|The only thing one knows about human nature is that it changes. - Oscar Wilde|
No. 162, Part II, 21 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 NATO "WHY AND HOW" STUDY VAGUE ON DETAILS. The year-long study on the why and how of NATO expansion will be vague on details, Der Spiegel reported on 20 August. Potential applicants will be briefed on the draft plan this fall and it will be formally endorsed at NATO ministerial meetings in December. The study will contain no timetable nor precise criteria for membership. Der Spiegel quoted one German diplomat as saying, "No one should be able to say, `We fulfill all the criteria so now you have to take us in.'" The weekly reports that NATO has informally agreed to admit East European countries in stages, with the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary forming the first group and Romania, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Slovenia the second. New members will not be required to base foreign troops or nuclear weapons on their territories. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. FIRST PFP EXERCISES BEGIN IN U.S. The sixth major NATO Partnership for Peace exercise began at Fort Polk, Louisiana, on 18 August, international agencies reported. Soldiers from 3 NATO and 14 former Warsaw Pact countries were represented in the first such exercise to be held in the U.S., which simulates peacekeeping operations on a island. Participating countries include the United States, Britain, Canada, Albania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. The exercise ends on 26 August. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINE TO HAVE MILITARY INSPECTOR-GENERAL. General Valeriy Hubenko, the first incumbent, told UNIAN on 19 August that Ukraine's Military Inspectorate-General will become operational on 30 August. He said it will oversee the Ministry of Defense, the armed forces, the Border Troops, the Interior Troops, and a number of other military and paramilitary organizations. Hubenko said his inspectorate's main task is to control the combat readiness of the forces. It will also investigate cases of abuse, fraud, and violence. He said he will have a staff of 53 and insisted that his organization will be a "specialized presidential body of military control and expert analysis" rather than the "holiday group" that some journalists had branded it. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. LICENSING OF PRESS IN ESTONIA. Culture Minister Jaak Allik prepared a draft government decree that stipulates licensing of periodicals partly or fully under foreign ownership, BNS reported on 18 August. Several newspapers expressed their opposition to the proposal, arguing that any licensing of the press is wrong in principle. Igor Rotov, chief editor of Aripaev, a paper 51% owned by the Swedish Bonnier media concern, said the measure was an obvious attempt to curb the freedom of the press for licensing would allow the government to control the media and jeopardize democracy in Estonia. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LUKASHENKA ALLOWS INVESTMENT FUNDS TO FUNCTION. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka signed an order on 15 August allowing some investment funds to renew their activities, Belarusian Television reported on 16 August. Two funds which were not allowed to restart operations were "OSMAS- invest" and "Narodny." Lukashenka had suspended investment fund activities in April after the first round of privatization because of alleged irregularities. As many as 100,000 Belarusian citizens had handed their privatization vouchers over to the funds and then stood to lose their newly acquired shares. The IMF made allowing the investment funds to restart their activities a condition for the release of a stand-by credit to Belarus. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. BELARUSIAN KGB ACCUSES TRADE UNIONS OVER STRIKES. Following several days of strikes by metro and trolley drivers in Minsk, the Belarusian KGB accused strike organizers of taking money and orders from the West, Ekho Moskvy reported on 19 August. A representative of the KGB stated that the independent trade unions which organized the strikes prepared for the action by attending conferences abroad which were paid for by foreign sources. The KGB official also said that the American Congress of Trade Unions was ready to aid the Belarusian unions. The acceptance of any foreign aid would make the Belarusian trade unions paid agents of foreign powers, he added. Ekho Moskvy concluded that a campaign against independent trade unions is being mounted in Belarus. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. CEFTA MEETING ENDS IN WARSAW. Trade ministers from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia, countries belonging to the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA), ended a two-day meeting in Warsaw on 18 August and agreed to lift tariffs on many industrial products as of 1 January 1996. Slovenia's trade minister was also present. The next meeting is scheduled in Brno, the Czech Republic, in September, where CEFTA is to admit Slovenia as a full member, Polish and international media reported on 19 August. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. UPDATE ON THE POLISH PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN. Sejm speaker Jozef Zych, who is authorized to announce the date for presidential elections between 22 August and 22 September, said on 18 August that he would announce the date in early September, a move that would put an end to rumors about changing the constitution and extending current President Lech Walesa's term of office for another two years. Walesa, himself a candidate, plans to send Mieczyslaw Wachowski, the minister of state in his chancellery and a controversial figure whose constant presence at Walesa's side has further diminished the president's popularity, on a long vacation, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 21 August. In other developments, right of center politicians meeting in St Catharine's Convent decided to support Polish National Bank President Hanna Gronkiewcz-Waltz, but supporters of former Prime Minister Jan Olszewski and the Confederation of Independent Poland leader Leszek Moczulski disagree with the decision, Polish media reported on 21 August. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. MECIAR'S PARTY BARS SLOVAK PRESIDENT. The leadership of Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) announced on 19 August that President Michal Kovac's membership in the party will not be renewed after his current term of office expires, Slovak media report. Kovac suspended his membership in the HZDS when he was elected president. The HZDS has recently repeatedly demanded that the president, who has been at odds with Meciar, step down. Slovak media report that the HZDS leadership also accepted the offer of the Party of the Democratic Left to discuss the controversial privatization laws that Kovac recently vetoed. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARY TURNS OFF BOSNIAN PIPELINE. Hungarian radio announced on 19 August that, at the request of the United Nations, Hungary has shut a natural gas pipeline leading to Sarajevo. The UN asked Hungary on 15 August to turn off the pipeline after Bosnian government complaints that it had not received any gas through it since May. Bosnian Serbs, who hold the territory through which the pipeline passes, are believed to have diverted the gas to their own use. In another development, five busloads of refugees, mostly Muslims from eastern Bosnia, arrived in Hungary on 18 August saying they had been expelled by Bosnian Serbs, international media report. According to Hungarian border guards, the 261 refugees were the biggest single group to arrive from former Yugoslavia this year. A border guard spokesman told journalists that "as further humiliation, the Serbs forced the refugees to pay considerable sums for their trip, as if they (the Serbs) were some sort of travel agency." The refugees were granted temporary asylum and sent to camps in Nagyatag and Bekescsaba. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE MILITARY SITUATION REMAINS TENSE IN CROATIA AND BOSNIA. The BBC on 20 August quoted UN officials as saying that some 10,000 Croatian soldiers backed by tanks, artillery, and rockets had assembled in the Dubrovnik area. The Croats exchanged salvos with the Serbs in the surrounding heights as a prelude to what is widely expected to be a Croatian assault to end the threat to Dubrovnik. AFP noted that Serbs shelled Osijek in eastern Slavonia, killing one and injuring six. Bosnian Serb artillery also hit the UN-declared "safe area" of Gorazde, killing three children. Bosnian Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey sharply criticized the UN for not ordering air strikes in response, VOA reported on 21 August. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. REPORTS OF "COMPELLING EVIDENCE" OF SREBRENICA MASSACRE. A journalist from the Christian Science Monitor managed to get into the Srebrenica area, where he found "compelling evidence" that the Serbs had massacred Muslims. The BBC quoted him on 19 August as saying that he found human bones near the reported mass grave site, as well as empty ammunition boxes. The UN, for its part, has said that only between 1,000 and 2,000 people remain unaccounted for from Srebrenica, claiming that the Bosnian government had originally given a far too high estimate of the total population. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. MORE ON ETHNIC CLEANSING IN BANJA LUKA. The Bosnian Serbs continue to expel Muslims and Croats from the Banja Luka area on short notice, allowing them to take only what they can carry and making them pay a $1,200 fee in German marks. The bishop of Banja Luka wrote to Croatia's Cardinal Franjo Kuharic that "among many others, even my own old mother was victimized when a local official grabbed her and pulled a knife over her neck, saying he would 'slay her with pleasure' (as the bishop's mother) unless she cleared out of her house within 15 minutes." During the night between 8 and 9 August a grenade was hurled at the New Nazareth convent in the village of Budzak." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. KRAJINA UPDATE. Croatia's Operation Storm two weeks ago put an effective end to the "Republic of Serbian Krajina," but Politika wrote on 21 August that recriminations continue among its erstwhile leaders over the blame for the quick demise of Serbian forces . This defeat was all the more amazing in light of a report carried by Vecernji list and AFP on 20 August on the massive stockpiles of Serbian weapons found by the Croats at Dvor, Sveti Rok, Knin, and Petrova Gora. One Western expert called the arsenal "unbelievable," and the Croatian commander said that the Serbs could have waged war "for several years" with it. The BBC on 21 August reported that representatives of a Western human rights group charged the Croats with burning, looting and systematic executions following the fall of Krajina. The Croatian high command denied the charges, stating that there were only individual graves and that the dead were identified where this was possible, including Bosnian Serb soldiers killed in the brief fighting. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. U.S. OFFICIALS DIE IN BOSNIAN ROAD ACCIDENT. International media reported on 20 August that four British soldiers were killed when their Lynx helicopter fell into the Adriatic. The previous day three members of a five-man U.S. interagency team died when their armored personnel carrier fell down a steep tree-lined ravine on Mt. Igman and its gas tank exploded. The fatalities included Robert Frasure, who was Washington's chief "ideas man" on the former Yugoslavia. President Bill Clinton said that the U.S. would continue its diplomatic efforts in the region. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic sent his condolences, adding that the diplomats should have been talking to the Serbs instead of going to Sarajevo. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole said that the Serbs were indirectly responsible for the deaths, since they barred the main access roads to the diplomats, VOA reported. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. MILOSEVIC, PAPOULIAS TALK PEACE. Greek Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias met in Belgrade with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic on 18 August, Tanjug reported on the same day. The two men reportedly shared "concurrent" views on the peace process in the Balkan region, and Tanjug noted they both agreed on "the need to spur all-encompassing efforts to step up the peace process and definitively create conditions for an end to the military confrontation in the former Yugoslavia." Papoulias, speaking on Greek Radio, observed that Athens always "supported the lifting of sanctions against the new Yugoslavia because one cannot impose sanctions against people who fight for peace, and President Milosevic has been among the leaders favoring a peaceful solution." Belgrade's new foreign minister, Milan Milutinovic, also attended the meeting. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN JOURNALISTS CHARGED WITH SLANDERING ILIESCU. Romanian and international media reported on 18 August that prosecutors in Bucharest indicted two Romanian journalists on charges of "insulting [state] authority." Sorin Rosca Stanescu, the editor in chief of the daily Ziua, and Tana Ardeleanu, who works for the same publication, were said to have been "fabricating lies" last May, when Ziua alleged that President Ion Iliescu had been recruited as a KGB agent during his student days in Moscow in the 1950s. Iliescu denied the allegations. According to the prosecution, Ardeleanu never set foot in Moscow, where she claimed to have obtained documents proving the links. If found guilty, the two could face imprisonment of between six months and three years, under a new law that critics say is aimed at gagging the freedom of the press. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN NATIONAL AIRLINE ASKS GOVERNMENT TO COME TO RESCUE. International agencies reported on 18 August that the national airline TAROM has asked the government to bail it out of the worst financial crisis facing the company in its 41-year history. The company is unable to pay its debts, amounting to 300 million dollars. The government, which underwrote the airline's 10-year foreign bank credit, accuses TAROM of mismanagement and poor marketing and has threatened to assume full control of management. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. MOLDOVA ATTEMPTS TO COPE WITH GAS DEBT. Mihai Lesnic, the director general of the state-owned Moldova Gas company, told BASA-press on 18 August that, in order to pay back arrears for gas consumption, the company has contracted agricultural products worth 35 million lei to be exported to Russia. Arrears for Russian gas consumption for 1995 are 1,935 million lei ($452 million). Moldova is to draft a program of payments to be presented to the Russian side in two weeks. The program includes building a town in a Moscow suburb for the workers of the Russian Gasprom company, which will require $20 million in expenditure. Moldova Gas warned consumers that in case the arrears are not covered by 1 October, the economy will face "disastrous consequences" because the supply of gas to Moldova might be stopped. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN PRESIDENT ON CHANGES IN MILITARY. An aide to Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev told BTA on 19 August that the president did not approve in advance recent changes in the Bulgarian military made by the defense ministry. According to the aide's statement, "President Zhelyu Zhelev will not allow any politically-motivated reshuffles of the top brass of the army or structural changes that may harm the national security of Bulgaria." Meanwhile, Zhelev's chief of staff added that "the press has recently suggested the proposals had been harmonized with the president, or even sponsored by his Military Office. These are attempts at flagrant manipulation of public opinion and army officers." These statements come in the wake of changes at the top level of the military, announced by the government on 11 August, but even then in part questioned by Zhelev's office (See OMRI Daily Digest, 14 August 1995). -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. KOSOVAR LEADERS VISIT MONTENEGRIN ALBANIANS. The leader of the Democratic League of Montenegro, Mehmet Bardhi, met with the deputy leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo, Fehmi Agani, and other Kosovar and Albanian party politicians, Montena-fax reported on 19 August. Bardhi, who is also the mayor of Ulcinj, discussed with his guests possibilities of cooperation between the ethnic Albanian political parties in former Yugoslavia and Albania. The politicians jointly denounced plans to settle refugees from Krajina to Kosovo. Meanwhile, Kosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova accused the Serbian authorities of placing the refugees "into ethnically pure Albanian communities" and called it "a political rather than humanitarian activity." So far, Serbian authorities have placed 2,350 refugees in Kosovo, but they expect to relocate a total of 16,000. Prime Minister Bujar Bukoshi warned on 18 August that the relocation of refugees could lead to war and added: "We Albanians won't be slaughtered like the Bosnians. We will defend ourselves," international agencies reported. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIAN-MONTENEGRIN BORDER INCIDENT. A 26 year-old Albanian was wounded on 18 August by rump Yugoslav border guards, Montena-fax reported the following day. The man reportedly went about 100 meters into Montenegrin territory to sell cloth. The incident will be brought up by Albania on the first meeting of a newly created joint rump Yugoslav-Albanian border commission. It was the second such incident this month at that part of the border. Meanwhile, about 100 trucks were jammed for hours at the Albanian-Greek border because the official stamp used by Albanian customs wore out, Reuters reported on 18 August. Tourists reportedly were allowed through with unstamped documents. -- 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 email@example.com 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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