|We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us. - George Eliot|
No. 131, Part II, 7 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 ELECTS NEW SPEAKER. International agencies on 6 July reported that the Crimean parliament has elected a new speaker who is supportive of the authorities in Kiev. Deputies voted 58 to 31 to appoint centrist Yevhen Suprunyuk as a replacement for Serhii Tsekov, who was dismissed the previous day. Suprunyuk's election is seen as a move toward reconciliation with Kiev and a blow to Crimea's pro-Russian forces. Tsekov was removed because of his authoritarianism and his failure to compromise with Kiev. Suprunyuk has said he will work on an equal basis with both Russia and Ukraine. The new speaker is a member of the Agrarian bloc. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. BELARUS STOPS ARMS REDUCTIONS. Izvestiya on 6 July reported that Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has announced that Belarus will suspend the withdrawal of nuclear missiles from Belarus to Russia. Lukashenka said the decision to withdraw the weapons was a political mistake made by the previous leadership. He also commented that it was unnecessary since Belarus and Russia may soon reunite. RFE/RL reported Stanislau Shushkevich, former chairman of the Supreme Soviet, as saying the decision was a disgrace to Belarus's international image. Shushkevich was head of state when Belarus agreed to give up its inherited nuclear arsenal of 81 single-warhead mobile SS-25 Topol missiles. So far, 63 missiles have been withdrawn and the remaining 18 were to have been removed to Russia this month. Izvestiya commented that the decision to stop nuclear reductions was also prompted by financial considerations. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. ESTONIAN PRIVATIZATION CHIEF UNDER FIRE. BNS on 6 July reported that the Estonian Center Party sent a letter in June to the board of the Coalition Party asking for the dismissal of Vaino Sarnet, director- general of the Privatization Agency. It also requested a thorough examination of personnel at government institutions and proposed that a bill be drawn up banning the Central Bank from holding shares in commercial banks. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. LATVIAN PRESIDENT IN LITHUANIA. Guntis Ulmanis has met with his Lithuanian counterpart, Algirdas Brazauskas, in Vilnius, Russian Public Television reported on 6 July. Ulmanis said that the three Baltic states needed a joint strategy to join the EU. He stressed the need for the three countries to coordinate their policies toward other states and cooperate in controlling their borders and illegal immigration. He also proposed setting up a joint budget to be used toward financing cultural and ecological projects. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. LITHUANIA PARDONS FORMER SOVIET GENERAL. The Lithuanian Mercy Mission on 5 July pardoned former Soviet General Ginutis Taurinskas for his participation in anti-state activities, BNS reported. Taurinskas headed the Lithuanian branch of the Soviet paramilitary organization DOSAAF and participated in activities of pro-Soviet forces in Lithuania when the Soviet Union was falling apart. When Lithuania gained independence, he was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison. Pranas Kuris, head of the Supreme Court, justified the pardon saying that Taurinskas has already served two-thirds of the term and, since he suffers from ill health, it was a normal and humane act to pardon him. Opposition leader Vytautas Landsbergis criticized the pardon. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. GERMAN CHANCELLOR IN POLAND. German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, visiting Poland for the first time since 1989, addressed a joint session of the Polish parliament on 6 July. He said the European Union will do "everything in its power to put Poland on the right track . . . [but] there will be no shortcuts." "Admitting Poland to the European Union is interdependent with its joining NATO but will not necessarily come at the same time," he added. Kohl also stressed that "no country can forbid another country to take part in any alliance . . . [but] it is necessary above all to cooperate with Russia in constructing European security." Polish and international media reported that Germany has offered its active cooperation in building east-west highways and railroad lines in Poland and in investing in economic zones along these routes. Kohl is scheduled to pay a visit to Auschwitz during his three-day visit. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. CENTRAL PLANNING OFFICE ON POLISH ECONOMY. The Polish Central Planning Office on 6 July issued a report comparing Poland's economy in 1994 with those of other East European countries. Polish and Slovenian growth rates were the biggest in the region, reaching 5%. Poland is expected to occupy first place with Estonia in 1995, with 6%. Polish exports rose 22% in 1994; but Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania registered bigger growths. Inflation in Poland in 1994 was 32.2%, compared with 10.2% in the Czech Republic and 320% in Russia. With regard to unemployment, Poland placed seventh in Europe as a whole (with Macedonia, the rump Yugoslavia, and Spain topping the list). Poland was the only country in the region whose foreign debt decreased, but it has the region's second largest such debt in relation to GNP (42%), after Hungary (72%). Poland's budget deficit amounted to 2.7% of GNP in 1994, compared with 10.4% in Hungary and 9.3% in Russia, Polish media reported on 7 July. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. CZECH PRIMATE JOINS HISTORIC JAN HUS COMMEMORATION. For the first time ever, the head of the Catholic Church in the Czech Republic has taken part in a service marking the death of Protestant reformer Jan Hus. On 6 July--the 580th anniversary of Hus being burnt at the stake as a heretic by the Church--Cardinal Miloslav Vlk joined evangelical Church leaders for a service at the Bethlehem Chapel in Prague where Hus preached. At a ceremony in Hus's hometown Husinec, President Vaclav Havel said the Catholic Church could help heal religious divides in the country by rehabilitating Hus. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAKIA'S RULING PARTY THREATENS TO BAR SOROS. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) on 6 July demanded an apology from U.S. billionaire and philanthropist George Soros for statements he made earlier this week at an economic forum in Crans Montana, Switzerland. Soros, who was awarded the forum's top prize, said the historic opportunity presented by the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe has been missed. He noted that in many post-communist countries, nationalist ideologies were combining with business interests in a classic recipe for fascism. Soros cited Serbia as an example and said Croatia also showed similar tendencies. He then mentioned the Slovak premier as an example of a strongly entrenched leader who has not always supported privatization and liberalization. International media reported Meciar's party as saying that unless Soros apologizes, HZDS deputies will support a motion in the parliament to bar him from the country as persona non grata. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. CAR EXPLOSION IN BRATISLAVA. A car exploded several hundred meters from the Slovak government offices in Bratislava on 6 July, Slovak media reported. Police said the two occupants of the car were killed in the explosion, but they have refused to comment on the reasons or motives for the incident until an investigation has been completed. Some media have speculated that rival Bratislava gangs were seeking to settle accounts. Unofficial sources were quoted as saying that the explosion might be connected to the recent arrest of Italian mafia boss Domenico Branco. Italian police arrested Branco in cooperation with the Slovak police, which were reportedly tipped off by informants in the Bratislava underworld. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE HEAVY FIGHTING AROUND SREBRENICA. International media on 7 July reported that tank, mortar, and artillery fire erupted the previous day between Serbian attackers and Muslim defenders of the eastern Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica. Government spokesmen said it was the heaviest Serbian attack since the UN declared the place a "safe area" in 1993. The BBC reported that a UN relief convoy was shot at near Tuzla, apparently from Bosnian Serb lines., while the International Herald Tribune noted a similar attack on relief vehicles heading into Sarajevo across Mt. Igman. Vjesnik quoted UN sources as reporting successes by the Bosnian army around Bosanska Krupa near Bihac, while Novi list reported that Krajina Serb forces are grouping around Knin. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. ZUBAK GIVES THE RAPID REACTION FORCE A DEADLINE. Bosnian Croat leader and president of the Croatian-Muslim federation Kresimir Zubak has told the Rapid Reaction Force that it must leave Herzegovina by the end of the month if his questions regarding its mission have not been satisfactorily answered by then, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 7 July. Reuters the previous day noted that the UN has stated that the British and French commanders will have tactical control over any RRF missions but that each action must be approved by the cautious UN civilian bureaucracy. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL REPORT SINGLES OUT SERBS. The VOA on 7 July said that Amnesty International has issued a report on human rights violations in the former Yugoslavia. The study argues that the Serbs are responsible for most, if not all, of the atrocities in Bosnia but that all sides hold prisoners of conscience or have sent prisoners to work under dangerous conditions. The Serbs press-gang young men in Serbia on behalf of the Krajina and Bosnian Serb armies. They have also tortured or otherwise ill-treated ethnic Albanian former policemen in Kosovo. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. CROATIAN JOURNALISTS DEFEND FERAL TRIBUNE. Novi list on 7 July carried a statement by the Croatian Journalistic Society criticizing the recent attacks by thugs on the independent satirical weekly Feral Tribune. The declaration argues that one may think whatever one wants of that particular paper but that nobody has the right to use violence against freedom of expression. In other developments, AFP on 5 July reports on growing social unrest in Croatia. Some 140,000 out of 760,000 workers have not been paid in months, and the situation of the 800,000 pensioners and 385,000 refugees is also precarious. Protests by unpaid workers have taken on political overtones, as the demonstrators argue that the elite of the ruling party are enriching themselves while ordinary people face hard times. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. BILDT IN FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. Nasa Borba on 7 July reported on European Union mediator Carl Bildt's arrival in Sarajevo the previous day. Bildt's visit is intended to revive the peace process, but he has already expressed doubts over prospects for lasting peace. AFP quoted him as saying there will be "more war in Bosnia rather than peace. . . . There might be a solution, but it is not immediately at hand." Bildt also noted that negotiations with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic are key to facilitating the peace process. Milosevic on 6 July met with Alvaro de Soto, UN deputy secretary for political affairs, but De Soto gave few details about the discussions. The VOA said that journalists asked Bildt if he planned to visit Bosnian Serb headquarters at Pale but that he replied he is "not a tourist" and has no need to go there. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. MONTENEGRIN HOTEL CHAIN REWARDS ANTI-GREEK VACATIONERS. Montena-fax on 6 July reported that the rump Yugoslavia's Maestralturs hotel chain is involved in the continuing controversy over the rump Yugoslavia's 2 July European basketball championship win in Athens. When the rump Yugoslav national anthem was played, Greek fans, who had seen their team lose to the rump Yugoslav team in an earlier game, booed. Now as a reward to vacationers who can prove they have canceled vacations to Greece in protest at the fans' behavior, Maestralturs is offering a 20% discount. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. RUGOVA MEETS WITH GLIGOROV. Ibrahim Rugova, president of the Kosovar shadow state, met with Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov in Skopje after visiting the U.S., Spain, and Albania, according to the Kosovar Daily Report and MIC on 6 July. The two leaders discussed the situation in Kosovo and Macedonia, as well as bilateral relations. There was no official statement on the disputed Albanian-language university in Tetovo, but both sides confirmed that "peace and stability in the Balkans can be guaranteed only by settling [outstanding] issues through talks and political means and by strengthening the European option [for] the Balkan states." Elsewhere, Fehmi Agani, deputy leader of the ruling Democratic League of Kosovo, said after meeting with representatives of the ruling Serbian Democratic Party in Belgrade that "the atmosphere was surprisingly cordial," Politika reported on 7 July. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN, HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS TO MEET? Radio Bucharest on 6 July, citing Radio Budapest, said Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs has proposed meeting with his Romanian counterpart, Teodor Melescanu, to discuss the bilateral basic treaty. The possibility of talks between the two ministers was also discussed by President Ion Iliescu and Prime Minister Gyula Horn at their meeting in Cannes. But Kovacs said he had doubts about how successful such an encounter would be. In a related development, Adevarul on 7 July reported that the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) has decided to begin "civic disobedience" actions if its demands for changing the recently- passed education law are not met by President Ion Iliescu. UDMR leaders and Iliescu are scheduled to meet on 8 July. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIA, CHINA AGREE ON "DIPLOMATIC FORMULA." The Romanian Foreign Ministry, in a press release from Beijing carried by Radio Bucharest on 6 July, says Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu has "expressed satisfaction" with the results of his visit to China. The ministry said "representatives of the Chinese People's Republic appreciated the fact that Romania recognizes a single China and [has confirmed] its intention to establish no diplomatic relations and to exchange no official visits with Taiwan." The official news agency Rompres says that formula "leaves the door open to economic and trade relations between Romania and Taiwan." -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. MOLDOVAN CURRENCY IS NOW CONVERTIBLE. Leonid Talmaci, president of the Moldovan National Bank, announced on 6 July that the Moldovan leu has become a convertible currency, Infotag reported the same day. Talmaci said foreign investors are now likely to invest more willingly in Moldova, where the currency is stable and inflation low. He also said inflation fell from 2,000 % when the leu was introduced in November 1993 to 110% in 1994 and will not exceed 10% in 1995. Meanwhile, Privatization Minister Ceslav Ciobanu on 6 July said that approximately 400 more enterprises are to be privatized by September 1995, Infotag and BASA-press reported. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. MOLDOVA REMEMBERS VICTIMS OF SOVIET REGIME. Radio Bucharest and BASA- press on 6 July reported that a memorial granite stone dedicated to the victims of the Soviet regime was unveiled in Chisinau's Valea Morilor park the same day. The memorial stone stands where the NKVD headquarters were situated in 1940. On 6 July 1949, nearly 41,000 people where deported to Siberia under the pretext of the struggle "against kulaks." Of these, some 80% perished. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. DEMIREL ENDS VISIT TO BULGARIA. Turkish President Suleyman Demirel on 6 July concluded an official three-day visit to Bulgaria, international media reported. On the last day of his visit, he spoke to the predominantly ethnic Turkish population of a town some 400 kilometers northeast of Sofia. He described his audience as "good citizens of Bulgaria," remarking that in recent years, the Bulgarian government has demonstrated a sound record of protecting the Turkish minority's rights. He also described Bulgaria's Turkish community as a "bridge" between Bulgaria and Turkey. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. U.S. PREPARES DEPLOYMENT OF SPY PLANES FROM ALBANIA. The U.S. army's first shipments of equipment for deploying unmanned Predator spy planes arrived in Gjader on 6 June. The unmanned planes will be operated by remote control over Bosnia-Herzegovina by about 100 U.S. military and civilian staff, Reuters reported on 6 June. Information gathered by the system will be passed onto NATO and the UN command for Bosnia. The first military operation to use the Predator system is also the first time the U.S. has conducted a key military operation in Albania. The operation is scheduled to last for 60 days but may be extended. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIAN SUPREME COURT, JUSTICE MINISTRY DISCUSS COURTS' BUDGET. Albanian Supreme Court Judge Zef Brozi and Minister of Justice Hektor Frasheri have begun discussing the budget of the country's courts, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 7 July. Brozi had earlier criticized Frasheri's plans to subordinate the courts' budget to the ministry's authority. He claimed that a bill proposed by the ruling Democratic Party in June was designed to undermine the independence of the courts, which had a separate budget in 1994. The democrats withdrew the bill after Brozi strongly protested it. -- 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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