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No. 150, Part II, 3 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 SERBIAN PRIME MINISTER IN KIEV. Ukrainian Radio on 1 August reported that Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Marjanovic arrived in Kiev for an official visit. Marjanovic met with his Ukrainian counterpart, Yevhen Marchuk, who stressed that the conflict in former Yugoslavia should be resolved by politicians and not by military means. He also said the UN sanctions imposed against the former Yugoslavia were hurting the Ukrainian economy. Ukraine lost an estimated $150 million in shipping on the Danube last year because of the sanctions. Marchuk went on to say that trade between Ukraine and Serbia now stands at $250 million annually, although this figure could reach $1.5 billion without sanctions. The prime ministers signed agreements on trade and on creating a governmental Ukrainian-Yugoslav commission on economic and technical cooperation. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINE KEEPS TO IMF PROGRAM. IMF First Deputy Director Stanley Fisher is upbeat about the possibility of the IMF extending further credits to Ukraine, Ukrainian Radio reported on 1 August. Fisher was in Kiev to discuss continued cooperation between the IMF and Ukraine with, among others, President Leonid Kuchma. He noted that Ukraine was meeting payment schedules for Russian gas and keeping inflation down, although he added that at 4.8% in June, inflation was still somewhat higher than IMF targets. Fisher also praised Ukraine's monetary reforms, saying it was likely that within 18 months, Ukraine's economy will start to grow. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. STATE OF UKRAINE'S COMMERCIAL BANKS. Leaders of the Association of Ukrainian Banks told a news conference on 1 August that an audit of major commercial banks revealed that many faced serious financial difficulties because of overdue debts, UNIAR reported the same day. As of 1 May, interbank and industrial debt amounted to 13.9 trillion karbovantsi ($9.92 billion). Antonina Palamarchuk, the association's vice-president, said 54 banks have suffered losses, 19 are insolvent, and 12 have liquidity problems. But on a more positive note, banks are showing increased interest in the treasury bill market, the interbank currency exchange is expanding, and the demand for credit cards and traveler's checks is growing. Palamarchuk reported the banks have experienced a capital growth of 91.5% since April. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. BELARUS MOVES TOWARD CONTRACT MILITARY SERVICE. Belarusian Radio on 2 August reported that a military unit composed entirely of contract servicemen has been set up in Brest. The unit comprises some 70 soldiers, all of whom are being demobilized. Narodna hazeta reported on 20 July that the Belarusian military now has 8,600 contract servicemen and plans to have them make up 60-70% of the armed forces personnel. Most contract servicemen are rural residents who are looking for better pay than offered on agricultural enterprises (traditionally among the lowest paid sectors in the country). -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. ESTONIA PASSES SUPPLEMENTARY BUDGET. In an extraordinary session on 2 August, the Estonian parliament approved a supplementary budget of 65 million kroons ($5.9 million), BNS reported. The revenues are to come from the alcohol excise tax. Sixty million kroons will be assigned to local governments. With the transfer of the National Defense Academy from the Culture and Science Ministry to the Interior Ministry, the latter is to get 18.5 million kroons that had been allocated to the former. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. PARTIES REGISTER FOR LATVIAN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS. Nineteen parties and alliances have registered their lists of candidates for the parliamentary elections on 30 September-1 October with the Central Election Commission to meet the 1 August deadline, Reuters reported. A pre-election poll of 1,542 voters taken on 5-11 July indicated that 62% have already decided how they will vote, Diena reported. The coalition-- consisting of the Farmers' Union, the Christian Democratic Union, and the Latgale Democratic Party--came first with 19.2%. Latvia's Way was second with 17.4%, and the Democratic Party Saimnieks and the Political Union of Economists came third with 11.3%. The last two parties, however, have since decided to field candidates separately. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. PRICES FALL IN POLAND. Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Grzegorz Kolodko told reporters on 2 August that consumer prices fell by 0.3-0.5% in July. The monthly drop was the first since the transition to the market began six years ago. Kolodko once again blamed National Bank policies for this year's relatively high inflation, Gazeta Wyborcza reported. Charging that the bank failed to neutralize the inflationary impact of rising hard-currency reserves, he demanded a further cut in interest rates. A bank spokesman rebutted Kolodko's charges, arguing that the money supply rose only 1.5% above plan in the first half of 1995. He said lower interest rates would only rekindle inflation but added that if prices continued to fall, rates might be cut in September. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN POLAND TOPS $5 BILLION. Foreign direct investment in Poland reached a total of $5.39 billion at the end of June, according to figures from the Polish Agency for Foreign Investment (PAIZ) reported by Rzeczpospolita on 29-30 July. Investment commitments amounted to another $5.089 billion, the report said. PAIZ counts investments of over $1 million, so the actual total is probably much higher. PAIZ's figures indicate that foreign companies have invested more than $1 billion in Poland since the start of 1995. The total for all of 1994 was $1.28 billion, indicating that the pace of investment has quickened substantially this year. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. CZECH PREMIER SUPPORTS PROSECUTION OF 1968 "TRAITORS." Following charges brought against former Communist Party (KSC) officials over the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, Vaclav Klaus on 2 August said treason is a question that should be cleared up irrespective of how much time has lapsed. "I think that every new generation must have the feeling that this is something that should not be allowed and it must be punished on merit," Klaus said in a radio interview. Five former KSC functionaries have been charged with treason (see OMRI Daily Digest, 1 August 1995). Justice officials on 1 August said that former KSC general-secretary Milos Jakes, former Prime Minister Jozef Lenart, former KSC Central Committee member Jan Piller, and Zbynek Sojak, head of the Secretariat of 1968 KSC leader Alexander Dubcek are accused of trying to form an illegal government that would have sanctioned the Soviet-led invasion. Karel Hoffmann, who at the time was in charge of communications in Czechoslovakia, is accused of trying to use the media to support the invasion. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. ROMA PROTEST SLOVAK POLITICIAN'S STATEMENT ON SKINHEAD ATTACK. Representatives of several Romani parties and organizations have protested the 2 August statement by Slovak National Party leader Jan Slota on the recent killing by skinheads of a 17-year old Romani youth, TASR reported the same day. They objected to Slota's use of the word "Gypsies," saying such designations are especially significant in the context of the ethnic tension following the incident. Robert Tsonka, president of the Democratic Alliance of Roma and spokesmen for the Romani parties, remarked that Slota was well aware that a "Gypsy nationality does not exist in the constitution of the Slovak republic." -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK MEDIA DEVELOPMENTS. Slovakia's Anti-Monopoly Office has asked the Ministry of Culture not to give money from the state cultural fund or other state subsidies to Slovenska Republika and Hlas ludu, both of which support the ruling coalition parties. According to the office, the allocation of funds to both dailies to publish supplements for national minorities violates the law on the protection of economic competition, Pravda reported. In other news, following a statement in late May by ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) deputy Dusan Slobodnik that the ratio of coalition-opposition coverage on Slovak Television (STV) news programs is 50:50, the STV was asked to monitor its news programs. According to a report covering 1 April to 26 May, the government coalition received 272.6 minutes of coverage, compared with 16.4 for the opposition, Narodna obroda and Pravda reported on 3 August. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN SLOVAKIA. The Slovak Statistical Office has announced that foreign direct investment since 1990 totals approximately $585 million, Narodna obroda reported on 1 August. In the second quarter of 1995, foreign investment grew $19.6 million, or 3.4%, over the previous quarter. A total of 8,079 Slovak firms have foreign capital representation. Germany is Slovakia's biggest foreign investor, followed by Austria, the Czech Republic, the U.S., and France. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. DEATH TRUCK SURVIVORS REFUSED REFUGEE STATUS. UN refugee officials on 2 August said the survivors of the death truck incident in Hungary last month have been refused refugee status, Western agencies reported. Eighteen Sri Lankans, apparently illegal immigrants on their way to Austria, were found dead in a truck parked near the west Hungarian city of Gyor (see OMRI Daily Digest, 17 July 1995). The nineteen survivors applied for refugee status under the 1951 Geneva Convention to the UN high commissioner for refugees (Hungary considers applications only from Europeans). According to the UNHCR office in Budapest, all but one-- whose case has not yet been decided--have been refused refugee status. The Sri Lankans apparently wanted to escape economic hardship by settling in the West. -- Jan Cleave, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE CROATIA HAS 100,000 MEN MOBILIZED. International media on 3 August reported that the UN estimates that the Croatian military has completed its mobilization. The 100,000 men must be sent into action soon or will have to be demobilized for economic reasons. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said troops are massing about 70 km south of Zagreb. The Krajina Serbs' army is about half the size of the Croats', but they have much heavy weaponry left behind by the Serb-dominated former Yugoslav army. Five Serbian tanks have been brought up around Strmica, but the mood in Knin is that Krajina's collapse is imminent. Slobodna Dalmacija wrote that Bosnian Serb commander and indicted war criminal General Ratko Mladic has met with his top generals. Krajina and Bosnian Serb civilian leaders have appealed to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic for immediate military support, but their main supply corridor via Brcko could be hit by Croatian artillery at Orasje. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. MILITARY SOLUTION TO THE KRAJINA QUESTION SEEMS IMMINENT. Nasa Borba on 3 August reported that the Croats shelled Drvar, while the Serbs hit Gospic and Otocac with rockets. Krajina Serbs fired on two UN helicopters flying over their territory, but one of their own planes returned to base after being warned by NATO that it was violating the "no-fly" zone. Croatia and Krajina are sending middle-level delegations to Geneva for talks with UN mediator Thorvald Stoltenberg, but the BBC quoted a UN spokesman as saying that his expectations for the meeting were "realistic." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. WILL THE CROATS HAVE THE WEST'S SILENT BLESSING? Western media have been speculating that the U.S. and some of its allies would not mind if the Croats marched into Krajina and removed that issue from the international agenda. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung added that U.S. Ambassador Peter Galbraith's appeal on 2 August against an outbreak of hostilities was probably just a formality and does not reflect a change in the new Western attitudes toward Krajina. The New York Times on 1 August wrote that the feeling in many Western capitals is that the Krajina Serbs deserve whatever they get following their invasion of the Bihac pocket. Nasa Borba reported on 3 August, however, that special UN envoy Yasushi Akashi called Milosevic's latest appeal for peace there "a very positive initiative. " -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. UN ABANDONS ZEPA. Some 70 French peacekeepers are leaving the second of the two UN-designated "safe areas" the Serbs overran in July. Thousands of Muslim civilians and military-aged men remain unaccounted for. The atrocities commited by the Serbs in Srebrenica and Zepa fueled a growing international perception that the Serbs are the aggressors and must be stopped. This led to overwhelming votes in the U.S. Congress to lift the arms embargo against the Bosnian government, but the VOA said on 3 August that supporters of the plan may not, after all, be able to override President Bill Clinton's expected veto. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. MILOSEVIC SHARPLY CRITICIZED BY OPPOSITION FOR "PEACE APPEAL." BETA on 2 August reported that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic has been roundly attacked by several opposition parties for his letter to Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic and Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic appealing for peace. The ultranantionalist Serbian Radical Party said the letter to "the war criminal Izetbegovic . . . comes at the time of the greatest Muslim offensive against the Serbian people and territory." It added that "Milosevic, instead of helping our brothers and his compatriots . . . is surrendering Serbian forces." -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. KOSOVAR CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATIC LEADER ON AUTONOMY. Mark Krasniqi, leader of the Christian Democratic Party of Kosovo, said he rules out autonomy for Kosovo under Belgrade's terms. BETA on 2 August said that the province's Albanians are ready for a dialogue with Serbia but that "Serbia does not want it." He called on the international community to use political means to prevent a war in the region. According to Krasniqi, the preconditions for talks with the Serbian government are international mediation and an end to police repression in Kosovo. He added that only the "legitimate representatives of the Albanian people"- -namely, shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova--can take part in the talks and that the only acceptable result is the establishment of a Republic of Kosovo. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. U.S. OFFICIAL IN MACEDONIA. Sarah Sewall, deputy assistant secretary of defense with responsibility for peacekeeping and peace enforcement, visited Macedonia on 1 August, international agencies reported. She met with Macedonian Defense Minister Blagoj Handziski and visited U.S. soldiers serving as part of UNPREDEP. A joint statement issued after the talks with Handziski warned that "due to escalation of fighting in Bosnia, there is a danger of the conflict spreading to the southern Balkans." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIA DENIES BREAKING RUMP YUGOSLAV EMBARGO. A spokesman for Romania's Foreign Ministry on 2 August denied that Romanian authorities were allowing passenger jets flying to Belgrade to load more fuel than needed in breach of the UN embargo against Serbia and Montenegro. The statement came in response to a recent article in The New York Times saying that planes belonging to the Yugoslav airline JAT were overtanked in the western Romanian town of Timisoara. The spokesman, speaking on Radio Bucharest, said that international security measures require airplanes to carry some extra fuel in the event that an emergency forces them change their landing destination. Romania, he added, has always complied with the UN embargo against the rump Yugoslavia. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. MOLDOVA DECLARES END TO GAGAUZ CONFLICT. Reuters on 1 August quoted Moldovan Premier Andrei Sangheli as officially declaring an end to a five-year conflict with the Gagauz minority. The minority, consisting of some 130,000 Orthodox Turks living in the southern part of the Republic of Moldova, broke away in 1990 for fear that the country's possible merger with Romania might erase their ethnic identity. Chisinau, which began looking for a solution to the conflict in 1994. finally granted the Gagauz territorial and cultural autonomy. According to Infotag, Sangheli on 31 July presided over the surrender of arms by members of the separatist "Budjak" battalion in the town of Vulcanesti. He praised the move as an important step toward stabilizing the situation in the region. But Deputy Internal Minister Mihai Gorincioi warned that Gagauz continued to illegally possess weapons and ammunition. The deadline for surrendering them is 27 August. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. TWO DIE OF CHOLERA IN MOLDOVA. One person died of cholera in the Moldovan capital of Chisinau and another died of the same disease in Tiraspol, Reuters reported on 2 August. The agency quoted Moldova's chief sanitary inspector as saying that urgent measures were being taken to prevent the further spread of the disease. According to the same source, at least another 38 persons are infected. Local epidemiologists blame imported food from Ukraine but also a lack of hygiene in Moldovan markets and other public places. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. 14TH ARMY FORCED TO HALT AMMUNITION DESTRUCTION AGAIN. Local authorities have once again forced the Russian 14th Army in Moldova's Transdniester region to suspend the destruction of obsolete ammunition, ITAR-TASS reported on 2 August. The agency quoted the army's commander, Lt.-Gen. Valerii Yevnevich, as saying he is confident the elimination will resume next week. He said that 5,000 shells and mines have been destroyed and another 12,000 have still to be disposed of. The local authorities have requested that a group of ecology experts seek a new and safer destruction site. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. INCREASE IN ALBANIAN FOREIGN TRADE. In the first five months of 1995, Albania's foreign trade turnover increased by about one quarter, BETA reported on 2 August. The Statistical Office reported that exports increased by some 22% and imports by 25%. Chrome, chrome-ore, and copper exports increased by 29%, while the largest import increases were for food and kitchen appliances. Car imports rose by 12%. -- 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
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