|Words that open our eyes to the world are always the easiest to remember. - Ryszard Kapuscinski|
No. 130, Part II, 6 July 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 CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT SACKS SPEAKER. Crimean parliament speaker Serhiy Tsekov on 5 July lost a vote of confidence in the 98-member assembly, international and Ukrainian news agencies reported the same day. Deputies voted 54 to 35 against Tsekov, with the majority Russia Bloc accusing him of grabbing too much power and being too soft on Crimean autonomy. Reformers and Crimean Tatar deputies blamed Tsekov for the recent violent clashes between Tatars and alleged racketeers. They also criticized him for failing to introduce economic reforms and head off growing crime in the region. Later the same day, deputies failed to elect a new chairman and postponed a second vote to 6 July. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. CHORNOBYL PLANT OFFICIALS WARN SARCOPHAGUS IS CRACKING. Officials at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant warned that the concrete-and-metal tomb enclosing the ruined No. 4 reactor was in danger of collapsing, Reuters reported on 5 July. An official in charge of the sarcophagus said plant workers were patching up 1,000 square meters of cracks on the tomb's roof and walls. He added that the steel pillars supporting the structure were in danger of collapsing and that plans were being made to strengthen them. A French-led consortium is expected to present plans for a permanent Sarcophagus-2, but there are no pledges of financial aid. Ukraine has promised to shutdown the stricken power station by 2000 but has repeatedly stressed it needs financial assistance to pay for a new tomb and to build a new gas-fired electricity plant to replace the 5-7% of energy Chornobyl produces. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT AGREES TO PRICE HIKES. Belarusian Radio on 5 July reported that Alyaksandr Lukashenka has agreed to increase the cost of services effective from the beginning of this month. The price hikes are one of the conditions the IMF has insisted upon before it releases the second tranche of a stand-by loan to Minsk. Sixty percent of the costs of services will now be covered by consumers, and only 40% subsidized by the state. The prices of a number of consumer goods were freed in November, leading to popular unrest. Lukashenka then backtracked and ordered that prices be brought down to earlier levels, a move that threatened credits from the IMF. He eventually relented and freed prices again under pressure from the IMF and some of his advisers. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. LITHUANIAN ECONOMICS MINISTER RESIGNS. International agencies on 5 July reported that Alexandras Vasiliauskas has resigned, following Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius request to do so because of shortcomings during his year in office. These included not passing laws on the second wave of privatization and failing to promote small businesses. Some 1,000 demonstrators had gathered the previous day near the parliament building to demand the government's resignation. Many demonstrators had lost their savings when a number of small banks and credit companies in the country closed down. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. POLISH CONSTITUTIONAL COMMISSION TO CONTINUE ITS WORK. The Polish parliament's Constitutional Commission on 5 July rejected a motion by the Freedom Union that it interrupt its work because of the presidential campaign (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5 July 1995). Only seven commission members supported the motion, while 35 voted against. The ruling Democratic Left Alliance would like the commission to complete its work in September. Commission head Aleksander Kwasniewski predicts that a nationwide referendum on the new constitution could be held in the spring of 1996, Polish media reported on 6 July. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. RESTITUTION IN WARSAW. Warsaw Mayor Marcin Swiecicki on 5 July handed over 28 property certificates to the owners of 14 properties in Warsaw that were confiscated under the October 1945 decree "communalizing" all real estate in Warsaw. Some 17,000 buildings and 14,148 hectares of land were seized at that time. Several thousand applications for the restitution of property in downtown Warsaw are still waiting for an administrative decision to be made, Polish media reported on 6 July. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. ANOTHER DISMISSAL AT SLOVAK RADIO. Slovak Radio Director Jan Tuzinsky on 4 July dismissed Martin Bartisek, editor in chief of Slovak Radio's Channel 1. Michal Michalcik, previously head of the international editorial office, was appointed to Bartisek's post, TASR reported. Tuzinsky said Bartisek was dismissed because he did not identify with the program's goals and the "principles of Slovak Radio." Earlier this year, a number of Slovak journalists protested the dismissal of a Slovak Radio U.S. correspondent who, in their opinion, was fired for political reasons. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. ECONOMIC NEWS FROM SLOVAKIA. The National Bank of Slovakia on 4 July reported that inflation reached 2.2% over the first three months of 1995. The annual rate of inflation stands at 11.3%. Although food prices decreased in the first quarter, the price of industrial goods grew by 4%, construction costs by 6%, and the price of building materials by 9%. The National Bank's hard currency reserves at the end of March stood at $1.96 billion, up $224 million since the end of 1994. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARIAN PREMIER CRITICAL OF IMF. Gyula Horn on 5 July told Reuters that the International Monetary Fund has set "unrealistic monetary targets" for Hungary. Horn called on European Union governments to provide more assistance for the economic transformation not just of Hungary but of the whole Central European region. He said Hungary cannot agree to the IMF condition that this year's Hungarian budget deficit be half of last year's. According to Horn, his government is unable to implement a reduction of that size in just one year. "The IMF does not appreciate political risks of economic transition. Those solutions that exist in the West can only be applied partially in Central Europe and in Hungary in particular," argued the premier. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. DISSATISFIED HUNGARIANS. A Gallup poll of 18 countries published on 4 July shows that Hungarians are one of the world's most dissatisfied nations, international and Hungarian media reported. When asked how they viewed their lives, 51% said they were discontent. Mexicans were the second most dissatisfied nation in the poll, with a 50% rating. Icelanders were the most content, with a disenchantment rate of only 5%, followed by Canadians and Germans. Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn was the second least liked national leader in the survey. Fifty-six percent of respondents disapproved of Horn's activities; only 25% were happy with his performance. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE "ZUBAK DEMANDS PRECISE ANSWERS." This is how Vjesnik on 6 July headlines its story on talks between Bosnian Croat leader Kresimir Zubak and French General Andre Soubirou. The Croats refuse to let the newly arrived troops of the Rapid Reaction Force into Tomislavgrad until key questions are cleared up regarding the RRF's mission. The Muslims and Croats want to know, among other things, why the troops are being deployed only in peaceful territory under their control and not in Serbian-held or battlefront areas. Suspicion is rife that the RRF does not want to antagonize the Serbs and will simply protect a UNPROFOR withdrawal from Bosnia. EU mediator Carl Bildt also talked to Zubak and promised answers within a few days, AFP reported. The VOA and Nasa Borba added that a UN commander said the RRF will force open a relief route to Sarajevo but that UN headquarters in Zagreb promptly overruled him. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SERBIAN PLANE FIRES AT BIHAC POWER PLANT. A Serbian Super Galeb jet, apparently based at the Udbina airfield in Krajina, flew into Bosnian airspace on 5 July and fired rockets at the Ostrozac power plant. It is unclear what damage, if any, was done to the facility, which is the only source of electricity for the embattled Bihac pocket. Bosnian government forces have been gaining territory there at Serbian expense. The VOA said that NATO did not retaliate against the violation of the no-fly zone because it could not determine that the plan had actually come from Udbina. Nasa Borba wrote on 6 July that NATO has no record of the flight at all. Reuters the previous day quoted Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic as saying he wants an explanation from NATO leaders in Brussels. On a related subject, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien said the war in Bosnia has become a threat to global security because it has thrown into question the ability of international organizations to deal with a crisis. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. FERAL TRIBUNE EDITORS LAMBAST GOVERNMENT'S SILENCE. Novi list on 6 July carries a statement by the editors of the independent satirical weekly criticizing national, regional, and local authorities for their silence following attacks against the paper on 26 -27 June. Thugs grabbed and publicly burned copies of Feral Tribune with journalists and television cameras present but no police. The editors suspect the governing party of at least complicity in the attacks, which were applauded by neo- fascist leader Mladen Schwarz. At least some of the thugs were from Australia, where right-wing sentiment is strong among Croatian emigrants. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. UPDATE ON RUMP YUGOSLAV SANCTIONS. Nasa Borba on 6 July reports that the UN Security Council the previous day voted 14 to 0 to continue easing some sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia. Russia abstained from the vote. Sanctions related to travel and sports and cultural events will continue to be eased for an additional 75 days, until 18 September. They were first relaxed on 5 October 1994 following an announcement by Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic that Belgrade's contacts with the Bosnian Serbs side would be severed, except for humanitarian aid. Recent media reports, however, suggest that Milosevic was insincere about breaking relations with the Bosnian Serbs (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5 July 1995). -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. SANDZAK'S MUSLIM NATIONAL COUNCIL WRITES TO BILDT. Sulejman Ugljanin, president of the Muslim National Council of the Sandzak, has sent a letter to EU mediator to the former Yugoslavia Carl Bildt reporting on the political situation in the region. The council claims that "terror and ethnic cleansing" are continuing. It also calls on the special group on the Sandzak at the Geneva conference to invite the parties involved to discuss a solution to the status of the Sandzak, Montena-fax reported on 5 July. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN EXTREMISTS WITHDRAW DEMAND FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO. Valer Suian, executive secretary of the extremist Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR), has said that the PUNR's demand that it receive the foreign affairs portfolio was "just a joke," Cronica romana reported on 6 July. Adrian Nastase, executive chairman of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania, had rejected the demand by its junior coalition partner as "blackmail" (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5 July 1995). -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIA ON PENDING BILATERAL TREATIES WITH NEIGHBORS. Vasile Sofineti, deputy spokesman for the Romanian Foreign Ministry, told a press conference on 5 July that "preliminary consultations" between Moldova and Romania began in Bucharest the same day, Radio Bucharest reported. The treaty will be "examined by experts from the two ministries" at a later date. Sofineti said the treaty will "embody the special, privileged, and preferential relationship" between the two states. In response to a question about the possible inclusion of Recommendation 1,201 in the treaty with Hungary, Sofineti said experts negotiating the document wish to have no outside interference and are "leaving all doors open" in order to successfully conclude the discussions. He said preparations were under way for a meeting between the two countries' foreign ministers, who would seek to agree on a document that can be approved by their respective parliaments. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN PREMIER IN CHINA. Nicolae Vacaroiu on 3 July began a five-day visit to China, Radio Bucharest reported the same day. He met with his counterpart, Li Peng, Foreign Minister Qian Qichen, and President Jiang Zeming. The talks focused on economic and technological cooperation. Radio Bucharest on 5 July reported that the two sides signed accords on long-term economic cooperation, public health, and mutual recognition of academic degrees. Vacaroiu is also meeting with businessmen in the different parts of China that he is visiting. His Asian tour includes visits to Vietnam and Pakistan. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. SNEGUR, SMIRNOV AGREE ON NON-VIOLENCE. Radio Bucharest and Reuters on 5 July reported that Moldovan President Mircea Snegur and Igor Smirnov, leader of the separatist Dniester region, agreed in Chisinau the same day not to use military force or political pressure to settle the conflict in the region. They also agreed to ask Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma to mediate. (Ukrainain parliament chairman Olexandr Moroz said during a visit to Chisinau last month that Ukraine was ready to do so.) Radio Bucharest reported that the two sides agreed on the Moldovan leu being used as a "parallel currency" in the breakaway region, alongside the coupon-ruble. It also reported that the agreement was signed by representatives from Russia and the OSCE, both of which are mediators in the conflict. Snegur and Smirnov, however, could not agree on the future legal status of the area. Smirnov insisted on a separate Dniester state within a confederation with Moldova, while Snegur was unwilling to offer more than autonomy to the region. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN PROSECUTOR-GENERAL SLAMMED OVER DRUG DECISION. Bulgarian officials on 5 July attacked a decision by the country's prosecutor- general, Ivan Tatarchev, not to confiscate illegally planted opium poppies, Reuters reported the same day. At least 22 hectares planted with opium poppies are known to exist, in violation of Bulgarian law as well as the UN convention on drugs. Tatarchev, who was asked by the Ministry of Health to investigate the issue, said growing the plants does not in itself constitute drug production. Health Minister Mimi Vitkova he was "astonished" by Tatarchev's stand, adding that Bulgaria will be censured by the UN. Bulgaria no longer grows poppies that are used in the production of pharmaceuticals. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. TURKISH PRESIDENT ON TIES WITH BULGARIA. Turkish President Suleyman Demirel, during his official three-day state visit to Bulgaria, announced on 5 July that Turkey and Bulgaria are planning to set up a free trade zone, but he provided no details, international media reported. Demirel also spoke to the Bulgarian parliament, expressing satisfaction over Bulgaria's treatment of its ethnic Turkish minority since the collapse of communism. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. GREEK-TURKISH WAR OF WORDS OVER PKK. Following the recent meeting between Greek deputies and the leader of the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Lebanon, Turkey has repeated allegations that the Greek government is backing the PKK, AFP reported on 5 July. Four Greek legislators from the ruling socialist party and two from the opposition participated in the visit. Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesman Omer Akbel said that Ankara "will not drop this matter," adding that documents and photos of the Greek deputies shaking hands with the PKK leader have been turned over to the Greek ambassador in Ankara. The charges prompted a swift denial on 4 July. Greek government spokesman Evangelos Venizelos called the claims "unfounded and defamatory." He said "Turkey must learn that this strategy of . . . exporting its domestic problems . . . constitutes a flagrant violation of international law and further alienates Europe and the West in general." -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIA REQUESTS DEFENSE TREATY WITH NORWAY. Norway has received a request from Albania for a bilateral defense treaty, AFP reported on 5 July. According to a spokesman for the Norwegian Defense Ministry Albanian authorities have approached the Norwegian embassy in Tirana about such an accord. The Norwegian ministry is considering the request. -- 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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