|Words that open our eyes to the world are always the easiest to remember. - Ryszard Kapuscinski|
No. 143, Part II, 25 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 ECONOMIC GROWTH QUICKENS . . . The Polish economy grew faster in the first half of this year than in the past three years, thanks to booming exports and investment spending, according to the Main Statistical Office (GUS). First-half industrial production rose by 13%, and 55.8% of firms are now making profits, up from less than half one year ago. Exports were up by 18.4% and imports by 19.3% in constant prices. GUS set the first-half trade deficit at $1.2 billion, but IMF officials told Rzeczpospolita on 24 July that unrecorded cross-border purchases (estimated at $3 billion so far this year) mean that Poland has a sizable trade surplus. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. . . . WHILE POLISH FAMILIES IN TROUBLE. One in five Polish families lives below the poverty line, according to a report by the government's plenipotentiary for women summarized in Rzeczpospolita on 25 July. Only 55% of Polish families are able to cover their expenses from wages alone, down from 68% in 1989. The proportion of single-parent families rose from 21% in 1989 to 38% last year, largely because of alarmingly high mortality rates among middle-aged men. Ten percent of Polish children do not get enough to eat, and nearly half have health problems. The report apparently did not take into account the substantial benefits accruing to some families from the extensive semi-legal "gray economy." -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINE TO CONDUCT CENSUS IN 1999. Ukrainian Radio reported on 24 July that the Ukrainian government has ordered a national census to be conducted in 1999, the first since independence. The last census was conducted in 1989 as part of an all-union census in the USSR. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. FOREIGN VISITORS IN UKRAINE. A military delegation from Moldova headed by Defense Minister Pavel Creanga arrived in Kiev on 24 July, Ukrainian Television reported. Creanga discussed military cooperation in a number of areas with his Ukrainian counterpart, Valerii Shmarov. He is also scheduled to meet with Ukrainian Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk. In other news, a delegation from the permanent Committee for the All-Chinese Assembly of National Representatives ended a five-day visit. The delegation met with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma to discuss increasing cooperation. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. MOSCOW PATRIARCH IN BELARUS. Aleksii II, patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, arrived in Minsk on 22 July for a two-day visit, Belarusian and Russian Public Television reported. During the visit, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said that Orthodoxy united the Russian, Belarusian, and Ukrainian peoples. He added that divisions and separatism within the Orthodox Church such as witnessed recently in Ukraine should not be allowed. The Belarusian Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk said there is no conflict between members of the Orthodox Church and Catholics in Belarus, unlike in Ukraine. Lukashenka presented the patriarch with the medal of Francis Skarinyn. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. PRIVATIZATION PLANS IN BELARUS. Belarusian Television on 23 July reported that more than 1,000 collective enterprises will be privatized this year in Belarus. Most will be agrarian complexes, shops, services, and enterprises dealing with foodstuffs. Some 35,000 people are employed at the enterprises, which are valued at some 5 trillion Belarusian rubles ($430 million). -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. CRIME IN BALTIC STATES. In the first half of 1995, Estonia registered 126 crimes per 10,000 population, considerably higher than Lithuania (82) and Latvia (72), BNS reported on 21 July. Crime in Lithuania was up 16.7% on the same period in 1994, primarily owing to a 22.8% increase in theft. In Latvia, the number of registered crimes decreased by 11.6%, with murders declining by 16.9% and robberies by 27.6%. But the number of fraud cases in Latvia grew by 33.8% and pickpocketing by 54.9%. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LATVIA TO BEGIN ISSUING STATELESS PERSONS' CERTIFICATES. Latvian Citizenship and Immigration Department head Ints Citars on 24 July said that his office will probably begin issuing stateless persons' certificates this week, BNS reported. The certificates will serve as an identity and travel document for permanent residents of Latvia who were former Soviet citizens but have not acquired another citizenship. The failure of the Latvian foreign and interior ministries to coordinate instructions on filling out and distributing the certificates delayed their issuance from the original 20 July target date. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. MEETING OF LITHUANIAN, RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT HEADS. Seimas Chairman Ceslovas Jursenas, accompanied by a 10-member delegation, traveled to Moscow on 24 July for a three-day official visit, BNS reported. He discussed with Russian Federation Council Chairman Vladimir Shumeiko the Russian-Chechen peace talks, Russian transit through Lithuania, and a possible Russian-Lithuanian-Polish meeting in October on cooperation in border regions. Jursenas is to meet with State Duma Chairman Ivan Rybkin, Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, and other officials. Topics of discussion will include the upcoming Russian parliament elections, Moscow's position on NATO expansion, and economic questions such as the implementation of the most-favored-nation trade agreement between the two countries. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. CZECH MINISTER DENIES DECISION TAKEN TO MODERNIZE JETS. Defense Minister Vilem Holan on 24 July denied reports that his ministry has decided to modernize 24 MiG-21 jets (see OMRI Daily Digest, 24 July 1995), Rude pravo reported the next day. The daily said Holan told journalists that the only decision taken so far is for two jets to be upgraded by next year, one as a fighter and the other for training. Further steps will be taken only after this project has been evaluated. Members of the parliament's Defense and Security Committee told Mlada fronta dnes that the option of buying American F-16 fighters, though expensive, has not been ruled out. One committee member said that if the modernization of the 24 MiGs goes ahead despite their opposition, the parliament could reduce the Defense Ministry's budget next year. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. CZECH-ROMANIAN MILITARY ACCORD. Romanian Defense Minister Gheorghe Tinca signed an agreement on military cooperation with his Czech counterpart, Vilem Holan, in Prague on 24 July. CTK reported that Tinca told a press conference the agreement covered virtually all spheres of cooperation, including technology, military training, and the exchange of observers during exercises. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK EDUCATION MINISTER IN HUNGARY. Eva Slavkovska, who has drawn sharp criticism for personnel changes and plans to implement "alternative" (bilingual) education in schools for the Hungarian minority, visited Budapest on 24 July to meet with her Hungarian counterpart, Gabor Fodor. Discussions focused on minority education in both countries as well as general educational concerns, TASR and Pravda reported. Following the meeting, Slavkovska said a 1994 poll conducted to determine interest in the alternative education program revealed that 21% of parents agreed with it. She criticized the politicization of the issue, noting that the percentage agreeing with the program will certainly decrease this year. Even so, Slavkovska said, the program will not be canceled, as it is anchored in the cabinet's program. Stressing that the program will be implemented on a voluntary basis, she said that if a sufficient number of students want to enroll in an alternative school, the ministry will allot the necessary funding. According to Slavkovska, approximately 30 alternative kindergartens will be established this year. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK SKINHEADS ATTACK ROMA. Some 30 skinheads attacked several young Romani men in the central Slovak town of Ziar nad Hronom on 21 July, the Internal Ministry told TASR three days later. One youth who was set afire sustained second- and third-degree burns and was hospitalized in serious condition. Eight of the skinheads were arrested, and four charged with causing grievous bodily harm. Reuters on 24 July quoted a human rights activist as saying this was one of the most serious attacks on Roma in years: "We've heard of attacks with weapons but never immolation." -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARIAN, SPANISH PREMIERS DISCUSS EU. Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzales, following a meeting in Madrid on 24 July with Hungarian Premier Gyula Horn, told journalists that Spain will support the European Union's eastward expansion. International media report Gonzales as saying he will suggest to fellow EU prime ministers that East European leaders be invited to the next EU summit in Madrid in December. According to Gonzales, Spain "will never be an obstacle" to Hungary's entry into the EU. Spain assumed the EU's six-month rotating presidency on 1 July. Horn told the same press conference that EU membership is "vital for Hungary." Gonzales's meeting with Horn was the second in a series of talks scheduled with leaders of former communist countries. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE HAS ZEPA FALLEN? International media on 25 July said that the Bosnian government in Sarajevo has denied UN accounts that Zepa has in effect surrendered. Bosnian authorities in the embattled "safe area" reportedly made an agreement with the Serbs on the evacuation of women, children, the sick, and the elderly. It is unclear what this would mean for military-aged men, who appeared to prefer to die fighting rather than face a massacre like the one that followed the Serbian conquest of Srebrenica. UN special envoy Tadeusz Mazowiecki said on 24 July that the Serbs had committed "barbaric acts" against the Muslims in that eastern Bosnian town. "What happened cannot be described as [moderate] violations of human rights but as extremely serious violations on an enormous scale," he concluded. UN spokesman Chris Gunness added that the Serbs' "actions are an affront to the values of all civilized people." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SERBS CLOSE IN ON BIHAC. The four-way assault by Krajina Serb, Bosnian Serb, and rebel Muslim forces on the Bihac pocket continues. AFP on 25 July reported that Krajina units have reached the fringes of the "safe area" itself, and Reuters wrote the previous day that the Serbs appear to be trying to split the pocket in two and then mop up the separate halves. A UN spokesman said that "this coordinated, deliberate attack on all fronts represents arguably the most considerable military action in Bosnia for many months." The VOA added that the UN Security Council has warned the Serbs not to press their attack on Bihac. A French Foreign Ministry spokesman urged "all parties to show restraint" and said that the goal was to prevent another Srebrenica. He warned there could be a "substantial and decisive response" if attacks persist. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. WHO BOMBED PALE? Meanwhile near Sarajevo, British and French units of the new Rapid Reaction Force continued to arrive on Mt. Igman on 24 July. It remains uncertain, however, what accounted for the reported bombings of the Bosnian Serb "capital" on the 23-24 July. Both France and NATO denied they were responsible, although Liberation on 24 July ran a detailed account of what it called a mission ordered personally by President Jacques Chirac. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. NATO FAILS TO REACH A DECISION ON AIR STRIKES. Ambassadors of the Atlantic alliance meeting in Brussels on 24 July failed to agree on a program for implementing the resolution approved in London on 21 July. Another session is scheduled for the afternoon of 25 July. The International Herald Tribune quoted an American official as saying that "there's no snag. It's just complicated and time-consuming." But the VOA said there are differences as to what would trigger air strikes, what would be the targets, and who would order the missions. UN Secretary- General Boutrous Boutrous Ghali insists that he have the final say, but this is unacceptable to Washington, which wants the operations exclusively in NATO hands. The International Herald Tribune on 24 July quoted a French official as saying that "the object is to diminish the firepower of the Serbs to a level where the Bosnians can hold their own, not to raise the firepower of the Bosnians." U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole has other ideas, however. The VOA reported that he will soon call a vote on a unilateral lifting of the arms embargo against the Bosnian government. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. MILOSEVIC MEETS WITH KOZYREV. BETA on 24 July reported that Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, allegedly acting on instructions from Russian President Boris Yeltsin, arrived in Belgrade the same day for talks with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. Accompanying Kozyrev were Russian Ambassador to Brussels and former special envoy to the former Yugoslavia Vitalii Churkin and Contact Group representative Aleksandr Zotov. The apparent reason for the visit, which followed the London Conference's threat to use military action against the Bosnian Serbs if they attacked the Bosnian Muslim enclave of Gorazde, was to secure Milosevic's help in reining in the Bosnian Serb side. Kozyrev reiterated Moscow's oft-repeated commitment to a peaceful resolution to the Bosnian conflict. According to AFP, Milosevic used the opportunity to condemn international "threats . . . [and] military action" aimed at the Bosnian Serbs. "The international community must engage in creating political conditions that are effective and capable of leading to a stable peace," said Milosevic. AFP reported on 25 July that Kozyrev left Belgrade saying he was "satisfied" with his visit. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. GREEK SENIOR DIPLOMAT DENOUNCES INTERRUPTION OF MACEDONIAN TALKS. Former Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Ioannis Tzounis said the Greek government has made a "mistake" by interrupting the Greek-Macedonian talks and perpetuating the economic embargo against Macedonia. In an interview with the Greek newspaper To Vima he noted that "the battle over the name of Greece's northern neighbor is the core of the problem, [which is endangering] security and peace in the region." To resolve the conflict, he proposed bilateral treaties on the inviolability of existing borders between Macedonia, rump Yugoslavia, Greece, Bulgaria and Albania, BETA reported on 24 July. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN PRESIDENT PROMULGATES EDUCATION LAW. Ion Iliescu on 24 July promulgated the controversial education law, Romanian media reported. The law, which has sparked widespread criticism from ethnic minorities and especially from the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR), was recently denounced as detrimental to minority rights in a resolution passed by the European Parliament. Iliescu defended the new law at a press conference, saying he had "no reservations whatsoever" about signing the bill. "The objections formulated by the UDMR are groundless," he stressed. Asked about the campaign of civic disobedience planned by the UDMR, Iliescu said the party was assuming "great political responsibility." He expressed the hope that "the Hungarian population will carefully weigh such actions." -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT, EMPLOYERS, UNIONS SIGN SOCIAL ACCORD. Romanian Finance Minister Florin Georgescu, Chairman of the National Confederation of Romanian Employers George Paunescu, and Pavel Todoran, chairman of the National Confederation of Romania's Free Trade Unions-- The Brotherhood, signed a social accord at the government's headquarters on 24 July, Radio Bucharest reported. The accord states that the unions must refrain from staging or encouraging strikes as a means of meeting union members' claims. The government, in turn, pledged that the average net wage would reach 75,000 lei ($38) by 1 September, which means a pay rise of 20.7% as against current salaries. The National Confederation, the country's largest labor organization is the only union confederation to have approved the accord. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. RUMP YUGOSLAV HUMAN RIGHTS MINISTER IN BULGARIA. Margit Savovic met with Bulgarian deputies on 24 July, Bulgarian media reported. Saying that all rump Yugoslav citizens enjoy equal rights, Savovic dismissed a report by UN special envoy Tadeusz Mazowiecki on human rights violations in her country as "not objective." On the situation of the Bulgarian minority in eastern Serbia, Savovic said Bulgarian is regarded as a mother tongue by the authorities, but many Bulgarians do not have the desire to learn it properly. She said the term "Western regions," used in Bulgaria to describe the territories ceded to Yugoslavia in 1919, is "unacceptable" and constituted interference in Yugoslav internal affairs. Former Prime Minister Filip Dimitrov from the opposition Union of Democratic Forces boycotted the meeting, saying he "will not meet with the minister for human rights of a state that brutally violates them." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN TV CHIEF CANCELS ENTERTAINMENT SHOWS. Ivan Granitski, director of Bulgarian National Television, announced on 23 July he is canceling two weekly entertainment programs, international media reported the same day. The two programs are a beauty contest and a game show. Granitski, who was appointed by the Socialist majority in June, said he will ban programs "propagating, violence, homosexuality, prostitution, gambling, and drug addiction" as part of his "struggle for higher professional and artistic levels of programs and against those [who] oppose national interests." Prosecutor-General Ivan Tatarchev said he fully supports Granitski's move because "national interests" require it. A commentator for the independent weekly 168 chasa called the move "sheer nonsense." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. SLOVENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN TIRANA. Zoran Thaler visited Albania on 21 July, Gazeta Shqiptare reported the following day. At meetings with Albanian President Sali Berisha and Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi, both sides agreed to improve economic and military cooperation. They also discussed the Bosnian crisis and the Kosovo conflict, reportedly agreeing that "the aggressor must be punished." In other news, a high- ranking U.S. diplomatic delegation arrived in Tirana for a two-day visit on 24 July to discuss bilateral relations and the situation in the region, Montena-fax reported the same day. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. GREEK FOREIGN MINISTER CALLS FOR MEETING OF BOSNIAN RELIGIOUS LEADERS. Karolos Papoulias on 24 July said Greece will try to arrange a dialogue between Bosnia's religious leaders, AFP reported the same day. Papoulias, who was on two-day visit to Jordan, called such a meeting "essential to finding a solution." He also said Greece will send humanitarian aid to "all those suffering" in Bosnia. -- 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.
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