|The salvation of mankind lies only in making everything the concern of all. - Alexander Solzhenitsyn|
No. 153, Part II, 8 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 SLUGGISH LAND REFORM IN UKRAINE. The State Committee on Land Resources in Ukraine has announced that little progress has been made beyond the first scheduled phase of land reform in the agricultural sector, Ukrainian Radio reported on 7 August. As of 1 July, 12% of Ukraine's farmland was transferred to so-called collective ownership by large- scale enterprises, while only 3% was in private hands. The state maintains ownership of 84.8 % of farmland, most of which is still leased out to collective farms as well as private tenant farmers. The government held 90% of farmland at the beginning of the year. The president's top economic advisor, Anatolii Halchynsky, told Ukrainian TV on 7 August that Kuchma is expected to issue a decree on creating a mechanism for transferring land on collective farms to their employees, which would constitute the second phase of land reform. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIAN ECONOMIC NEWS. President Leonid Kuchma on 7 August issued a decree obligating businesses earning hard currency in Ukraine to use the National Bank's Interbank Currency Exchange when converting half their hard-currency profits to karbovantsi, Radio Ukraine reported on 7 August. Companies are required to have special licenses for hard- currency operations and must exchange half their earnings for Ukraine's provisional currency. Recently, Ukraine banned cash transactions in hard currency as a step toward monetary reform. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER IN BELARUS. Erdal Inonu arrived in Minsk on 7 August for a two-day visit aimed at improving relations between the two sides, Belarusian Radio reported. Relations soured last November when Belarus expelled two Turkish diplomats for spying and arrested a Belarusian in connection with the case. Ankara retaliated by suspending bilateral projects. Turkey was one of the first countries to recognize Belarusian independence. Bilateral trade amounts to $50 million. Inonu is scheduled to meet with his Belarusian counterpart, Uladzimir Syanko, Prime Minister Mikhail Chyhir, and President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. An agreement on air links and cooperation in education, culture, sports, and protection of investments is expected to be signed. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. BELARUS ACCUSES RUSSIAN MEDIA OF CAMPAIGN AGAINST PRESIDENT. Presidential spokesman Uladzimir Zamyatalin has accused the Russian media of waging a campaign against Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, Ekho Moskvy reported on 7 August. Zamyatalin charged that some Russian newspapers have repeatedly put down the Belarusian leader and portrayed his policies as "travesties." He appealed to Deputy Speaker of the State Duma Gennadii Seleznev to take concrete measures against such coverage. Lukashenka has censored the Belarusian media and fired editors in chief of leading newspapers for publishing articles he considered critical of him. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. INFLATION IN ESTONIA DECLINES IN JULY. The Estonian Statistics Department announced that the consumer price index in July increased by 1.7%, compared with an increase of 2.3% in June, BNS reported on 7 August. The price of goods grew by 0.1%, with the 0.9% increase in the cost of manufactured goods offsetting the 0.5% decrease in food prices. The cost of services increased by 3.7% in July, and the largest increase was for housing and utilities (5.3%). -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. POLAND DEPORTS 33 ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS TO LITHUANIA. Deputy Director of the Lithuanian Migration Department Almantas Gavenas on 7 August announced that the Polish authorities deported 33 illegal immigrants from Asian countries to Lithuania three days earlier, BNS reported. The immigrants are being held at a detention center in Marijampole. Lithuania, in turn, will deport the immigrants, , to the countries from which they entered Lithuania. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. POLISH DIPLOMAT PROPOSES POSTPONING PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. Deputy Speaker of the Sejm Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz on 7 August revealed that Polish Ambassador to Russia Stanislaw Ciosek has sent a letter to several politicians proposing that President Lech Walesa's term of office be extended for another two years so that the presidential elections, scheduled for the fall of 1995, coincide with the parliamentary elections, scheduled for 1997. Cimoszewicz said he did not rule out that presidential aides had been behind Ciosek's initiative. The president's spokesman said that Walesa has always favored having presidential and parliamentary elections at the same time. Sejm speaker Jozef Zych, presidential candidate and former Labor Minister Jacek Kuron, and Christian-National Alliance leader Ryszard Czarnecki all strongly criticized the idea, Polish media reported on 8 August. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. POLAND PREDICTS STRONG ECONOMIC GROWTH. The Central Planning Bureau has forecast that Poland's gross domestic product will grow by 6.5% this year, Gazeta Wyborcza reported. Exports are expected to rise by 20% to $27.5 billion and imports by 27.5%. Industrial output is forecast to rise by 10.5%, with growth slowing slightly as the result of the zloty's appreciation. Spending on fixed investment will increase by 10%, following last year's 7.1% rise. The latest inflation forecast is 22% at year-end and 28% as an annual average. In another indication of strong growth, Poles bought nearly 155,000 new cars in the first half of 1995. Sales were up by 19% for domestic models and 13% for imports over the same period last year. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK DRAFT LAW ON UNIVERSITIES DRAWS CRITICISM. Lev Bukovsky, rector of Pavol Jozef Safarik University in Kosice, has said the government's latest version of the law on universities is "unacceptable," Narodna obroda reported on 8 August. Bukovsky stressed that top representatives of the university have rejected the draft law, which was sent to them by the Ministry of Education for their response in late July. The draft law would allow the ministry to create and eliminate university departments and decide how many students would be accepted to study a given field. Officials at a number of Slovak universities have criticized the law, saying it would restrict academic freedom. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK TRADE FIGURES. Slovak exports in the first half of 1995 rose 22.2% to 123.95 billion koruny, Narodna obroda reported on 8 August. The biggest share of exports went to the Czech Republic (35.8%), followed by Germany (18.9%), Italy (4.8%), Austria (4.7%), Hungary (4.5%), Poland (4%), and Russia (3.3%). The share of exports to EU member countries reached 37.7%. Meanwhile, imports totaled 125 billion koruny, bringing Slovakia's six-month trade deficit to 1.1 billion koruny. Sme on 8 August quoted Economy Ministry official Stefan Burda as saying increased imports of Russian oil are the reason for the trade deficit. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. NEW ROMANI ORGANIZATION ESTABLISHED IN HUNGARY. Seven Romani organizations met in the Hungarian town of Nyiregyhaza on 7 August to form the Coordinating Federation of Roma Organizations in Northeastern Hungary, MTI reported the same day. The organizations come from the three counties with the largest Romani population, where the combined unemployment rate is one of the highest in Hungary. The federation will seek to create more jobs for Roma and will prepare for the 1998 local and parliamentary elections. It stressed that it hopes to field candidates who have the backing of a majority of the Romani community in order to "avoid dissension and meaningless debate." -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SUSAK SAYS OPERATION STORM IS OVER. Croatian Defense Minister Gojko Susak told Hina on 7 August that Croatia was demobilizing. He also said that military operations in the former Sector North and Sector South were over, the BBC noted on 8 August. He denied British and Serbian reports that there was a conflict of interests between Croatia and Bosnia. Some 6,000 Serbian soldiers had been resisting near Topusko, but Susak said they were surrounded and giving up. The UN, however, said that the Serbs were still fighting and that the Croats were shelling the area. International media reported that the agreement whereby the Serbs in effect surrendered broke down by mid-day on 7 August when the Croats said the Serbs had "tricked" them. Croatian artillery went into action and at least two Serbs were killed. Serbian resistance was strongest in the Banija and Kordun areas. There were confusing and sometimes contradictory reports -- including Bosnian Serb air raids on up to five Croatian towns, the downing of two Serbian Orao jets, a Croatian air raid on a column of Serbian refugees near Banja Luka, the burning of six Serbian villages by Bosnian government forces, and the blocking of roads into Bosnia by the Bosnian Fifth Corps, which reportedly trapped thousands of Serbian refugees. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SERBIA SENDS TANKS INTO EASTERN SLAVONIA. International media on 7 August reported that columns of Serbian tanks were heading across the border into eastern Slavonia, the richest of Serbia's conquests in the Wars of the Yugoslav Succession. Croatia then sent two crack brigades to the border area, including the Tigers. Croatian media reported on 8 August that the Serbs shelled Osijek, but the area otherwise appeared to be quiet. AFP quoted the British Foreign Office as saying that Britain "would not welcome" a Croatian move into eastern Slavonia. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. "BIGGEST SINGLE MIGRATION OF SERBS IN HISTORY." This is how Belgrade Radio described the mass flight of Krajina Serbs into Bosnia and Serbia, the BBC reported on 8 August. If this description is accurate, the present migration would exceed that of 30,000 families into Habsburg territory in 1690 and the epic retreat of the Serbian army in World War I. The latest estimates are of 150,000 people on the move; but this is not certain, given Croatian reports that prewar Krajina had a total population of only 400,000. Croatian officials on 8 August said that the figure of 150,000 was grossly exaggerated and that the entire population of Serb-held Krajina was only 120,000. The refugees appear to prefer to go to Serbia than Bosnia, and the men in particular are reported to want to get as far from the front as possible. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. ZAGREB CALLS BILDT PERSONA NON GRATA. Croatian officials on 7 August slammed charges by EU mediator Carl Bildt that the flight of the Serbs was "ethnic cleansing" and declared him persona non grata for several of his recent remarks. The Croats noted that they encouraged the Krajina Serbs to stay while Serbian media urged them to leave. They also pointed out that many of the Serbs were living in homes and had property taken from Croats following the deliberate "ethnic cleansing" of the area that started in 1991. The UN said it would soon begin investigating reports of human rights violations by the Croats in Knin. International media reported cases of abuse of Serbian civilians and of looting, but there appears to be no evidence of the systematic brutality associated with Serbian forces in Bosnia and Croatia. The International Herald Tribune on 8 August quoted Croatian officials as denying charges by the UN that Croatian soldiers used Danish peacekeepers as human shields over the weekend. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. BOSNIAN SERB LEADERS BLAME MILOSEVIC FOR KRAJINA'S COLLAPSE. One of the casualties of Operation Storm was the myth of Serbian military invincibility, effectively embarrassing experts who predicted that only armies in the hundreds of thousands could dislodge them. Many Krajina Serbs were baffled and bitter that Knin fell in a single day, and one told the 7 August New York Times that "it's a great shock psychologically after it has been built up that we are winners. We all expected Serbia to protect us. Everyone thinks [Serbian President Slobodan] Milosevic has betrayed us." Radovan Karadzic and other Bosnian Serb leaders have also charged Milosevic with "betraying Serb interests," as "Vice President" Biljana Plavsic put it. Karadzic said that "several factors in Serbia were directly responsible for the destabilization of the Republic of Serbian Krajina," AFP reported. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. BELGRADE CALLS FOR SANCTIONS AGAINST CROATIA. Serbia on 7 August called for sanctions to be imposed against Zagreb, international media reported. In a letter to the UN, Belgrade described Croatia's victory over the Krajina Serbs as an act of "shameless aggression" and said the international community "must undertake concrete and resolute measures against such criminal and genocidal acts." Meanwhile, Nasa Borba on 8 August reported that the Serbian Orthodox Church has issued an appeal for humanitarian aid for Serbian refugees. It also said that the Serbian and Montenegrin republican governments are no longer "fit" to lead the Serbian nation. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. MARTIC FLEES. BETA on 7 August reported that the "president" of the former Republic of Serbian Krajina had fled following Croatia's victory in Krajina and is currently somewhere on Serb-occupied Bosnian territory. Earlier reports concerning Milan Martic's whereabouts had speculated that he had either committed suicide or had been assassinated. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. MLADIC CHOOSES GREEK DEFENSE LAWYER. Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic has appointed Greek lawyer Alexandros Lykourezos to defend him at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, AFP reported on 7 August. A spokesman for the lawyer said Lykourezos is currently in Belgrade to discuss details of the defense. Mladic was charged with genocide and crimes against humanity by the tribunal, and in July a warrant for his arrest was issued. Lykourezos is one of Greece's most prominent lawyers. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. MACEDONIAN-YUGOSLAV DONKEY SMUGGLING AFFAIR. A group of rump Yugoslav citizens are suspected of having organized a smuggling enterprise at the border between Kumanovo and Presevo, BETA reported on 7 August. The smugglers used donkeys without riders to transport goods across the border. Their activities were discovered when a donkey lost its baggage, which contained "something very valuable." Smuggled goods were allegedly drugs and arms. BETA also noted that the price for donkeys in Macedonia has risen to between 500 and 1,000 DM, depending on how well trained the donkeys are. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIA ON CROATIAN OFFENSIVE. Romania's Foreign Ministry, in a statement released on 7 August and broadcast by Radio Bucharest, expressed "deep concern" over the Croatian offensive in Krajina. The statement said the recent offensive "contributed to perpetuating an extremely dangerous situation that could lead to the expansion of military operations with wider implications for the entire zone." It stressed that Romania, as a neighbor, "directly perceives the state of insecurity" in the region. Bucharest called for an immediate resumption of peace talks and offered to mediate in the conflict. The leading daily Adevarul described the outburst of joy in Zagreb over the victory in Krajina as "grotesque." It also deplored the fate of the 200,000 Serbs who have had to take refuge in neighboring Bosnia. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT ADOPTS PRIVATIZATION RULES. The Bulgarian government on 7 August adopted the regulations for mass privatization, Reuters reported the same day. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Economic Development Rumen Gechev said the program is based on the Czech coupon privatization model. Companies will be on sale for both vouchers and cash. "The combined approach pursues two aims: to transfer state property into private ownership, and . . . to allow an inflow of fresh funds into the enterprises," Gechev said. Up to 200 enterprises will be included in the first round of mass privatization, which is scheduled to start by the end of 1995. Between 31% and 70% of state-owned enterprises will be privatized with vouchers, depending on investor interest. Some 20% will be offered to the employees at a preferential price, while 10% will be kept in reserve for possible restitution claims, Kontinent reported the following day. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. CHIEF EDITOR OF ALBANIAN DAILY FINED. Arban Hasani, editor in chief of Populli PO, has been fined 100,000 lek ($1,000), for defamation, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 5 August. The secret service SHIK brought charges against him for wrongly reporting that a SHIK officer ordered the killing on 14 January 1994 in Shkoder of Xhovali Cekini, a member of the opposition party Democratic Alliance. A man has since been arrested for committing the crime. Allegations that the killing was organized by circles close to the ruling Democratic Party appeared in the independent media but were never confirmed. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. NEW ALBANIAN CONSULATE IN NORTHERN GREECE. An Albanian consulate has opened in the northern Greek town of Ioannina, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 5 August. Preparations for the new consulate began in 1992, but the opening was delayed owing to deteriorating relations between the two countries in 1994. The Albanian Foreign Ministry has reportedly not yet appointed a consul-general. Meanwhile, construction of a new facility at the Albanian-Macedonian border checkpoint at Qafe e Thanes have gotten under way, BETA reported on 4 August. The new facility is expected to speed up considerably cross-border traffic. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. GREECE SENDS AID TO KRAJINA REFUGEES, CRITICIZES WEST. Greek Defense Minister Gerasimos Arsenis on 7 August announced Greece will send medicine, food, and clothing to Serbian refugees from Krajina, international agencies reported the same day. The first two planes will leave on 8 August, and the aid will be distributed by the UN. Greece will also send doctors to the region and is considering treating some of the wounded at Greek military hospitals. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias condemned the Croatian offensive against Krajina, saying "no difference was ever solved by military means" and urging a peaceful solution. Deputy Foreign Minister for European Affairs Georgios-Alexandros Mangakis the same day criticized the U.S. and Germany for backing Croatia's offensive against the rebel Krajina Serbs. -- 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
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.