|Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson|
No. 167, Part II, 28 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 POLAND'S WALESA FIRES WACHOWSKI. President Lech Walesa on 25 August dismissed Mieczyslaw Wachowski, his closest aide for the past four years, Rzeczpospolita reported. The move was widely interpreted as a last-ditch attempt to win the support of former allies for his presidential campaign; most commentators said it came far too late. The president had for years resisted pressure to remove the shadowy Wachowski, who served as Walesa's chauffeur in the Solidarity era. He vanished from the Solidarity chairman's entourage in 1983, only to resurface during the presidential campaign of 1990. Wachowski had faced accusations, never conclusively substantiated, that he collaborated with the communist secret police. He had also been criticized for cultivating illicit ties with high-ranking military and police officials. The president also fired his spokesman, Leszek Spalinski. Replacements have not yet been named. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. GRONKIEWICZ-WALTZ WINS ENDORSEMENT. The leadership of Poland's largest right-wing party, the Christian-National Union (ZChN), endorsed National Bank chief Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz for president on 26 August, Gazeta Wyborcza reported. She defeated Lech Walesa by a vote of 20 to 17. The decision ended weeks of wavering during which some ZChN activists had declared their support for Walesa. The endorsement makes Gronkiewicz- Waltz the clear right-wing favorite in the upcoming elections. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT PLANS TO CONVENE. The old Belarusian parliament plans to hold its next session on 5 September because a new parliament has not yet been elected, Kommersant-daily reported on 26 August. Under Belarusian law, the old legislature retains its powers until a new one is in place. Deputies plan to discuss new citizenship requirements and jurisdiction over the parliamentary Customs Committee, which, according to Foreign Relations Committee head Pyotr Sadouskyi, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka plans to place under his own control. The parliament is opposed to such a move. Sadouskyi also said that a bill will be submitted specifying which bodies are authorized to oversee enterprises with foreign capital investment. He added that at present, these companies are overseen by "anyone who comes along." -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. BELARUS URGES RUSSIA TO COOPERATE MORE ON DEFENSE. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka wants Russia to "make better use" of its cooperation with Belarus on defense, Interfax reported on 25 August. He said Russia will never be able to create a defense belt on its western border equal to the "highly-skilled, well-trained, and well-armed personnel" of the former Belarusian Military District. He added that Belarus has neither "demolished a single military strategic facility" since independence nor charged Russia rent for the use of facilities on its territory. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. PRIVATIZATION IN CRIMEA. The chairman of the new Crimean Property Fund, which is charged with selling off state-owned enterprises in the region, said a maximum of 30% of Crimean enterprises will be privatized while the rest will remain "in the hands of the state or the people," UNIAN reported on 26 August. Oleksii Holovyzin said his agency will begin with the privatization of small companies and unfinished construction projects. He added that he planned to set up a non-budgetary investment fund for large-scale privatization. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. ESTONIAN NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE PARTY CONGRESS. Delegates to the Estonian National Independence Party congress in Tallinn on 26 August voted unanimously to unite with the Pro Patria party, BNS reported. The congress approved the draft unification agreement by a vote of 95 to two with 10 abstentions. Unification still has to be approved by a Pro Patria congress. A joint congress would then be held to adopt a new party program and constitution as well as to elect new leaders. The new party will assume all ENIP and Pro Patria obligations, and current members will automatically become members of the new party unless they decide otherwise. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT DEPUTY RESIGNS. Following his election to the board of the Lithuanian Savings Bank on 24 August, Social Democrat Audrius Rudys has announced the he is voluntarily resigning his seat in the Seimas, RFE/RL reported. It is expected that his resignation will be approved by the Supreme Election Commission on 29 August and that he will be named a deputy chairman of the bank's board. According to Lithuanian law, Rudys should be replaced in the Seimas by the next candidate on the Social Democratic Party election list, but Presidential adviser Justas Vincas Paleckis is not expected to accept the post. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. ROMANI INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL IN CZECH REPUBLIC. An estimated 1,000 people attended "Romfest 95" in Straznice na Hodoninsko on 26 August, CTK reported. More than 300 Roma from Slovakia and the Czech Republic performed at the Fourth International Festival, among them the Klincovci from Detva, the Horvaths from Brno, a group of Romani youth from the conservatory in Kosice, and a children's group from Olomouc. The event was partly sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, with most of the money being used to rent the park and pay security forces. The performers agreed to play without fees. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc. HUMAN SMUGGLING AT HUNGARIAN BORDER CROSSING. AFP on 27 August reported that Hungarian customs officials detained 16 illegal Turkish immigrants in two separate incidents at a checkpoint on the Romanian border over the weekend. Four of the immigrants were found hidden beneath personal belongings and watermelons in the trailer of a sedan, while the other 12 were stowed away in a truck delivering ready-made clothes from Romania to Britain. The British driver of the truck and the Turkish driver of the sedan, together with his son and another person, were arrested. The illegal immigrants apparently wanted to reach Germany or France. Hungary has tightened up its border controls since 18 illegal immigrants from Sri Lanka suffocated in a Romanian trailer truck last month. -- Jan Cleave, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SHELLS KILL AT LEAST 32 IN SARAJEVO. Reuters and AFP on 28 August reported that a shell landed 30 meters from the Markale market place around 11:00 a.m., killing at least 32 people and wounding at least 40. The centrally located market, now enclosed, was the site of a similar shelling in February 1994, which killed 68 and led to international outrage against the Serbs. In the latest incident, six shells also hit the main street nearby. The morgue said that it took in 15 people in the first 20 minutes alone. Bosnian Radio said that the shells came from Serbian positions to the south. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. BOSNIA UNIMPRESSED WITH U.S. PEACE PLAN. The attack came as U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke was preparing to resume talks in Paris aimed at a settlement to the Bosnian conflict. The VOA quoted him as warning the Serbs that they should sign on in the coming week or risk the "heavy involvement" of NATO. Given the track record of threats of NATO air strikes, it is doubtful that Pale will be very impressed by such remarks, and the latest shelling could perhaps be seen in that context. The Bosnian government, for its part, has launched its own 12-point plan. Its military commander, General Rasim Delic, has dismissed the U.S. project as not "having either a head or a tail." He added that Bosnia "cannot expect a lot from the international community. We have only one direction--to continue fighting." Meanwhile in Bonn, Hans Koschnik, EU administrator of Mostar, threatened to withdraw the European police unless the Croats and Muslims unified their respective police forces. He also accused the Croats of virtually blockading the Muslims and said this action must stop, Reuters reported on 25 August. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA TO CALL FOR RESUMPTION OF GAS DELIVERIES TO SERBIA. Rump Yugoslav Trade Minister Djordje Siradovic, returning from talks in Moscow, said Russia will call for an immediate resumption of gas deliveries to the rump Yugoslavia, TV Belgrade reported on 25 August. Siradovic said the talks were held in "a very positive and friendly atmosphere in which we found complete understanding on the Russian side and their readiness to talk openly and very constructively about all key issues concerning trade and economic cooperation." Other issues discussed included the export of rump Yugoslav wheat and corn to Russia, and long-term imports of Russian oil to the rump Yugoslavia. The agreement on the construction of a gas pipeline via Bulgaria is ready to be signed. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. SERBIAN SOLDIERS KILL KOSOVAR ALBANIAN. Three rump Yugoslav soldiers shot and killed an ethnic Albanian near Djakovica on 26 August, international agencies reported the next day. The Democratic League of Kosovo said the incident occurred as the soldiers were passing a group of local people. The soldiers reportedly insulted and beat up the locals before opening fire on them. It was the 11th killing to date of an ethnic Albanian by the rump Yugoslav military or police. Meanwhile, Serbian forces are being redeployed in Kosovo and Serbian civilians mobilized, the BBC reported on 26 August. Elsewhere Albanian TV on 26 August said that Kosovar shadow state President Ibrahim Rugova has called for better cooperation among Kosovar Albanians following the settling of Serbian refugees in the region. According to the Serbian authorities, about 6,000 Serb refugees have so far arrived in Kosovo, BETA reported on 27 August. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. TUDJMAN CELEBRATES REOPENING OF RAILWAY. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, together with his government ministers and 600 guests, took a ten-hour "freedom train" ride from Zagreb to Karlovac, Gospic, Knin, and Split on 26 August. It was the first time in over four years that the key rail route to Dalmatia has been open, international and Croatian media noted. Enthusiastic rallies greeted Tudjman in what was both a display of patriotic sentiment and the opening of the parliamentary election campaign. He said Croatia will reintegrate eastern Slavonia either through negotiations or, if necessary, by force. Tudjman called on Croats living abroad to come back and help resettle the former Krajina. With regard to the Serbs who fled, the president said that they "disappeared ignominiously, as if they had never populated this land. We urged them to stay, but they didn't listen to us and, well, bon voyage." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. KRAJINA CONTROVERSY CONTINUES. The Croatian authorities and the UN have again traded charges over allegations of Croatian atrocities in Krajina. The BBC on 28 August reported that the UN produced a film allegedly showing two Serbian civilians deliberately killed by Croatian troops. A UN spokesman talked of "arson and murder." Croatian authorities said Croatian soldiers had been on an operation to mop up the last remaining pockets of Serbian resistance, in this case in the rugged Plavno area, 20 km north of Knin. Some 70 Serbian peasants asked for and received Croatian identity papers. But Reuters on 27 August quoted General Ivan Cermak as saying in Grubor that "three [armed] Chetniks and two civilians were killed in the action. I have come to supervise the action personally in order to prevent further accusations that Croatian troops are burning Serb houses." Meanwhile in Serbia, Nasa Borba on 28 August reported that the authorities near Cacak have banned that independent daily as reading material for the Krajina refugees. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN-HUNGARIAN RELATIONS. U.S. Ambassador to Romania Alfred Moses told a Reuters correspondent in Bucharest on 25 August that it is unlikely Hungary and Romania will sign a bilateral treaty soon. He said there has been "much vitriol on both sides" and "the climate has been spoiled." Romanian-Hungarian relations suffered various setbacks recently. The Romanian daily Libertatea on 23 August reported that a book published by the Romanian government's Information Department, called Romanians Hunted Down in Their Own Country, has "poured oil on the fire" of the Romanian-Hungarian interethnic conflict. The book deals with atrocities allegedly committed by members of the Hungarian minority after 1989 against ethnic Romanians. The Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) believes the book is aimed "at serving propaganda purposes and at purposely distorting reality." The UDMR on 25 August announced further protests against the controversial new education law. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. U.S. CONGRESSMEN IN ROMANIA. Three U.S. congressmen who are members of the White House's Security Committee began a three-day visit to Romania on 25 August. Romanian media reported the same day that committee chairman Floyd Spence met with National Defense Minister Gheorghe Tinca, Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu, and Chamber of Deputies chairman Adrian Nastase. Discussions focused on the political and military situation in the region, U.S.-Romanian political, economic, and military relations, and the implementation of the Partnership for Peace program. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIA UPGRADES MiG-21 IN JOINT PROJECT WITH ISRAEL. Romanian media and Reuters on 24 August reported that Romania's Aerostar consortium and the Israeli company Elbit have launched a project to update 100 Romanian MiG-21 fighters in line with NATO standards. A spokesman for the Aerostar group said Israel will supply modern technology and equipment for the $300 million project. He said the upgrading includes adding new air defense radar and other equipment enhancing the aircraft's performance in strike missions. Romanian TV reported that one upgraded MiG-21 has been successfully tested. The project is expected to last four years. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ELECTED HEAD OF NEW PARTY. Mircea Snegur on 26 August was elected leader of the Party of Revival and Harmony at its first congress in Chisinau. Reuters reported the same day that Snegur, who quit the ruling Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova in June, accusing it of "dictatorial ambitions," told the delegates that the new party "will be based on centrism, tolerance, and civic accord." He also said the party will further democracy, boost reform, and support all nationalities in Moldova. Snegur accused the ruling party of having "reduced reform to a mere reshuffling of administrators." General elections are due in Moldova in December. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. THREE BULGARIAN OFFICIALS CHARGED WITH ARMS SMUGGLING TO SERBIA. Three Bulgarian military officials on 25 August were charged with diverting arms worth $670,000 to Serbia in November 1993, AFP reported the same day. The accused are Colonel Valentin Popinski, head of the Defense Ministry's commercial department, his assistant Colonel Stoian Tsakov, and Lieutenant Colonel Nikolai Nikolov, an Interior Ministry official who monitors arms deliveries. They were in charge of supplying the Albanian Defense Ministry with 100 mine launchers and 1,000 mines and ammunition, but the consignment, which was to have been transported to Albania in trucks, went "missing" in Skopje. The three men face between 10 and 30 years in prison if convicted. The military prosecutor reportedly has a contract signed by Popinski and the Serbian private firm Target for the delivery of the same cargo. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. FLOODING IN ALBANIA. Heavy rains on 25 August flooded roads near Lezha and cut power and telephone lines in several northern Albanian districts, AFP reported on 26 August. Five people died when their truck was hit by water rushing down from the mountain near the village of Kalivac. Large tracts of agricultural land were under water. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. EGYPTIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN ALBANIA. Amr Moussa arrived in Albania on 27 August, international agencies reported. His talks with Albanian Foreign Minister Alfred Serreqi are to focus on relations between the two countries and developments in the Middle East and Bosnia. Serreqi is due to pay a two-day visit to Greece to discuss bilateral problems and the conflict in former Yugoslavia with his counterpart, Karolos Papoulias, later this week. The Albanian Foreign Ministry said his visit is "very important to strengthen [both countries'] already good relations." -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. TRIPARTITE BALKAN MEETING. The foreign ministers of Romania, Bulgaria, and Greece, meeting in the northern Greek city of Ioannina on 26 August, reiterated a call to lift UN sanctions against the former Yugoslavia, Romanian media and Reuters reported the same day. They also advised NATO and the UN not to use force in that country. Telecommunication projects and two proposed highways linking the three states with other parts of Europe were discussed. One of the road projects has been delayed by a dispute between Bulgaria and Romania over the location of a new bridge across their common border along the Danube. No agreement was reached on this project, and the two countries asked Greece to mediate. Greek Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias warned his Bulgarian and Romanian counterparts, Georgi Pirinski and Teodor Melescanu, that a "deal should be reached fast," because expected EU financing of the project "will not wait for ever." Melescanu told Romanian TV on 27 August that the problem will be discussed by the three countries' ministers of transportation. -- Michael Shafir, 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. 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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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