|We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us. - George Eliot|
No. 135, Part II, 13 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 SLOVAK PARLIAMENT CANCELS COUPON PRIVATIZATION. The parliament on 12 July approved an amendment to the privatization law canceling the coupon privatization program proposed by the previous government, TASR reported. Some 3.5 million Slovaks purchased coupon books under that program, which is replaced with a scheme whereby the National Property Fund (FNM) will issue bonds to coupon holders worth 10,000 koruny with a five-year maturity. The parliament largely ignored proposals made by the opposition, including monitoring the FNM's activities and shifting the bonds' maturity to 30 June 1998 (shortly before the next scheduled parliamentary elections). A number of opposition figures warned that the new scheme allows for corruption. According to a FOCUS poll published on 4 July in Narodna obroda, only 3.1% of Slovaks consider the government's privatization policy "correct," while 56.5% call it "incorrect." -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK PREMIER VISITS SPAIN. Vladimir Meciar on 12 July concluded his two-day visit to Portugal and arrived in Spain, accompanied by Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Sergej Kozlik and Foreign Minister Juraj Schenk. Meciar met with his Spanish counterpart, Felipe Gonzalez, in the first of several talks with Central European leaders scheduled during Spain's Presidency of the EU, which began on 1 July. The two leaders discussed Slovakia's recently submitted application for EU membership and strengthening bilateral economic ties. Meciar also held talks with Spanish Defense Minister Gustavo Suarez Pertierra, focusing on Slovak attitudes toward NATO, TASR reported. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK NATIONAL PARTY WARNS OF OPPOSITION MOVES. In a statement sent to TASR on 11 July, the central council of the Slovak National Party (SNS), a member of the government coalition, warned that the opposition is planning a comeback for September. According to the SNS, the party has been informed that foreign financial circles, including "a well-known American businessman of Hungarian origin," intend to invest millions of dollars in the Slovak opposition with the aim of destabilizing society. This money will be used to corrupt parliamentary deputies, with sums of up to $10 million per deputy, the party said. SNS deputy Vitazoslav Moric, in an interview with Sme on 13 July, said if eight deputies are "bought," the opposition will have enough votes to remove the government. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. WESTERN CONSORTIUM OFFERS TO BUILD CHORNOBYL SARCOPHAGUS. International agencies on 12 July reported that a consortium of Western firms has made a $1.6 billion bid to build a new sarcophagus to enclose a cracking concrete tomb around the Chornobyl nuclear reactor that exploded in April 1986. The so-called Alliance consortium, consisting of French, German, and British companies, was awarded the feasibility study project last year by the European Union. Alliance announced in London on 12 July that the new structure, to be built as a pre-stressed concrete arch with a waterproof covering and stainless steel lining, would act as a shield during the dismantling of the reactor and old sarcophagus. It is yet unclear how the project will be financed. Ukrainian authorities have estimated the cost of closing Chornobyl by 2000 as they have pledged to do, at around $4 billion. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT RECEIVES NEW SPEAKER OF CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma received Yevhen Supruniuk, the new speaker of the Crimean legislature in Kiev on 12 July, UNIAR and Ukrainian TV reported the same day. Supruniuk, who recently replaced the pro-Russian Serhii Tsekov, said he and Kuchma saw eye-to-eye on ways of solving the region's growing social and economic problems. The leaders discussed the new Crimean Constitution, establishing a free economic zone on the peninsula, and ways of financing the repatriation of Crimean Tatars from other CIS states. Supruniuk said he would concentrate on dividing powers between Kiev and Simferopol and on settling the region's most pressing problems before embarking on any official visits to Moscow. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIAN FINANCIAL ROUNDUP. Chief presidential economic adviser Anatolii Halchynsky on 12 July said that Kuchma was prepared to sign two important decrees on debt repayment and monetary reform, UNIAR reported the same day. Halchynsky said the first would allow the government to repay debts to Ukraine's three largest banks, while the second will create a special commission on monetary reform. But he added that the move does not mean Ukraine's new currency, the hryvna, would be introduced in the near future. It is unlikely that the hryvna will be pegged to any foreign currency because this would require Ukraine to maintain a currency stabilization fund of some $5 billion, he commented. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. ESTONIAN PRIME MINISTER CRITICIZES MONETARY POLICY. Estonian Prime Minister Tiit Vahi has called the country's monetary system "primitive," BNS reported on 12 July. Vahi noted there were problems with pegging the value of the kroon exclusively to the German mark. He also said the main problem with Estonia's monetary system was that the total cash in circulation has increased 3-4 times over the past three years, while GPD had fallen. In his opinion, the amount of cash in circulation should be tied to GDP, as in the case of Germany. Vahi was responding to leader of the Reform Party Siim Kallas's comment that the premier has never understood the "macroeconomic working mechanism of Estonia's monetary policy." -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. SEJM CONFIRMS MORATORIUM ON DEATH PENALTY. The Sejm on 12 July confirmed a five-year moratorium on capital punishment, Polish media reported on 13 July. The moratorium was opposed by the Senate on 30 June. The last execution took place in Poland in 1988; since then, a few death sentences have been passed each year but have not been carried out. According to an opinion poll conducted in June by the Public Opinion Research Center, 60% of Poles are in favor of the death penalty while 30% would like it to be abolished. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. POLISH PROSECUTOR RULES ON MILITARY SERVICE ABROAD. The Military Prosecutor's Office in Opole, in southwestern Poland, on 12 July ruled that two Polish citizens of German origin who performed military service in Germany did not commit a criminal offense. Polish law prohibits military service in a foreign army but makes an exception for people living abroad who have dual citizenship. The German minority leader Henryk Kroll, vice president of the Sejm National Minorities Committee, on 12 July said the Polish authorities should not make life difficult for emigrants who served in the German army, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 13 July. "I would like thousands to return. A quarter of a million emigrated, let 300,000 return," he commented. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. CZECH EMPLOYERS, UNIONS WELCOME END OF WAGE REGULATION. Richard Falbr, head of the trade union federation, has welcomed the Czech government's decision to abolish wage regulation (see OMRI Daily Digest, 12 July 1995), which since July 1993 had kept maximum salary increases down to 5% above inflation. Falbr said the move created better conditions for collective bargaining, Lidove noviny reported. The paper also quoted employers as supporting the step, saying it enabled them to offer their best-qualified employees higher wages. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus said wage deregulation should neither push up inflation nor lead to significantly higher unemployment. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. CZECH GOVERNMENT IN FAVOR OF EXTENDING SCREENING LAW. The Czech government on 12 July approved proposals to extend the country's screening law for an extra two years, Czech media reported. The proposals were originally made by deputies from Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party. The law, which went into effect in 1991, bans former high officials of the Communist Party, StB secret police officers and agents, and members of the People's Militia--the disbanded paramilitary arm of the Communist Party--from holding various public offices until 1996. Opposition parties are opposed to extending the law. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE "ETHNIC CLEANSING IS APPARENTLY UNDER WAY." This is how the VOA on 13 July described the Bosnian Serbs' expulsion of 5,500 Muslim refugees from Srebrenica. Some 30,000 tired and frightened people sought shelter at the Dutch UN base at Potocari, which has been used by 200 peacekeepers. A UN spokesman said there is a "stable refugee situation" at the base, with 10,000 people inside and 20,000 outside, AFP reported. The Serbs on 12 July brought up nearly 50 trucks and busses under the personal supervision of General Ratko Mladic. Male Muslims aged between 16 and 50 were sent to Bratunac for "examination." Others were taken to Tuzla, where 2,000 have arrived, or to Kladanj, where 3,500 people were dumped near the front lines and forced to walk for two hours across no man's land to Bosnian government positions. Many had bribed Serbian soldiers to be allowed on buses. The Serbs hold some 48 Dutch peacekeepers hostage. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. REACTIONS TO THE FALL OF SREBRENICA. Reuters on 13 July quoted British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind as urging Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to make the Bosnian Serbs "behave in a more civilized fashion." The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung cited remarks by Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic that his government probably will ask UNPROFOR to leave when its mandate runs out in November. The local Croats seem to be warming to the UN, however, with Hina saying their leader Kresimir Zubak has given the UN Rapid Reaction Force permission to use Croatian territory. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic warned that "the longer the war lasts, the more inflexible the Serbs will become." He said that Srebrenica had been freed of "Muslim terrorists" and that "order and calm" now prevail in the former east Bosnian enclave, AFP noted. The Sueddeutsche Zeitung wrote that Srebrenica may prove to be a decisive event "like Waterloo or Stalingrad" in determining "the kind of world we live in." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. "INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY FAILED THE TEST." This is how Vesna Pesic, president of the Citizen's Union of Serbia, described the developments in Srebrenica, sharply criticizing the Bosnian Serbs, Nasa Borba reported on 13 July. But Vojislav Kostunica, leader of the Democratic Party of Serbia, said the Bosnian Serb army's latest move was an "act of self-defense." He claimed that NATO air strikes provoked the annexation of the enclave, adding that the peace mediators were trying to "extinguish fire with fuel." State-run Borba, however, claims that UN peacekeepers consider that the occupation of Srebrenica has freed them from a nightmare. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. BOUTROS GHALI IN FAVOR OF MORE NEGOTIATIONS. UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali, on the last day of his visit to Athens, said that despite continuing Bosnian Serb aggression, negotiations and maintaining the UN presence in former Yugoslavia is the only road toward solving the crisis, international agencies reported on 12 July. He said it is important "that we are condemning the offensive of the Bosnian Serbs against...Srebrenica and the violation of [UN] resolutions." Boutros Ghali added that a solution has to be found both for the problems of the refugees and "for the problem as a whole." He said he does not know if UN troops are in a position to take Srebrenica back from the Serbs or to defend the safe areas of Zepa and Gorazde, adding this has to be thought out by UN military officials in the area. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. UN SECURITY COUNCIL APPROVES RESOLUTION. The world organization's leading body on 12 July unanimously adopted a text calling on "both sides" to withdraw their armed forces from Srebrenica. Secretary-General Boutros Ghali has been authorized to use "all resources available" to reestablish the "safe area." The VOA suggested on 13 July that the resolution outlines no clear course of action and was passed simply because it was seen as "better than doing nothing." It may lead to more futile efforts at diplomacy and subsequent humiliation for the UN. The BBC reported that there is no political will in the Security Council to evict the Serbs by force and that some UN officials are privately saying the fall of Srebrenica may help speed up a peace settlement. French tough talk is seen largely as posturing, despite Prime Minister Alain Juppe's comment to AFP on 12 July that "we cannot leave Srebrenica with our tail between our legs." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. EU ADMINISTRATOR IN MOSTAR CALLS RESOLUTION "BALONEY." Hans Koschnick said "this resolution is again nothing but baloney which nobody takes seriously," according to AFP on 13 July. "We're lying to ourselves day after day with these resolutions and it makes me sick," he said. "We cannot defend such enclaves so far into Serb territory without war, and if we don't want that we should retreat. The UN and NATO should finally say what they really want and define a policy." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SERBS POUND ZEPA AND SARAJEVO. Bosnian Serb forces continue to put pressure on two other "safe areas," namely Zepa and Sarajevo. The Serbs shelled the capital's historical Turkish quarter at dawn on 13 July and later fired on a UN relief truck as it entered their territory, wounding the Russian driver. Vecernji list quoted Bosnian Cardinal Vinko Puljic as complaining about the lack of a strong Bosnian Croat political presence in Sarajevo, noting that local Croats are psychologically tired of constantly living in uncertainty. Meanwhile in Serb-held eastern Slavonia, pro-Belgrade Serbs prevented politicians from Knin from entering from Serbia and thereby scuttled chances for a legislative session to form a new government. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIAN DEPUTIES IN MACEDONIA. A delegation of Albanian deputies, led by head of the Albanian parliamentary commission on foreign policy Eduard Selami, have held talks with Macedonian Foreign Minister Stevo Crvenkovski and Minister for Education and Sports Emilia Simoska, Flaka reported on 13 July. They discussed the rights of Macedonian Albanians to higher education in their mother tongue, minority rights, and the abolition of entry visas for Macedonians and Albanians wanting to visit each other's country. The legislators also met with Macedonian deputies. Selami had said before the visit that developing relations and future cooperation between Macedonia and Albania would depend on the outcome of the Albanian deputies' visit. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. UPDATE ON ROMANIA'S NEW EDUCATION LAW. Cronica romana on 13 July published an appeal by Gheorghe Funar, chairman of the extremist Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR), to President Ion Iliescu over the new education law. Funar urged that Iliescu reconsider intention to promulgate the law and his refusal to ask the Constitutional Court to verify its legality. He said the president, the government and the parliament have been "blackmailed" into passing the law, claiming that it paves the way for the Hungarian minority's territorial autonomy. He also claimed there is a "secret accord" between the majority party, the Party of Social Democracy in Romania, and the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania to link the law to the signing of the basic treaty with Hungary. Cronica romana reports that the PUNR's Permanent Bureau has distanced itself from Funar's appeal, saying it does not share his view. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN BRITAIN. Radio Bucharest on 12 July reported that Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu began a three-day visit to Great Britain. He met with his British counterpart, Malcolm Rifkind, with whom he will sign an accord on the protection of investments on 13 July. He also addressed the Institute for Strategic Studies and held talks with Defense Ministry officials. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu met on 12 July in Bucharest with Greek Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias to discuss economic cooperation and the feasibility of joint Greek-Romanian initiatives on the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. The same day, Romanian Transportation Minister Aurel Novac and his visiting Turkish counterpart, Ali Sevgi Erek, signed a protocol on creating a joint commission on transportation, Romanian TV reported. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. MOLDOVA, ALBANIA BECOME MEMBERS OF COUNCIL OF EUROPE. Moldova and Albania on 13 July became members of the Council of Europe, international agencies reported the previous day. The CE's Parliamentary Assembly had approved Albania and Moldova's applications at the end of June, making them the 35th and 36th members, respectively, of the organization. Moldova, the first member of the Commonwealth of Independent States to join the CE, will have five seats in the Parliamentary Assembly, while Albania will have four. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN PRESIDENT DEFENDS CONSTITUTION, CRITICIZES SOCIALISTS. Zhelyu Zhelev on 12 July said the Bulgarian Constitution remains the best guarantee of democratic stability, Reuters reported the same day. Addressing the parliament on the fourth anniversary of the constitution's adoption, Zhelev said everybody must "look beyond narrow party interests" to uphold it. He went on to attack the Socialist majority, saying "we are all wary about the resurrection of a one-party state." Socialist deputies jeered him when he commented that "calls for a war against the Constitutional Court are calls for war against the constitution itself." The court recently ruled that several laws passed by the Socialists were unconstitutional. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. TURKISH PRESIDENT IN ALBANIA. Suleyman Demirel arrived in Tirana for a two-day visit on 12 July, international agencies reported. He held talks with Albanian President Sali Berisha on improving economic, military, and cultural relations. The talks also focused on the Bosnian crisis and the capture of Srebrenica. Demirel is to travel to Macedonia, where he is expected to sign a "friendship, good-neighborly, and cooperation" agreement. -- 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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