|He who knows nothing is nearer the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors. - Thomas Jefferson|
No. 149, Part II, 2 August 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 SLOVAK GOVERNMENT ON ROMA DEATH. The cabinet on 1 August approved a statement expressing sorrow over the death the previous day of the Romani youth who was beaten up and set on fire by skinheads (see OMRI Daily Digest, 25 July 1995). The government condemned the "use of any kind of violence, brutality, racism, [and] civil and ethnic hatred." It also promised to implement protective measures to prevent similar occurrences in the future, Pravda reported. Meanwhile, Maria Bartosikova, parliamentary deputy for the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), told Sme on 2 August that the incident "was not a racist attack" but simply a statement by "people who want to live in peace, who oppose those who steal from them, beat them, damage houses, and threaten their children." -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK NATIONALISTS ON PROTECTION OF REPUBLIC. Slovak National Party (SNS) Chairman Jan Slota on 2 August said his party will request that discussion on amending the criminal code to provide for protection of the republic be scheduled for the September parliamentary session. On plans to implement alternative education, Slota said "every normal Slovak citizen and parent should want his child to master the state language." He also noted that Education Minister and SNS member Eva Slavkovska, who has often been attacked by the opposition, has the "full trust and support of the SNS." With regard to the frequent allegations that the SNS and ethnic Hungarian political parties cannot exist without the other, Slota noted that the SNS would be "very pleased if there were not a single Hungarian political party" in Slovakia. Slota also repeated previous allegations that the opposition is preparing a "parliamentary putsch" this fall. According to Slota, "dirty money" that will be used to "buy" deputies from the ruling coalition arrived in Slovakia last week. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIAN ECONOMIC NEWS. Viktor Pynzenyk, former deputy prime minister for economic reforms, told Holos Ukrainy on 29 July that monthly inflation in Ukraine rose from 4.6% in May to 4.8% in June but that interest rates continued to fall, from 122% annually to 91.9% in the same period. Pynzenyk said the National Bank of Ukraine's annual refinancing rate fell from a high of 300% last year to 60% in June. He added that real wages in Ukraine have risen by 6.5% since last September but that the stabilization of the exchange rate meant that the average wage vis-a-vis the dollar rose from $26.40 per month in January to $47.90 in May. On a less positive note, Ukrainian Radio reported recently that Ukraine's GDP declined 12% in the first half of 1995. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIAN-ROMANIAN BORDER COOPERATION. Viktor Bannykh and Dimitrie Luca, commanders of the Ukrainian and Romanian border guards, are preparing to sign a treaty on cooperation over border issues, Ukrainian Radio reported on 31 July. The two commanders said that the situation along the Ukrainian-Romanian border was stable and that there was no evidence of conflicts brewing there. The Ukrainian side said one problem along the frontier was the increasing number of illegal immigrants on the Ukrainian-Moldovan border who are crossing into Romania. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT RATIFIES EU ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT. The Estonian parliament unanimously ratified the association agreement with the European Union at an extraordinary session on 1 August, BNS reported. Estonia, together with Latvia and Lithuania, signed the agreement on 12 June. The EU last year signed similar association agreements with Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania. Estonia's agreement will go into effect after the parliaments of the EU member countries ratify it. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LATVIA TO SELECT CANDIDATES FOR SERVICE IN BALTBAT. Juris Kiukucans, a senior official in the Latvian National Armed Forces, told BNS on 1 August that the first candidates for the Latvian unit of the Baltic Peacekeeping Battalion will be selected early next week. Baltbat needs 130 soldiers, but only 75 troops who served in the Soviet army or are serving in the Latvian armed forces have expressed willingness to join Baltbat. Training is scheduled to begin on 16 October, and the Baltbat units will participated in UN peacekeeping missions in 1997. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. POLISH FINANCE MINISTER ACCEPTS TV BOARD'S AUDITS. Polish Finance Minister Grzegorz Kolodko, representing the treasury as the owner of Polish Television, announced on 1 August that he has approved the PTV Board of Director's audits for 1994, Polish media reported. The minister postponed his decision in May. His announcement puts an end to rumors that both the board and PTV chief Wieslaw Walendziak would be removed before the presidential elections. Walendziak has been accused of right- wing sympathies by the left-wing ruling coalition. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. POLAND MAY BUY U.S. JET FIGHTERS. Polish Defense Minister Zbigniew Okonski on 1 August announced that Poland was considering buying at least 100 U.S. F-16 fighters, CET reported the next day. U.S. Secretary of the Air Force Sheila Widnall, who was in Warsaw from 31 July-2 August, said the U.S. government has decided to let Polish experts see classified details of the F-16 and will send a team to Poland within 30 days. Okonski said that Poland needed to replace its force of 220 aging MiG-21 fighters within three years and that it was considering French, Swedish, and Russian aircraft as well as the F-16s. He said the four countries will present their candidate aircraft at the air force base in Deblin, central Poland, later this month. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. CZECHS CONFIRM SALE OF "STEALTH-SPOTTER" TO KYRGYZSTAN. Trade and Industry Ministry spokesman Kamil Cermak on 1 August confirmed that the Czech government has authorized the sale to Kyrgyzstan of an electronic system that can detect the latest "stealth" aircraft, Mlada fronta dnes reported. The "Tamara" device, which costs around $17 million and can be mounted on trucks, is ready for export but has not left Czech territory, Cermak added. He told Czech TV that it is "highly unlikely" that a Tamara is being used by Bosnian Serbs (see OMRI Daily Digest, 31 July 1995). Cermak said no Tamara systems have been sold to former Yugoslavia but it cannot be ruled out that a customer government had re-exported one to a third country. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SERBS HIT CROATS WITH JETS, ROCKETS. The 2 August Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported that Krajina Serbs attacked Gospic with rockets the previous day. They also hit Croatian forces near Strmica with three Galeb jet aircraft. The International Herald Tribune quoted Bosnian government sources as saying that Belgrade has made great efforts in recent months to beef up the armed forces of the Krajina and Bosnian Serbs. Rump Yugoslavia has sent tanks, aircraft, missiles, and up to 40,000 troops, who could easily have been hidden among local Serb forces. Foreign military observers nonetheless saw troops around Zepa wearing rump Yugoslav army patches. Bosnian General Mustafa Hairulahlovic said that "the Yugoslav army is operating in the middle of our country." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. KARADZIC, MARTIC APPEAL TO MILOSEVIC FOR HELP. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his Krajina counterpart, Milan Martic, held a crisis meeting on 1 August and urged Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to come to their aid, the BBC reported. The move is probably designed as a political ploy to force Milosevic to take a public stand on behalf of the Serbs of Bosnia and Krajina. The Serbian president has fallen out with his two former proteges over tactics and power relationships, but their strategic goals remain the same. Milosevic has made sure that in Croatia and Bosnia as well as in rump Yugoslavia, the Serbian military machine is both well integrated and funded. This was shown by Serbian payroll and other documents captured by the Croats in Western Slavonia in May. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. U.S. HOUSE VOTES TO LIFT ARMS EMBARGO. The House of Representatives voted 298-128 on 1 August to end the embargo against the Bosnian government. Like the measure passed in the Senate, it will only come into effect after considerable delay and does not provide for any arms sales or training. The VOA said that President Bill Clinton feels he can get enough votes to enforce his expected veto, but the bills passed both houses with strong bipartisan support. Elsewhere, NATO officials agreed on a plan to protect the remaining UN-declared Bosnian "safe areas" even if the Serbs only mass troops there and even if the Krajina Serbs attack from Croatian territory. But it remains to be seen whether NATO will want to face Serbian air defense systems and have pilots shot down. A European diplomat told the International Herald Tribune on 2 August that the problem is further complicated by the British, French, and Russian willingness to accept a Serbian project to redraw the map of Bosnia, which Washington and Bonn oppose. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. AKASHI CALLS ANOTHER MEETING. UN special envoy Yasushi Akashi will hold talks in Geneva on 3 August with Croatian and Krajina Serb representatives. The VOA said the previous day that there is little chance of a breakthrough and that Croatia agreed only because of Western pressure. Slobodna Dalmacija quoted UN officials as saying that Croatian troops are preparing to attack Knin. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported that the German Foreign Ministry has warned all German tourists to leave the Croatian coast south of Rijeka and the islands south of Split. This could further hamstring Croatia's efforts to revive its vital tourist industry. Finally, the International Herald Tribune said that the UN has accused the Bosnian army of using snipers in Sarajevo against the civilian population. The government denounced the charges, saying that "instead of doing its duty, the United Nations wishes to blame both sides equally. By doing so, [it] can justify remaining impassive." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. MILOSEVIC REITERATES COMMITMENT TO PEACE. Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic on 1 August sent letters to Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic and Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic appealing for peace, international media reported. According to Reuters, Milosevic noted that continued fighting would result in "enormous human and material losses." The letters were sent one day before the international Contact Group's scheduled meeting in Washington. The BBC on 2 August reported that Milosevic contacted Mladic and Izetbegovic just hours before Karadzic and Martic issued appeals for military backing from Belgrade. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. NIMITZ IN MACEDONIA. U.S. special envoy Matthew Nimitz, mediating in the Greek-Macedonian dispute, ended a two-day visit to Macedonia on 1 August, Nova Makedonija reported the following day. Nimitz met with Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov and Foreign Minister Stevo Crvenkovski. Talks focused on the prospects for direct Greek-Macedonian talks and for normalization of relations. The Macedonian side stressed its willingness to participate in such talks, but only on an equal footing. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. AMNESTY FOR TWO ETHNIC ALBANIANS IN MACEDONIA. Two ethnic Albanians sentenced two years ago for allegedly preparing an armed uprising have been amnestied by Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov, Flaka reported on 2 August. Seven more Albanians sentenced on the same charges were released after completing their terms. Among the released were two former secretaries of the Party of Democratic Prosperity and a former deputy defense minister. The Albanians were sentenced for allegedly building up a network of people who were to take part in an armed uprising, but Albanian politicians in Macedonia claimed that the trials were staged and repeatedly demanded that the accused be released. * Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIA LAUNCHES NEW WAVE OF PRIVATIZATION. Romanian authorities on 1 August started the distribution of nominal coupons as part of a plan to accelerate the privatization process in accordance with a law passed this spring. In an interview with Radio Bucharest, Minister of State Mircea Cosea, chairman of the government's Council for Coordination, Strategy, and Reform, put the value of each coupon at 975,000 lei (some $485). The voucher cannot be sold but can be traded for shares in state firms slated for privatization. Romania plans to privatize some 3,000 state-run enterprises this year. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN OPPOSITION ATTACKS AGRICULTURAL POLICY. Leaders of Romanian's main opposition parties on 1 August met in Bucharest to examine the government's agricultural policy, Radio Bucharest reported. They said they planned to ask the parliament to discuss at an extraordinary session the government's ability to purchase this year's wheat harvest, which totals more than 7 million tons. They were particularly critical of the fact that the state-owned Romcereal company has a monopoly on wheat purchases in Romania. The opposition also wants the parliament to pass a law on support for Romanian agriculture. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. MOLDOVAN ELECTORAL ALLIANCE BECOMES PERMANENT. The Alliance of Democratic Forces (AFD), which was initially set up as an electoral bloc, has become a permanent political alliance, Infotag announced on 31 July. The AFD comprises seven parties and organizations, including the United Democratic Congress (CDU) and the Party of Liberal Democracy. CDU Chairman Valeriu Matei said the AFD members will continue to preserve their individual political identities, though future mergers are not excluded. He dismissed speculation that AFD members may be absorbed by the Party of National Revival and Concord or the Party for Social Progress, two new formations that split from the ruling Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova. Like the AFD, these two parties are seeking to establish themselves as centrist forces. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS UPDATE. Standart on 2 August reported that the opposition failed to agree on a common mayoral candidate for Sofia. A meeting scheduled for the previous day was canceled when representatives of the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) did not show up. SDS Deputy Chairman Petar Stoyanov denied that a meeting was scheduled, but representatives of other parties contradicted him. Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court on 1 August announced it will review the local election law in September. Both the SDS and President Zhelyu Zhelev had asked the court to review some of the law's provisions that, they claim, contradict the constitution. Judge Ivan Grigorov was cited by Demokratsiya as saying that irrespective of its ruling, the court "will not complicate or hamper . . . the elections." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN PRESIDENT SAYS HIS ELECTION WAS "A DEAL" BETWEEN PARTIES. Zhelyu Zhelev, in an interview with Bulgarian Radio on 1 August, said his election by the Grand National Assembly in August 1990 resulted from a deal between the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the Union of Democratic Forces. He rejected allegations that the BSP dictated the conditions for his elections. According to Zhelev, the Socialists agreed on his election in order to avoid an early ballot. He also denied allegations that the BSP tacitly supported his re-election by popular vote in 1992, saying the party did everything to remove him from office. Zhelev said that during his five years in office, restitution was stopped, privatization has not taken place, and land restitution is proceeding very slowly. These are the reasons for the growing crime rate, he added. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIAN PEASANTS CUT OFF WATER TO TIRANA. Some 70 farmers on 29 July took control of the Bovilla pumping station, north of Tirana, and cut off the water supplies to the capital to protest a dam project that would drive them from their land, Reuters reported on 1 August. Supplies were restored the same day, and the farmers were taken into custody. They have accused the government of breaking a promise to give them land and housing equivalent in value to what they would lose. The dam is expected to be completed next year. The government reportedly has declared the pumping station a strategic installation and ordered a permanent guard stationed there. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. NEW ALBANIAN TV, RADIO DIRECTOR APPOINTED. Bardhyl Pollo, former director of Radio Tirana's foreign service, has been appointed director of Albanian Radio and TV, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 2 August. BETA on 1 August quoted Pollo as saying that his priorities are "professionalism, program restructuring, and increased independence for journalists." -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. INTERNATIONAL PROTESTS AGAINST ALBANIAN CENSORSHIP. The Article 19 International Center against Censorship has sent a letter to Albanian President Sali Berisha protesting the arrest of Filip Cakuli, chief editor of the satirical magazine Hosteni 2000, and the journalist Naim Noka, Koha Jone reported on 1 August. Both journalists were detained in late June by the secret service SHIK until they agreed to change the covers of their next issues (see OMRI Daily Digest, 3 July). The German satirical magazine Titanic has also issued a protest saying that items confiscated during the arrests had been given to the Albanians during a visit to Germany in February. Elsewhere, the International Federation of Journalists protested the trial against the chief editor of Populli PO, Arban Hasani. He faces charges that his newspaper wrongly reported that a SHIK officer was arrested for ordering a killing. -- 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. ISSN 1211-1570
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.