|Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith. - Christopher Fry|
No. 154, Part II, 9 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 LACK OF AID MAY KEEP CHORNOBYL OPEN. Ukraine may reconsider its promise to shut down the Chornobyl nuclear power plant if the West fails to help raise the $4 billion the government says it needs to replace it, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported on 8 August. Ukrainian Environment Minister Yurii Kostenko and officials from the State Committee on Nuclear Power said the government may be forced to upgrade the station if financial assistance isn't forthcoming. Kostenko told Reuters that President Leonid Kuchma sent a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, the current G-7 chairman, requesting a meeting next month on plans to close Chornobyl. Kuchma reportedly told Chretien that Ukraine would have "the legal and moral right to alter its decision." Meanwhile, Kiev has begun a scheduled overhaul of the station's no. 1 reactor. The plant's chief engineer told ITAR-TASS that 13 technological circuits would be replaced. The president's State Committee for Nuclear Policy and Environmental Safety has recommended the government work out a plan for a major reconstruction of Chornobyl to keep it operating for ten years. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. BELARUSIAN INDUSTRIAL OUTPUT FALLS. On 8 August Belarusian radio reported that industrial production in the first half of 1995 fell by 8.2% compared to the same period last year. This was more than the 3% foreseen under the plans to pull Belarus out of its economic crisis. The main reason for the drop was the lower output of machine-manufacturing industries. Light industry fared slightly better, but the output of the food industry fell 82.8 percent. The drop in agricultural output is attributed to equipment, fertilizers and other supplies not reaching the agricultural sector. Sectors of the economy that increased production included oil refinement and chemical industries. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. DISARMAMENT SPECIALISTS IN BELARUS. A group of U.S. disarmament specialists arrived in Minsk to discuss agreements on the liquidation of nuclear arms in Belarus, Belarusian television reported on 7 August. Talks will focus on the technical problems related to the dismantlement of the Krone missiles' launch pads on which Belarus's SS-25 Topol missiles were based. The republic initially planned to blow up the launch pads, but after two were destroyed it was decided the method caused too much environmental damage and the plan was halted. Minsk's recent decision to slow down the transfer of nuclear weapons from Belarus to Russia was also prompted by the environmental damage left behind by Russian strategic-rocket forces. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. POLISH GOVERNMENT ON THE MILITARY IN CROATIA. Polish Defense Minister Zbigniew Okonski said on 8 August that "Polish soldiers in Croatia are quite safe, considering the conditions there," Polish media reported the next day. He added that Poland will not unilaterally withdraw its soldiers without first consulting with the UN. The Polish government also appealed to both sides of the conflict in Krajina to observe the ceasefire agreement, Polish media reported. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. POSTPONING POLISH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS DEBATED. The idea of extending President Lech Walesa's term in office by two years, which was revealed and criticized by, among others, Deputy Sejm Speaker Wlodzimerz Cimoszewicz (see OMRI Daily Digest, 8 August 1995) evoked strong reactions from many politicians. Center Alliance leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski compared the idea to a proclamation that Poland has become an empire ruled by Walesa and that a discussion on the rules of succession to throne should follow, Rzeczpospolita reported on 9 August. It was revealed the same day that signatures in support of Walesa's candidacy for president were collected among soldiers under pressure from commanding officers. Labor Union Sejm deputies discussed the matter with the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Henryk Jasik, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 9 August. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. BALTS PROTEST HIGHWAY ROBBERIES IN POLAND. Estonian and Latvian officials asked Poland to take measures to prevent the increasingly frequent robberies of Baltic busses passing through Poland, Reuters reported on 8 August. The action was prompted by the robbery of a regularly scheduled bus travelling from Tallinn to Munich on the highway near Warsaw on 6 April by thieves disguised as Polish policemen. The German embassy in Warsaw may also submit a protest to the Polish authorities since nine of the passengers on the bus were German citizens and the bus tickets are sold by a German company. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. PRIVATIZATION OF LATVIAN GAS COMPANY. President of Latvian Gas Adrians Davis said the privatization of his company was unlikely to increase prices for individual users, BNS reported on 8 August. The government is planning to sell 24% of the company to foreign investors and 1% to Latvian residents. Companies that have expressed an interest in bidding include German Ruhrgas, French Gas de France, and Norwegian Norsk Hydro, although Russia's Gazprom, because it is the company's main gas supplier, is in the best position. Terms of the privatization process will be settled only after the company's assets are audited. It appears likely that the company will be privatized in 10 to 12 stages after which the government will own about 30% of the company. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK PRESIDENT MEETS WITH GORE. Continuing his visit to the U.S., on 8 August Michal Kovac met with U.S. Vice President Al Gore as well as representatives of the White House, State Department and Pentagon. Kovac told Slovak Radio on 8 August that U.S. representatives were most interested in the progress of democracy and reforms in Slovakia, and they stressed that Slovakia is not maintaining the same pace in these areas as are Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. In particular, the U.S. expressed anxiety about the situation in the media, privatization, relations between the government and the opposition, the increasing influence of the state in private life, and certain manifestations of nationalism in Slovakia. The ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia reacted angrily to Kovac's statements, stressing that if Kovac really voiced such an opinion, it is "proof" that he should have resigned following the no-confidence vote passed by the parliament in May. The Slovak National Party said Kovac "did not come out in defense of his country decisively and forcefully" as the head of state should have. The party also said Kovac again confirmed that he "does not respect the results of democratic elections," Narodna obroda reports. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. CZECH REPUBLIC TO PRIVATIZE FURTHER. Following a meeting of Czech economic ministers on 8 August, Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus announced that the state will sell its shares in many key industries, Czech media reported on 9 August. Although a majority of Czech companies are in private hands following two waves of voucher privatization, the state is still a major shareholder in some banks and other key firms. Klaus told journalists the government wants to "radically" reduce state ownership in such firms. Moreover, the Czech Republic's top privatization agency-- the National Property Fund--still holds between 5% and 10% of shares in some 1,400 privatized companies. The ministers agreed that the sale of these shares must be accelerated, and the process should be finished by 1997. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE UNCERTAINTY CONTINUES IN KRAJINA. The BBC reported on 9 August that another agreement between the Croatian authorities and rebel Serbs may be in the offing. The basic principle would be that the Serbs give up their heavy weapons in return for safe passage. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote that the situation has become more complicated because 14,000 soldiers with light and heavy weapons have mixed in with a column of 40,000 civilians between Glina and Dvor. Croatian, Serbian, and UN officials continue to disagree as to the total number of Krajina refugees on the move, international media reported. The Ljubljana daily Delo wrote on 8 August that air attacks on columns of Serbian refugees on Bosnian Serb territory were carried out by Bosnian Serb aircraft. The article, which is summarized in Vecerni list on 9 August, claimed that Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his air force commander Zivomir Ninkovic want the refugees to go home to maintain a Serbian presence in Krajina. The Bosnian Serbs also reportedly set up a court martial in Banja Luka to try Krajina Serbs for leaving the Knin and Benkovac battlefields. According to the article, some 20 men have already been sentenced. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. MARTIC WANTS SERBS TO RETAKE KRAJINA. Bosnian Serb television on 8 August broadcast an appeal by Krajina Serb "President" Milan Martic, his first public appearance in some time. AFP said he was in the Krajina town of Srb, wearing military fatigues and looking exhausted. Martic called on "all the patriots from all Serb states and from abroad to come back for the defense of their fatherland. I do not recognize nor will I ever recognize the occupation [of Krajina]. We must do everything in order to return to our homes. I am convinced we can do it. I remain here, I am somewhat surrounded but I am not afraid." The BBC on 9 August said that any attempt to retake Krajina without the active help of the rump Yugoslav army was utter nonsense. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. KARADZIC CALLS MILOSEVIC A TRAITOR. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has given up some of his political duties to parliament speaker Momcilo Krajisnik in order to devote full time to the reconquest of Krajina, the VOA said on 9 August. The BBC added that Karadzic wrote a letter to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, accusing him of having turned his back on Krajina and thereby becoming a traitor to all Serbs. Karadzic nonetheless left the door open for Milosevic to redeem himself by immediately coming to the military aid of the Krajina and Bosnian Serbs. Karadzic has other problems closer to home, however. Reuters said on 8 August that General Dragomir Milosevic has joined 18 other Bosnian Serb generals in backing commander Ratko Mladic "in absolute unity" against Karadzic. The feud between the two internationally wanted war criminals has become increasingly public in recent days. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. MLADIC DOES NOT RECOGNIZE AUTHORITY OF INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNAL. Alexandros Lykourezos, lawyer of Ratko Mladic, said on 8 August that his client does not recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia that has charged him with war crimes, AFP reported the following day. Lykourezos said he met Mladic on 6 August near Belgrade to discuss his defense before all international bodies, including the Hague tribunal. He added that the other 23 indicted Bosnian Serbs, including Radovan Karadzic, also reject the court's authority. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. SERBS IN EASTERN SLAVONIA ANNOUNCE JOINT COMMAND WITH BELGRADE. AFP reported on 9 August that Serb leaders in eastern Slavonia declared they had formed a joint command with the rump Yugoslav army. There has been no confirmation or denial from Belgrade. The Serbian mayor of Vukovar said that the Serbs there have been "until now... divided and separated from Serbia, our mother country, [but now] are finally reunited. We are 12 million [Serbs in the former Yugoslavia] and we will become 312 million if necessary," a reference to Russia, to which many Serbs traditionally feel great devotion. Wealthy eastern Slavonia has reportedly been highly integrated into Serbia. Meanwhile in New York, the Croatian ambassador to the UN, Mario Nobilo, said "we have no immediate intention to establish military control over our remaining occupied territory of Croatia." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. FIRST RELIEF CONVOY REACHES BIHAC. International media report on 9 August that the first shipment of supplies since May has reached Bihac. The Serbian and renegade Muslim siege of the town lasted for three years until the mainly Muslim Bosnian army Fifth Corps broke through to join up with advancing Croat forces in Krajina on 5-6 August. The Muslims have reportedly torched at least six Serbian villages, apparently in reprisal, and have been seen looting as well. A BBC reporter in Bihac said that the town's residents are happy and relieved but also worn out. Danish peacekeepers reported that some Muslim soldiers had executed five elderly Serbs, but UN special envoy Yasushi Akashi said there was no confirmation of the report. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. CROATIA REJECTS BOSNIAN CARVE-UP CHARGE. Croatia's ambassador to Britain wrote the Times on 8 August to protest British press reports that Croatian President Franjo Tudjman had made a deal with Milosevic to partition Bosnia. The ambassador said that "any plans to 'carve up' Bosnia originate not from President Tudjman, or from any supposed secret deals between Croatia and Serbia, but from the international community and the successive peace mediators." The Times had earlier run an article in which politician Paddy Ashdown claimed that Tudjman had drawn him a map at a festive dinner showing how Bosnia's borders might look in the future. Meanwhile in Belgrade, Politika on 9 August published two articles on British and French opposition to Croatia: "One more black day in the history of Europe" and "Paris fears a 'greater Croatia.'" Le Figaro called for an end to viewing the Serbs as aggressors and the Muslims and Croats as victims. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. OPINION POLL ON BULGARIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS. According to an opinion poll published in 24 chasa on 8 August, the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) would get 34.3% of the vote if local elections were held now. The Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) would receive 16.7%, and the remaining parties less than 10% each. However, 24.7% answered that they do not know who they would vote for. If the major opposition parties nominate common candidates, they would receive 24.6%, and the BSP 33.6%. In Sofia, former interim Prime Minister Reneta Indzhova leads the poll with 22.9%, followed by the yet unnamed BSP candidate (13.6%), and SDS candidate Stefan Sofiyanski (12.6%). In Sofia, "undecided" is the largest group with 42.1%. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. NIMITZ ON GREEK-MACEDONIAN DISPUTE. The U.S. special envoy mediating in the Greek-Macedonian dispute, Matthew Nimitz, said efforts to resolve the dispute have recently "intensified." In an interview with the Greek daily Ethnos on 7 August, Nimitz called his recent talks with Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov encouraging and said that "in Skopje there is understanding for the Greek government's stance, but, of course, there are differences." According to Nimitz, both sides want to solve the dispute; Macedonia because it "wishes for progress in the flag issue, and wants to reopen trade and have good relations with Greece," and Greece "because [the dispute] has a negative influence on [Greece] in the European arena, as well as on Greek trade." Nimitz added that despite the problems, the prevailing view in both countries is resolution of the issue. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIALS IN BUCHAREST. NATO's Deputy Secretary for Defense Assistance, Robin Beard, started a one-week visit to Romania on 8 August, Western and Romanian media reported. Speaking to journalists at Bucharest's international airport, Beard deplored the latest fighting in the former Yugoslavia, and said that "NATO's hands are pretty well tied." On the same day, Beard met with Romanian Defense Minister Gheorghe Tinca. According to Radio Bucharest, the talks focused on cooperation between NATO and Romania, including Romania's participation in the Partnership For Peace program. The two sides stressed the need for increased cooperation in the management of defense resources and military equipment. Also on 8 August, Dutch Defense Minister Joris Voorhoeve began a four-day visit to Romania. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. CHOLERA SPREADING IN MOLDOVA. The number of people infected with cholera in Moldova is on the rise, Western agencies and Infotag reported on 7 and 8 August. The disease, which broke out in that country in July, has already killed two people and infected at least 63. New cases were reported in the town of Stefan-Voda, some 80 kms southeast of Chisinau. Moldovan officials say that the disease came from neighboring Ukraine. Moldova has imposed travel bans in areas most affected by the epidemic and has banned the import of fish from Ukraine. It also announced its intention to import Romanian chemicals worth over $100,000 to begin disinfecting work. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. DID AFGHAN GOVERNMENT BUY AMMUNITION IN ALBANIA? A spokesman of Afghanistan's Burhanuddin Rabbani-led government said it had bought ammunition in Albania "because it was cheap there," Reuters reported on 8 August. The ammunition was discovered when a MiG-19 jet fighter of the Taleban student militia forced a Russian Ilyushin 76 to land at Taleban military headquarters in Kandahar. Taleban said it found 3,400,000 rounds of Kalashnikov assault rifle ammunition and two boxes of shells for Z-U anti-aircraft guns. A Russian negotiator accused Taleban of committing "international terrorism" and added: "We are holding Taleban responsible for the safety of the crew who are hostages in Kandahar." A Rabbani government spokesman claimed that "the consignment has all the proper documents and we have done nothing wrong." -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. SEASIDE PROPERTIES FOR FORMER ALBANIAN LANDOWNERS? Following parliament passage of the disputed land law, which allows the buying and selling of real estate, (see OMRI Daily Digest 27 July 1995) the Albanian government has proposed to compensate former landowners with properties well-suited for tourism, such as sites on the southern Albanian coast, Koha Jone and Republika reported on 5 and 6 August. The plans are disputed, however, and the leader of the Democratic Alliance, Neritan Ceka, stressed that the infrastructure necessary for people to settle on the coast, such as apartments, streets, and water pipelines would cost "billions of dollars." -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Pete Baumgartner 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.