|Words that open our eyes to the world are always the easiest to remember. - Ryszard Kapuscinski|
No. 155, Part II, 10 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 SLOVAKIA ASKS U.S. FOR EXPLANATION. Premier Vladimir Meciar, speaking on Slovak TV on 9 August, said his government has asked the U.S. State Department whether the U.S. is changing its attitude toward the Slovak government. He noted that just 14 days ago, the view was positive; however, during his visit to the U.S., President Michal Kovac told Slovak Radio on 8 August that U.S. representatives said Slovakia is not maintaining the same pace toward democracy and reform as are Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 August 1995). Foreign Ministry State Secretary Josef Sestak on 9 August said that Slovakia has sent a note to the U.S. embassy in Bratislava asking for clarification of the U.S.'s attitude. Meanwhile, Kovac has come under increasing attack from the government coalition. Speaking on Slovak TV, Meciar called Kovac's statements "very unfortunate." Presidential spokesman Vladimir Stefko said that Kovac was not interpreting the "official" opinion of the U.S. government but rather the opinions of high-ranking specialists within the U.S. administration, Pravda reported on 10 August. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. UPDATE ON SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S U.S. VISIT. Michal Kovac, meeting with top representatives of the White House, the State Department, and the Defense Department, identified three main reasons for political tension in Slovakia: relations between the president and premier, between the president and parliamentary majority, and between the coalition and opposition. He also stressed the importance of solving problems between the government, on the one hand, and trade unions, district administrations, and universities, on the other. According to Kovac, the coalition believes that "whoever wins the elections has the possibility to proceed without regard for the opinions of the opposition," Pravda reported on 10 August based on a fax sent to the Foreign Ministry by Slovak Ambassador to the U.S. Branislav Lichardus. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIAN-BRAZILIAN RELATIONS. Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleksander Nykonenko has said Ukraine is preparing to open an embassy in Brazil, Ukrainian Radio reported on 8 August. He noted that Brazil was one of the ten most industrially developed countries in the world, with a GNP larger than that of either Russia or Ukraine. Trade between the two countries in 1994 totaled $46 million. Brazil is also home to 500,000 Ukrainians, who have been actively seeking to promote closer cultural and economic ties between the two countries. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. CFE INSPECTORS IN BELARUS. A delegation of inspectors arrived in Minsk on 8 August to check whether Belarus is complying with the 1990 CFE treaty, Belarusian Radio reported. The group is to begin work on 11 August. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in February announced that the republic was suspending CFE reductions because of financial difficulties. To date, there have been no statements that disarmament has resumed. Minsk has offered to show the delegation 72 sites around Barysau and Machulishkau, but they may be shown other sites of their own choosing. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. NEW PRESIDENTIAL CONTROL SERVICE IN BELARUS. Belarusian Radio on 8 August reported that President Alyaksandr Lukashenka issued a decree renaming the Control Service of the Administration of the President. It will now be called the Control Service of the President of the Republic of Belarus. The decree aims at enhancing the president's powers and making the work of the control service more effective. It also named the head of the previous control service, Vasil Dalhaleu, as chief of the successor organization. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. ESTONIAN COMMERCIAL BANK TO OPEN BRANCH IN RUSSIA. The Rusian Central Bank has given permission to the Estonian EVEA Bank to open a branch in Russia, BNS reported on 9 August. EVEA Bank is the first Estonian commercial bank to be allowed to operate in Russia. Its information and advertising department head, Gennadi Gramberg, said that the bank applied for permission to set up a branch because of the growing interest in Russia in Estonian banking . The branch's primary tasks will be the exchange of information, market research, and introduction of EVEA Bank's services into Russia. It will be allowed to have only two employees and will base its work on Russian legislation. * Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. SAFETY OF LITHUANIA'S NUCLEAR POWER PLANT. The Lithuanian Energy Ministry held a press conference on 9 August to respond to a recent U.S. report stating that Ignalina was one of four nuclear power plants in Eastern Europe that were even more dangerous than the Chornobyl facility, RFE/RL reported. A Swedish nuclear expert noted that the U.S. report did not accurately reflect the current situation at Ignalina because it was written in May 1993 and did not take into account various measures taken to improve Ignalina's safety. He said that once all these measures have been taken--at a cost of $100 million--the safety of the Ignalina plant will be comparable to that of atomic facilities in the West. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. POLISH GOVERNMENT APPROVES DRAFT LAW ON FOREIGN VISITORS. The Polish government on 8 August approved a draft law on foreign visitors that would allow someone to be refused entry to Poland if the aim of his visit is unclear or if his stay could endanger public health. The law also enables authorities to verify whether a visitor has sufficient financial means to stay in the country. Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Jerzy Zimowski said the requirement that the visitor have $20-25 for each day of his visit will be enforced primarily for Romanian, African, and Asian visitors. He added that the law follows Western norms and will replace legislation from 1963, Polish media reported on 9 August. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. UPDATE ON MILITARY'S INVOLVEMENT IN POLISH PRESIDENTIAL CAMAPIGN. Minister of Interior Andrzej Milczanowski has created a special commission to investigate revelations in the Polish press that signatures supporting President Lech Walesa's candidacy were collected from troops in Interior Ministry units under presure from commanding officers (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 August 1995), The Defense Minister Zbigniew Okonski said no election campaigning has taken place in the military detachments subordinated to his ministry, Polish media reported on 10 August. Before the 1993 parliamentary elections, Gen. Julian Lewinski, commander of the Warsaw Military District, ran a campaign supporting a pro-presidential party. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. CROATIA STOPS HUNGARIAN RAIL CARGO. The Croatian government has asked the Hungarian State Railway (MAV) to halt all cargo shipments bound for Rijeka, a port on Croatia's Adriatic coast, Reuters reported. A MAV spokesman on 9 August said that the official reason given by the Croats was "traffic overload."He commented that it is not clear whether the request is in any way related to fighting in Krajina. Rijeka is the main port for landlocked Hungary, having been actively developed by Hungary during Habsburg times. According to the spokesman, MAV officials on 10 August will hold talks with their Croatian and Slovenian counterparts on ending the cargo halt. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SERBIAN REFUGEES, SOLDIERS HEAD FOR SERBIA. The VOA on 10 August reported that some 100,000 Serbs are on the road from the former Krajina to Serbia via Bosnian Serb territory. A major problem is the presence of armed soldiers among the civilians, although few of the troops have any stomach for fighting. The Croats, who have just taken the last Serb stronghold of Dvor, do not trust the UN to disarm the men. Nor do the Bosnian Serbs seem to have much confidence in their nominal allies, whom they are disarming and then keeping out of Banja Luka, the BBC said. AFP reported that the International Committee of the Red Cross is concerned about the presence of the soldiers and what it will mean for the safety of the refugees. The International Herald Tribune added that Croatian civilians are pelting the refugees with stones. A Croatian policeman said that "these people are angry. You should be thankful they don't do more" to the Serbs. Meanwhile in Zagreb, UN special envoy Yasushi Akashi started talks on 9 August to scale down the UN presence in Croatia, especially of soldiers. "We would like to have a reduced but effective presence," Akashi told AFP. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SERBIA TO SETTLE REFUGEES IN KOSOVO. AFP on 10 August cited Tanjug to the effect that some "thousands" of Krajina refugees will be sent to the roughly 90% ethnic Albanian-inhabited province of Kosovo. It is not clear how many will be resettled there and what will happen to those who do not want to go. Serbian nationalists have long dreamed of reversing demographic trends in the impoverished area, which are the results of steady Serbian emigration and a high Albanian birth rate. The Serbian government to date has had little luck in enticing Serbs to settle there voluntarily, even with generous benefits. The first refugees are expected within days and some communities have volunteered to accomodate them, but any mass resettlement will require more resources than the authorities currently have at their disposal. Some observers have painted bleak scenarios should Belgrade apply its "ethnic cleansing" techniques in Kosovo. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. U.S. SAYS CROATIA NOT GUILTY OF "ETHNIC CLEANSING." Peter Galbraith, influential U.S. ambassador to Croatia, rejected British and Serbian charges that Zagreb is guilty of "ethnic cleansing." He told the BBC on 9 August that "ethnic cleansing is a practice supported by Belgrade and carried out by Bosnian and Croatian Serbs, forcefully expelling local inhabitants and using terror tactics." He added that the Croatian military success could prove to be a positive step in resolving the conflict through negotiations. A British journalist said that international diplomacy has no new ideas anyway and that the problems are being resolved by the military on the ground. A German editor added that this is because the international community has no clout since it has been unwilling to use force. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. CIA HAS EVIDENCE OF SERBIAN WAR CRIMES IN SREBRENICA. The VOA and The New York Times on 10 August reported on disclosures by a top CIA official and a State Department spokesman on the possible mass murder of Muslims by Serbs following the fall of Srebrenica last month. One spy photo apparently showed a field near a soccer stadium with hundreds or thousands of Muslim men and boys. A second photo, taken a few days later, showed the field empty but with the earth disturbed in a large pattern recalling that of mass graves elsewhere. There are some 6,000 people from Srebrenica still unaccounted for. The American officials said that incidents of human rights violations committed by the Croatian or Bosnian forces "do not approach the scale or systematic nature" of those of the Serbs. The State Department official noted that, following the Croatian reconquest of Krajina, there have been "scattered cases of human rights abuses" but "no reports of the kind of atrocities that followed the fall of Srebrenica." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. MORE ON RUMORS OF A BOSNIAN CARVE-UP. The BBC on 10 August quoted a British commentator as saying that Croatia knows it needs the alliance with the Muslims for its own security and that the Croat-Muslim federation "is the current game in town." Many Croats have wondered why the British politican who produced the map, supposedly drawn by President Franjo Tudjman, waited three months to do so, and why the notes on the map contain no typical "Croatianisms." Tudjman, in fact, has just presented top Croatian awards to his Bosnian counterpart, Alija Izetbegovic and to Bosnia's foreign minister. Slobodna Dalmacija on 10 August quoted Bosnian Fifth Corps commander General Arif Dudakovic as praising the Croatian role in relieving Bihac. Meanwhile, Tudjman has refused to meet Serbian and Russian presidents in Moscow unless Izetbegovic is present, Vjesnik reported. (See related items in the Russian section) -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. BELGRADE MASS RALLY DENOUNCES SERBIAN PRESIDENT. Up to 10,000 people gathered in downtown Belgrade on 9 August to participate in a mass rally against Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, international media reported the following day. The rally, attended by nationalist political leaders and members of the Serbian Orthodox clergy, held Milosevic personally responsible for the defeat of rebel Serb Krajina forces and for the "loss" of rebel-held Croatian territory. Protesters called Milosevic "a second Tudjman" and "ustasha." Officials from the Orthodox Church, which called for Milosevic's ouster following Croatia's victory, blessed the gathering. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. MILOSEVIC REPLIES TO KARADZIC. Serbian President Milosevic on 9 August responded to Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic's statements the previous day denouncing Milosevic for allegedly selling out Serbian national interests by "abandoning" Krajina, Tanjug reported. Milosevic charged that Karadzic and the Krajina Serb leadership were responsible for the "loss" of Krajina because of their "war-mongering" and unwillingness to accept internationally mediated peace plans. "The results of rejecting talks are a great loss of life, the loss of Krajina, and an exodus of the population," Milosevic said. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. ECOLOGISTS URGE SHUTDOWN OF SLOVENIAN NUCLEAR FACILITY. The Austrian ecological group Global 2000 on 8 August called for the closure of Slovenia's power plant in Krsko, AFP reported the following day. The plant is located some 30 kilometers from the Croatian capital, Zagreb. The group said that in view of recent developments in the region, it may become the source of a major ecological disaster. It noted that "Serbia has a military potential sufficient to unleash a nuclear disaster in the region, which, even increased surveillance of the power station would not help avoid." Serbian units were not far from the plant during their 1991 invasion of Slovenia but did not cause damage. The plant was built jointly by Croatia and Slovenia, which share its output. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. ETHNIC GERMANS CRITICIZE ROMANIAN EDUCATION LAW. Paul Philippi, leader of Romania's ethnic Germans, said that a new education law will result in the publication of schoolbooks that gloss over the role of Germans in Transylvanian history, Reuters reported on 9 August. Philippi heads the German Forum, the main organization of the 100,000 or so ethnic Germans still living in Romania after a massive exodus dating back to Ceausescu's times. The new education law has also been attacked by ethnic Hungarians in Romania, who say it limits mother-tongue instruction and curtails cultural rights. Radio Bucharest on 9 August reported that the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania has decided to step up actions protesting the law. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIA OPENS FERRY-BOAT SERVICE TO TURKEY. Romania on 9 August opened its first ferry-boat service to Turkey, Western agencies reported. The new service, which links Romania's main Black Sea port of Constanta with Samsun, will operate twice a week. The ferry-boat can take aboard 40 freight trucks and 70 cars. Transportation charges are expected to be up to 25% lower than by road. Romania and Turkey, which are members of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation association, want to increase economic ties. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIA, ROMANIA DISAGREE ON BRIDGE SITE. Transport Ministry experts from Bulgaria and Romania have failed to agree on the site for a second bridge over the Danube linking the two countries, Reuters reported on 9 August. Following two-day talks in Sofia, Bulgaria accepted the recommendation of the British consulting firm Alexander Gibb to build the bridge along the Western side of the common border, while Romania said it wants the bridge to be built further east. The two countries hope to agree on a location by mid-September and to present their proposal to the EU, which is partly financing the project. Bulgaria and Romania also disagree over financing. Sofia hopes to win financial aid from Western countries, while Bucharest is in favor of loans from international organizations. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. DATE SET FOR BULGARIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS. President Zhelyu Zhelev on 10 August set the first round of local elections for 29 October 1995, Bulgarian media reported. Under the electoral law, the second round has to take place no later than 14 days after the first. In other news, Irina Bokova was appointed deputy foreign minister on 9 August. She replaces Stanimir Aleksandrov, who asked to be relieved of his duties for personal reasons. Bokova was secretary of the Council of Ministers for European Integration and chair of the Coordinating Commission for European Integration. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIA CONSULTS GERMANS OVER NATIONAL STOCK EXCHANGE. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Economic Development Rumen Gechev on 8 August met with the general manager of the Frankfurt stock exchange to discuss setting up a Bulgarian stock market, AFP reported the same day. The Bulgarian government, which wants foreign assisitance in this task, has also consulted with representatives of the Paris and Chicago stock exchanges. Gechev said that "under equal conditions," Bulgaria prefers to cooperate with a European partner. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR "RECONSTRUCTION" OF DEMOCRATIC PARTY. At the fourth conference of the Tirana branch of the Democratic Party on 9 August, President Sali Berisha called for the party to be "reconstructed," for the pace of reform to be accelerated, and for the party to increase its work in the countryside, Koha Jone reported the next day. Berisha added that a dialog with voters is necessary. The Democrats are expected to run a close contest with the Socialists in the upcoming elections in April 1996. Transport Minister Albert Brojka was re-elected as head of the Tirana branch. Meanwhile, the Albanian Socialists have denied reports that they held a secret meeting with the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia in Sofia on 29 July. -- 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.