|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
No. 140, Part II, 20 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 REACTION TO VIOLENCE AT UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX PATRIARCH'S FUNERAL. Metropolitan Filaret of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the Kiev Patriarchate, and nationalist lawmakers denounced Ukraine's leadership the day after riot police used tear gas and beat mourners and clergy with truncheons as they tried to bury Patriarch Volodymyr in the grounds of St. Sophia's Cathedral, international agencies reported 19 July. Filaret, widely seen as Volodymyr's successor, accused the government of trying to crush Ukraine's largest independent Orthodox Church by brutally attacking the funeral procession. Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Roman Shpek said an investigation was under way. Interior Minister Yurii Kravchenko said the Church was at fault for allowing uniformed members of the extremist nationalist group UNA-UNSO to play a prominent role. Eight members of the group were detained. A leader of the Russian Orthodox Church told Russian TV that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church's decision in 1992 to split from the Moscow Patriarchate was to blame. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. SOROS NO LONGER TO ISSUE GRANTS IN BELARUS. The Soros Foundation has announced it will no longer give grants in Belarus because President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has refused to exempt the foundation from taxes and import duties, Reuters reported on 19 July. According to Soros spokeswoman Veronika Begun, an agreement was reached between philanthropist George Soros and Lukashenka on granting the fund charity status, but the fund was omitted from the official list of charities, making it liable to a 40% tax. Belarusian presidential spokesman Uladzimir Zamyatalin dismissed the foundation's complaint as an "artificial conflict." He said some of its activities were tax exempt but its call for importing equipment duty-free was unjustified. The Soros Foundation has distributed grants worth $4 million over the past two years in Belarus and was intending to issue $5 million this year. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. LATVIAN GOVERNMENT PASSES BANKING BILLS. The Latvian government on 18 July passed three bills regulating the banking sector on their first reading , BNS reported. The draft laws cover commercial banks, supervision over banks in general, and compensation for people who lose deposits through banks' bankruptcy. The Saeima's Budget and Finance Committee the previous day rejected the government's intention of passing the bills, and proposed submitting them to the parliament for consideration. Under the Latvian Constitution, the cabinet has the right to pass regulations with the force of law in urgent cases when the Saeima is not in session. BNS also reported that Eizens Cepurnieks, the prime minister's adviser on economics, said that IMF credits will not be used to provide compensation for personal deposits in insolvent Latvian banks. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. LATVIA'S DEFENSE BUDGET. The Latvian Ministry of Defense has announced it will have a balanced budget as of 1996, BNS reported on 18 July. Einars Vaivods, director of the Defense Ministry's finance department, said that 36 million lats would be spent on 15 priority programs in the National Armed Forces. These include 2.5 million lats ($12.5 million) for Latvia's participation in NATO's Partnership for Peace program. Money will also be spent on equipment and weapons for the armed forces, which have received insufficient funding in recent years. Latvia's participation in peacekeeping operations in former Yugoslavia is considered part of a government program, and Vaivods said the government should fund those operations from the state budget. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. UNCLEAR PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARIES IN POLAND. The Polish press has published the results of presidential primaries organized on 1 July by St. Catherine's Convent, a committee uniting 14 right-of-center political groups and the Solidarity trade union. According to Father Maj, the convent's trustee, former Prime Minster Jan Olszewski won the primaries, with Polish National Bank President Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz a close second and Confederation of Independent Poland leader Leszek Moczulski coming in third. But according to Teresa Skupien, the convent's spokesperson, Gronkiewicz-Waltz came first and Olszewski a close second. Gronkiewicz-Waltz said her candidacy, as yet undeclared, is very probable, Polish dailies reported. She has received more than 10% of the vote in recent opinion polls. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. MORE ARRESTS IN HUNGARIAN DEATH TRUCK CASE. Bulgarian police on 19 July arrested Plamen Trifonov, a businessman who hired the truck in which 18 Sri Lankans were found dead in Hungary (see OMRI Daily Digest, 17 July 1995). International agencies reported that Trifonov was put under 24- hour preliminary arrest in Kardhzali and was transferred to Sofia where he will be questioned. He was arrested in 1992 for trying to smuggle 24 Asians to Italy, but investigations were halted. The owner of the truck was arrested on 16 July, and according to Trud on 20 July, three more people were arrested by Bulgarian police on 19 July. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARY REACHES AGREEMENT ON JEWISH PROPERTY ISSUE. The Hungarian government on 19 July reached an agreement with the World Jewish Restitution Organization and Hungarian Jewish groups on establishing how to restitute property seized from Jews during World War II, Reuters reported. Two sub-committees are to be set up in Hungary: one to settle the legal and technical aspects of compensating former owners, the other to examine restitution claims. The committees will present reports by the end of September. Israel Singer, co-chairman of the WJRO and secretary-general of the New-York based World Jewish Congress, said the accord is a major breakthrough. "Hungary will be the first country in central and eastern Europe to look at this issue in a very overall and comprehensive way," he added. Like Hungary, Slovakia last year reached an agreement in principle on restituting former Jewish property. Negotiations with the Polish government are still under way. -- Jan Cleave, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE HAS ZEPA FALLEN? Bosnian Serb commander General Ratko Mladic said the civilian authorities in the besieged UN-designated "safe area" surrendered during the evening of 19 July. He added that wounded Muslims will be evacuated to Sarajevo and that other civilians "who want it" will start to be transported to government-controlled Kladanj on the afternoon of 20 July. International media reported, however, that Mladic's statement, which was carried by SRNA, has not been confirmed. Reuters said that the picture from Sarajevo is confused, while AFP quoted Ukrainian peacekeepers in Zepa as saying that the town has not fallen. The Serbs have previously claimed that towns have surrendered when this was not the case. BETA quoted the mayor of Zepa as saying that panic has broken out. Meanwhile, Krajina Serb forces continue to pound Bihac with the help of troops loyal to local Muslim renegade Fikret Abdic. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. "GENOCIDE" IN SREBRENICA. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 20 July reported on a controversy in Holland over blunt remarks by Minister for Economic Development Pronk following his return from Tuzla. Pronk told the media that "we should not allow ourselves to be treated as fools by people who say that nothing [about atrocities by Serbs in Srebrenica] has been confirmed.... There were real massacres. We knew that this could happen. The Serbs have done this many times. That which is going on is genocide." Other politicians have criticized Pronk for violating the "policy of restraint" lest the Serbs take revenge on Dutch peacekeepers. UN special envoy Yasushi Akashi said that he knows nothing about genocide in Srebrenica. Nasa Borba reported that the new Serbian authorities there are restoring utilities and have invited Serbian families who fled in 1992 to return. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. FRANCE WANTS U.S. TO FACE UP TO ITS RESPONSIBILITIES. President Bill Clinton on 19 July had telephone conversations with other Western leaders, but they have yet to agree on a joint approach to keep the Serbs out of Gorazde and Sarajevo. All agree that something must be done, but the Americans favor massive air strikes against a variety of targets while the French want U.S. helicopters to ferry 1,000 of their troops into Gorazde. The White House is afraid of Americans being killed or captured by the Serbs, who would certainly target the helicopters. Washington also faces problems, however, if nothing is done and UNPROFOR withdraws, since it is committed to providing ground troops to help the evacuation. French officials say that the U.S. must stop dodging its international responsibilities and bear a fair share of the burden in Bosnia. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. KARADZIC SAYS HE'S NOT AFRAID OF ARMS FOR BOSNIAN GOVERNMENT. The VOA on 20 July reported that Senator Bob Dole will postpone a vote on his measure to lift the arms embargo against the Bosnian government until after Western security officials meet on 21 July. BETA quoted Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic as saying that he is not worried about "the Muslims" getting more arms, since they already have good weapons but are still poor fighters. The independent Belgrade news agency also reported that Bosnian Croat leader Kresimir Zubak denied French charges that he is "sabotaging" deployment of the new Rapid Reaction Force. Zubak, who is also president of the Croatian-Muslim federation, accused the troops of haughtiness and said that "we are neither bandits nor a colony." He added that the RRF must have and respect a clearly defined mandate. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. FOUR YEARS OF ANTI-WAR ACTION IN SERBIA. The Center for Anti-War Action, located in Belgrade, is marking its fourth anniversary, Nasa Borba reported on 20 July. Since its founding, the center has been involved in creating a network of activists opposed to Belgrade's regional war policies. It has evolved into a pressure group linking journalists, human rights activists, social workers, and refugee aid workers. Also, it has helped establish the Internet e-mail network "Zamir." -- Fabian Schmidt and Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. MONTENEGRIN GOVERNMENT SNUBS PALE. Montena-fax on 19 July reported that the Montenegrin government recently refused demands by Serbian authorities in the self proclaimed Republic of Srpska in Bosnia to forcibly mobilize ethnic Serb refugees from outside the rump Yugoslavia who have fled to Montenegro. Montena-fax also notes, however, that uneasy feelings run rife through the refugee community in Montenegro. Members of Pale's police force have been spotted on Podgorica streets, causing refugees to "live in fear" of being kidnapped for military service. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RETURNS RESTITUTION LAW TO PARLIAMENT. The Constitutional Court on 19 July unanimously voted to return to the parliament a law on the restitution of property passed by the legislature last month. The court said two articles in the law violate the constitutional rights of freedom of travel and owning property, Radio Bucharest and Reuters reported. The law would limit restitution to Romanian residents, excluding citizens who live abroad. It also does not distinguish between property legally seized by the state and property taken by the Communists without title. The court argued that property illegally seized would have to be returned. Under the law, only people residing in properties they once owned would be entitled to get them back. Restitution would extend only to one property per owner. Non- resident owners would be entitled to cash payouts well below the value of their properties. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN BUCHAREST. Laszlo Kovacs on 19 July began talks in Bucharest with his Romanian counterpart, Teodor Melscanu. Romanian media and Reuters reported that the two men discussed bilateral relations and points of disagreement over the basic treaty. Melescanu said Romania made several proposals on the inclusion of Recommendation 1201 in the treaty and that Kovacs commented on those proposals. "We have narrowed down the points of disagreement," he said. Kovacs said that the two sides must now find "new formulas with the help of experts." In an interview with Duna television cited by Radio Bucharest on 20 July, Kovacs said four points have to be clarified before the basic treaty can be signed: the right of ethnic Hungarians to conduct official business in their mother tongue; their right to set up ethnic parties; the inclusion in the basic treaty of internationally accepted documents, particularly Recommendation 1201; and what was termed as the "problem of the censorship mechanism." -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. OPINION POLL SHOWS INTERETHNIC DIFFERENCES IN ROMANIA. According to an opinion poll conducted by the Bucharest-based Institute for Marketing and Social Research (IMAS) and published in Adevarul on 18 July, 56.9% of Romania's ethnic majority have a "bad opinion" of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR); 53.5% of ethnic Hungarians have a "good opinion" of that formation. The UDMR was perceived as a party that "defends the interests of the Magyars" by 80% of Romanians, while only 40% of Hungarian ethnics were of this opinion. Only 8% of Hungarians believe that the positions of the UDMR are "anti-Romanian," but 80% of Romanians shared this view. Nearly two in three Romanian ethnics (65%) believe the UDMR is serving the interests of neighboring Hungary, a view shared by 20% of Hungarian ethnics. Two Hungarian ethnics in five (40%) think that the UDMR puts its own party interests above those of its electorate, and 70% of Romanian respondents are of the same opinion. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINE TO STUDY PARTICIPATION IN TRANSDNIESTRIAN CONFLICT SETTLEMENT. Yevhen Levitsky, Ukraine's charge d'affairs in Moldova, told Infotag on 17 July that an official Ukrainian delegation will soon arrive in Moldova to study the possibility of Kiev's participation in the settlement of the Transdniestrian conflict. He said President Leonid Kuchma reacted positively to the joint Moldovan-Transdniestrian invitation to take part in the negotiation process. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATION IN BULGARIA. A Moldovan parliament delegation headed by parliament chairman Petru Lucinschi ended a three- day official visit to Bulgaria on 19 July, Bulgarian media reported the same day. The visitors met with President Zhelyu Zhelev, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, parliament chairman Blagovest Sendov, and Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski. They also held talks with the leaderships of all parties represented in the Bulgarian parliament, discussing, among other things, the situation of the Bulgarian minority in Moldova. Lucinschi commented that there are no "dark pages" in relations between the two countries. It was the first official visit of a Moldovan parliament delegation to Bulgaria since the country gained independence in 1991. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. SENIOR OFFICIALS AT BULGARIAN PRIVATIZATION AGENCY SACKED. Veselin Blagoev, executive director of the Privatization Agency, on 19 July dismissed five of the agency's senior officials, the Bulgarian press reported. Two deputy directors, the secretary-general, and two department directors were sacked "in the interest of [the agency's] work." Blagoev blamed them for the slow privatization process in the first half of 1995. According to Standart, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development Rumen Gechev was not consulted about the personnel changes. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIAN SUPREME COURT HEAD BRINGS CHARGES AGAINST FINANCE MINISTER. Zef Brozi, head of the Albanian Supreme Court, has brought charges against Finance Minister Dylber Vrioni for failing to fulfill his ministerial duties, BETA reported on 19 July. Brozi claims that for seven months, Vrioni blocked the release of the court's budget in an attempt to diminish the independence of the country's courts (see OMRI Daily Digest, 17 July 1995). -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. VAN DER STOEL IN ALBANIA, MACEDONIA. Max van der Stoel, OSCE high commissioner on national minorities, visited Albania and Macedonia on 19 July, Flaka and BETA reported. In Tirana, he was received by Albanian President Sali Berisha, who called on the OSCE to "actively protect the human and national rights of the Albanians in Kosovo." Berisha praised Van der Stoel for his efforts to help solve the conflict in Macedonia over higher education in Albanian. In Macedonia, Van der Stoel met with Abdurrahman Aliti, leader of the ethnic Albanian Party for Democratic Prosperity, and discussed ways of interpreting Article 48 of the Macedonian Constitution so as not to ban higher education in Albanian. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. KOSOVAR CHRISTIAN DEMOCRAT MEETS WITH ALBANIAN SOCIALISTS. Leaders of the Albanian Socialist Party met in Tirana on 19 July with Mark Krasniqi, leader of the Christian Democratic Party of Kosovo. The Socialists stressed that "it is necessary to unite all Albanians and political parties in Albania and Kosovo around the national question." Krasniqi earlier met with Albanian President Sali Berisha and Pjeter Arbnori, speaker of the Albanian parliament, BETA reported. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. TURKEY ARRESTS BULGARIAN CITIZENS. Turkish police have arrested between 1,200 and 1,500 ethnic Turkish Bulgarian citizens who were living illegally in Istanbul and detained them in a former army camp, the Bulgarian press reported on 20 July. Under Turkish law, they have to be expelled within 24 hours, but Turkey seems to fear the consequences of a mass expulsion to Bulgaria. Standart quotes Bulgarian Consul-General Kiril Momchilov as saying he has no information about the case. An agreement between the two countries states that the Bulgarian mission is to be informed about police action against illegal immigrants from Bulgaria. Relations between Turkey and Bulgaria were described as good by both sides during Turkish President Suleyman Demirel's visit to Bulgaria in early July. -- Stefan Krause, 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.
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.