|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
No. 136, Part II, 14 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 SEWAGE SPILL THREATENS WATER SUPPLY IN EASTERN UKRAINE. International agencies reported on 14 July that Ukrainian authorities are encouraging residents of Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, to leave the city until supplies of fresh drinking water are restored. The breakdown of the city's sewage treatment system ten days ago has caused a massive spill of raw sewage into the Siverskodonetsk River, the main source of fresh water. Virtually all commerce has stopped since fresh water supplies were limited to two hours a day. Only bakeries, hospitals, and power stations have continued operating. Repairs to the sewage plant are under way, but some 200,000 cubic meters of sewage have continued to pour daily into the river. The pollution threatens the densely populated industrial regions of Kharkiv, Donetsk, and Luhansk, where some 10 million people live. Sewage has reached the Donetsk region and is expected to reach Luhansk in the next few days. From there, it may cross into Russia, potentially threatening the Don River, of which the Siverskodonetsk is a tributary, AFP reported. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. BELARUSIAN LOCAL COUNCILS' TERM EXTENDED. The Belarusian Constitutional Court, at the request of parliamentary speaker Mechyslau Hryb, has prolonged the current local councils' term until the first session of the newly elected Council of Deputies, Belarusian TV reported on 12 July. Hryb also requested that the court confirm the new parliament as the legitimate legislature in the country, but the court rejected this appeal. In elections earlier this year, Belarusians failed to elect enough deputies to form a new parliament because of low voter turnout. The old parliament's term has now expired, and there is no new legislature to replace it. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. MAJORITY OF NON-CITIZENS APPLY FOR ESTONIAN RESIDENCY. BNS on 13 July reported that preliminary data shows some 324,000 non-citizens have applied for residence and work permits in Estonia. The deadline for applications was 12 July. In all, there are around 380,000 non-citizens living in Estonia. The preliminary figure means more than 80% have applied for legal status to remain. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. DIPHTHERIA IN LATVIA. In the first six months of 1995, 213 cases of diphtheria were reported in Latvia, resulting in 15 deaths, BNS reported on 13 July. The preceding year, 250 cases and 24 deaths were registered for the year as whole. The 1995 figures mean there are 8.4 cases of the disease per 100,000; thus, the country is considered to have an epidemic on its hands. A vaccination campaign has started, since most of the population has not been immunized against diphtheria. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. POLISH PREMIER, PRESIDENT DISCUSS PRIVATIZATION BILL. Premier Jozef Oleksy on 13 July failed to persuade Polish President Lech Walesa not to veto the privatization and commercialization bill, Polish media reported on 14 July. Commercialization entails turning state-owned enterprises into joint-stock companies governed by commercial law but still retained by the State Treasury. The 30 June bill provides for the privatization of the most important branches of industry to take place under parliamentary control. The ruling coalition is close to achieving the two-thirds majority needed to override the veto. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. POLISH FOREIGN MINISTER IN FRANCE. Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, on an official visit to France, met on 13 July with French European Affairs Minister Michel Barnier. According to Bartoszewski, Barnier "stated very clearly that he approves of the progress our country is making toward European Union membership," Polish and international media reported. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. CZECH ATTITUDES TOWARD GERMANY. According to a public opinion poll published by Mlada fronta dnes on 14 July, 51% of Czechs trust Germany, while 47% distrust the country. (In comparison, 75% of Czechs trust the U.S.) Only 48% of respondents agreed with the statement "Germany is a fully democratic country where a renewal of Nazism is out of the question," while 46% disagreed. Even so, 83% of respondents consider Czech-German relations good. With regard to the Sudeten Germans, who were expelled from Czech territory after World War II, 80% of Czechs believe that they are mainly concerned about the return of confiscated property. 37% said the Sudeten Germans want to divide the Czech Republic and annex border territory. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK PARLIAMENT REMOVES ANOTHER PRESIDENTIAL POWER . . . The Slovak parliament on 13 July voted in favor of amending the law on the army to transfer the power to appoint the chief of staff from the president to the government, Pravda and Reuters reported. The parliament passed the amendment in June, but President Michal Kovac sent it back to the parliament for further discussion, where it required only a simple majority to be passed again. Before the 13 July vote, the coalition refused to allow Kovac's chief of staff, Jan Findra, to explain the president's reasons for vetoing the amendment. Opposition Party of the Democratic Left Chairman Peter Weiss said this refusal showed a "deep lack of political culture." Kovac has been embroiled in a feud with Premier Vladimir Meciar. Earlier this year, the parliament removed the president's power to appoint the Slovak Information Service chief and passed a non-binding no-confidence vote in Kovac. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. . . . AND PASSES MORE ECONOMIC LEGISLATION. Also on 13 July, the parliament approved a law on the protection of state privatization interests, which includes a list of strategic firms to be excluded from privatization. The parliament also passed two amendments to laws on securities and investment firms and funds. In a press conferences on 13 July, the Democratic Union and the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) expressed sharp criticism to the amendment canceling the second wave of coupon privatization (see OMRI Daily Digest, 13 July 1995). DU Deputy Chairman Roman Kovac warned that the amendment will cause a deceleration of, if not a complete halt to, the economic transformation process. KDH Deputy Chairman Mikulas Dzurinda called the amendment "unconstitutional and needlessly confusing. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK TRADE UNIONS CALL FOR PUBLIC PROTEST. In an open letter dated 13 July, Slovak Confederation of Trade Unions (KOZ) President Alojz Englis called on all trade unions to organize public discussions and support rallies during July and August, Sme reports. According to Englis, the government failed to accept requests from the KOZ not to increase public transportation fees on 1 July without adequate compensation for the socially disadvantaged. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. FAR LEFT HUNGARIAN PARTY WANTS REFERENDUM ON NATO MEMBERSHIP. Gyula Thurmer, leader of Hungary's extraparliamentary Labor Party, said on 13 July that his party will urge a referendum on whether Hungary should join NATO. He maintained that the people rather than politicians should decide the issue and that the decision should be made before Hungary and NATO reach an agreement on admission. "Hungarians are concerned about this problem and the majority have sufficient information about the advantages and disadvantages of NATO membership to be able to decide," he noted. Thurmer also said he was aware that the government wanted a referendum on joining NATO when talks on conditions for admission had been completed, but Thurmer argued that was leaving it too late. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE "BIGGEST 'ETHNIC CLEANSING' YET IN THE BOSNIAN CONFLICT." This is how the VOA on 13 July described the expulsion of some 30,000 mainly Muslim refugees from the Dutch base at Potocari, north of Srebrenica, to Bosnian government lines and ultimately to makeshift camps in Tuzla. Only some 400 refugees remain at Potocari, from where the Serbs have taken 55 Dutch peacekeepers hostage. It is unclear where the Serbs got the vehicles and the fuel to mount such a huge and obviously well- planned operation. Familiar patterns of systematic Serbian behavior have emerged once again: terrified civilians dumped on the edge of a heavily- mined no-man's land that had to be crossed in darkness; military-age men carted off in another direction for "screening"; young women abducted and not heard from again; and robberies, abuses, and rapes reported. One UN spokesman said "there is no justification in the world" for the Serbs' actions. Another told Reuters that "the scale of the operation has been flabbergasting." AFP quoted Bosnian Serb commander General Ratko Mladic as saying that "all the civilians who expressed the desire to leave the enclave were evacuated this afternoon." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SILAJDZIC SAYS SERBS "POISED FOR THE KILL" AROUND ZEPA. The BBC on 14 July said that Bosnia's prime minister believes that the UN-declared "safe area" at Zepa is next on the Serbs' list as they seek to eliminate government-held pockets and free up their scarce manpower for use elsewhere. Berlin's Tageszeitung the previous day reported that the remote area consists of the villages of Luka, Slap, and Zepa and is of no strategic value. Some 15-20,000 mainly Muslim refugees are gathered in the valley by Mt. Zlovrh. AFP quoted Bosnian Serb authorities as claiming that "representatives" from Zepa and the "safe area" of Gorazde are ready to recognize Pale's authority. Bosnian Serb officials said that "all the inhabitants of the two enclaves who wish to will be transferred in total security to the limits of Serbian control." Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic added that he hopes to conquer Bihac, Tuzla, and Sarajevo as well. The International Herald Tribune noted on 14 July that the Serbs have told Zepa's 79 Ukrainian peacekeepers to leave. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. CONFUSION IN THE WHITE HOUSE . . . Karadzic called for a new international peace conference to "ratify" his forces' control of 70% of Bosnia's territory, AFP reported on 13 July. The VOA and the French news agency said that U.S. President Bill Clinton dubbed the fall of Srebrenica "a serious challenge to the UN mission," adding that "unless we can restore the integrity of the UN mission, obviously its days would be numbered." He agreed in telephone conversations with his French counterpart Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl that one should "reinforce the UN mission" and that the allies should have a common policy, but he did not spell out what that policy is. Clinton added that the arms embargo against the Bosnian government could be lifted only in concert with the allies and if the UN mission collapsed. Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali has dispatched mediator Thorvald Stoltenberg to the region. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. . . . WHILE FRANCE DEMANDS ACTION. But Paris seems intent on showing that its calls for a tough response to the Serbs are more than just posturing. AFP on 14 July reports that France wants an immediate reply from its Western allies on its call for military intervention to defend the UN "safe areas" from the Serbs. "The situation cannot wait," Defense Minister Charles Millon told the radio station France Inter. "If in 48 hours we do not have a response on the part of the Western powers, France will have to draw the conclusions." Millon did not specify what measures he has in mind but said the French contribution to the Rapid Reaction Force is ready to act. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. AND THE LESSONS FROM IT ALL? International media continued to discuss the significance of the fall of Srebrenica, and virtually all agreed it was a watershed. Some commentators wrote that UNPROFOR must remain because its key task is to ensure the delivery of relief shipments. Some questioned whether this point is valid, since the Serbs block most convoys and value the soldiers chiefly as hostages. Other observers noted that UNPROFOR may have to stay, since any withdrawal could be fraught with dangers. The VOA on 13 July quoted one top U.S. diplomat as calling the fall of Srebrenica the greatest Western collective failure since the 1930s. One commentator added that all diplomatic efforts in Bosnia to date have lacked a serious threat of force and that force "is the only language" the Serbian leaderships in Belgrade and Pale seem to understand. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. KONTIC CALLS FOR "FAIR SOLUTION." Rump Yugoslav Prime Minister Radoje Kontic has called for "the immediate cessation of all military operations and direct talks between the warring parties (in Bosnia) on the basis of the 'Contact Group' peace plan," international agencies reported. Kontic did not mention the capture of Srebrenica but added he opposed "military pressure or war by anyone." He also said he was opposed to bringing in external military factors or to a retreat of UNPROFOR or a modification of their mandate. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. GREEK VOLUNTEERS FOUGHT ALONGSIDE BOSNIAN SERBS. AFP on 13 July reported that a dozen Greek volunteers fought along Bosnian Serbs who captured Srebrenica. According to a report in the Greek daily Ethnos, they raised the Greek flag over the town's destroyed Orthodox church. Since the start of the war, about 100 Greeks have fought in a "guard of volunteers" based in Vlasenica, in central Bosnia. They were recruited in Belgrade, and liaison offices have been set up in Athens and Thessaloniki. A student working in one of the offices said he received may calls from "patriotic" candidates and claimed to have fought himself in Bosnia for six months. He added the Greek authorities "never caused any problems" and that the Greek intelligence service was in touch with the volunteers. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN PRESIDENT ON HUNGARIAN MINORITY DEMANDS, RELATED ISSUES. Presidential spokesman Traian Chebeleu on 12 July said President Ion Iliescu "appreciates" the Romanian-ethnic parliamentary parties unanimous rejection of the "unjustified and exaggerated demands" of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR), Radio Bucharest reported. With regard to the appeal addressed to Iliescu by Gheorghe Funar, leader of the Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR) (see OMRI Daily Digest, 12 July 1995), Chebeleu said in the future, Iliescu will "ignore the personal opinions" of the PUNR leader and take into consideration only the collective views of his party's Standing Bureau. In a message to graduates of the National Defense College, Iliescu said the same day that Europe was "still menaced" by the revival of "ultranationalist, xenophobic, [and] separatist" views that "feed some revisionist and irredentist-linked autonomous tendencies." -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIA'S FIRST NUCLEAR REACTOR TO BEGIN OPERATING BY YEAR'S END. An official at the Cernavoda nuclear power station said Romania's first nuclear facility will be in service by the end of the year, Reuters reported on 13 July. Carmen Stancu, spokeswoman for the station on the Danube, said the nuclear reactor's primary circuit will be loaded with heavy water this week and the generator will be connected to the national grid by year's end. The plant was loaded with uranium last month. The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency monitored that operation. Cernavoda was begun more than 15 years ago. Work was interrupted in 1990 when a survey revealed that almost 40% of the welding was faulty. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN-HUNGARIAN MILITARY HOT LINE? Radio Bucharest on 13 July reported that Romanian Chief of Staff Col. Gen. Dumitru Cioflina and Hungarian Minister of Defense Gyorgy Keleti have agreed to set up a hot line between the countries' defense ministries. The line should begin functioning this autumn and will be installed with U.S. help. Romanian TV, however, reported only that "the possibility" of installing such a link has been discussed. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES LOCAL ELECTION LAW. The National Assembly on 13 July passed the law on local elections on its second reading, Demokratsiya reported the following day. Under the new legislation, the three mayoral candidates who receive the most votes in the first round of elections take part in the second. The opposition objected to this provision, saying it favors the governing Bulgarian Socialist Party. Opposition deputies demanded that either the two best-placed candidates or all candidates who gain a certain percentage go on to the second round. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT ADOPTS SECURITY CONCEPT. RFE/RL on 13 July reported that the Bulgarian government has adopted a national security concept that provides for the eventual drafting of a national military and foreign relations doctrine. Defense Minister Dimitar Pavlov said the document called for civilian control over the country's defense system. Bulgaria will strive to be a factor of peace and stability in the region, he added. The security concept will be submitted to the parliament, which will decide whether to adopt it as law or consider it as offering guidelines. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. GREEK EXTREMISTS CHARGED WITH MURDER OF ALBANIAN SOLDIERS. A former Greek army officer and a former Greek police officer on 13 July were charged with the murder of two Albanian soldiers during a cross-border raid in April 1994, Reuters reported the same day. The extreme-right Northern Epirus Liberation Front (MAVI) claimed responsibility for the attack on an Albanian army camp in Peshkepi, where 15 Kalashnikov rifles were stolen. The weapons were found in a crackdown on MAVI members last March, which led to the arrest of eight men who were charged with illegal possession of firearms. New evidence led Prosecutor Apostolos Papatheodorou to charge the two former officers with murder. Under Greek law, the six other men cannot be charged in Greece with murders committed on Albanian soil, since they are Albanian citizens. Instead, they have been charged with endangering Greek relations with a neighboring country and risking war. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. GREEK-ALBANIAN COMMISSION MEET IN TIRANA. The joint Greek-Albanian commission met in Tirana on 13 July, Lajmi i Dites reported the same day. Albanian Deputy Foreign Minister Arian Starova and Greek Secretary- General in the Foreign Ministry Konstantinos Georgiou discussed juridical and diplomatic questions as well as border and defense relations. The talks also focused on work migration, education, and cultural and economic cooperation. -- 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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