|When we can begin to take our failures non-seriously, it means we are ceasing to be afraid of them. It is of immense importance to learn to laugh at ourselves. - Katherine Mansfield|
No. 171, Part II, 1 September 1995
[NOTICE TO READERS: THE OMRI Daily Digest will not appear on 4 September, 1995, an American holiday.] 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 WALESA SAYS SOLIDARITY REVOLUTION INCOMPLETE. Polish President Lech Walesa, speaking on 31 August at ceremonies to mark the 15th anniversary of the signing of the Gdansk accords that legalized Solidarity, reiterated his determination to run for president. "The need from which Solidarity arose has not passed," Walesa said. He called upon the postcommunist forces to conduct an honest settling of accounts for their past deeds. "A single 'I'm sorry' is not enough," Walesa said, in a reference to Democratic Left Alliance leader Aleksander Kwasniewski's brief apology for the abuses of communism, which was submitted to the Sejm after the 1993 elections. Gdansk Archbishop Tadeusz Goclowski charged that the Solidarity movement went "too far in one aspect of Christianity" by being too forgiving of the former Communists after they surrendered power in 1989, Rzeczpospolita reported. -- Louisa Vinton POLISH COMMISSION SETS 1996 WAGE LIMIT. The tripartite commission representing the trade unions, employers, and the state reached agreement on 31 August that the average wage in state firms can increase a maximum of 21.8% next year, Gazeta Wyborcza reported. The government is predicting annual average inflation of 19.8%, so the agreement allows a 2% rise in real wages. The unions initially demanded a 26% limit, fearing that government inflation forecasts were overly optimistic. The agreement sets guidelines rather than legally enforceable limits. In other economic news, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Grzegorz Kolodko predicted that the inflation rate for August will amount to only 0.5-0.6%. Prices fell by 0.9% in July, largely owing to seasonal declines in food prices, yielding a year-on-year rate for that month of 27.6%. -- Louisa Vinton CZECH ARMS TRADE FIGURES. The Czech Republic exported $55 million worth of arms and military equipment during the first six months of this year, Reuters reported on 29 August, citing the Ministry of Industry and Trade. During the same period in 1994, Czech exports totaled $60 million. This year's exports included L-39 jet trainers to Bangladesh, T-815 heavy utility trucks to India, and CZ-75 pistols for the Turkish police. Arms imports during the first half of the year were worth $33.4 million and came mostly from Russia, Slovakia, and France. -- Doug Clarke SLOVAKIA CELEBRATES CONSTITUTION DAY. Slovakia on 1 September celebrates the third anniversary of the approval of its constitution. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar has repeatedly called for changes to the basic law, but he remains eight votes short of 90 needed to make constitutional changes. Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) deputy Dusan Slobodnik, speaking with Pravda on 31 August, said that despite having been worked out "very quickly," the document is "good" on basic questions and its "basic structure should not be changed." Robert Fico, legal expert from the opposition Party of the Democratic Left (SDL), said modifications should be reviewed by a wide commission of specialists and carried out only if supported by "all representatives of political life." On the eve of Constitution Day, President Michal Kovac awarded the Order of Ludovit Stur to a number of prominent Slovaks, including several Church officials and Julius Binder, director of the firm that built the Gabcikovo dam. Prague Spring leader Alexander Dubcek, as well as two generals who led the anti-fascist resistance during World War II, were given awards posthumously, TASR reported. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK FIRM TO ISSUE BONDS. According to TASR on 30 August, Slovenske Elektrarne will issue five-year bonds with a total value of 1.5 billion koruny in November. The bonds, which are to be administered by the Slovenska Sporitelna bank, will have a fixed interest rate and are designed mainly for Slovak firms. It will be the largest issue of corporate bonds thus far in Slovakia. Slovenske Elektrarne is responsible for the construction of the Mochovce nuclear power plant. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARY RESPONDS TO ROMANIAN PRESIDENT'S PROPOSAL. Hungarian Foreign Ministry spokesman Gabor Szentivanyi was quoted by Radio Bucharest on 1 September as saying Romanian President Ion Iliescu's call for a "historic reconciliation" between Hungary and Romania (see OMRI Daily Digest, 31 August 1995) was received "with great interest" in Budapest. Szentivanyi told the official news agency MTI that Hungary is now waiting for "concrete proposals," which he said will be carefully studied. He commented that only a historic reconciliation can lead to attaining the two countries' common objective of "integration into Euro- Atlantic structures [and] consolidation of stability and security in the region and in Europe." However, he added, any historic reconciliation cannot ignore unresolved issues, including "solving the problems of national minorities in accordance with international norms." -- Michael Shafir ROMANI FESTIVAL BEGINS IN BUDAPEST. An international festival of Romani culture officially opened in Budapest on 31 August, international media reported. In a keynote speech, Hungarian President Arpad Goncz emphasized the importance of the Roma's contribution to world heritage. He noted that Roma live in many countries but are without their own country and thus often feel they "do not belong." Goncz noted that the Budapest festival would show that they and their culture are part of the world's heritage. Organizers of the festival, called "Rom Som" (which means both "I am a human being" and "I am a Rom") said the aim was to show the wealth of Romani culture. -- Jiri Pehe CONFUSION OVER BELARUSIAN DECREES. ITAR-TASS and Interfax on 31 August reported confusion over whether President Alyaksandr Lukashenka signed a decree stripping deputies of their immunity, thereby allowing deputy Syarhei Antonchyk and local council deputy and head of the Independent Trade Unions Henadz Bykau to be arrested. Officials at Lukashenka's headquarters say the president never signed such a decree. Chairman of the Supreme Soviet Mechyslau Hryb reportedly met with the president and changed some articles relating to the status of deputies, but not the article dealing with deputies' immunity. Adding to the confusion, Segodnya reported that Lukashenka signed a decree on 31 August that both suspended the activities of the Independent Trade Unions and allowed for the arrest of deputies. -- Ustina Markus INDIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN BELARUS. Belarusian TV on 30 August reported that Salman Khursheed has concluded an official visit to Belarus. Khursheed met with Prime Minister Mikhail Chyhir, head of the President's Administration Leanid Sinitsyn, and Minister for Foreign Economic Relations Mikhail Marynich. Discussions focused on trade potential and economic ties between the two countries. Belarusian-Indian trade stood at only $8 million in the first half of this year. In an effort to spur trade, it was decided to set up an international committee on trade, economy, and technical cooperation. Marynich said India was interested in Belarusian technology, while Belarus wanted to obtain medicine from India. -- Ustina Markus MEETING OF BALTIC, NORDIC FOREIGN MINISTERS. The foreign ministers of the Baltic States and the Nordic Council countries met on 30-31 August in Kolding, Denmark, to discuss cooperation between the two groups, BNS reported. The Nordic ministers welcomed the associate membership agreements of the Baltic States with the EU. The two groups agreed that a future European security structure should be developed in cooperation with Russia. Latvian Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs signed a free trade agreement with Iceland, an accord with Denmark on mutual assistance in customs, and a protocol with Sweden on the establishment of an economic committee. -- Saulius Girnius ESTONIA, POLAND SIGN DEFENSE COOPERATION AGREEMENT. Defense ministers Andrus Oovel and Zbigniew Okonski signed a bilateral agreement on defense cooperation on 31 August in Tallinn, BNS reported. The ministries will join forces to work out defense concepts, build up defense structures, and eliminate environmental damage at former Russian military bases. Poland will also train Estonian officers. In a surprise remark after the signing, Oovel said that Estonia would support Poland's becoming the first former Warsaw Pact country to join NATO. -- Saulius Girnius LATVIAN PARLIAMENT RATIFIES EU ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT. The Saeima on 31 August ratified the associate membership agreement with the European Union, BNS reported. The agreement, signed on 12 June, still has to be ratified by the parliaments of the 16 EU countries. -- Saulius Girnius SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE OPERATION DELIBERATE FORCE SWINGS INTO THIRD DAY. International media on 1 September reported that the UN and NATO attacks on Bosnian Serb positions are continuing. Planes have completed more than 500 sorties, and artillery on Mt. Igman blasted Serbian guns and other targets. Bad weather caused a temporary let-up in operations the previous day. A NATO spokeswoman in Naples told reporters that the operation is nonetheless taking place in stages and that "things are going on" even if this is not readily apparent. The Serbs claimed that their "capital" in the ski resort of Pale was being hit as well, and reporters there said a loud boom caused windows to rattle. UN spokesmen said press reports that UN commander General Bernard Janvier would meet with the Serbs' General Ratko Mladic were "premature." -- Patrick Moore CLINTON BLASTS SERBIAN "SAVAGERY." U.S. President Bill Clinton told reporters in Hawaii that Operation Deliberate Force is "the right response to savagery." He said that the Serbs have "everything to lose and nothing to gain" by continuing the war and that "NATO is delivering that message loud and clear." International media on 1 September also noted that NATO spokesmen stressed that the attacks will continue until the Serbs end their stranglehold on Sarajevo, Tuzla, and Gorazde. NATO efforts continue to be popular in Sarajevo, where one policeman told Reuters that the alliance should "bomb them and bomb them some more until these Chetnik [Serbian] bastards beg for the mercy they never showed anybody in this war." -- Patrick Moore KARADZIC CALLS RAIDS UNNECESSARY . . . Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic said that military action against his side is unwarranted because the Serbs have signed on to the peace process. AFP on 1 September reported that he wrote UN special envoy Yasushi Akashi that the attacks' purpose is "to weaken our power and our negotiating position." Karadzic added that further raids "would accelerate preparations for a long conflict that the international community would not be able to win." The internationally wanted war criminal concluded that "if NATO continues its attacks, that means it wants to put an end to the peace process." -- Patrick Moore . . . WHILE MLADIC URGES RESISTANCE. General Mladic took a different tone from that of his civilian rival, Nasa Borba reported on 1 September. He called on both the army and the general population to resist the attacks. Novi list said that the Serbs fired rockets at the besieged town of Gradacac and other areas of northern Bosnia. The Serbs claimed to have captured the two French pilots shot down on 30 August, but it appears that the men are at large and hiding on Bosnian Serb territory. The BBC said that they had sent radio signals to that effect. Meanwhile, the five EU monitors that the Serbs originally reported as dead were taken to Visegrad, once a mainly Muslim town on the Drina that was the site of some of the first massacres and "ethnic cleansing" in 1992. After some hesitation, the Serbs released them to go to Zagreb, Reuters reported. In Pale, there was great anger over the air attacks among Bosnian Serb military personnel and civilians, while some "spoke about taking revenge on any foreigners they could get their hands on." -- Patrick Moore HOLBROOKE PRAISES BELGRADE-PALE AGREEMENT . . . U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke, before leaving Belgrade for Zagreb on 31 August, said that "serious substantive negotiations" could begin after Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and the Bosnian Serbs formed a joint negotiating team, Reuters reported on 31 August. Holbrooke is quoted as saying: "We consider President Milosevic's announcement that he can now negotiate for the Bosnian Serbs something of a procedural breakthrough." Milosevic announced that the Bosnian Serbs will give him a veto over the terms of a peace deal. -- Fabian Schmidt ...WHILE NEGOTIATIONS MAY END IN DEADLOCK. Milosevic, however, is reported to have guaranteed the Bosnian Serbs that he will achieve certain "minimums," such as the division of Sarajevo, the widening of the Brcko corridor, and the delineation of a "compact territory" that would include the handing over of Gorazde to the Serbs. The Bosnian government and Croats would doubtless reject such proposals. Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel met with Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic in Bonn and encouraged him not to accept any solution violating the territorial integrity of Bosnia. French President Jacques Chirac also insisted Bosnia should retain its integrity as a state, adding that "any other solution would be an insult to our values and to the future." -- Fabian Schmidt ROMANIAN REACTION TO NATO AIR STRIKES AGAINST BOSNIAN SERBS. Presidential spokesman Traian Chebeleu told a press conference on 31 August that the NATO air strikes against the Bosnian Serbs were a "natural consequence" of the determination to "take all necessary measures for implementing the Security Council decisions about the protection of civilians," Radio Bucharest reported the same day. Chebeleu added that political decision-makers should not, however, become "entangled in the logic of force, which can by no means lead to a solution." Foreign Ministry spokesman Mircea Geoana the previous day called the shelling of Sarajevo by the Bosnian Serbs a "criminal act." -- Michael Shafir ROMANIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH VAN DER STOEL. OSCE High Commissioner for National Minorities Max van der Stoel on 31 August met with President Ion Iliescu, Radio Bucharest reported. Van der Stoel praised Iliescu's appeal the previous day for a historic reconciliation with Hungary, saying he hoped it will have positive echoes in both Hungary and the EU. Van der Stoel also met with leaders of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR). UDMR chairman Marko Bela told Romanian TV that President Iliescu's appeal is "an important declaration of intention, but one that flagrantly contradicts reality." -- Michael Shafir SNEGUR WANTS PRESIDENTIAL SYSTEM. President Mircea Snegur, speaking as chairman of the new Party of Revival and Conciliation of Moldova (PRAM), on 30 August denied accusations by his political adversaries that he has already launched his campaign for the elections due in December 1996. Infotag reported Snegur as saying his party proposes to replace the present parliamentary system with a presidential one because the existing system has led to "nothing but endless debates." He added that the changeover should be evolutionary, not revolutionary. Snegur also commented that the proposal should not be seen as an attempt to set up a "presidential dictatorship" but as advancing the idea of a presidential republic where "all democratic norms are duly observed" but problems "are solved much faster and efficiently." His party also wants to replace the present single-chamber parliament with a bicameral one. -- Michael Shafir MOLDOVA MARKS ROMANIAN LANGUAGE DAY. Moldova on 31 August marked the "Day of Our Romanian Language," an official national holiday. Government officials and President Mircea Snegur participated in ceremonies near the burial sites of individuals linked to the struggle for cultural rights of Romanian-language poets and writers as well as Romanians in general. -- Michael Shafir ELECTRICITY HIKES IN BULGARIA. Electricity for private households increased by 25% and for industry by 38% on 1 September, Kontinent reported the same day. Prices for central heating, warm water, and coal remain the same for households and have increased by 20% for industry. Pensioners will receive monthly compensation of 140 leva ($2.10), far less than originally announced by the government (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 August 1995). Compensation for the hikes is estimated to cost the state about 600 million leva ($8.84 million) per month. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN GREECE. Alfred Serreqi arrived in Athens on 31 August for a two-day official visit aimed at improving Albanian Greek ties, Reuters reported the same day. He met with his Greek counterpart, Karolos Papoulias, before official talks began. Greek Foreign Ministry officials said the talks will focus on the status of Albania's ethnic Greek community and the estimated 300,000 Albanians living and working illegally in Greece. Greece has linked the question of legalizing an unspecified number of Albanian seasonal workers to establishing more Greek minority schools in Albania. Athens also wants the return of property seized by the former communist regime from the Albanian Orthodox Church and the lifting of visa requirements for Greek citizens traveling to Albania. Serreqi rejected the establishment of independent Greek schools in Albania and walked out of a meeting on 1 September, Greek officials were quoted as saying. -- Stefan Krause [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 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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