|Absence makes the heart grow fonder. -|
No. 128, Part II, 3 July 1995
NOTICE TO READERS: The OMRI Daily Digest will not appear Tuesday, 4 July 1995, an American holdiay. This is Part II of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily Digest. Part II is a compilation of neSoutheastern 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 BALTICS SIGN AGREEMENT ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS. The prime ministers of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia signed a treaty in Vilnius on 30 June on the readmission of illegal immigrants, BNS reported on 1 July. Under the agreement, each of the three countries will take back immigrants who illegally crossed from its territory to another Baltic state. Illegal immigrants from Russia entering Nordic countries such as Norway and Sweden have become an increasing problem. The prime ministers of Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and Norway on 1 July joined the other Baltic premiers in Vilnius at a meeting of Nordic leaders. Sweden and Finland promised to help the three former Soviet states in their attempts to join the EU. The issue of illegal immigration from Russia was also raised, and it was agreed that controls at borders with Russia will have to be improved. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. CENSORSHIP ON UKRAINIAN TV. Nezavisimost on 30 June reported that the management of state-run Ukrainian TV has censored an interview with Crimean Tatar leader Refat Chubarov recorded for a popular program on 28 June. The authorities reportedly cut the entire broadcast after Chubarov said the recent violent clashes between Crimean Tatar merchants and alleged criminal gangs on the peninsula were welcomed by high-level officials, including the Ukrainian Security Service, and "forces abroad, mainly in Russia . . . , who do not want a civilized settlement to many problems in Crimea connected with property division." Ukrainian TV management said its decision was aimed at preventing tensions in the region from developing into an interethnic conflict. In the interview, published in full by Nezavisimost, Chubarov said the fate of his people now repatriated from other CIS countries was closely tied to Ukraine's remaining independent. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. PENSION PROBLEMS IN BELARUS. Belarusian Minister for Social Protection Volha Dalher, in an interview on 29 July, said pensioners have sometimes had to wait weeks to receive their pensions. She said there have been a number of protests by retirees and that many continue to work. Dlaher said pensions have actually increased more than wages. Since December 1994, the average pension has risen 4.9 times, while the average wage has increased 2.6 times and prices 2.7 times. Commenting on a new law, soon to go into force, that will ban pensioners from collecting both wages and pensions if they continue working, Dalher said it will not apply to those working for agricultural enterprises. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. POLISH SENATE APPROVES AMENDMENTS TO PENAL CODE. The Polish Senate on 30 June voted by 47 to two with 29 abstentions (mostly from the ruling Democratic Left Alliance) to approve amendments to the penal code. The new legislation provides for state functionaries who committed crimes during 1944-1989 to be prosecuted. The Senate also voted against imposing a five-year moratorium on the death penalty, Polish media reported on 1 July. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. SEJM PASSES PRIVATIZATION LAW. The Sejm on 30 June approved by a vote of 246 to 116 with seven abstentions a law on the commercialization and privatization of state enterprises. Commercialization entails turning state-owned firms into joint-stock companies that will be governed by commercial law but still retained by the State Treasury. Privatization of the most important branches of industry (defense, banks, coal mines, oil and gas, telecommunications, and energy) will be subject to parliamentary control. The law, according to former Finance Minister Leszek Balcerowicz, will delay changes crucial for the country's economic development, Polish and international media reported. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. GERMAN CHANCELLOR ON POLAND'S ENTRY INTO EU, NATO. Helmut Kohl told Polish television on 2 July that he considers Poland has a good chance of realizing its goals of admission into NATO and the European Union "in coming years." He added that "we should find an agreement whereby Poland's particular security concerns, those that prompted its desire to join NATO, are linked to the justified security interests of Russia." Polish Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski said on 2 July on German radio that "what is significant is that we see in Germany a strategic partner in all areas." Kohl is scheduled to arrive in Poland on 6 July for a three-day official visit, Polish and international media reported. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. CZECH PENSION AGE RAISED. The Czech parliament on 30 June, following a late-night, heated debate, passed a law that will raise the pension age gradually over the next 12 years. Deputies of one of the government parties, the Christian Democratic Union-People's Party, and most of the opposition voted against the bill. But a centrist opposition party joined the three other government coalition members to ensure a majority. The pension age for men will be raised from 60 to 62 by the year 2007 while women--who can retire at between 53 and 57, depending on how many children they have--will be pensioned off at between 57 and 61. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. ANOTHER RAIL ACCIDENT IN CZECH REPUBLIC. A Prague-Budapest express was derailed and then hit by another train in Moravia on 30 June, Czech media reported. Some 30 passengers were injured, eight seriously; and the line--one of the busiest in the Czech Republic--was closed for more than 30 hours. The express apparently came off the rails, because hot weather had buckled them, rail officials said. The rear coach was struck by a local train that failed to stop in time. It was the second serious accident involving passenger trains in less than a week. On 24 June, 18 passengers were killed when runaway goods wagons ran head-on into a local train. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. POPE IN SLOVAKIA. John Paul II arrived in Slovakia on 30 June for a four-day visit, international and Slovak media reported. Addressing a crowd in Bratislava, he urged reconciliation within Slovakia, asking all Slovaks to help build democracy and protect the rights of citizens. He also praised the recently signed Slovak-Hungarian treaty, which guarantees minority rights. President Michal Kovac expressed the hope that the Pope's visit will calm down the political atmosphere in Slovakia. In Kosice, the pope canonized three martyrs--Marek Krizan, Melichar Grozdiecki, and Stefan Pongrac. Some 300,000 people attended the canonization ceremony, despite high temperatures. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK FINANCE MINISTER ON CUSTOMS UNION WITH CZECHS. Sergej Kozlik, speaking at an economic forum in Crans Montana on 30 June, said Slovakia will demand compensation from the Czech Republic for preserving the Czech-Slovak customs union, international media reported. Kozlik said he had in mind compensation similar to that given by the stronger members of the European Union to the weaker ones. Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, reacting to the Czech Republic's unilateral abolition of the payments clearing system in trade with Slovakia, recently suggested that Slovakia might retaliate by abolishing the customs union. Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, also speaking in Crans Montana, said he had "never heard of the notion of compensation for a customs union." -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARIAN COMMUNISTS COMMEMORATE KADAR. Some 3,000 people on 1 July gathered at Budapest's Kerepesi Cemetery to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the death of Janos Kadar, a former communist leader, international media reported. The gathering, organized by the far-left Labor Party, was called to protest the current cabinet and urge the election of what the Labor Party described as a genuinely left-wing government. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE "A VIOLENT, BLOODY WEEKEND" IN BOSNIA. This is how the VOA on 2 July summed up developments in Sarajevo since 30 June. The Serbs hit the UN headquarters and U.S. embassy, which the broadcast said further made a mockery of the UN heavy-weapons exclusion zone around the Bosnian capital. In a rare display of firmness, French peacekeepers in the Mt. Igman area fired back on a Serbian attack, which promptly came to a halt. The Serbs meanwhile stepped up their pressure on the mainly Muslim enclaves in eastern Bosnia as well as on the Bihac pocket, where the food situation is becoming critical, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said on 1 July. Croatian Radio on 3 July noted increased Serb shelling in the Posavina area. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. BOSNIAN GOVERNMENT TURNS OUT AKASHI. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 1 July said the Bosnian government wants nothing more to do with UN special envoy Yasushi Akashi, since the UN is doing nothing to protect the exclusion zone or Sarajevo's status as a "safe area." Bosnian authorities also regard Akashi's recent written assurances to the Serbs and the UN's secret deal to free the hostages as groveling before Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his military commander, General Ratko Mladic. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. MLADIC WARNS AGAINST DARK FORCES. The Bosnian Serb leaders on 2 July attended special Church services in Pale with Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Pavle to mark the Serbian holy day of Vidovdan on 28 June. News agencies quote Mladic's response to the German Bundestag's decision on 30 June to authorize air support for the UN in Bosnia: "I can hardly wait to meet them." SRNA adds that Mladic accused NATO of ganging up on the Serbs. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 1 July quoted the general as saying that plots are afoot to "Americanize" and "Germanize" the Balkans, but he gave no details. The paper also cited unnamed French secret service officials as warning that the U.S. is taking sides in the conflict but that "the Europeans want to remain neutral. Our American friends must realize that the important thing now is not to disturb the peace process." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. CROATIA SETS CONDITIONS FOR PEACE TALKS. Croatian Radio on 3 July quotes President Franjo Tudjman as telling UN and EU envoys that firmness is necessary in dealing with the Serbs and that sanctions must remain in place until Belgrade clearly renounces plans for a greater Serbia. He added that he will negotiate with Knin and Belgrade only if UNCRO's mandate is fully carried out and if the Serbs honor the agreement to reopen the main oil pipeline. The EU must also help Croatia restore the Zagreb-Knin-Split railway line. The president warned that international community must forget any ideas about setting up some new Yugoslavia or regional federal state. Tudjman called Krajina Serb leader Milan Martic a "war criminal" for ordering the shelling of Zagreb in May, adding that Croatia will not talk with him. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. RUMP YUGOSLAVIA'S FIRST MAJOR SPORTS VICTORY SINCE SANCTIONS EASED. The rump Yugoslavia won the European basketball championship on 2 July, beating Lithuania by six points, Nasa Borba reported the next day. The event marks a milestone win for the first rump Yugoslav team to be admitted to international sports competition since sanctions against Belgrade were eased in the autumn of 1994. Finishing in third place, Croatian team players walked off the award podium after receiving their medals to avoid listening to the rump Yugoslav national anthem. Downtown Belgrade streets were reportedly packed with jubilant fans, with some waving the flag of the former socialist federal Yugoslavia. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. BLACK SEA SUMMIT IN BUCHAREST. The Black Sea Economic Cooperation organization, meeting in Bucharest on 30 June, adopted a declaration on boosting multilateral economic cooperation aimed at "prosperity, stability, and peace" in the region, Romanian and Western media reported. The one-day conference was attended by the presidents of Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, and Turkey; the premiers of Armenia and Ukraine; and deputy prime ministers from Russia and Albania. The so-called Bucharest Declaration stresses the need for join efforts in developing the region's infrastructure and in the energy, communications, transportation, and other sectors. It also urges member states to cooperate to combat organized crime, drug trafficking, and illegal trade in weapons and radioactive materials. Following the summit, Azerbaijani President Gaidar Aliev met with Romanian President Ion Iliescu, with whom he signed a joint declaration as well as agreements on trade and culture. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN NATIONALISTS WANT FOREIGN PORTFOLIO. Gheorghe Funar, controversial leader of the Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR), told Radio Bucharest on 1 July that his party will seek to obtain the foreign affairs portfolio. Funar was speaking after a meeting of the PUNR National Council on 30 June-1 July. He sharply criticized Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu for allegedly making concessions to Hungary over a new bilateral treaty, whose draft he described as "an act of treason." The PUNR has four ministers in the current cabinet. Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu attended the PUNR meeting. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIA'S HUNGARIANS OPPOSE EDUCATION BILL. Leaders of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) met in Targu Mures on 30 June-1 July to elect a Permanent Delegation and to confirm the 132 members of the party's new Council of Representatives (which has been described as the mini-parliament of Romania's Magyar population). The Targu Mures meeting adopted a declaration denouncing an education bill passed by Romania's parliament last week as anti-Hungarian and anti-minorities. The UDMR called on President Iliescu to reject the law. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA TO GIVE BULGARIA TANKS, OTHER ARMS. Russia will give Bulgaria 100 T-72 tanks, 100 BMP-1P armored combat vehicles, and 12 Mi-24 combat helicopters, Deputy Defense Minister Dimiter Mitkov announced on 28 June. BTA quoted Mitkov as saying that Bulgarian experts will visit Russia to study the possibility of obtaining equipment that Russia will otherwise have to destroy to meet the terms of the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty. In a procedure called "cascading," the Russians will instead give those weapons to the Bulgarians, who will then destroy older equipment so that they abide by CFE limits. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIA TO HAVE MORE MILITARY DRAFTS . . . Draftees will be inducted into the military four times a year, instead of the present two drafts, Maj. Gen. Lyuben Pandev announced on 29 June. BTA said the new measure is intended to "ease tensions" between successive drafts and thus eliminate the hazing that has plagued the Bulgarian military. Recruits will receive their three-month basic training in 30 centers. Starting in 1997, training will be centralized in eight locations. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. . . . AND TO REPAIR RUSSIAN WARSHIPS. Seven Russian warships and a naval supply ship will be repaired at the Varna shipyard over the next 11 months, BTA reported on 29 June. The repairs are said to be part of a long-term agreement between the two countries. The ships will be stripped of all armaments and reconnaissance equipment before they enter the yard. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. CHIEF EDITOR OF ALBANIAN SATIRICAL MAGAZINE ARRESTED. Filip Cakuli, chief editor of the Albanian satirical magazine Hosteni 2000, was detained and questioned by the country's secret police (SHIK) for one night, Reuters reported on 30 June. He was released only after agreeing to change the cover of the paper's upcoming issue, which showed Albanian President Sali Berisha between two nude women. The Albanian Helsinki Committee criticized SHIK, stressing that "the law does not authorize SHIK to take measures directly impairing the freedom of a citizen . . . but only to act through appropriate bodies, the General Attorney's office and the judiciary." SHIK reportedly also seized printing materials without warrants. Hosteni 2000 previously published photo montages showing Albanian politicians in women's dresses but then withdrew the disputed cover. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. GREEK SEAMEN END STRIKE. Greek sailors ended a three-day strike on 2 July, AFP reported the same day. The strike seriously disrupted the tourist season and shipments to the Greek islands. The seamen's union, which is demanding higher wages, tax breaks, and a more vigorous campaign to reduce unemployment, warned that the strike may resume later this month. Meanwhile, the Greek railway company OSE announced that six one-hour strikes scheduled between 3-7 July have been canceled after a court ruled they were illegal. Another court earlier ruled that an aviation strike scheduled for 2 July was illegal. -- 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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