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No. 142, Part II, 24 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 POLISH COALITION WINS SEJM VOTE. The Sejm on 21 July voted 293 to 142 to override President Lech Walesa's veto of contested "commercialization" legislation. First proposed by the Suchocka government in 1992 as part of the "pact on state firms," the legislation was initially designed to induce state firms to choose a form of privatization within six months. In its current form, however, the law contains provisions likely to delay privatization substantially. Turnout was high on both sides of the political barricades, with the government parties mustering just three votes more than the two-thirds majority required to win. Voting was strictly along party lines; even members of the ruling coalition who had earlier opposed the bill (including former Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak) supported it. The Solidarity union is planning to stage a general strike or demonstration in September to oppose the law. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. EBRD CREDITS TO UKRAINE. Ukrainian Radio on 23 July reported that next month, the EBRD will open a credit line to Ukraine worth $45 million. The funds are to be used for several projects in the country's aircraft industry located in Zaporizhzhya. In other news, an IMF delegation is in Ukraine for two weeks to assess the progress of economic reform and to evaluate whether credits granted by the IMF have been used efficiently. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. BELARUSIANS ON LUKASHENKA. The Independent Institute of Social, Economic, and Political Research conducted a poll in early July asking Belarusians to evaluate their president, Belarusian Radio reported on 21 July. According to the poll, 36% of Belarusians believe President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's performance is good. Also in early July, Interfax carried out a poll asking Belarusians to evaluate their country's leaders on a five-point scale. The president scored the highest with an average rating of 3.3. The Cabinet of Ministers followed with 2.38 and local authorities with 2.2. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. BELARUSIAN ECONOMIC UPDATE. The National Bank of Belarus is considering setting a minimal charter capital for banks at 5 million ECU ($6.25 million), Belarusian Radio reported on 20 July. Its aim is to control the movement of commercial banks' assets. Meanwhile, following an investigation by the president's control service, the commercial Belarusbank may have its license revoked because of irregularities in its hard currency dealings. In other news, representatives of small and medium-sized businesses have appealed to the Union of Enterprises to take measures to save small businesses. They argue that the country's laws and decrees are anti-market. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIAN DUMA RATIFIES JULY 1994 TREATIES WITH ESTONIA. The State Duma on 21 July ratified agreements on the withdrawal of Russian troops from Estonia and social guarantees for retired Russian military signed by Presidents Boris Yeltsin and Lennart Meri in July 1994, BNS reported. Estonian Foreign Ministry Deputy Chancellor Raul Malk noted that several questions remain unresolved, such as the departure of Russian military who retired from service after the signing of the agreements and compensation for environmental damage at the former Soviet bases. The Duma's International Affairs Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin expressed the hope that Estonia will also ratify the agreements soon. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LATVIA'S BUDGET DEFICIT. Finance Ministry press secretary Valdis Freidenfelds said on 21 July that in the first half of 1995, Latvia received 174.8 million lati ($340 million) in revenues but spent 218 million lati, BNS reported. Only 36.7% of the planned 1995 revenues were collected, while 42.7% were spent. The 43.2 million lati deficit was primarily covered by credits from the Bank of Latvia (31.4 million lati) and commercial banks (8 million lati). The State Treasury received on average 1.7 million lati a day in June and spent a similar amount. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. CZECH ARMY TO MODERNIZE MIG-21 JETS. The Czech Ministry of Defense has decided to modernize 24 MiG-21 jets, despite a recommendation by the parliamentary Security Committee not to do so, Mlada Fronta Dnes reported on 24 July. Defense Minister Vilem Holan last week said that only two MiG-21 jets would be modernized initially in order to establish whether to go ahead with all 24. According to ministry sources quoted by the daily, the ministry has asked four Czech firms to submit proposals on modernizing the planes. The upgrading is estimated to cost $135 million, while the purchase of new jet fighters from the West would reportedly cost $750-870 million. The proponents of the project have argued that the upgrading will increase the effectiveness of the MiG-21 jets to about 80% of the U.S. F-16 jets. Critics have argued that the modernization project is costly and ineffective in the long run. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. ETHNIC HUNGARIAN PARTY LEADER APOLOGIZES TO U.S., SLOVAK CABINET. Miklos Duray, chairman of the ethnic Hungarian Coexistence movement, apologized on 21 July to both the U.S. and the Slovak cabinet for statements made by him and his coalition partners when they returned from a recent U.S. visit (see OMRI Daily Digest, 19 July 1995). Duray said some statements made by Hungarian Civic Party Chairman Laszlo Nagy and Hungarian Christian Democratic Movement Chairman Bela Bugar may have caused misunderstandings and thus needed further explanation. Duray also said he could not confirm that U.S. representatives expressed themselves in the way his coalition partners had claimed, stressing that nothing was said that could be taken as an expression of U.S. interference in Slovakia's internal affairs. Bugar and Nagy, expressing surprise at Duray's apology, said it signaled a misunderstanding within the Hungarian coalition. They emphasized that because Duray had not consulted them, his apology could not be considered to represent the standpoint of the coalition as a whole, Sme and Pravda reported on 22 July. Duray's apology followed a statement by the U.S. embassy in Bratislava on 19 July denying some of the ethnic Hungarians' allegations. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. U.S.-HUNGARIAN EXERCISE ENDS. The first U.S.-Hungarian search-and-rescue exercise ended in western Hungary on 21 July, MTI reported. The final event was the simulated recovery of wounded troops after a jet fighter crashed into a military unit. Hungarian and American servicemen flew aboard each other's helicopters and performed parachute jumps from both Hungarian Mi-8 helicopters and American Cp130 transports. A Hungarian officer reported that the Americans had reconstructed a building at Szentkiralyszabadja airfield and "provided technical equipment for the Hungarian Air Force." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE WESTERN ALLIES PUT SERBS ON NOTICE. International media on 24 July reported that British, French, and U.S. representatives the previous day warned Bosnian Serb commander General Ratko Mladic that "massive and unprecedented" air strikes awaited the Bosnian Serbs should they attack Gorazde or other "safe areas" in Bosnia-Herzegovina. It appears that this warning, as well as the vaguer formulations issued in London by the Contact Group on 22 July, apply to Sarajevo, Tuzla, and Bihac, but not to embattled Zepa. The allies told the Serbs that there can be "no military solution" in Bosnia and that further attacks against the UN-designated zones "cannot be tolerated." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. DID THE FRENCH BOMB PALE? Fighting continued over the weekend around Zepa, where the Bosnian government defenders refuse to surrender and be killed wholesale by the Serbs, which seems to have been the fate of the Muslim troops in Srebrenica. International media on 24 July also said that Serbs killed two French peacekeepers on 22 July and that an unidentified bomb appeared to have hit Pale the next day. Liberation reported that the device came from a French Mirage aircraft, which President Jacques Chirac allegedly ordered personally to attack the home of someone close to Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic. AFP reported that Chirac's office denied the story, but the French news agency later reported that a general alert has been declared in Pale after three unidentified aircraft dropped several bombs on the morning of 24 July. Meanwhile, hundreds of British and French troops from the new Rapid Reaction Force arrived on Mt. Igman near Sarajevo to defend UNPROFOR against more Serbian attacks. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. CROATIA PLEDGES HELP FOR BIHAC. The VOA on 23 July said that "the most serious fighting" over the weekend was in the Bihac pocket, where the Serbs have taken 75 sq km of territory since 19 July. The "safe area" is being hit by renegade Muslims from the north, Krajina Serbs from the west, and Bosnian Serbs from the east and south. Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic told the BBC on 23 July that the fall of Bihac would affect his country's "vital interests" since it would consolidate land links between Krajina and the Bosnian Serbs. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and his Bosnian counterpart, Alija Izetbegovic, met in Split on 22 July. They were accompanied by large delegations and, "in an unofficial capacity," by the highly influential U.S. Ambassador Peter Galbraith, Slobodna Dalmacija wrote on 24 July. Vecernji list carried the text of the final declaration, which stressed that the meeting was aimed at consolidating the Muslim-Croatian federation. It also noted that Sarajevo asked Zagreb for "urgent military and other assistance," which the Croats then promised. It is not clear what form the Croatian support will take. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY "ALWAYS PRODUCES HALF MEASURES." This is how Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic reacted to the vague decisions of the London meeting of the Contact Group, the International Herald Tribune said on 22 July. U.S. Senator Robert Dole announced he would go ahead with plans for a Senate vote on lifting the arms embargo against the Bosnian government. The eight-member ad hoc committee of the Organization of the Islamic Conference met on 21 July and declared the embargo "invalid and immoral." IRNA reported on 24 July that Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velyati will organize a meeting of Islamic defense ministers and military chiefs to discuss ways of helping the embattled republic. Bosnian Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey said that he already has promises of help but that the details have to be worked out. (See related item in Russian section.) -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SERBIAN WITNESS CONFIRM SREBRENICA ATROCITIES. British and Serbian journalists have interviewed Serbs on either side of the Drina River who confirmed charges that Bosnian Serb forces are systematically massacring Muslim men in Bratunac. The Independent wrote on 21 July that one woman said her relatives in Bratunac "are quite open about what is going on. They are killing Muslim soldiers. They said they killed 1,600 [on 17 July] alone and estimated that in all they had killed about 4,000 men." The horror stories from Srebrenica appear to have led to a big change in how much of the world views the war. President Bill Clinton over the weekend spoke of "Serbian aggression" rather than of "warring factions." Pope John Paul II in a series of statements has called for "defensive and proportionate" intervention in Bosnia in "a just war" to defend the civilian population. He said that if Europe did not react to "acts of barbarity and crimes against humanity," it risked falling into the "depths of ignominy." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. BELGRADE CAUTIONS BOSNIAN SERBS, MLADIC CALLS FOR WAR. BETA on 24 July reported that the federal parliament of the rump Yugoslavia appealed on 21 July to the Bosnian Serbs not to attack the Bosnian Muslim enclave of Gorazde. Legislators argued that an attack against Gorazde would result in civilian casualties and endanger the regional peace process. Meanwhile, BETA also reported that General Ratko Mladic, military leader of the Bosnian Serbs, continues to accuse the Bosnian Muslims of aggression and has threatened to overrun Bosnian government forces and territory. "By autumn we will occupy Zepa, Gorazde, Bihac, and, if need be, even Sarajevo and end this war," Mladic said. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. GREEK, BOSNIAN, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS DISCUSS BOSNIAN WAR. Karolos Papoulias, Muhamed Sacirbey, and Ali Akbar Velayati met in Athens on 21 July to discuss a possible solution to the war in Bosnia, international agencies reported the same day. Sacirbey urged rump Yugoslavia to recognize his country and effectively close its borders to territory held by the Bosnian Serbs. He proposed that sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro be lifted as a reward or stiffened as a punishment. Sacirbey claimed the Bosnian Serbs raped and murdered Moslems after taking the "safe area" of Srebrenica, and he put the death toll as high as 5,000 to 10,000. "In one instance, 1,600 young boys and older men were executed in a soccer stadium after being taken prisoners," he was quoted as saying. Greek Foreign Minister Papoulias is expected to brief Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic on the talks. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. COUNTERFEIT OPERATION INVOLVING ROMANIAN CURRENCY DISCOVERED. International agencies on 21 July reported the arrest in Budapest of an Italian citizen who planned to distribute more than $12 million worth of fake Romanian lei. A police official in Cluj said the counterfeiting operation had the potential to disrupt Romania's economy. He added that joint efforts by the Romanian, Hungarian, and Italian police resulted in the arrest of Antonio Scale in the Hungarian capital on 8 July. Romania's Prosecutor General's Office is seeking his extradition. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. MOLDOVAN RULING PARTY REACTS TO DEFECTIONS. Reuters on 21 July reported that Moldova's ruling Agrarian Democratic Party (PDAM) has dismissed three senior former members who defected from the party. Nicolae Andronic lost his post as deputy parliamentary chairman, while two other deputies were fired as heads of parliamentary committees. The three were among the 11 deputies who quit the PDAM last week (see OMRI Daily Digest, 17 July 1995). Their departure has deprived the PDAM of its majority in the legislature. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. LEADERS OF BULGARIAN ETHNIC TURKISH PARTY MEET. The leadership of the Movement for Rights and Freedom (DPS) on 22 July met to discuss holding an extraordinary party conference, Bulgarian media reported. Some leaders want DPS Deputy Chairmen Osman Oktay and Yunal Lyutfi to resign and are demanding structural changes within the party. Sixteen of the 22 regional council chairmen are urging that a conference take place in order to discuss those issues, but DPS chairman Ahmed Dogan has declined. Instead, he submitted the resignation of all his deputies, saying they were elected en bloc and therefore can resign only collectively. Their resignation was not accepted, however, since some leaders argued that the DPS would have to re-register and would be unable to take part in the forthcoming local elections if registration were delayed for some reason. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIA WILL NOT EXTRADITE SUSPECTS IN HUNGARIAN DEATH TRUCK CASE. Sofia City Prosecutor Nestor Nestorov on 21 July said Bulgarian citizens arrested for alleged involvement in the death of 18 illegal Sri Lankan immigrants in Hungary (see OMRI Daily Digest, 17 July 1995) will not be extradited, Reuters reported the same day. He said Bulgarian law prevents the extradition of Bulgarian citizens on criminal charges, adding that so far Hungarian authorities have made no such request. The suspects will stand trial in Bulgaria instead. Legal proceedings against them on charges on manslaughter and forgery of travel documents have already been initiated. Nestorov confirmed that the owner and driver of the truck have been arrested, but he declined to say how many more people were being held. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIAN COURT TURNS DOWN PROSECUTOR'S REQUEST TO RELEASE NANO. The Tirana Appeals Court has turned down the surprising request by Prosecutor-General Skender Denmeri to release Fatos Nano, leader of the Socialist Party , international agencies reported on 21 July. Nano has two years left to serve from a prison sentence for falsifying documents and misappropriating Italian aid funds. Denmeri argued that Nano should be released since his prison term has been reduced by various amnesties and a new penal code introduced on 1 June. Appeals Court judge Fatos Caku, however, argued that Nano should have received a higher sentence under the new penal code and therefore should remain in jail. Nano is expected to be released by Albania's Supreme Court on 26 July. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. U.S. SPY-PLANE MISSION IN ALBANIA EXTENDED UNTIL OCTOBER. U.S. unmanned Predator spy planes employed in Albania since 14 July to gather intelligence on Bosnia will continue their mission until October, Montena-fax reported on 22 July. The undertaking has been extended because of the recent worsening of the Bosnian crisis. Elsewhere, U.S. troops ended the Sarex-2 program, which included military exercises for humanitarian rescue operations. The exercises were the two countries' third joint maneuvers, Lajmi i Dites reported on 22 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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