|The person who knows how to laugh at himself will never cease to be amused. - Shirley MacLaine|
No. 152, Part II, 7 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 EAST EUROPEAN TROOPS ARRIVE IN U.S. FOR PFP EXERCISE. Soldiers from 14 former communist states have arrived in the U.S. to participate in a three-week exercise within the framework of NATO's Partnership for Peace (PfP) program, international media reported on 7 August. Some 4,000 troops will take part in "Cooperative Nugget 95," which includes one week of training and orientation and a two-week peacekeeping exercise. Soldiers from Albania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan will train with troops from the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain. "Cooperative Nugget 95" is the first PfP exercise on U.S. soil. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. NEW UKRAINIAN AGRICULTURE MINISTER. President Leonid Kuchma has appointed Pavlo Haidutsky as Ukraine's new agriculture minister, Radio Ukraine reported on 6 August. Haidutsky, who previously chaired the State Committee on Land Resources, is considered the chief architect of the country's land reform program. In other news, the Central Election Committee has scheduled by-elections for 10 December to fill 45 vacant seats in the 450-seat parliament, Radio Ukraine reported on 5 August. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. TENSION IN UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY. Ukrainian Radio on 5 August reported that tension within the Defense Ministry has intensified because some circles are attempting to remove Chief of Staff Anatolii Lopata, who has increasingly been left out of important decisions. An elite air-mobile unit based in Kremenchuk was recently transferred to the jurisdiction of the border guards. Lopata learned of the decision only after Defense Minister Valerii Shmarov signed the order. The unit was transferred at the request of the commander of the ground forces, Colonel General Vasyl Sobkov, who reportedly wishes to take over Lopata's position. Opposition to the civilian defense minister is reportedly growing in the army as well. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. BELARUSIAN DISARMAMENT UPDATE. The Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 5 August issued a statement responding to recent reports that Minsk has stopped sending its nuclear missiles to Russia for destruction, as called for by the START-1 agreement, which Belarus ratified in February 1993, Radio Mayak reported. The country's leadership has never said it will stop the transfer of the remaining 18 SS-25 missiles on its territory to Russia, the statement said. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka meant only that the pace of disarmament will slow down. The reason for the slowdown was Russia's reluctance to deal with the ecological damage left behind after troops and missiles have been removed. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. MOSCOW MAYOR IN MINSK. Yurii Luzhkov, during his recent visit to Minsk, signed agreements on trade, technical, and cultural cooperation and on general cooperation between the Russian and Belarusian capitals, Radio Rossiya reported on 6 August. A deal was also signed for Belarus to supply Moscow with 12,000 tons of potatoes and 10,000 tons of cabbage by the end of year. Luzhkov proposed leasing several shops in Moscow to Belarusian collective farms since it is expected that supplies of Belarusian food products to the Russian capital will increase dramatically. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said he was pleased that traditional ties with Moscow were being restored. Luzhkov noted that he and Lukashenka have the same ideas on privatization. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. ANTI-MAFIA COURTS IN ESTONIA. An Interior Ministry spokesman on 4 August said the government is considering following Italy's example by establishing special anti-mafia courts to try alleged mobsters, Western agencies reported. The Italian courts operate under special rules to protect witnesses and judges from gangland reprisals. Estonia has the highest crime rate and lowest arrest rate among the Baltic States and one of the highest per capita murder rates in the world. The number of murders in Estonia increased from 137 in 1990 to 365 in 1994, partly owing to battles for territory among Estonian gangs. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LATVIA DEBATES SENDING UNIT TO CROATIA. The Saeima on 3 August began debating sending a Latvian armed forces unit as part of the Danish UN peacekeeping mission in Croatia, BNS reported the following day. Prime Minister Maris Gailis noted that Lithuania and Estonia already have such units in Croatia. Latvia's refusal to do the same could endanger military cooperation between the Baltic States and possibly end Western support for establishing a Baltic peacekeeping battalion. Christian Democratic Union deputy Anita Stankevica opposed sending the unit, arguing that Latvia would be sending half-trained men to where no one wanted to go. The Saeima will make a decision on sending the unit on 9 August. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. FIRST U.S.-LITHUANIAN MILITARY EXERCISES. The first-ever U.S.-Lithuanian peacekeeping exercises began on 4 August at the Rukla training center in central Lithuania, BNS reported. The three-week exercise, called "Amber Hope '95," is being financed by the U.S. government and will involve 140 Lithuanian soldiers commanded by 10 American instructors. The exercises will take place in two stages. The first will focus on using communication equipment, setting up observation posts, reconnoitering areas, and defusing mines. The second begins on 20 August with a ceremony to be attended by top Lithuanian government officials, army leaders, and foreign diplomats. The soldiers will practice freeing captured civilians, shooting, mining, escorting convoys, and other activities. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. WALESA DECLARES PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDACY. President Lech Walesa on 5 August announced he will run in the upcoming presidential elections, Polish and international media reported. He added that he has already collected the 100,000 signatures required by the electoral law. Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy expressed his fears that the campaign conducted by the head of state may be detrimental to the normal work of the government. The other candidates so far are Aleksander Kwasniewski of the Democratic Left Alliance, who is leading in opinion polls; former Labor Minister Jacek Kuron, backed by the Freedom Union; Ombudsman Tadeusz Zielinski, supported by the Labor Union; and Supreme Court President Adam Strzembosz and former Premier Jan Olszewski, both of whom are backed by the right-of-center parties. Polish National Bank President Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz has not yet officially declared her candidacy. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. CZECH POLITICIANS ON WAR IN CROATIA. President Vaclav Havel on 6 August expressed support for Croatia's military offensive in Krajina, Czech media reported. He argued that Zagreb has waited long enough for the international community to settle the conflict between Croatia and the rebel Krajina Serbs. When the international community proved unable to enforce or negotiate such a settlement, "Croatia decided for military action aimed at renewing the integrity of its territory," Havel said. Responding to the killings of two Czech soldiers during the offensive on 5 August, Havel said he was in favor of withdrawing the Czech battalion from Croatia. Czech Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec, however, said on 6 August that Zagreb's military action was premature because the possibilities for a negotiated settlement had not yet been exhausted. "At the same time, we realize that [the offensive] is "an action within the boundaries of a sovereign state," Zieleniec commented. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK PRESIDENT IN U.S. Michal Kovac, on a seven-day official visit to the United States, received an award from the American Bar Association in Chicago on 5 August for "his role in implementing political reform in Slovakia after it became independent following the collapse of Czechoslovakia in 1992," Slovak and international media reported. Kovac told journalists the previous day that he considers the prize to have been awarded to "all democratic forces in Slovakia that have striven for democratization and the rule of law." According to the president, the road toward building a democratic society, the rule of law, and a market economy in Slovakia "is irreversible." -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SERBS SIGN SURRENDER AGREEMENT. Croatian Serb forces on 7 August agreed to what the BBC called a surrender. They will hand over their heavy weapons to the UN at four control points--in Topusko, Glina, Zirovac, and Dvor --and then cross into Bosnia. They will be permitted to keep their hand weapons, but the Croats soon charged that the UN was letting them take a number of big guns, too. Croatian spokesmen said earlier that the "Republic of Serbian Krajina" has ceased to exist. All roads in Sector South are open to traffic. In eastern Slavonia, Serbs declared a war alert and exchanged artillery salvoes with the Croats. Also in the night of 6-7 August, two Bosnian Serb aircraft from Banja Luka attacked a petrochemical plant at Kutina, in central Croatia, Reuters reported. A rocket assault on Karlovac wounded five, and an air raid took place against Nova Gradiska on 7 August. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. TUDJMAN VISITS KNIN. Hina on 6 August reported that Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, paying a triumphal visit to the former capital of Krajina, said that the Croats' victory means "more than just conquering Croatian land, this means the creation of conditions for the stability of the Croatian state for centuries to come." The town fell on the morning of the previous day when Serbian units broke and fled before advancing Croatian troops. There was widespread destruction following a Croatian artillery barrage that began on 4 August, in the wake of which the Krajina civilian and military leadership escaped to Bosnian Serb territory. Reports of the death or injury of Krajina "President" Milan Martic have not been confirmed. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. "OPERATION STORM" WAS NO MISNOMER. Croatian spokesmen on 6 August said they have completed 80% of their objectives and will wrap things up by the end of 7 August. The BBC quoted UN officials as agreeing with the Croats. The myth of Serbian military prowess evaporated in the southern part of Krajina, which the Croats easily overran. The northern area proved to be tougher; but by the end of 6 August, Petrinja, Slunj, Plitvice and its national park, and the Udbina airfield were in Croatian hands, according to Hina. There were reports of Serbian artillery attacks against Osijek, Vinkovci, and other Croatian areas in eastern Slavonia, but Bosnian Serb centers such as Drvar and Trebinje were also reportedly in a state of alert. Spanish Radio on 5 August said that the Serbs shelled Mostar, not far from where Spanish peacekeepers are stationed. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. "BIHAC IS SAVED." This is how Croatian spokesmen on 6 August described the importance of Operation Storm for the embattled northwest Bosnian enclave. International media noted that the Bosnian Fifth Army Corps under General Atif Dudakovic broke through at Trzacke Rastele to join up with Croatian forces. This movement and the advances of the Croats left Krajina cut into several pieces. The Croatian role in saving Bihac was a main factor in Washington's reluctance to criticize Croatia for launching the operation. Secretary of State Warren Christopher even spoke of "beneficial results." Serbia's traditional allies--Russia, France, and Great Britain--led the field in condemning Zagreb, but the Security Council and EU mediator Carl Bildt also added their criticism. A Croatian UN spokesman replied that "Croatia is not the problem; Croatia is the solution," the BBC reported on 5 August. Hina added that Foreign Minister Mate Granic slammed Bildt in a letter that accused the mediator of "a complete lack of political wisdom" both in recent days and throughout the course of his work in the former Yugoslavia. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. WHAT NEXT? Maj.-Gen. Ivan Tolj, the Croatian Defense Ministry's spokesman, told Croatian media on 6 August that eastern Slavonia will be reintegrated peacefully now that the Serbs have seen what the Croatian army can do. The BBC noted, however, that there were several incidents and fatalities as UN peacekeepers were caught in crossfire and at least one Dane and two Czechs were killed. Mlada fronta dnes on 7 August reported that the Czechs died after the Serbs hijacked the rescue vehicle sent for them. What exactly happened in some other incidents remains unclear. The biggest problem for the UN , however, appears to be the flight of most of the Krajina Serbs. Croatian Radio appealed to them to stay, and Hina said on 6 August that some did. But Serbian media urged the Serbs to leave, and the UN expects that the largest single migration of the Wars of the Yugoslav Succession will be the result. One estimate said the total could go as high as 200,000, the BBC noted. Bosnian government sources said they feared the Serbs were deliberately bringing Krajina's panicked population to Bosnia to offset their manpower shortages there. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. STANDOFF BETWEEN KARADZIC, MLADIC. The BBC on 5 August reported that Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic tried to sideline military commander General Ratko Mladic by appointing him to coordinate operations with Krajina. Mladic the following day responded that such a job does not exist and that he will stay in his post as long as the soldiers and civilians back him. Some 18 generals signed a letter supporting Mladic. The two internationally wanted war criminals have a history of differences over power and tactics, but rarely has their feud become so public. It was dragged into the open at a session of the Bosnian Serb "parliament," which backed Karadzic, saying that the military must yield to civilian control. Karadzic appealed to Serbia to help the Bosnian and Krajina Serbs. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. MILOSEVIC CONDEMNS CROATIA. Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, following meetings in Belgrade with UN mediator Thorvald Stoltenberg, issued a statement saying "it has become apparent that Croatia represents the biggest threat to peace in the Balkans . . . ; [the rump Yugoslavia] justly expects that the international community takes action in keeping with its proclaimed principles and commitment to peace," the International Herald Tribune reported on 5-6 August. Meanwhile, federal rump Yugoslav authorities on 6 August urged the UN Security Council to undertake "urgent action" against Croatia, AFP reported. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. BELGRADE ON WAR FOOTING? AFP on 6 August reported that the rump Yugoslavia was fortifying its defenses along the border with Croatia. Eye-witnesses the previous day reported having observed "a column of armored troop transport vehicles and other military vehicles . . . [leaving] the barracks of Banjica in Belgrade, headed for the Croatian border." Meanwhile, Belgrade has reportedly ordered the partial mobilization of specialized and elite units. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. SESELJ DEMANDS BOMBING OF ZAGREB. Vojislav Seselj, alleged war criminal and leader of the Serbian Radical Party, has urged bomb attacks on Zagreb and Osijek. Speaking one day after being released from prison, Seselj claimed that "the Serbian traitor (President) Slobodan Milosevic" is refraining from a military response because he has reached a deal with Croatian President Franjo Tudjman whereby the Croats capture Knin in exchange for their giving up claims on eastern Slavonia, BETA reported on 4 August. Seselj added that Milosevic is seeking the "destruction of the political and military leadership of the Republic of Serbian Krajina and the Republic of Srpska." Seselj was arrested after clashes with police at an anti-Milosevic demonstration in Gnjilan on 2 June. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT OFFERS TAX BREAKS TO FOREIGN FIRMS. Western agencies, citing Rompres, reported on 4 August that the Romanian government has announced that foreign companies investing more than $50 million in the country's industrial sector will be exempt from some taxes and duties. Such firms will enjoy a seven-year holiday for customs duties and a five-year one for taxes on profit. The new regulations are designed to attract big investors. So far, Romania has attracted mostly small investors, including many from Turkey and the Middle East. Big investors often cite bureaucratic hurdles and hesitant economic reforms as reasons for staying out of the Romanian market. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. HEAD OF GAGAUZ PARAMILITARY TROOPS ARRESTED. Police in Comrat, the capital of Moldova's Gagauz autonomous region, have arrested Ivan Burgudji, head of the Gagauz paramilitary troops, BASA-press reported on 4 August. A leader of the former self-proclaimed Gagauz republic, Burgudji is the de facto commander of the "Budjak" battalion, which was disbanded after Chisinau granted the region broad territorial and cultural autonomy. He was arrested after posting an announcement of guns sale on the door of a local firm. Burgudji, who resisted the police and threatened them with a grenade, later said he had posted the announcement to draw public attention to the fate of the "Budjak" combatants, who, he claimed, have not been paid wages since the unit's dissolution. A local official rejected the claim, saying Burgudji was seeking to destabilize the situation in the region. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN CONSTITUTIONAL JUDGES WANT TO TAKE GOVERNMENT TO COURT. The Bulgarian Constitutional Court on 4 August unanimously decided to appeal to the Supreme Court after the government announced it will move the court out of its offices in the government building (see OMRI Daily Digest, 4 August 1995), Demokratsiya reported the following day. The judges argued that the cabinet has no right to change the offices and thereby paralyze the activities of the Constitutional Court, the Presidency, or the parliament. Constitutional Court Chairman Asen Manov said President Zhelyu Zhelev has promised his assistance in the matter. -- 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. ISSN 1211-1570
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