|The burnt child shuns the fire until the next day. - Mark Twain|
No. 139, Part II, 19 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 UKRAINE WANTS TROOPS OUT OF ZEPA. Volodymyr Yelchenko, head of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry's UN department, has urged the UN to withdraw Ukraine's troops from the enclaves of Zepa and Gorazde to avoid a "huge tragedy," international agencies reported on 18 July. Bosnian Muslims are threatening to use 79 Ukrainian peacekeepers in Zepa as a shield against attacks by Bosnian Serbs. Meanwhile, Bosnian Serbs have reportedly surrounded Ukrainian peacekeepers with land mines near Zepa and have threatened to kill them if NATO uses air strikes. Yelchenko said there were no plans to withdraw Ukrainian peacekeepers from Bosnia, but he urged the UN to use its new Rapid Reaction Force to rescue them from the besieged enclaves. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev has warned against using the RRF to rescue the Ukrainians. He said that while the safety of the peacekeepers was a priority, such a use would change the RRF's role from peacekeeping to fighting and therefore make the UN a party to the conflict. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. POLICE BEAT MOURNERS AT UKRAINIAN PATRIARCH'S FUNERAL. Police clashed with mourners in an attempt to prevent them from burying Volodymyr Romanyuk, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in St. Sophia's Cathedral on 18 July, international agencies reported. Members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church had requested permission to bury the patriarch on the grounds of the cathedral, which is a national monument administered by the government. Liberals in the government upheld the request but were overruled. About 1,000 mourners disregarded the government's decision and marched toward St. Sophia's, where they dug an improvised grave. This prompted riot police to use water cannons, tear gas, and truncheons to stop them. The patriarch was finally buried in the makeshift grave. Meanwhile, the decision to deploy riot police at the funeral was criticized by nationalist politicians. The government will meet to determine who ordered their deployment and where the patriarch should be buried. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. LITHUANIAN PRIME MINISTER IN BELARUS. Adolfas Slezevicius met with his Belarusian counterpart, Mikhail Chyhir, in Minsk on 18 July, BNS and Belarusian Radio reported. The purpose of the visit is to discuss the implementation and ratification of agreements between the two countries. Slezevicius said that earlier agreements have not been implemented because both sides lack the funds to realize them and because trade between the two countries is not developing. The prime ministers are also to discuss supplies of Lithuanian electricity to Belarus and the export of oil products from Belarus through the Lithuanian port of Klaipeda. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. ESTONIA WILL NOT GIVE RUSSIAN LANGUAGE OFFICIAL STATUS. The Estonian government on 18 July rejected proposals by the Narva and Sillamae municipal governments to allow the Russian language to be used for official documents in those cities, BNS reported. It said that the use of Russian in local government would contravene the country's language laws. Justice Minister Paul Varul had said previously that the language law needed to be changed to take into account the situation in the two cities, where Russians make up over 95% of the population. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. EBRD CREDITS TO ESTONIA. As of 5 July, the EBRD made 1.73 billion kroons ($155 million) available to Estonia in loans, BNS reported on 18 July. So far, Estonia has claimed only one-quarter of the funds, having recently decided not to use the remainder. Some 320 million kroons have been made available for renewing Tallinn's sewage system, 148 million kroons for increasing equity capital in the Estonian Savings Bank, and 157 million kroons for an environmental project. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. POLISH PREMIER CRITICIZES PRESIDENT'S VETO OVER PRIVATIZATION BILL. Jozef Oleksy on 18 July said that President Lech Walesa's veto over the privatization and commercialization bill is "disadvantageous for millions of workers at state firms and for hundreds of thousands of farmers," Polish and international media reported. The bill gives the Sejm a decisive say over the sale of key industries. The ruling left wing coalition of the Alliance of Democratic Left and the Polish Peasant Party is just a few votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to overrule the veto. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. CZECHS PROTEST EU ANTI-DUMPING INVESTIGATION. Czech Trade and Industry Minister Vladimir Dlouhy on 18 July said he intends to protest investigations by EU anti-dumping officials against Czech steel producers. "The firms are acting in accordance with all laws and regulations, and therefore we support them," he told journalists. Czech steel producers denied the dumping charges, brought by the dominant German-led steel producers association Eurofer. They stressed they were respecting quota limitations. Eurofer is concerned that Czech producers, who have raised their share of the EU steel market from 1.7% in 1991 to almost 5%, could make further inroads if quotas are abolished next year, Mlada fronta dnes wrote. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK HUNGARIAN LEADERS IN U.S. Laszlo Nagy, leader of the Hungarian Civic Party in Slovakia, told journalists on 18 July that the United States is preparing "more energetic steps to protect democracy in Slovakia," Sme reported on 19 July. Nagy last week visited the U.S. with the leaders of the two other parties in Slovakia's Hungarian coalition. He said American officials with whom they spoke expressed the opinion that Slovakia is out of line with the other countries of the Visegrad Four in terms of the development of economic transformation and the protection of human and minority rights. Nagy also met with financier George Soros, whom Slovak governing parties want to declare persona non grata for remarks critical of Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar. Nagy said Soros was well informed about the situation in Slovakia. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIA DENIES LINKS WITH HUNGARIAN DEATH TRUCK. Romanian police have denied any local links with the deaths of 18 Sri Lankans found in a truck in Hungary (see OMRI Daily Digest, 17 July 1995), Reuters reported. Hungarian police, suspecting that the Sri Lankans joined the Bulgarian truck in Romania, have been searching for two Romanian drivers. The Romanian Foreign Ministry has declined to comment on the issue. Meanwhile, Bulgarian police say they are looking for members of an international gang believed to be involved in the smuggling of Tamil immigrants through the Balkans to Western Europe. Bulgarian Interior Minister Lyubomir Nachev was quoted as saying that information received by his ministry shows there is a "widespread, well-organized system for smuggling people from Asia." Nineteen Sri Lankans who survived the ordeal have been arrested and may be repatriated. -- Jan Cleave, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE KARADZIC THREATENS WEST, DEFENDERS OF GORAZDE. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic on 19 July demanded that Bosnian government soldiers in Gorazde surrender "immediately." He apparently did not say what would happen if they did not. AFP noted that he also claimed that "our forces will restore order and peace" in Gorazde, which, he said, was a base for attacks against the Serbian army. Karadzic also warned outside powers against trying to protect the UN-designated "safe area" and threatened to blast intruding aircraft or helicopters out of the sky. "We will not allow foreign armed forces to protect our enemies," he concluded. Meanwhile, Nasa Borba reported that a delegation from Karadzic is in Rome to seek Pope John Paul II's intervention to end the conflict. Since Serbian propaganda has demonized the Vatican throughout the Wars of the Yugoslav Succession, it is difficult to guess what Karadzic now has in mind--except possibly to embarrass the pontiff. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SITUATION IN ZEPA "GROWS MORE SERIOUS BY THE HOUR." This is how the VOA on 19 July described the fate of the UN-designated "safe area" most likely to fall next to the Serbs. Bosnian Serb forces are continuing their mortar and artillery assault, which enables them to avoid a potentially costly infantry attack. They have also been shelling Gorazde, and AFP said that Krajina Serb forces have launched "an intense attack" on Bihac. The Serbs, who suffer from a manpower shortage, now appear to be attacking three "safe areas" at once, rather than picking them off one-by-one. Meanwhile in Tuzla, refugees from Srebrenica reported that they were chased by Serbs wearing UN insignia and driving UN vehicles. -- Patrick Moore (see related item under Ukraine), OMRI, Inc. CONFUSION REIGNS OVER INTERNATIONAL ROLE IN CONFLICT. AFP on 19 July suggested that the major Western powers are unlikely to agree on a coherent approach when top officials meet in London on 21 July. The British want "the same old UN policy of containment," while the French seek to reinforce the defense of Gorazde on the ground. President Bill Clinton and his top security advisers, however, have set down their latest Bosnian policy. It calls for decisive air strikes outside the UN command structure against the Serbs. Secretary of State Warren Christopher said that "it's common ground now that the status quo cannot be maintained." The administration is under pressure from the French to stop Serbian aggression, and the Republican majority in Congress wants to lift the arms embargo against the Bosnian government. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. MILOSEVIC FINDS FRIEND IN ROMANIA. Romanian Radio and TV on 18 July reported on the visit by Adrian Nastase, chairman of the Chamber of Deputies and former foreign minister, to Serbia and Montenegro. He met with President Slobodan Milosevic and other top officials. The Romanians stressed their willingness to help reintegrate Belgrade into European structures and the need for a negotiated settlement in Bosnia with the involvement of Serbia. Above all, Nastase called for the lifting of sanctions, which adversely affect Romania and Serbia's other neighbors. Serbia and Romania have traditionally had good relations and are now governed by former communist elites. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. WOMEN STAGE HUNGER STRIKE IN SERBIA. Nasa Borba on 19 July reported that for the past two days, three women have staged a hunger strike outside Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's offices in Belgrade. All three women have male relatives who have been kidnapped by the Serbian authorities and press-ganged for military service. Belgrade authorities began rounding up ethnic Serbian refugees on 11 June from among those who had fled to the province of Vojvodina. The refugees were then enlisted for military service in Serb-conquered territory outside rump Yugoslavia (see OMRI Daily Digest, 22 June 1995). -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. ISRAEL, JORDAN TO COOPERATE ON BOSNIAN REFUGEE AID. A spokeswoman for Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin told AFP on 18 July that King Hussein telephoned to suggest that Israel send troops to support Jordan's 2,000 men in protecting the Muslims. Rabin ruled out dispatching ground forces but will coordinate relief work with Jordan. Israel says it is the only Middle Eastern country to host Bosnian Muslim refugees, having settled 90 of them on a kibbutz in 1993. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS SACKED IN MACEDONIA. Six senior and about 150 lower-ranking government officials in Macedonia have been sacked in a crackdown on corruption, Reuters and MIC reported on 18 July. The six senior officials included civil servants at the Foreign and Urbanism Ministries as well as four trade inspectors. The crackdown focused on, among others, the Foreign Ministry's economic department and the Ministry for Agriculture, where officials are suspected of illegally issuing import permits for pesticides. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. BONN, PARIS REMIND ROMANIA OF EU CONDITIONS. Reuters on 18 July reported that Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu's talks in Paris with his German and French counterparts focused on Romania's prospective EU membership and human rights issues. A joint statement carried by Radio Bucharest said France and Germany support Romania's drive to become more closely associated with European and Transatlantic bodies such as the EU, NATO, and the OSCE. French Foreign Minister Herve de Charette said it was not possible to set a timetable for Romania's EU membership, adding that intensified economic reform, privatization, and the development of a market economy are the key conditions. De Charette also said that he and German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel told Melescanu they would like to see rapid agreement between Romania and Hungary on minority rights. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIA'S CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULES ON EDUCATION LAW . . . Romania's Constitutional Court on 18 July unanimously ruled that the law on education passed by the parliament on 28 June is constitutionally legal. The Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR), backed by several members of opposition parties, asked the court to examine the law. Radio Bucharest said the court concluded that the law respected not only the Romanian Constitution but also the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and all other international treaties to which Romania is a signatory. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. . . . WHILE HUNGARIAN MINORITY PREPARES PROTESTS. The UDMR, in a statement carried by Romanian Television on 18 July, announced a number of protest actions against the education law. It said it will appeal to all European governments and international bodies as well as to the Council of Europe's commission on national minorities. The heads of the Churches of which the Magyars are members will protest the law in Strasbourg, and the UDMR's youth organization will organize a march to that city to deliver a list of 500,000 supporters of a legislative initiative on a proposed education law. The initiative was ignored by the parliament. Protest meetings will also be organized in the Transylvanian towns of Targu Secuiesc and Odorhei. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. SMIRNOV ADAMANT ABOUT STATEHOOD DEMAND. Igor Smirnov, president of the breakaway Transdniestrian region, said statehood was the "only guarantee" that agreements between Tiraspol and Chisinau would be respected, Infotag reported on 18 July. Smirnov told Transdniestrian leaders and representatives of public organizations, industrial management, and mass media that Moldovan President Mircea Snegur had "sidestepped" the Transdniestrian demand for statehood at their last meeting, saying that Tiraspol was ready to submit the problem to a referendum. Smirnov also said he supported Ukrainian participation in the talks on reaching a settlement but objected to Romanian participation. He noted there was a need to demarcate what he termed as the "Transdniestrian-Ukrainian border." -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN PRESIDENT CRITICIZES GOVERNMENT POLICIES. Zhelyu Zhelev, in an interview with Standart on 19 July, criticized Prime Minister Zhan Videnov's government for not implementing economic reforms and failing to deal effectively with crime and corruption. Zhelev said that while the economic situation seems to be improving, this may only be a seasonal phenomenon. He noted that to achieve a lasting improvement, mass privatization has to be launched and land restitution continued. With regard to growing crime and corruption, Zhelev said the government has failed completely because the Bulgarian Socialist Party is "genetically connected" to criminal circles. He urged the opposition to cooperate in the upcoming local elections but also criticized it for not taking enough action on many issues. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES ARMY LAW. The National Assembly on 19 July adopted the law on defense and the armed forces, Bulgarian media reported the same day. According to the law, the parliament is empowered to declare war and conclude peace, ratify international conventions, and adopt long-term programs for the army's development. It also decides on dispatching troops abroad and has to approve the deployment of foreign troops in Bulgaria or their transit through the country. The parliament can also declare a state of war or emergency at the request of the president or the government. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT REVIEWS MEDIA STATUTE. The Constitutional Court on 18 July began reviewing the constitutionality of a provisional statute on national radio and TV, Kontinent reported. Prosecutor-General Ivan Tatarchev asked the court to do so, claiming that the current provisions violate the constitution, which provides for the independence of the media and forbids censorship. At present, the state media are controlled by the parliamentary commission on TV, radio, and the Bulgarian Press Agency. Among other things, the commission controls TV and radio programming schedules, which, Tatarchev argued, constitutes censorship. He also said that the commission is not empowered to take decisions on it own and that by doing so, it violates the constitution. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. EX-LEADER OF ALBANIAN YOUTH FORUM RECEIVES REDUCED SENTENCE FOR SMUGGLING. The Albanian Supreme Court has sentenced Arben Lika, former leader of the Albanian Youth Forum and former deputy for the Democratic Party, to 14 months in prison for smuggling cigarettes, Populli PO reported on 19 July. Lika was initially sentenced to a two-year prison term, but an appeals court increased his sentence to three years at the request of the Prosecutor's Office. Lika had hoped to be released following the latest ruling, but the court reportedly decided that he has "some days left" to spend in prison. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIAN-ITALIAN POLICE SEEK TO IMPROVE COOPERATION. Italian Ambassador to Albania Paolo Foresti has met with the police chief of Vlora, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 19 July. The two men, together with high-ranking officials of the countries' secret services, discussed measures to combat the illegal migration of Kurds and Chinese from Albania to Italy. Following a meeting with Pjeter Arbnori, speaker of the Albanian parliament, Foresti said both countries are working to improve cooperation against organized crime. An Italian parliamentary delegation focusing on Mafia activities is expected to visit Albania on 25 July, BETA reported on 18 July. -- 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. 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