Bosnia a failure. He said it could not keep the peace because the "protagonists" do not want peace. Prominent U.S. Senator Sam Nunn also said recently that UNPROFOR has failed and become "nothing but hostage invitations." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. KARADZIC BANS ALCOHOL IN BARS AND RESTAURANTS. Nasa Borba on 21 June reported that Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has forbidden restaurants and other public establishments from serving alcohol for the coming month. It is not clear whether Karadzic, whose own fondness for strong drink is well known, will ban alcohol sales elsewhere. Meanwhile in Belgrade, UN officials again condemned the current roundup of draft- age men--including Serbian citizens--for the Krajina Serb army. Slobodna Dalmacija quoted a top Krajina general as urging the military to become more involved in economic, cultural, and general public life. He did not openly refer to the new arrivals from Serbia, who are officially known as "volunteers." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. BOSNIAN DIPLOMATIC UPDATE. Russian diplomat Vitaly Churkin continued his talks in Pale and Belgrade on 20 June, international media reported the next day. The VOA said there was a "new Russian peace initiative." Nasa Borba, however, quotes State Department officials as saying that no coordinated diplomatic action has been agreed upon, although Bosnia was discussed at the recent G-7 summit. It remains unclear exactly what Churkin is discussing and why he is representing Russia in its latest efforts, given that his dislike for the Bosnian Serb leadership is well known. Meanwhile in Mostar, EU negotiator Carl Bildt held talks with Bosnian government officials. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SERBIAN ECONOMIC UPDATE. Nasa Borba on 21 June reported that the rump Yugoslav currency, the so-called "super dinar" is currently trading at 2.3-2.5 to the German mark. When introduced in January 1994, the new dinar was pegged to the value of the mark at an exchange of 1:1. Its value on the black market has dipped appreciably several times since its introduction, but the daily observes that the latest free fall, unlike previous ones, has not triggered public anxiety. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. RUMP YUGOSLAV FOREIGN MINISTER ON BULGARIAN MINORITY. Standart on 21 June quoted Vladislav Jovanovic as saying that "the Bulgarians in Serbia are indeed encountering problems, but these should not be exaggerated." Jovanovic made the statement after meeting his Bulgarian counterpart, Georgi Pirinski, who is on an official visit to Belgrade. Pirinski on 19 June met with local Socialist politicians in the Serbian border town of Caribrod but not with representatives of the Democratic Union of Bulgarians in Yugoslavia (DSBYu), the only registered party of the Bulgarian minority. According to Demokratsiya on 20 June, DSBYu representatives had not been allowed to meet with him. Two days earlier, he had reportedly held talks in Sofia with DSBYu Secretary Todor Petrov but had insisted that the meeting remain secret in order not to anger the Serbian government. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. MEMBER OF KOSOVAR SHADOW PARLIAMENT TORTURED BY POLICE. Isak Maxhuni, a member of the Democratic League of Kosovo and a legislator in the Kosovar shadow parliament, has been badly tortured by Serbian police while in custody, Kosova Daily Report said on 19 June. The politician is allegedly suspected of illegal arms possession. His brother is also reported to have been tortured and is now in the hospital. The torture reports have not been independently confirmed. The parliament was elected in May 1992, but Serbian police have prevented it from convening. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT AGAINST NEW FEDERATION. Kiro Gligorov, addressing the Parliamentary Assembly of the Western European Union in Paris on 20 June, said "there can be no new experiments" to create a new state entity on the territory of the former Yugoslavia. The independence of the successor states has to be guaranteed, and they have to be integrated into European structures, Vecher on 21 June quoted Gligorov as saying. Asked about relations with Greece, Gligorov said his country "was and still is prepared to negotiate," but only on an equal footing. Gligorov also met with French Foreign Minister Herve de Charette, who said France will make every effort to help resolve the Greek-Macedonian dispute. Meanwhile, Nova Makedonija reports that Foreign Minister Stevo Crvenkovski left for New York on 20 June to meet with UN mediator Cyrus Vance. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. MACEDONIAN OPPOSITION, ETHNIC ALBANIAN LEADERS MEET IN TETOVO. Ljupco Georgievski, leader of the nationalist Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO-DPMNE), has met with Shaban Aliti, a member of the ethnic Albanian Party for Democratic Prosperity (PPD) and mayor of Tetovo, to discuss possible cooperation between their parties at the local level. The PPD is member of the ruling anti-nationalist coalition and the VMRO-DPMNE is in opposition, but their leaders nonetheless concluded that a coalition is possible. Meanwhile, six VMRO-DPMNE local councilors in Skopje rejected the idea of a coalition, threatening to leave the party. It is unclear whether the Liberal Party would support a VMRO-DPMNE mayor in a coalition with the PPD, Flaka reported on 20 and 21 June. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN NATIONALIST WEEKLY PUBLISHES ATTACK ON PRESIDENT. Romania Mare, the weekly of the extreme nationalist Greater Romania Party (PRM), has published a memorandum accusing President Ion Iliescu of deliberately weakening the army. The memorandum, which bears the signatures of over 300 active and reserve officers, sharply criticizes steps taken in recent years to modernize the army and prepare Romania's integration into Euro-Atlantic structures. It charges Iliescu with high treason and suggests he deserves capital punishment. Romania's top-selling daily Evenimentul zilei on 21 June reported that the document, whose authenticity has still to be proven, amounts to instigation to military rebellion against Iliescu. Corneliu Vadim Tudor, the controversial PRM leader, has launched similar attacks in the past aimed at influencing the policies of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. YOUTH EXODUS FROM ROMANIA'S NATIONAL PEASANT PARTY. A group of 62 young people who recently left or were expelled from the National Peasant Party-Christian Democratic (PNTCD) said at a press conference that they intend to set up a new organization called "Popular Action." They accused the PNTCD leadership of betraying the party's original line by tacitly agreeing to play the role of an "operetta opposition" in Romania. They also criticized what they described as the infiltration of former communist activists into the party. Some independent journalists believe the generation conflict within the PNTCD will further weaken Romania's opposition. The PNTCD is the leading force in the Democratic Convention of Romania, an opposition umbrella organization. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. YEVNEVICH FORMALLY TAKES OVER 14TH ARMY COMMAND IN MOLDOVA. Lt. Col. Alexander Lebed on 20 June officially handed over the command of the 14th Russian Army headquartered in Tiraspol to his successor, Maj. Gen. Valery Yevnevich, Interfax reported. Lebed, who resigned over Russian Defense Ministry plans to downgrade the 14th Army, is expected to return to Moscow soon. Meanwhile, Konstantin Kobets, the head of an inspection team sent by the Defense Ministry, urged the group of Dniester women protesting the replacement of Lebed to refrain from interfering in army affairs. Interfax further reported that Maj. Gen. Yury Popov was continuing a hunger strike to protest Lebed's replacement. -- Dan Ionescu, 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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