|Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith. - Christopher Fry|
No. 134, Part II, 12 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 UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT ADOPTS LAWS ON EDUCATION, CORRUPTION. Ukrainian lawmakers approved a new law on education that continues to guarantee free state secondary education but no longer provides free universal higher education, UNIAR and Ukrainian TV reported on 11 July. Socialist deputies refused to take part in the vote. Legislators also amended a law on public officials and passed a corruption law that allows not only the recipients of bribes but their so-called intermediaries to be prosecuted. Those who give bribes to officials but report the offense to the authorities may be freed from prosecution. The parliament also ordered wage increases of 20-50% for Interior Ministry employees who specialize in investigating corruption. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. CRIMEAN LAWMAKERS ELECT NEW DEPUTY SPEAKERS. The Crimean legislature elected three new deputy speakers on 11 July, Ukrainian TV reported the same day. The choice of Yurii Podkopayev of the Russia caucus, Anushevan Danelian of the Reforms caucus and Refat Chubarov of the Crimean Tatar Kurultai caucus reflects a significant loss of separatist forces' influence in the 98-member assembly. Only Podkopayev represents a pro- Russian caucus, while the others are considered loyal to Kiev. Lawmakers recently replaced the separatist leader Serhii Tsekov as speaker with Yevhen Supruniuk, who supports improved ties with the Kiev government. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIAN OIL DEAL WITH TATARSTAN. Pravda on 12 July reported that Ukraine and Tatarstan have signed an agreement on establishing the Ukrtatneft financial industrial corporation, which will rely on the Keremechuk oil refinery in Poltava, Ukraine, to refine Tatarstan's oil. The corporation's issued share capital has been divided equally between Ukraine and Tatarstan; its assets are estimated at $1 billion. Tatarstan has said it plans to invest its share of future profits in modernizing the Keremenchuk refinery and in prospecting in Tatarstan. Valerii Pustovoitenko, minister of Ukraine's Cabinet of Ministers, announced that Ukrainian farmers will be harvesting with gasoline from Tatarstan this fall. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. ESTONIA, RUSSIA FAIL TO RESOLVE BORDER DISPUTE. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Krylov on 11 July met with Estonian officials, international and Russian agencies reported. Krylov told journalists after the meetings that no headway was made on the Estonian-Russian border dispute. Estonia insists that the border correspond with that defined in the 1920 Tartu Treaty, which would require the transfer to Estonia of territory currently in Russia's Leningrad and Pskov Oblasts. Krylov reiterated Russia's stance that the treaty not be used as a basis for resolving the dispute, saying "it has no legal power whatsoever." He also complimented Estonia for recent "positive changes" in policy toward the Russian minority there. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc. OPTIMISM OVER ESTONIAN, LITHUANIAN ECONOMIES. Reuters and BNS on 11 July reported that the Estonian and Lithuanian economies are expected to grow this year but that Latvia is suffering from a banking crisis. Estonia's GDP is expected to register a 5% increase for 1994 and grow 6% this year. Much of the success is attributed to its export sector. The IMF estimates that Lithuania's GDP grew between 1-5% in 1994 and will increase by 5-7% this year. In other news, BNS reported that Estonia has so far been granted $477 million in credits, of which $247 million have been paid out. But it decided not to accept 100 million kroons from a 588 million kroon loan provided by the EBRD to update the country's energy sector. The official reason was that it was difficult to meet EBRD conditions and that repayment of the principal would begin next year. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. MORE TROUBLE AMONG LATVIAN BANKS. BNS on 11 July reported that the Bank of Latvia has revoked the license of the commercial Kredo Banka and will take it to the Economic Court to have it declared insolvent. The Bank of Latvia the same day issued a statement calling for the public to ignore the Latvian Shipping Company's threats against the collapsed Baltija Bank. The shipping company, which was the bank's largest creditor, has claimed that Blatija Bank pledged all its assets to the company in the event that it failed to return the company's $44 million deposit on time. The company has argued that it should receive all incoming payments to the bank. The Bank of Latvia said the shipping company's statement violates Latvian civil code. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. SWEDISH EUROPEAN AFFAIRS MINISTER IN POLAND. Mats Hellstroem, visiting Poland on 10 July, met with Polish Foreign Trade Minister Jacek Buchacz, Polish and international media reported. Hellstroem said that "Sweden is a strong supporter of Poland's accession to the European Union" and would back Poland's requests to the EU for an easing of anti-dumping procedures against Polish goods, such as textiles, food stuffs, cement, and steel. He noted that Poland, in turn, should liberalize its customs policy and other trade barriers. Hellstroem also said that Poland was Sweden's most important economic partner in Eastern Europe, with total trade turnover exceeding $1 billion in 1994. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. CZECH REPUBLIC TO END WAGE REGULATION. Czech ministers on 11 July announced it will stop wage regulation immediately, Czech media reported. Labor and Social Affairs Minister Jindrich Vodicka was instructed to prepare the necessary documents for a plenary cabinet meeting the next day. Although the government decided in May that wages would remain regulated until the end of this year, Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus said the time has come to free them. Wages have been controlled since July 1993 for firms with more than 25 employees, and rises have been pegged to inflation and company performance. According to Finance Ministry figures, firms breaching the regulations have paid almost 200 million koruny in fines. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK UPDATE. Parliament Chairman Ivan Gasparovic on 11 July announced that President Michal Kovac has vetoed the recently passed amendment to the law on the Slovak army, which will be discussed again on 13 July. The Slovak cabinet the same day approved draft laws on labor and prices and also discussed a protest by the Slovak Confederation of Trade Unions against increased public transportation rates and cuts in social benefits. In other news, according to a Financial Times report on 11 July, the EBRD has taken a 10.5% stake in the petrochemical giant Slovnaft, after a global share offering failed to attract Western investors because of political uncertainty in Slovakia and the high price of the shares. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAKIA TO MEET CFE CUTS. The remaining 14 Slovak T-55 tanks to be destroyed in order to meet the country's Conventional Forces in Europe ceilings left their base for the scrap yard on 11 July, CTK reported. A total of 822 tanks, 386 infantry fighting vehicles, and 424 artillery systems have had to be destroyed. Besides the 14 tanks, all that remains are 38 howitzers, which are due to scrapped later this month. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SERBS OVERRUN SREBRENICA, THREATEN TO SHELL REFUGEES. Bosnian Serb forces took the UN-designated "safe area" of Srebrenica on 11 July. Belated NATO air strikes halted a Serbian tank column, but Serbian infantry and artillery carried the day. Dutch peacekeepers fled to their base to the north, where some 30,000 refugees have also sought protection. The French group Doctors without Borders told Croatian Radio that the town of 42,000 is "completely empty" and that those who have not fled to the Dutch have gone to the hills. Reuters on 12 July quoted Bosnian Serb commander General Ratko Mladic as threatening to shell the refugees if further air strikes are launched against his forces, which have stepped up their attacks against the "safe areas" of Zepa, Gorazde, and Sarajevo. Bosnian Croat army sources told Croatian Radio that more Serbian militiamen are moving into Bosnia from Serbia via the northern Posavina corridor. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. "TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE." This is how a number of people, including the Bosnian prime minister and foreign minister, described the NATO air strikes on 11 July. Croatian Radio quoted Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic as saying the UN forces have cooperated with the Serbs, while the VOA noted his remarks that the UN has deliberately delayed employing air strikes as long as possible. Bosnian Ambassador to Croatia Kasim Trnka told AFP that Srebrenica was the "price to be paid" for the secret deal in which the UN got back the hostages from the Serbs last month. The BBC quoted Mladic as saying that his aim is to "demilitarize" Srebrenica, and that the civilians have nothing to fear if they stay. A BBC analyst suggested that the Serbs are anxious to "mop up" the eastern Bosnian Muslim enclaves to free their troops for use around Sarajevo. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. TURNING POINT FOR THE UN IN BOSNIA. International media on 12 July generally agreed that a new stage has been reached in the conflict. Not only has a major humanitarian crisis emerged, but for the first time a "safe area" has fallen to a Serbian assault and the UN has undeniably failed to carry out its mandate. This "calls into question the vitality" of the UN mission in Bosnia, according to U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry, the VOA said. The BBC reported that the safety of Gorazde, Zepa, and Sarajevo now appears precarious, but UN Secretary- General Boutros Boutros Ghali and U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher warned that for the UN to withdraw or change its approach would be to invite a blood bath. U.S. Senate Majority leader Robert Dole, however, said that it is now clear that the only way out of the imbroglio is for the UN to pull out and for the U.S. to lift the arms embargo against the Bosnian government. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. WILL THE UN GET TOUGH AFTER ALL? The International Herald Tribune on 12 July quoted French President Jacques Chirac as saying "France is ready to use its means at the request of the Security Council. I do not see what will stop the Serbs in the other enclaves or in Sarajevo" if the world body accepts the fall of Srebrenica without a fight. The Security Council on 11 July began work on a resolution drafted by France, Britain, and Germany that would allow use of "all available means" to oust the Serbs from Srebrenica if they refuse to go peacefully. But the VOA on 12 July noted that "nothing is clear in this resolution." The UN might decide to try diplomacy, which has largely proven useless in the past. In any event, the final word on use of force would rest with the cautious Boutros Ghali. Reuters says Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has no intention of pulling back his forces: "What withdrawal? From our country? Srebrenica is our country." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SERBIAN RENEWAL MOVEMENT FEARS DELAY OF SANCTIONS' LIFTING. Reactions from Belgrade to the latest Bosnian developments are so far limited to a statement by the opposition Serbian Renewal Movement, published in Nasa Borba on 12 July. Party spokesman Ivan Kovacevic is quoted as saying "the war activities of Pale will delay the lifting of the sanctions" against the rump Yugoslavia. Meanwhile, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted an amendment saying the embargo against rump Yugoslavia may not ended until excessive Serbian control over Kosovo ceases, international agencies reported on 11 July. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. NEW EU POLICY ON FUTURE OF EASTERN SLAVONIA? Belgrade's Politika on 11 July quoted Portugal's ambassador to the EU, Jose Manuel de Costa Arsenio, as saying he could well imagine eastern Slavonia, western Srijem, and Baranja soon becoming part of Serbia. Those territories at present constitute the UN-designated Sector East of Serbian-occupied Croatia, which the Portuguese diplomat was visiting. The area is already well integrated with Serbia, although it lies within Croatia's internationally recognized boundaries. Vjesnik on 12 July wondered whether the diplomat's remarks are perhaps a straw in the wind suggesting a change in EU policy. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIA REJECTS HUNGARIAN CRITICISM. The Romanian Foreign Ministry on 10 July rejected Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs's criticism of Romania's new education law (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 July 1995), Radio Bucharest reported. The ministry said Kovacs's statement was an attempt to put pressure" on Bucharest. It noted that the law meets European standards and even "goes beyond what is required." Above all, the ministry argued, the law is far more responsive to the needs of national minorities than is the case in Hungary, where "the Romanian and other national minorities . . . continue to face the danger of assimilation." -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIA'S WESTERN CONTACTS. Greek Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias, on an official visit to Romania, held talks with his counterpart, Teodor Melescanu, and Senate chairman Oliviu Gherman on 11 July. Papoulias was received the same day by President Ion Iliescu, Radio Bucharest and Romanian Television reported. Talks concentrated on bilateral relations, regional affairs, and what was termed as "concrete tripartite projects" with Bulgaria on transport and telecommunications infrastructure. Papoulias expressed support for Romania's integration into NATO and the EU. He also said Athens would ease visa procedures for Romanian citizens. Romanian Television reported that Iliescu the same day received Gebhardt von Moltke, NATO assistant secretary-general for political affairs. Von Moltke said NATO wished Europe to be built on collaboration among states and thus the admission of new members to NATO must ensure European security rather than create "new cleavage-lines on the continent." -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. NO BREAKTHROUGH IN TALKS BETWEEN ROMANIA, WORLD BANK. Talks in Washington between the World Bank and a Romanian delegation, headed by Finance minister Florin Georgescu and National Bank Governor Mugur Isarescu, have failed to produce concrete results. The bank on 11 July said the talks focused on Romania's progress in implementing economic reforms. The press release said that although some important reform measures have already been implemented, a number of steps still have to be taken before negotiations on a proposed "financial and enterprise sector adjustment loan" can take place. Following the "constructive exchange of views," the press release said, the prospects that negotiations can begin in September 1995 are good. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. CHISINAU, TIRASPOL ON SNEGUR-SMIRNOV MEETING. Transdniestrian Supreme Soviet chairman Grigori Markutsa, commenting on the 5 July meeting between Moldovan President Mircea Snegur and leader of the Transdniester region Igor Smirnov, said Tiraspol would not agree to an arrangement whereby the special status of the region would be determined by Moldovan law. BASA-press reported on 10 July that Markutsa said Tiraspol insisted on an agreement "between two equals," with the OSCE, Russia, and Ukraine guaranteeing its fulfillment. Snegur, speaking on Moldovan Television on 10 July, said Chisinau proposes "an autonomy status for the region within the framework of the Republic of Moldova," Infotag reported on 11 July. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. SNEGUR ON REFERENDUM ON OFFICIAL LANGUAGE, POLITICAL OPPONENTS. Moldovan President Snegur also said on Moldovan Television on 10 July that the proposal for a referendum on his initiative to designate Romanian as the country's official language was "an aberration," BASA-press reported on 11 July. He said the true motive for the proposal, made by 65 parliamentary deputies, was to demonstrate that the legislature has more power than the president to make "fundamental decisions." He accused his opponents of trying to discredit him, saying that a political party that "would consolidate the presidential team" should be set up. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. U.S. APPROVES MOST-FAVORED-NATION STATUS FOR BULGARIA. The U.S. House of Representatives on 11 July passed a bill to extend permanent most- favored-nation status to Bulgaria, Reuters reported the same day. Bulgarian exports to the U.S. can thus enter the country at the lowest possible tariffs. The decision was considered non-controversial and no objections were raised. Bulgaria was granted most-favored-nation status in 1991 but had to renew it each year. The bill has now been sent to the Senate. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN OPPOSITION WITHOUT JOINT CANDIDATE FOR SOFIA MAYORAL ELECTIONS. The Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) on 11 July named Stefan Sofiyanski as its candidate for the post of mayor of Sofia, 24 chasa reports the following day. The decision came one day after former Prime Minister Reneta Indzhova was nominated mayoral candidate by the People's Union (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 July 1995). A meeting between the leadership of the two groups aimed at finding a common candidate is scheduled for this week. Meanwhile, SDS leader Ivan Kostov confirmed that his party had initially considered backing Indzhova's candidacy. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. U.S.-ALBANIAN MILITARY EXERCISES KICK OFF. U.S. and Albanian troops on 11 July began joint exercises within the framework of the Partnership for Peace program, AFP reported. The exercises continue until 8 September, during which period Albania's only military hospital will be modernized. The cost of reconstructing the hospital, built by the Italians during World War II, is estimated at $ 1.5 million and will be met by the U.S. Defense Minister Safet Zhulali said the maneuvers are the "most important military exercises between the American army and a Central or Eastern European country." Meanwhile, the U.S. has started deploying unmanned Predator spy planes in northern Albania to gather intelligence over Bosnia. -- 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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