|Absence makes the heart grow fonder. -|
No. 172, Part II, 5 September 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 EASTERN AND CENTRAL EUROPE SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S SON KIDNAPPED, JAILED IN AUSTRIA . . . Michal Kovac Jr. was forcibly taken from Slovakia on 31 August and abandoned in his Mercedes limousine outside a police station in the Austrian border town of Hainburg, Slovak and international media reported. Kovac, aged 34, was reportedly dragged from his car in Bratislava, hooded, handcuffed, beaten, given electric shocks, and forced to drink half a liter of whiskey at gunpoint by about eight unidentified men. Austrian police, who were informed of Kovac's presence by an unknown caller speaking German with a Slovak accent, arrested Kovac and took him to a hospital for treatment from injuries. The pro-government Slovak daily Slovenska Republika reported in March that a Munich prosecutor had issued an international warrant for Kovac's arrest last November for his involvement in illegal business dealings between the Slovak firm Technopol and German companies. Kovac denied any involvement but remained on Interpol's "wanted" list. Chief prosecutor Manfred Wick in Munich asked Austria to extradite Kovac to face fraud charges. -- Sharon Fisher . . . FURTHER CLOUDING SLOVAKIA'S POLITICAL SCENE. Michal Kovac Sr. expressed shock at his son's abduction and insisted that he is innocent. Presidential spokesman Vladimir Stefko and opposition representatives suggested the kidnapping was an attempt to discredit the president, who has been involved in a long-term power struggle with Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar. Kovac Sr. met with his Austrian counterpart, Thomas Klestil, in Vienna on 1 September to discuss the situation. He later asked Slovak Foreign Minister Juraj Schenk to send a note to Austria requesting the return of Kovac Jr., but Schenk said he would first have to consult with Meciar. Slovak government spokesman Tomas Hasala on 4 September denied any official involvement in Kovac Jr.'s abduction. -- Sharon Fisher PAWLAK WINS GRUDGING PARTY ENDORSEMENT. Polish Peasant Party (PSL) leader and former Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak barely won his party's nomination for president on 2 September. Running unopposed in the first round, Pawlak received the support of only 81 delegates; 141 were opposed to his nomination. Party support was strongest for Sejm speaker Jozef Zych, whom PSL members consider more popular and "electable" than the taciturn Pawlak. But Zych repeatedly refused to vie for the nomination, and observers said he was waiting for Pawlak to withdraw. In the second round of balloting, Pawlak received just one vote more than the minimum required to defeat Senate speaker Adam Struzik, Rzeczpospolita reported. -- Louisa Vinton NEW CANDIDATES IN POLISH PRESIDENTIAL RACE. Lech Kaczynski, former head of the Supreme Chamber of Control, announced his candidacy for president on 4 September, Rzeczpospolita reported. Kaczynski, who is supported by the right-wing Center Alliance, said he decided to run after more than 50,000 signatures were gathered to support his campaign. The announcement dashes any remaining hope that the main right-wing parties will unite to support a single presidential candidate. Stan Tyminski also formally launched his campaign on 4 September with the election slogan "Poland for Poles." Tyminski promised to put a halt to the "genocidal" Balcerowicz plan and, as was the case in the last presidential elections five years ago, he threatened to open his "black briefcase" to reveal compromising information about other candidates. The two declarations bring the total number of candidates to 28, according to a count published in Rzeczpospolita. -- Louisa Vinton CZECH GDP RISES IN SECOND QUARTER. According to provisional figures released by the Czech Statistical Office, GDP rose 3.2% in the second quarter of 1995 compared with the same period last year, Czech media reported on 5 September. The figure represents a slight slowing down from the first quarter of this year, when the rise in GDP was 3.9%. But the overall 3.6% rise in real terms for the first six months of 1995 was in line with official expectations. In nominal terms, GDP totaled 579.3 billion koruny ($22.28 billion) in the first half of this year. Officials said increases were registered in industry and construction, while the service sector stagnated during the second quarter. -- Steve Kettle "ROM SOM" FEST ENDS IN BUDAPEST. The "Rom Som" festival ended on 3 September with a gala performance at the Budapest Congress Center at which a letter of support from Premier Gyula Horn was read out in both Romani and Hungarian. International media reported that few Roma attended the festival's main events--performances of Carmen by a Spanish flamenco troupe, Romeo and Juliet in Romani, and concerts by famous Jazz artists--citing high ticket prices. However, local Roma filled the halls of other, less publicized performances. Antonia Haga, Romani SZDSZ representative to parliament, said proceeds will go toward Romani education and that it is hoped the annual festival will be funded by the EU. While "Rom Som" has been billed as the first-ever "World Gypsy Festival," similar events have been held in Poland, Macedonia, and elsewhere. -- Alaina Lemon BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY IN UKRAINE. Malcolm Rifkind was in Kiev on 3 and 4 September on the first leg of a three-country visit, international agencies reported. He met with President Leonid Kuchma, Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk, parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Moroz, and Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko. Rifkind discussed the situation in Bosnia and NATO's role there, the closure of Chornobyl, and Ukraine's integration into international organizations. He said Britain was ready to uphold Ukraine's eventual membership in the Council of Europe and that it supported enhanced economic cooperation with all European institutions. -- Ustina Markus UPDATE ON BELARUSIAN DECREES. Izvestiya on 5 September reported that a number of Belarusian newspapers have published Presidential Decree No. 336 of 21 August, which did indeed suspend deputies' immunity, thereby allowing for the arrest of deputy Syarhei Antonchyk (see OMRI Daily Digest, 1 September 1995). The decree also suspended the activities of the Independent Trade Unions, the Minsk Metro Trade Union, and the Railroad and Transport Facilities Workers' Union and called upon the Prosecutor's Office to start proceedings aimed at abolishing those organizations. Meanwhile, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka told journalists that he will only work with the new parliament, Belarusian radio reported on 4 September. The old, outgoing parliament is due to convene this week and will continue its work until a new legislature is in place. -- Ustina Markus ESTONIAN PRIME MINISTER IN U.S. Tiit Vahi returned to Tallinn on 3 September after a two-week trip to the U.S. that included three working days in Washington. Vahi on 30 August discussed the fight against drug trafficking with FBI director Louis Freeh. The next day he held talks with IMF Deputy Director Stanley Fischer and World Bank Managing Director Richard Frank, both of whom expressed approval of Estonia's economic policy. Vahi on 1 September met with Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and top officials from the Defense Department, BNS reported. -- Saulius Girnius HUNGER STRIKE BY MIGRANTS IN LATVIAN CAMP. Aldis Lieljuksis, head of the Interior Ministry's Police Department, told a news conference on 4 September that the hunger strike by Asian migrants at the Olaine internment camp was over, Reuters reported. The strike began on 30 August. After some of the strikers started a fire at the camp, the police moved in and detained twenty of them. Many of the 128 migrants at the camp were on the so-called "Train of Despair" that Russia and Lithuania refused to admit in April. Latvia does not have the legal framework to deport the migrants, and no Western country is prepared to accept them. -- Saulius Girnius SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE UN, NATO SUSPEND BOMBING OF BOSNIAN SERB POSITIONS . . . The Atlantic alliance interrupted its air strikes against the Bosnian Serbs on 1 September to see if the Serbs would then comply with key demands. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 4 September said the points included an end to attacks on Sarajevo and other "safe areas," the withdrawal of heavy weapons beyond the 20-kilometer exclusion zone around the Bosnian capital, and complete freedom of movement for UN and NGO personnel, including access to the Sarajevo airport. The Serbs had until 11:00 p.m. local time on 4 September to comply. International media on 5 September noted that messages from the Bosnian Serb military and civilian leaderships included unacceptable conditions. General Ratko Mladic also sent a fax indicating that he could not order a withdrawal since that would be a political decision requiring a popular referendum and a vote by the Pale legislature, the BBC reported. -- Patrick Moore . . . AND THEN RESUME BOMBING AGAIN. A UN spokesman on 5 September said that the Serbs moved only 20-25 heavy weapons out of the exclusion zone. Special envoy Yasushi Akashi noted that this was "limited movement" only and hence not likely to be acceptable, Reuters reported. The BBC added that the Serbs have 200-300 such guns in the area. AFP quoted Akashi as saying that "we need evidence of substantial movement--if not completion--of the withdrawal of all heavy weapons from the exclusion zone." British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind told the BBC from Moscow that the Serbs had presented written acceptance of the demands and that "there will be no further need to contemplate air strikes." Reuters reported from Zagreb, however, that NATO had indeed resumed bombing. NATO and UN officials had been concerned that the Serbs would try various ruses to buy time. The International Herald Tribune said that a UN spokesman had warned Mladic that "if he doesn't play ball, he's going to get hit very, very hard." -- Patrick Moore SERBS PRESS ATTACKS ELSEWHERE. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 4 September noted that Bosnian Serb forces continued to attack in northern and western Bosnia. They seemed interested in widening their supply corridor from Serbia and shelled Gradacac, which was held by government and Croatian defenders even during the Muslim-Croatian war of 1993. There were also reports of shelling and sniper fire from Serbian positions in Sarajevo. Slobodna Dalmacija on 5 September noted that 400 shells fell on Lukavac near Tuzla. International media said the previous day that the Serbs had released the five EU monitors who were first reported dead and then held up in Visegrad by Bosnian Serb forces. -- Patrick Moore DIPLOMATIC UPDATE. International media on 5 September said that Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic feels the current U.S. peace plan has too many "gray areas" to be acceptable. He specifically ruled out any confederation between the Bosnian Serbs and rump Yugoslavia in any future settlement, although he reaffirmed certain rights for the Serbs. He had been speaking in Ankara with U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke, who came from talks in Bonn, Belgrade, Athens, and Skopje. The details of the U.S. plan have yet to be made public, but it is based on the Contact Group project of July 1994 and likewise involves the effective partition of the republic. Holbrooke was nonetheless optimistic about the chances for peace. Top Contact Group political officials will meet in Geneva with Zagreb's, Sarajevo's, and Belgrade's foreign ministers on 8 September. -- Patrick Moore RAIDS FOLLOW SHOOT-OUT IN KOSOVO. The Serbian police raided more than 60 houses following a shoot-out on 30 August, Kosova Daily Report said on 4 September. According to initial reports, two Serbian policemen were killed and four wounded in an explosion following a shoot-out at a police station near the village of Irzniq. Later sources, however, spoke of two injured and no casualties. Police began raiding houses and arresting people immediately after the shoot-out. Elsewhere, a court in Gnjilan sentenced nine ethnic Albanians to between six months and four years in prison for allegedly planning to forcibly secede from the rump Yugoslavia, BETA reported on 31 August. -- Fabian Schmidt VAN DER STOEL ON ROMANIAN EDUCATION LAW. OSCE High Commissioner for Ethnic Minorities Max van der Stoel, concluding the official part of his visit to Romania on 1 September, recommended that the new Romanian education law be reformulated to enable technical colleges to teach in the Hungarian language. Radio Bucharest reported the same day that the commissioner also recommended the inclusion of Hungarian-language instruction in social sciences and economics at the country's universities. Van der Stoel said the law currently allows for broad interpretation of its provisions and that its implementation should be reviewed (presumably by international organizations) at "regular intervals" to ensure international standards are being applied. -- Michael Shafir ROMANIA'S HUNGARIANS PROTEST EDUCATION LAW. International agencies on 2 September estimated that some 10,000 ethnic Hungarian participated in a rally in the Transylvanian town of Targu Secuiesc protesting the education law. The meeting was organized by the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR). UDMR chairman Bela Marko said the Hungarian minority rejects the "forced assimilation" stipulated by the new law. Pan Laszlofi, chairman of the Association of Hungarian Educators in Romania, said his organization was preparing to found an autonomous Hungarian university. The UDMR announced the setting up of the Foundation for the Defense of the Hungarian Language. It also said 10 ethnic Hungarian youths would be cycling to Strasbourg to protest there and en route against the new education law. -- Michael Shafir TRANSDNIESTER MARKS "INDEPENDENCE DAY." International agencies on 2-4 September reported that the Tiraspol authorities organized meetings marking the fifth anniversary of the republic's break with Moldova. Igor Smirnov, president of the region, said the final aim of the parleys with Chisinau was to secure recognition of the republic's independence and consolidate statehood and the army. Reuters reported that helicopters trailing the Transdniestrian flag flew over Tiraspol as several thousand troops marched through the streets "recalling scenes not witnessed in Moscow since the collapse of communism." BASA-press said the military parade featured missile launchers, combat helicopters, and armored vehicles. The festivities were also attended by an unofficial delegation of three Russian State Duma radical nationalist deputies, headed by Sergei Baburin, who said the present Transdniestrian republic "is the future of Russia," Infotag and BASA-press reported. -- Michael Shafir MOLDOVA'S AGRARIANS HOLD CONGRESS. The second extraordinary congress of the main governing party, the Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova (PDAM) , was held in Chisinau on 2 September, BASA-press and Infotag reported. Chairman Dumitru Motpan accused the 11 deputies who left the party to join President Mircea Snegur's Party of Revival and Conciliation of taking part in an "action planned in advance [and] synchronized with the initiative to change the name of the state language" and to increase the president's constitutional powers. He said the PDAM rejects the proposal to set up a presidential regime with a bicameral parliament, accusing Snegur of wishing to dissolve the present one-chamber legislature. -- Michael Shafir ALBANIAN SUPREME COURT JUDGE REJECTS ACCUSATIONS. Zef Brozi has rejected accusations that he worked for the communist-era secret service, saying he was never asked to do so. He has asked the Prosecutor's Office to open investigations into journalists for the ruling Democratic Party's newspaper Rilindja Demokratike, which first published the accusations against him. Brozi also claims his office and private telephone have been tapped. In other news, Brozi said Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano's appeal to be released from prison will be reviewed in September. The review was delayed after the court said it needed more time to study the accusations against Nano, who was found guilty of the misappropriation of Italian aid funds, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 2 September. -- Fabian Schmidt GREECE, MACEDONIA TO START TALKS. Greece and Macedonia agreed to hold direct talks aimed at improving bilateral relations, international agencies reported on 4 September. Dimitris Karaitidis, adviser to the Greek prime minister, said Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias and his Macedonian counterpart, Stevo Crvenkovski, will meet in New York next week for UN-brokered talks. The agreement was confirmed by the U.S. State Department. The announcement came a few hours after talks between U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke and Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou. U.S. President Bill Clinton called the step a "courageous and visionary decision" and a "major step toward peace and stability in the region." -- Stefan Krause GREEK-ALBANIAN TALKS FAIL. Talks between Karolos Papoulias and his Albanian counterpart, Alfred Serreqi, failed to produce any results, Reuters reported on 1 September. According to Greek officials, Serreqi left the meeting after 15 minutes, angered by Greek demands to open schools for Albania's ethnic Greek minority. He also failed to attend a scheduled news conference. Greece has demanded three independent Greek schools in southern Albania in return for granting legal seasonal employment to some of the 300,000 or so Albanians illegally living and working in Greece. The agreement was to be signed during Serreqi's visit, but the Greek side wanted "signs of goodwill" from the Albanian foreign minister. -- 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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