|The burnt child shuns the fire until the next day. - Mark Twain|
No. 161, Part II, 18 August 1995
This is Part II of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily Digest. Part II is a compilation of news concerning Central, Eastern, 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 CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINE'S GLOOMY HARVEST FORECAST. Deputy Prime Minister in charge of agriculture Petro Sabluk announced that previous harvest forecasts have been optimistic and the country will probably produce only 37 million tons of grain this year, Reuters reported on 17 August. This is only 1.5 million tons more than last year's crop, which was damaged by drought. Sabluk put the poor harvest down to lack of fertilizers, outdated machinery, and a locust outbreak. Stressing the inefficiency of Ukraine's agricultural sector, Sabluk said one-fifth of production was lost annually, totaling $7 billion. Sabluk also said the government was reintroducing quotas and licenses on grain exports until the government purchases the state quota of 10 million tons. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIAN ULTRA-NATIONALISTS BREAK UP COURT HEARING. A court hearing over the legal status of the ultra-nationalist Ukrainian National Assembly (UNA) was canceled after UNA supporters disrupted proceedings, Reuters reported on 17 August. Some 200 UNA supporters crowded into a courtroom meant to seat 50. When the judge asked those standing to leave they refused, whereupon the judge and court employees walked out. UNA's legal status has come into question because of some of its activities, which include sending fighters to help oppose Russia in Chechnya and Abkhazia. UNA supporters were blamed for causing a riot during the burial of the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church earlier this month, which resulted in police beating mourners with truncheons. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. BALTIC TROOPS IN CROATIA. The Latvian Saeima on 17 August voted to approve the sending of a 40-member volunteer unit to Croatia as part of the Danish UN peacekeeping battalion, BNS reported. The unit, which has been training in Denmark for several months, is scheduled to fly to Croatia on 23 August. Similar units from Lithuania and Estonia recently ended six-month tours and their replacements will arrive in Croatia on 18 August. It appears likely that the Baltic units will not serve the normal six-month term since the UN is planning to reduce its troop levels by withdrawing the Danish battalion within several months. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LITHUANIA TO SELL GOVERNMENT BONDS ABROAD. Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius told a press conference on 17 August that an American or Japanese company will soon be authorized to sell Lithuanian government bonds abroad, BNS reported. He said that the earlier practice of selling the bonds only in Lithuania was detrimental since it had increased the cost of loans in commercial banks. Lithuania is following the example of Latvia, which recently reached an agreement with the Nomura Securities Company in Japan to receive a $45 million loan in exchange for two-year Latvian government bonds with 5.4% annual interest. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. BELARUSIAN EDUCATION MINISTRY UNHAPPY OVER TEXTBOOKS. Deputy Minister of Education Tatstsyana Halko said President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's decision to ban textbooks printed since independence and replace them with Soviet-era books was completely unexpected and that education workers were unprepared for the move, Belarusian Radio reported on 17 August. Halko said there had been no information on the presidential administration's work in examining the text books to determine if they were appropriate. In other news, it was reported that the president's administration was investigating the activities of the Ministry of Culture and Publishing. The head of the department of political information in the president's administration, Uladzimir Zamyatalin, said one reason was to evaluate the ministry's activities during the critical period of state building. Following the investigation, the ministry may be divided into two: a Ministry of Culture and a Ministry of Publications. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. CEFTA MEETING IN WARSAW. Trade ministers from the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) -- the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia -- began a two-day meeting in Warsaw on 17 August. Slovenia's trade minister is also present. The conditions of admitting Slovenia to CEFTA are to be discussed together with an agreement on the reduction or elimination of tariffs on industrial products from 1 January 1996, Polish and international media reported. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. POLISH "WATERGATE." Two right-wing presidential candidates, Polish National Bank President Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz and Supreme Court President Adam Strzembosz, at a common press conference on 17 August strongly criticized secret negotiations on extending current President Lech Walesa's term of office for another two years. Gronkiewicz-Waltz compared these negotiations to the Watergate affair that forced U.S. President Richard Nixon to resign. Strzembosz said that allowing for Walesa's term to be extended meant "not only the instrumentalization of law, but also the abolition of the normative character of the constitution," Polish media reported on 18 August. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. KOREANS TO INVEST $1.1 BILLION IN POLAND. The president of the South Korean Daewoo Corporation, Kim Woo Choong, on 16 August signed a letter of intent in Warsaw with the director of the state-owned car factory FSO Zeran, Andrzej Tyszkiewicz. Daewoo will take a 60% stake in FSO and promised to invest $1.1 billion in the enterprise. Daewoo plans to produce up to 220,000 cars annually and maintain the present workforce of 20,000, Polish and international media reported. Daewoo has already invested $900 million in Romania and promised large investment in a car plant in Lublin, Poland. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. CZECH, POLISH PREMIERS MEET. Vaclav Klaus and Jozef Oleksy discussed their countries' approaches to the EU and NATO during a meeting in northern Moravia on 17 August, Czech media report. The only point of difference was over Oleksy's call, made at the EU summit in Cannes in June, for a special EU summit to consider what he feels is the slow progress being made in admitting central European countries to the EU. Klaus said he still believes a special summit is unnecessary. But he added that the Czech Republic wants to continue cooperating closely with Poland in their joint quest for NATO membership. Both prime ministers said there were no serious problems in Czech-Polish bilateral relations. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. TWO CZECH PARTIES PLAN MERGER. Leaders of the extraparliamentary Free Democrats (SD) and the small Liberal Social National Party (LSNS) met on 17 August and said they hoped to merge their parties by the end of this year and jointly contest next year's parliament elections. SD chairman Jiri Dienstbier said there was a need for a strong centrist, liberal grouping on the Czech political scene, Czech media report. According to recent opinion polls, the SD and LSNS together would not gain the 5% of the total vote needed to secure parliamentary representation. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK OFFICIAL ON U.S. RELATIONS. Foreign Ministry State Secretary Jozef Sestak told Slovak Radio on 17 August that the U.S. "supports the positive development in Slovakia." The ministry sent a note to the U.S. government on 9 August, asking whether it had changed its attitude towards the Slovak government (see OMRI Daily Digest, 10 August 1995). According to Sestak, the U.S. requested that its response not be made public, but he stated that the U.S. government "reconfirmed mutual respect" between the two countries, and said it was "prepared to cooperate . . . with Slovakia's democratically elected representatives." Sestak also reacted to an editorial in The New York Times on 15 August which said "both Bonn and Washington have stepped up their warnings that [increasing government intervention in such areas as culture and education] would bar Slovakia from NATO and the European Union." Sestak called the editorial "a compilation of various facts and half-truths" and said the U.S. "promptly reacted," disagreeing with both its timing and its contents. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. BRATISLAVA RADIO STATION GIVES LISTENERS ALTERNATIVE. Bratislava-based Radio Twist on 21 August will launch its news program, "Zurnal Radio Twist," to compete with state-owned Slovak Radio's "Radiozurnal." The start-up date was planned to coincide with the anniversary of the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia. According to the program's director Lubos Machaj, "it is a day when we lost our freedom 27 years ago and a day when our station will begin to freely broadcast information," Pravda reports. The program's journalists include several well-known figures who were dismissed from state TV and radio. From September the program, to be broadcast twice daily for 25 to 35 minutes, will also be accessible in central Slovakia through a network of other stations. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE CROATIA PREPARES TO RELIEVE PRESSURE ON DUBROVNIK. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote on 18 August that over 4,000 Croatian troops backed by tanks have assembled in the Dubrovnik region for an apparent assault on Trebinje. The goal is to take the heights over the medieval town and end the Serb shelling of the region. Mlada fronta dnes said that volunteer firemen are continuing to fight the blazes in the countryside caused by the shells. Reuters reported on 17 August that Dubrovnik's art treasures are being boarded up for safekeeping. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. HAVE THE CROATS TAKEN DRVAR? Bosnian Croatian troops have the west Bosnian town of Drvar "under their control," according to Croatian Radio on 17 August. The broadcast added that the Serbs suffered heavy losses and that the elite Podrinjska Brigade was destroyed. The fleeing Serbs reportedly left behind large quantities of arms and ammunition, including long-range artillery. There has been no independent confirmation of the story. Meanwhile in the Bosnian government army, there has been a major shakeup of the command structure, particularly at the corps level, according to Vjesnik on 18 August. The move had been announced earlier by President Alija Izetbegovic. Reuters reported that Britain and France will ask the UN Security Council to "chastize Croatia and Bosnia publicly for political and financial demands they say will cripple the Rapid Reaction Force." The UN and NATO, meanwhile, have finalized plans to protect the remaining "safe areas" and have warned the Serbs that "hostile actions will be met with air strikes." The UN has announced, however, that it intends to remove all peacekeepers except for a skeleton force from Gorazde by mid-September. The Ukrainians will leave for sure and the British will probably follow. Malaysia has rejected an appeal to send 10 men to Gorazde, saying that a tiny force is likely to be taken hostage. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. MLADIC BLASTS KARADZIC. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic had ordered that Drvar be defended at all costs, but Bosnian Serb military commander General Ratko Mladic remained silent in public. On 17 August, however, he faxed a fresh attack on Karadzic to news agencies. The message said that Karadzic "is probably aware that he has lost the support of the main pillars of our society, the people and the army." Meanwhile, Globus on 18 August reported that a former ally of the two internationally indicted war criminals, Bihac-pocket kingpin Fikret Abdic, is "under the supervision" of Croatian police in Zagreb's Palace Hotel. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. CROATIA EXPECTS UP TO 20,000 REFUGEES FROM SERB-HELD TERRITORY. Vecernji list on 18 August quoted Minister Adalbert Rebic as saying that his government calculates the Serbs will expel to Croatia up to 20,000 Croats. Some 4,769 have come in recent days from the Banja Luka area plus another 406 from Srijem. Reuters said that 350 Muslims have arrived east of Travnik after being deported by the Serbs and that more are on the way. Meanwhile in Serbia, the French aid group Medecins du Monde called the situation of the Krajina Serb refugees "a humanitarian emergency under control." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. MILOSEVIC MEETS HOLBROOKE, BILDT. BETA reported on 17 August that on the same day Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic met with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke for five hours, but no agreement was reached on a resolution to the Bosnian crisis. Talks between the two resumed on 18 August, but were interrupted the previous day when European Union negotiator Carl Bildt made "an unexpected stopover" in Belgrade and himself met with Milosevic. Bildt is persona non grata in Zagreb, following his charge that Croatian President Franjo Tudjman may be guilty of war crimes, and Bosnian government officials have refused to meet with him, observing that the peace process he is promoting is dead. Finally, AFP on 18 August reports that Milosevic is slated to meet the Greek and Spanish foreign ministers the same day. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. DOLE OPPOSES LIFTING SANCTIONS AGAINST BELGRADE. U.S. Senate majority leader Bob Dole on 17 August sent a letter to President Bill Clinton, cautioning against lifting sanctions against Belgrade until a comprehensive regional peace settlement is reached, international media reported. At least a partial lifting of sanctions in exchange for Belgrade's recognition of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia is reportedly part of the plan being discussed in the region by Assistant Secretary of State Holbrooke. "If we lift sanctions now for what are clearly minimal returns, such a comprehensive settlement will be virtually impossible to reach and implement . . . The bottom line is that sanctions are the only real leverage the international community has been willing to use on the Belgrade regime," wrote Dole. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. RUMP YUGOSLAV PREMIER APPEALS TO DENMARK. Rump Yugoslav premier Radoje Kontic has appealed to the Danish government to unfreeze Belgrade's bank assets, Tanjug reported on 16 August. According to Kontic, Belgrade's Danish assets would go towards procuring humanitarian aid for the Krajina Serb refugees in rump Yugoslavia. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN PRIVATIZATION LIST PUBLISHED. The government published a list of 3,907 state-owned enterprises it hopes to sell in a new wave of privatization, Romanian and Western media reported on 17 August. However, it admitted that nearly 25% of the firms on offer were loss- making, and some were virtually bankrupt. This contradicts an earlier pledge that only profitable firms would be privatized. Iacob Zelenco, the head of the National Privatization Agency, claimed in an interview with national TV that most of the loss-making firms faced minimal or temporary financial difficulties. Romania's Parliament in June adopted a law to speed up privatization of nearly 6,200 state enterprises, based on a coupon system. Distribution of the nominative coupons started on 1 August. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. DNIESTER RADICALS ATTACK ADMINISTRATION OVER CURRENCY. Members of the city council of Tiraspol, the capital of the self-proclaimed Dniester republic, attacked the local authorities for having allegedly surrendered to the government in Chisinau by accepting that the Moldovan currency is used in clearing operations, Infotag reported on 17 August. The council, which is packed with radicals and former communists, accused Supreme Soviet Chairman Grigorii Marakutsa and acting Dniester bank governor Vyacheslav Zagryadsky of planning to "liquidate" the Dniester republic by favoring its "economic and political absorption into Moldova." Dniester President Igor Smirnov, who attended the meeting, dismissed the criticism as "malevolent." -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIA DROPS AGAIN IN UN DEVELOPMENT LEAGUE. The UN Human Development Report puts Bulgaria in 65th place among the 174 UN members, Demokratsiya reports on 18 August. In 1991, Bulgaria ranked 33rd and in 1994 it was 48th. The report measures GDP, real spending power, life expectancy, and education level. According to the report, average life expectancy went down by almost four years since 1991, and is now 71.2 years. Men's life expectancy is only 67.6 years, and women's 74.4. Some 7% of the Bulgarian population are "absolutely illiterate." A ranking of women's emancipation, which includes women's participation in economic and political decision-making, puts Bulgaria in 20th place, two below Hungary. They are the only former Communist countries among the top 20. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER DISSATISFIED WITH CABINET. An unnamed cabinet member was cited by 24 chasa on 18 August as saying that Zhan Videnov is dissatisfied with the performance of some members of his cabinet. But according to an anonymous top official of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, Videnov will not reshuffle his cabinet before Spring 1996. The report said Videnov is particularly dissatisfied with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Economic Development Rumen Gechev. Also under fire are Interior Minister Lyubomir Nachev, Finance Minister Dimitar Kostov, Labor and Social Welfare Minister Mincho Koralski, and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade Kiril Tsochev. Other ministers, including Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski, were also strongly criticized by Videnov. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. U.S. MILITARY DELEGATION VISITS ALBANIA. A high-ranking U.S. military delegation visited Albania on 17 August, BETA reported the same day. The delegation was received by President Sali Berisha, who described the situation in the Balkans as "very tense" and said that Serbia should not be thanked for its restraint after the Croatian offensive since that would be to "reward the aggressor." He also said that the settlement of refugees in Kosovo increases the danger of a spill-over of the conflict to the south. Meanwhile, Albania and the U.S. signed an agreement for $5 million worth of humanitarian aid. It contains mainly olive oil and is part of a $70 million aid package to Albania. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Steve Kettle 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 Please note that there is a new procedure for obtaining permission to reprint or redistribute the OMRI Daily Digest. Before reprinting or redistributing this publication, please write firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy of the new policy or look at this URL: http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Digests/DigestReprint.html 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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