|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
No. 170, Part II, 31 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 POLISH OFFICERS GATHERED SIGNATURES SUPPORTING PRESIDENT. In a report to the Sejm on 30 August, Deputy Internal Affairs Minister Jerzy Zimowski confirmed that signatures supporting President Lech Walesa's candidacy in the upcoming elections were collected among soldiers of the special Vistula units (NJW), subordinated to the ministry. An investigation revealed that signatures were gathered in six of the eight units "with the knowledge and approval" and, in some cases, even direct participation of commanding officers, Radio Warsaw reported. NJW commander Vice Admiral Marek Toczek, who was dismissed last week, destroyed the petitions when Gazeta Wyborcza exposed the signature campaign. Presidential candidates must gather 100,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot. Press reports had linked ousted presidential aide Mieczyslaw Wachowski to the signature effort. Deputy Defense Minister Jan Kuriata assured the Sejm that the armed forces' "apolitical" status would be respected during the election campaign, but many deputies expressed skepticism. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. MORE TROUBLE FOR WALESA. In another embarrassment for Lech Walesa, the president's son was involved in a car crash on 30 August, apparently while driving under the influence of alcohol and without a valid license. Slawomir Walesa crashed into a Jaguar stopped at a red light in Warsaw and was later taken to a government clinic, Radio Warsaw reported. The president's son received a two-year suspended prison sentence and had his license revoked in 1992 after causing an auto accident in Gdansk. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. POLISH SEJM CRITICIZES NATIONAL BANK. The Sejm on 30 August voted 270 to 107 to approve the enactment of the 1994 budget and the performance of last year's government (headed by Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak), Gazeta Wyborcza reported. But a report on 1994 monetary policy presented by National Bank President Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz was rejected, and the bank was chastised for inadequate cooperation with the government. Deputies from the ruling coalition charged that the money supply had reached 213.8 trillion zloty by year-end, far above the planned 169 trillion. Gronkiewicz-Waltz put the actual figure at about 180 trillion, saying the higher sum was linked to this year's currency reform. Deputy Prime Minister Grzegorz Kolodko again blamed the central bank for higher-than-anticipated inflation. Gronkiewicz-Waltz walked out when Kolodko took the floor. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. POLAND'S TYMINSKI OFFERS CASH. Stan Tyminski, the eccentric emigre who defeated Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki in the first round of the 1990 presidential elections before losing to Lech Walesa in the second, has offered $1 for every supporting signature collected for his presidential campaign. Tyminski, who now leads a fringe political grouping, Party X, made his $100,000 offer via the Internet, Gazeta Wyborcza reported. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. CZECH REPUBLIC TO SIGN CLASSIFIED INFORMATION AGREEMENT WITH U.S. Czech Minister Without Portfolio Igor Nemec on 30 August announced that the Czech Republic will sign an agreement with the U.S. on the protection of classified information, Czech media reported the next day. According to Nemec, the U.S. has said such an agreement is a precondition for military cooperation between the two countries and will also allow Czech firms access to U.S. technology that would otherwise be unavailable. The Czech Republic is a member of NATO's Partnership for Peace program, which seeks to foster military cooperation between NATO and former Warsaw Pact countries. U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry is due to visit the Czech Republic in September to attend joint military maneuvers involving Czech, U.S., and German units. -- Jan Obrman, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK, HUNGARIAN PREMIERS HOLD CONFIDENTIAL TALKS. Vladimir Meciar and Gyula Horn on 29 August held confidential talks aimed at improving bilateral relations, Western agencies reported. A spokeswoman for the Slovak prime minister was quoted as saying that the two officials met in a Slovak mountain resort. She said no information would be released until Meciar and Horn briefed their respective parliaments. The talks were likely to have focused on the Slovak draft language law--which, critics claim, discriminates against the ethnic Hungarian minority in Slovakia--and on the delayed ratification of a bilateral friendship treaty. The treaty has been ratified by the Hungarian parliament but still not approved by Slovak deputies. -- Jan Obrman, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIAN ECONOMIC UPDATE. The Ukrainian government convened on 30 August to finalize a draft of the 1996 state budget, which President Leonid Kuchma is expected to submit to the parliament by 1 September, Ukrainian TV and Interfax-Ukraine reported the same day. The current draft reveals a planned budget deficit of 15% of GDP (a figure harshly criticized recently by IMF representatives in Kiev) but the government plans to order ministries and local administrations to take steps to reduce the projected deficit to 6% of GDP next year. In other news, State Property Fund officials revealed that privatization of enterprises in the agro-industrial complex has been proceeding very slowly, Ukrainian TV reported on 30 August. Only 14% of enterprises slated for privatization since 1993 have been transferred to private ownership, including 274 food-processing plants, grain elevators, and other agriculture-related enterprises. The officials blame the poor financial situation of the enterprises as well as resistance by local authorities for the slow pace of privatization. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIAN ENERGY CONSUMPTION. In the first six months of 1995, Ukrainian private businesses used eight times more fuel than private households, Ukrainian Radio reported on 30 August. Fuel consumption was reduced in the state sector by 16%, while state fuel reserves on 1 July were down 25% on the 1 October 1994 level. Coal and mazut reserves were down 19% and 48% on last year. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. PROGRESS IN SEALING REACTORS IN ESTONIA. Estonian government representative Arvo Niitenberg said Russian specialists should finish building concrete seals around the two nuclear reactors at the former submarine base at Paldiski by 22 September, BNS reported on 30 August. Financial problems delayed the purchase of concrete earlier in the month. Russia is required to complete handing over the base to Estonia by 30 September. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. NEW NATIONAL AIR COMPANY IN LATVIA. Latvian Privatization Agency Director Janis Naglis said an agreement was signed on 29 August establishing a new national air company, BNS reported the next day. The company will have a registered capital of $12.1 million and will be owned by Latvia (51.03%), Baltic International USA (20.04), and SAS (16.53%) airlines as well as two Scandinavian funds (6.2% each). The existing Latavio airline will be reorganized into a department handling charter flights and transport cargoes. The new company will begin operations in September and will use only Western airplanes to carry passengers. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE NATO BLASTS BOSNIAN SERBS . . . International media on 31 August reported that by sundown the previous day, there were four waves of attacks by at least 60 NATO planes belonging to five countries in Operation Deliberate Force. Their targets were Bosnian Serb military installations around Sarajevo, Gorazde, Tuzla, and Mostar in the largest such operation in NATO's history. The British, French, and Dutch artillery of the Rapid Reaction Force on Mt. Igman pounded targets nearby. Only one plane--a French Mirage 2000--was downed. Its two pilots parachuted into Bosnian government territory, the BBC said. Some five EU monitors were killed, but it is not clear how they died. Bosnian Serb Radio said that damage was "massive" and that seven civilians were killed, but the VOA correspondent in Sarajevo noted that one has to take "anything the Bosnian Serbs say with a grain of salt." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. . . . AND PROMISES FURTHER ATTACKS. The International Herald Tribune on 31 August said that U.S., British, and French commandos operating behind Bosnian Serb lines prepared for the attacks for months by identifying targets. It appears that the first day's strikes largely succeeded in attaining their initial goal of taking out Serbian anti-air defenses and the radar system. The VOA on 31 August spoke of the ground in Pale shaking. NATO spokesmen made clear that the raids will not be proportionate to previous actions of the Serbs and that the attacks will not be limited in scope or area. The goal is to force the Serbs to modify their behavior while denying them the means to continue their aggression. State Department official Nicholas Burns told CNN that "the Bosnian Serbs . . . ought to have concluded that there is no military victory in sight for them. The tide of the war has turned against them. Their dream of a greater Serbia is no more [and] it's time to face the responsibility of peace." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. BOSNIAN SERBS REMAIN DEFIANT. The BBC on 31 August quoted the Bosnian Serb military command as saying that they will not withdraw their heavy weapons and will resist future NATO attacks. Pale's "foreign minister," Aleksa Buha, gave the first public reaction from the Bosnian Serb leadership. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 31 August quoted him as saying the attacks had nothing to do with the shelling of the Markale market on 28 August. He suggested that some broader plot was unfolding. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic said that if the West thinks it can intimidate the Serbs, then its "calculations . . . are wrong." Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic praised the attacks and French President Jacques Chirac's role in organizing them, but said they were long overdue. He stressed that the Serbian heavy weapons must be destroyed and that it will not be enough to secure the Serbs' signature on yet another demilitarization agreement. Favorable reactions to the strikes also came from London, Bonn, Paris, Ankara, and Zagreb. NATO Secretary- General Willy Claes said that "the attacks will not end until the Serbs change." Vjesnik ran the headline: "The Blue Helmets Neutralize Serbs." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SERBIA CONDEMNS AIR STRIKES. The rump Yugoslav government has condemned the NATO air attacks and UN artillery strikes against the Bosnian Serbs, Tanjug reported on 30 August. It demanded that the military action be halted immediately and negotiations resumed "as the only way to reach a lasting and just peace in Bosnia." The ruling Socialist Party of Serbia joined the chorus, denouncing both the air raids and the massacre at the Sarajevo market place, Nasa Borba reported on 31 August. But Vojislav Kostunica, leader of the opposition Democratic Party of Serbia, compared the attacks to bombardments by Nazi Germany during World War II, while Vojislav Seselj, alleged war criminal and leader of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS), called for a "heavy counteroffensive." According to Montena-fax, the leader of the SRS branch in Montenegro called Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic an "enemy of the Serbian people" and part of a "communist-Ustasha coalition." -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. KARADZIC AGREES TO "HARMONIZE" BOSNIAN SERB POLICY WITH BELGRADE. Bosnian Serb and rump Yugoslav leaders, meeting in Belgrade on 29 August, signed an agreement on coordinating their positions at peace negotiations, BETA reported two days later. According to the International Herald Tribune on 31 August, the agreement means that "the Bosnian Serbs let the [rump] Yugoslav government speak for them in the Bosnian peace process." BETA argued that Milosevic was not anxious to sign the agreement since it "means taking responsibility for what happens in Bosnia." The groundwork for the agreement may have been laid at a meeting in Belgrade on 27 August between Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic, speaker of the Bosnian Serb parliament Momcilo Krajisnik, and Milosevic. BETA reported that at that meeting, Milosevic "talked the hard-core Bosnian leaders into at least formally accepting the peace initiative." But the news agency added that "it is unclear . . . what concessions [they are] prepared to make in practice." -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. HOLBROOKE MEETS WITH MILOSEVIC. U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke held urgent talks with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade after meeting with Bosnian President Alia Izetbegovic in Paris. Holbrooke described their four-hour discussions about the U.S. peace plan as "important and productive," the International Herald Tribune reported on 31 August. BETA also reported that Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic is in Belgrade and is "almost certain" to meet with Holbrooke. It speculated that such a meeting may take place in the presence of Milosevic and may result in the "signing of some kind of document" accepting U.S. proposals for an end to the war. Holbrooke had previously threatened that the Bosnian Serbs will be exposed to heavy air strikes if the peace initiative "does not show any progress," adding that the Serbs are "the main obstacle to peace." The U.S. peace plan has not yet been published but reportedly grants the Serbs "local self-rule," within a Bosnian federation. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR "HISTORICAL RECONCILIATION" WITH HUNGARY. Ion Iliescu, in a speech marking the 55th anniversary of the temporary loss of northern Transylvania to Hungary, called for a "historical reconciliation" with Budapest based on the German-French model. Iliescu, whose address was broadcast live on Radio Bucharest on 30 August, said a joint political declaration could be accompanied by a "judicial document" specifying what mechanisms and instruments should be used in the process. He added that a "code of conduct" should be drawn up to deal with national minority issues. Iliescu also said Romania was ready not only to start negotiations on such a reconciliation at once but also to renew discussions on the bilateral treaty. He warned Hungarian politicians not to pose as defenders of Hungarian minority rights in neighboring countries or attempt to exercise control over those rights from abroad. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. VAN DER STOEL ON MINORITY RIGHTS IN ROMANIA. Radio Bucharest on 30 August reported that Max van der Stoel, visiting OSCE High Commissioner for Ethnic Minorities, told Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu that the "situation of national minorities in Romania has improved a lot." Van der Stoel expressed the hope that "unjustified doubts" over the new education law in Romania will be overcome, making it possible to "give the green light to the process of Romanian-Hungarian reconciliation." The high commissioner said Iliescu's speech on reconciliation was "very important indeed." -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. POLL SHOWS ROMANIANS CRITICAL OF GOVERNMENT. An opinion poll published on 30 August in the daily Adevarul showed that a large majority of Romanians are critical of Nicolae Vacaroiu's government. The survey, carried out among 1,000 respondents by the Bucharest-based Center for Research on the Quality of Life, revealed that 79.5% consider the executive's performance on ensuring a "decent living standard" as either "weak" or "very weak." Eighty-five percent returned the same verdict on the government's efforts to create new jobs. Performance on protecting families with children was judged to be "weak" or "very weak" by 74.8% of the respondents; 61.9% expressed the same opinion about the adequacy of unemployment benefits. The performance of police in combating corruption was considered to be unsatisfactory by 45.8% of the interviewees. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. U.S. AMBASSADOR SAYS ROMANIA, POLAND SHOULD ANCHOR SECURITY IN REGION. U.S. Ambassador to Romania Alfred Moses told students at the Black Sea University on 30 August that Romania and Poland should be the anchors of Central European security and lead the process of integration with the West, Reuters reported. He said such a framework would not threaten Russia and would remove the "historical temptation to intervene in the affairs of the region to gain hegemony and change its destiny." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIA DENIES ROLE IN YUGOSLAV BORDER KILLINGS. The Albanian Interior Ministry has said that no Albanian citizens were involved in the attack on a Yugoslav border patrol on 29 August, Reuters reported the next day. The ministry accused the Serbian authorities of "killing and sacrificing their own uniformed people only to accuse Albanians." It described claims that a group of ethnic Albanians fled to Albanian territory after shooting dead a rump Yugoslav soldier near the border at Djakovica as "irresponsible" and having been "invented" by the Serbian authorities. Tirana also accused Belgrade of creating "tension and hostility toward Albanians." -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIA PRESIDENT WELCOMES NATO OFFENSIVE. Sali Berisha praised the NATO attacks on Bosnian Serb positions as a "direct response to the massacre committed in Sarajevo by Serbian terrorists [and] an honorable answer to all the criminal acts, including genocide, they have committed during the war in the former Yugoslavia," Zeri i Popullit reported on 31 August. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Alfred Serreqi arrived in Greece to meet with top officials to discuss improving bilateral relations and the Balkan crisis, international agencies reported. German and U.S. military delegations traveled to Tirana to discuss military cooperation with Defense Ministry and military officials and to prepare for a U.S.- Albanian military exercise called "Peaceful Albania," scheduled to begin in September. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIANS SHOPPING FOR ARMS IN UKRAINE? Col. Bektesh Kolasi, head of the Albanian Ministry of Defense's Armaments Directorate, is heading a delegation visiting Ukraine, ITAR-TASS reported on 31 August. The press service of the Ukrainian military said the Albanians will visit a military unit "to acquaint themselves with weaponry used by the Ukrainian Land Forces." They were also scheduled to visit two defense factories and discuss "military and technical cooperation." -- Doug Clarke, 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 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
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.