|We have to understand the world can only be grasped by action, not by comtemplation. The hand is more important than the eye....The hand is the cutting edge of the mind. - J. Bronowski|
No. 122, Part II, 23 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 LUKASHENKA ON RUSSIAN-BELARUSIAN INTEGRATION . . . Belarusian Radio reported on 22 June that President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has said that once economic integration with Russia is achieved, living standards will greatly improve in Belarus. He went on to say that under his presidency, Belarus has not fallen further into debt, arguing that the $400 million debt the country owes Russia was inherited from the previous leadership. Interfax reported the same day that Lukashenka said he was ready to abolish customs offices on the Belarusian-Ukrainian border and hoped that when Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma visited Minsk in July the relevant documents could be signed. Lukashenka again emphasized his support for integration with Russia and other former Soviet republics. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. . . . AND ON CHINESE PREMIER'S VISIT TO BELARUS. Lukashenka, commenting on the Chinese Prime Minister Li Peng's visit to Belarus, said he was "pleasantly surprised" at Li's willingness to trade in hard currency instead of bartering as the two countries have done in the past. During the visit, China signed a treaty on extradition of criminals with Belarus and a protocol on cultural cooperation. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. BELARUS OFFICIAL ON TRADE WITH POLAND. Belarusian First Deputy Foreign Minister Valeryi Tsapkala said that if Poland does not lower its customs duties on Belarusian goods, Belarus will retaliate by raising duties on Polish exports to Belarus, Belarusian Radio reported on 22 June. Tsapkala said it would be better to sell Belarusian goods to European Union countries where the tariffs were only 15%, rather than Poland, where they are 30%. He also pointed out that Belarus does not charge more than 15% duties on imports. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. GERMANY TO COMPENSATE ESTONIAN NAZI VICTIMS. The German Foreign Ministry on 22 June agreed to pay Estonia DM 2 million ($1.4 million) compensation to finance social programs for Estonians who suffered at the hands of the Nazis, Reuters reported. The agreements ended negotiations that began in 1993. Estonia agreed not to raise any additional claims against Germany as part of the agreement. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. MORE SEA PASSENGERS AND FREIGHT IN ESTONIA. The Estonian Statistics Department announced that 301,000 people arrived in Estonia by ship in the first quarter of 1995, an increase of 41.8% over the same period in 1994, while the number departing via sea grew by 43.6%, BNS reported on 22 June. A total of 3.4 million tons of goods were loaded or unloaded in Estonian ports in the first quarter of 1995, an increase of 12% over the same period in 1994. Ships also brought 643,200 tons of goods, of which 383,200 tons were for Estonia and 260,000 tons for other countries. Transit exports amounted to 1.8 million tons, with Estonian exports at 941,000 tons. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT ADDRESSES WEU ASSEMBLY. Algirdas Brazauskas told the parliamentary assembly of the Western European Union in Paris on 22 June that separating the Baltic States from other Central and Eastern European states in the context of their relations with the EU, WEU, and NATO would be a misfortune for both the Baltic States and the West, BNS reported. He noted that Lithuania has clearly expressed its wish to join these organizations, realizing that it "cannot ensure its security by itself." Brazauskas also met with Jose Cutileiro, secretary-general of the WEU Permanent Board, and Dudley Smith, president of the parliamentary assembly. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. NEW PRESIDENT OF POLISH SUPREME AUDIT CHAMBER. The Sejm has elected Judge Janusz Wojciechowski to head the Supreme Audit Chamber, Polish TV reported on 22 June. The body is empowered to watch over government activities and especially its financial policies. Wojciechowski is a deputy from the Polish Peasant Party, the junior partner in the ruling left-wing coalition. According to the opposition parties and the Polish media, appointing Wojciechowski is tantamount to allowing the government to monitor itself. The Sejm recalled Wojciechowski's predecessor, Lech Kaczynski, on 26 May. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. POLISH PRESIDENT DEFENDS TV PRESIDENT. Lech Walesa, meeting on 22 June with the Polish TV Governing Board, said he will defend Polish TV President Wieslaw Walendziak, who has been criticized by the ruling left-wing coalition. The Polish TV Board of Directors has close links to the coalition. Rzeczpospolita suggested that the Democratic Left Alliance may join forces with the Freedom Union to bring about Walendziak's removal. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. KOVALEV RECEIVES AWARD IN PRAGUE. Sergei Kovalev, chairman of Russia's Presidential Commission on Human Rights, on 22 June received an award in Prague marking his work in Chechnya. On receiving the prize, given by a Czech foundation, Kovalev said the Chechen conflict was senseless and has damaged Russia's image, Lidove noviny reported. Kovalev was one of the volunteers who accompanied Chechen gunmen out of Budennovsk as a guarantee of safe passage. Apparently suggesting that the situation has become hopeless, Kovalev said the events of the last few days showed there was little point in talking about human rights in Russia any more, Rude pravo reported. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. SUDETEN GERMAN WINS RESTITUTION CASE IN CZECH CONSTITUTIONAL COURT. The Czech Constitutional Court on 22 June overturned decisions by local and district courts refusing a Sudeten German the right to reclaim his family's house, which was confiscated after World War II, Czech media reported. Rudolf Dreithaler failed earlier this year in an attempt to bring about the annulment of one of the so-called Benes decrees, under which 3 million Sudeten Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia and their property confiscated. But the Constitutional Court ruled that the circumstances of the seizure of the Dreithaler house in Liberec were unclear and sent the case back to the original local court. Dreithaler argued that the house was confiscated in 1949 and therefore should come under Czech restitution laws; his lawyer also said the house was registered in the name of Dreithaler's mother, a Czech, and therefore was illegally confiscated. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. CZECH CENTRAL BANK ACTS TO CURB INFLATIONARY PRESSURES. Czech National Bank governor Josef Tosovsky on 22 June announced radical steps to curb inflationary tendencies and maintain the stability of the koruna, Czech media reported. The CNB's Lombard and discount rates will rise by 1% from 26 June to 12.5% and 9.5% respectively. From August, banks operating in the Czech Republic will have to increase the percentage of their reserves deposited with the CNB to an across-the-board 8.5%, a move that Tosovsky said will remove 13 billion koruny from circulation. Restrictions will also be put on banks holding short-term deposits from abroad. This is intended to reduce by an estimated 10 billion koruny the recent huge inflow of speculative foreign capital into the Czech Republic. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK ROUNDUP. The Slovak parliament on 22 June approved an amendment on child allowances as well as legislation raising minimum living standards. Former Privatization Minister Milan Janicina said that although the opposition will not be able to stop the passage of the draft law on changes to the privatization program, it will be "ripe" for the Constitutional Court immediately after it has been approved. He also revealed that only about 60,000 signatures have been collected for his petition to hold a referendum on the second wave of coupon privatization, which was organized before the government's new plans were announced, Janicina called the Slovak population "apathetic" and "intimidated," Narodna obroda reported on 23 June. Meanwhile, following the signature of a statement protesting government plans to implement "alternative" (bilingual) education in Hungarian schools, the directors of four secondary schools in southern Slovakia received letters that they will be removed from their posts as of 30 June, Sme reported on 23 June. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARIAN INDUSTRY AND TRADE MINISTER SACKED. Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn fired Industry and Trade Minister Laszlo Pal on 22 June, Reuters reported. According to government spokesman Elemer Kiss, Pal has agreed to leave office on 15 July. Imre Dunai, the ministry's administrative state secretary, has been named as his replacement. Pal, who served as a senior official in the ministry during the last communist government, was associated with the left wing of Horn's Socialist Party, which opposes the government's economic austerity program and its plans for quick privatization of loss-making public utilites. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE FRENCH MADE A DEAL FOR HOSTAGES' RELEASE. Western and Belgrade dailies on 23 June report that French military authorities bargained for the UNPROFOR hostages' freedom, even when Paris was saying publicly that the prisoners' release must be unconditional. The UN commander in the former Yugoslavia, General Bernard Janvier, held secret meetings with Bosnian Serb commander General Ratko Mladic in Zvornik and Pale, and General Bertrand de Lapresle came directly from Paris to cut a deal. As the Bosnian Serb foreign minister said at the time, the Serbs received assurances that there will be no more NATO air strikes against them in return for releasing the hostages. The New York Times reported that the UN commander in Bosnia, Lt. Gen. Rupert Smith, is at odds with Janvier and opposed the talks. Nasa Borba quoted Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic as saying that taking the hostages was a mistake. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. ALBRIGHT CRITICIZES AKASHI LETTER TO SERBS. The VOA on 23 June reported that U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright released a statement the previous day opposing UN special envoy Yasushi Akashi's recent letter to Karadzic. Akashi had assured the Serbs that the new Rapid Reaction Force would have no more teeth than UNPROFOR. Albright wrote that "the method, timing, and substance of this letter are highly inappropriate." The BBC, however, said the statement was prompted primarily by domestic political considerations and by President Bill Clinton's desire to overcome Republican opposition to financing the RRF. Meanwhile, Akashi clarified his refusal to approve NATO air strikes against the Banja Luka airport in response to Bosnian Serb violations of the "no-fly zone." Akashi claimed that UN resolutions permit retaliation only against aircraft, not against airports. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. UN REPORT SLAMS SERBIAN ATROCITIES. An RFE/RL correspondent quoted Le Monde on 20 June as saying that for one year, the UN has known of a report of its own showing that the Serbs alone have systematically carried out war crimes as a conscious political policy. A recent CIA study also blamed the Serbs for virtually all the atrocities, especially those connected with deliberate "ethnic cleansing." The Paris daily adds that the UN report clearly shows there "is no moral equivalence among the warring sides" and throws into question attempts by former EU mediator David Owen to treat all sides as equally responsible. Meanwhile, Owen's successor, Carl Bildt, was in rump Yugoslavia for talks with President Slobodan Milosevic. The BBC on 22 June said that Bildt nonetheless has not yet chosen to reopen diplomatic contacts with the Bosnian Serbs. International media added that the Serbs shelled a line of people waiting for water in Sarajevo, killing several. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SERBIAN OPPOSITION RESPONDS TO PRESS-GANGING. Nasa Borba on 23 June reported that a member of the Democratic Party has sent a letter to Serbian Premier Mirko Marjanovic and other officials criticizing the press-ganging of ethnic Serbs, principally refugees, for military service in Serb-occupied Croatia and Bosnia. The letter calls attention to the fact that forcibly recruiting persons amounts to a "violation of human rights." In a 22 June statement, the Serbian Renewal Movement indicted recent events as "a savage hunt for people who are kidnapped from student dorms...from apartments, and on the streets." The latest campaign began on 11 June with a wave of kidnappings and police night raids. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. SERBIAN PLANES VIOLATE ALBANIAN AIRSPACE. Two Serbian military aircraft flew over northern Albania on 21 June, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 23 June. According to Kosova Daily Report on 22 June, Serbian military aircraft have repeatedly flown low over various residential areas in Kosovo recently. Elsewhere, Secretary of State Warren Christopher told Kosovar shadow state President Ibrahim Rugova during his visit to Washington that the U.S. will not allow the war in Bosnia to spread to Kosovo and reiterated a warning issued to Serbia by U.S. President Clinton earlier. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIA FORMALLY APPLIES FOR EU MEMBERSHIP. Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu on 22 June in Paris submitted Romania's formal application for full membership in the European Union. The application was accompanied by a detailed "national strategy" for joining the union and the so- called "Snagov Declaration," signed on 21 June by all parliamentary parties in favor of Romania's rapid integration into Euro-Atlantic structures. Melescanu, in an interview with Radio Bucharest on 22 June, spoke of a "historic moment" for Romania, which, he said, has "irreversibly" opted for "a zone of prosperity and stability." -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. HIGH-RANKING MOLDOVAN DELEGATION IN ROMANIA. A Moldovan delegation, headed by Deputy Premier Ion Gutu, visited Romania on 21 and 22 June for a fifth round of interdepartmental talks, Radio Bucharest and Infotag reported. The delegation included nine ministers and five first deputy ministers. The two sides focused on ways to boost bilateral cooperation, especially in the industrial sector, as well as prospects for working out a common strategy for joining European structures. Gutu was received by Romanian President Ion Iliescu, Premier Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu, and Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIAN DUMA ADOPTS BILL ON 14TH ARMY. The lower chamber of the Russian parliament on 22 June adopted a bill opposing the withdrawal of the 14th Army from eastern Moldova, Interfax reported. The draft law calls for the reorganization of the army to be suspended until a political solution to the conflict in the Dniester region can be found. It also prohibits ammunition and weapons belonging to the 14th Army from being moved or destroyed. The bill still has to be approved by the upper chamber and signed by Russian President Boris Yeltsin. In a separate development, Moldovan President Mircea Snegur expressed hopes that the new 14th Army commander, Maj. Gen. Valery Yevnevich, would prevent any illegal transfer of military technology into terrorist hands. He said that the issue will figure on the agenda of his meeting with Yeltsin in Moscow on 28 June. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT DISCUSSES LOCAL ELECTION LAW. The National Assembly on 22 June adopted the draft law on local elections on its first reading, Demokratsiya reported the following day. Krasimir Premyanov, leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) caucus, said the law lays the foundations for effective policy on local government and will help the reform process, but opposition deputies strongly criticized it on several points. The main objections was to the provision that three, rather than two, mayoral candidates take part in the second round of voting, which, the opposition claims, favors the BSP. It also objects to the provision that the number of candidates on party lists for municipal councils equals the number of seats in the council, since this will handicap small parties. Finally, the opposition claims that the law imposes restrictions on the media in reporting about the election campaign. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN, TURKISH INTERIOR MINISTRIES TO COOPERATE. Sofia and Ankara will take joint actions against the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) and coordinate the fight against drug trafficking, 24 chasa reported on 23 June. The two countries' Interior Ministries also agreed to simplify the extradition procedures for Bulgarian criminals living in Turkey. A Bulgarian police delegation is expected to go to Istanbul soon to discuss further details. The Bulgarian Interior Ministry claims that Kurds living in Bulgaria are not involved in terrorist activities and are not trained in the country. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. GREEK-TURKISH UPDATE. Greek Defense Minister Gerasimos Arsenis on 21 June accused Turkey of "violating the elementary rules of international law and order," Greek media reported the following day. He was responding to Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Ciller's statement the previous day that an extension of Greece's territorial waters from six to 12 miles would be a cause for war. Arsenis said that merchant ships and warships will have "the right of safe passage [through the Aegean] in peacetime." Both Ciller and Arsenis were addressing the Parliamentary Assembly of the Western European Union in Paris. Meanwhile in Athens, Greek Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias said "Greece's foreign policy is a matter for our country and we are not interested in what Ciller has to say." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. LAW ON PRIVATE EDUCATION ADOPTED IN ALBANIA. The Albanian parliament passed a law on private education on 21 June, international agencies reported. The law allows the establishment of religious and foreign- language high schools, but only with government approval. So far, such schools have needed special permits. In foreign-language schools, instruction in Albanian will remain compulsory. Only Petrit Kalakula, the leader of the Democratic Party of the Right, voted against the draft. -- 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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