|Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson|
No. 174, Part II, 7 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 CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE POLISH ELECTION DATE SET. The first round of the Polish presidential elections will be held on 5 November, Sejm Speaker Jozef Zych announced on 6 September. A second round will follow on 19 November if--as is likely--no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote in the first round. The scheduling neatly sandwiches Independence Day (11 November, an occasion for military ceremonies and speeches by state dignitaries) between the two rounds. In a televised address, Zych noted that several presidential candidates have threatened to dissolve the parliament should they win the elections. This was a "dangerous theory," Zych said, as the constitution provides for no such possibility. Zych also expressed doubt about how the state will continue to function, given the number of high public officials who have entered the race. To win a spot on the ballot, candidates must submit 100,000 supporting signatures within 20 days of the publication of Zych's announcement in Dziennik Ustaw. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. WALESA STRESSES SUPPORT FOR NATO. President Lech Walesa on 6 September opened a series of weekly press conferences designed to sum up his Presidency, Gazeta Wyborcza reported. The president denied that the sessions were meant to help his re-election bid. Speaking on foreign policy, Walesa argued that a NATO decision is overdue and that Poland already meets the criteria for membership. "We are a country of a single nation, a single faith, and we have no conflicts with our neighbors," the president said. Responding to remarks by Deputy Defense Minister Andrzej Karkoszka questioning public support for NATO (see OMRI Daily Digest, 6 September 1995), Walesa said he was convinced that most Poles support membership and are prepared to bear the costs. Karkoszka told reporters on 6 September that his remarks were taken out of context and did not represent the Defense Ministry's views. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. CZECH SCREENING LAW TO BE EXTENDED. The Defense and Security Committee of the Czech parliament on 6 September recommended extending the country's screening or "lustration" law by two years, Hospodarske noviny reported the following day. The current law--which bars former senior Communist Party officials as well as members of its now disbanded paramilitary force and the communist-era secret police from holding various state offices--expires at the end of 1996. The government supported a two-year extension but some committee members urged that the law be extended to the year 2000. Proponents of extending the law say the state administration is still unstable and needs to be protected against possible infiltration by people connected to the former communist regime. The government denies claims that the civil service contains a large number of employees who should be removed under the screening law's provisions. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK PRESIDENT ADDRESSES PARLIAMENT. Michal Kovac on 6 September gave his long-awaited annual report on the state of the republic, Slovak media reported. Kovac began by discussing the change of government in March 1994--triggered by his last such speech--which has since been referred to by Premier Vladimir Meciar's allies as a "parliamentary putsch" and "constitutional crisis." He stressed that the change took place "within the framework of the constitution" and with respect for "the unwritten rules of parliamentary democracy." While welcoming the efforts of Meciar's party to create a stable coalition government after the fall 1994 elections, Kovac stressed that its policy has not been "consensual." He referred specifically to its control over all parliamentary posts and commissions, doubts over the right of the opposition to present its opinions in the parliament, and questioning of Constitutional Court decisions. Neither Meciar nor any of the cabinet members were present for the speech. The parliament later voted to reapprove a privatization law canceling coupon privatization and introducing a bond program. The law was first passed by the parliament in July but was vetoed by Kovac. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAKIA, HUNGARY BEGIN GABCIKOVO TALKS. Negotiations began in Bratislava on 6 September on the long-term dispute over the Gabcikovo dam (see OMRI Daily Digest, 6 September), TASR and Slovenska Republika report. According to Gabor Gobolyos, foreign policy adviser to Hungarian Premier Gyula Horn, Hungary is pushing for an out of court solution because it is "unnatural" that a dispute between two neighboring countries be resolved by a third party. Foreign Ministry State Secretary Jozef Sestak, who heads the Slovak delegation, said the talks will focus on finding "a practical solution to the technical, energy, financial, and environmental questions." Further negotiations between specialists from both countries are expected. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK ROMA RECEIVE MIXED POLITICAL MESSAGES. The United Romani Parties organized a rally outside the presidential office in Kosice on 4 September to protest Premier Meciar's minority policies, but skinheads blocked nearby streets, preventing Roma from reaching the building, Narodna obroda reported on 5 September. Meanwhile, Meciar made the symbolic gesture of attending the laying of a foundation stone for a Romani settlement in Nalepkova, eastern Slovakia, on 6 September. Roma make up half of the unemployed in that area, where factories have been closing down or turning to labor from Ukraine. The report did not say whether Romani organizations considered the project to be a sign of support from the government or a segregationist "solution." -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARIAN COALITION NEGOTIATIONS TERMINATED. After six weeks of negotiations over disputes within the Hungarian ruling coalition, agreement was reached that "the coalition has to remain intact, for the sake of the country and in order to ensure the smooth future operation of the government," Hungarian newspapers reported on 6 September. Differences between the two partners--the Hungarian Socialist Party and the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ)--arose mainly over the suggestion to increase the number of ministerial positions and Premier Gyula Horn's announcement that he would appoint Association of Hungarian Trade Unions head Sandor Nagy as industry minister. SZDSZ experts argued that giving Nagy control over economic policy would threaten to block the controversial austerity measures of Finance Minister Lajos Bokros, launched in March. -- Zsofia Szilagyi, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARY APPROVES EXTRADITION OF FORMER UKRAINIAN SECURITY CHIEF. Hungary is to hand over to Ukraine a former Ukrainian presidential security chief wanted in his country, AFP reported on 6 September. Hungarian Justice Minister Pal Vastagh approved the decision of Hungarian courts to grant the extradition of Victor Palivoda, security head under former Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk. He is wanted by both Interpol and the Ukrainian authorities for abuse of power and misuse of funds. Palivoda was arrested in Budapest on 11 July. -- Zsofia Szilagyi, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINE BANS RADICAL NATIONALIST GROUP. Reuters on 6 September reported that the Ukrainian Justice Ministry has outlawed the radical Ukrainian National Assembly. Members of the group, however, said they will ignore the decision and fight the ruling in court. A Justice Ministry spokesman said the UNA was stripped of its registration and that it would be violating the law if it continued its activities. Ukrainian officials had been threatening to ban the controversial organization since July, when the funeral of a Ukrainian Orthodox Patriarch turned violent. Ukrainian officials said that UNA and Church leaders provoked riot police into attacking a crowd of mourners by attempting to bury the patriarch in St. Sophia's Cathedral. The UNA and UNSO have repeatedly drawn criticism by sending members to fight as armed mercenaries or offering other forms of support to separatist groups in such hot spots as Chechnya and Transdniester. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. KUCHMA APPOINTS FIRST DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has appointed Pavlo Lazarenko, the 42-year-old administrator of the heavily industrial Dnipropetrovsk region, as Ukraine's first deputy prime minister, Ukrainian Radio and ITAR-TASS reported on 5 September. Lazarenko will be tasked with finding ways to reverse declining production in industry and agriculture. The new first deputy prime minister will head eight other deputy premiers who were named by Kuchma in July. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. LATVIAN PEACEKEEPERS NOT TO BE SENT TO CROATIA. The Latvian platoon due to travel to Croatia as part of the Danish UN peacekeeping battalion will not be sent after all, BNS reported on 6 September. It was not given the UN peacekeeping mandate because the Security Council plans to withdraw all peacekeepers from Croatia by 30 November. Saeima Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Aleksandrs Kirsteins said that the parliament would have to approve the platoon's participation in other peacekeeping duties, such as in Macedonia. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. PRIVATIZATION AGENCY FOUNDED IN LITHUANIA. The Lithuanian cabinet on 6 September announced it will establish a State Privatization Agency, BNS reported. Government consultant Aloyzas Duksa said a head of the agency will be appointed in two weeks. The decision is the first step in implementing the law on the privatization of state and municipal property, which was passed in July. During the first stage of privatization, begun in September 1991, some 5,700 properties or 85% of government firms were sold on the basis of investment vouchers distributed free of charge among the population. Beginning in January 1996, all new privatization projects will be conducted on a cash basis only. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE NATO AIR STRIKES AROUND SARAJEVO CONTINUE. International agencies on 7 September reported that NATO jets continued the air strikes they had resumed the previous day. NATO targeted military installations around Sarajevo, including barracks at Lukavica and Butila. NATO commander for Southern Europe Admiral Leighton Smith said reports indicated "very successful results" but gave no details. The UN. Rapid Reaction Force joined in the attacks with artillery and fired rounds at a Serbian mortar that opened fire on traffic on the Mt. Igman road. NATO insists on the complete withdrawal of Serbian weapons from the 20 kilometer exclusion zone around Sarajevo, the reopening of the airport, free movement for the UN and aid workers, and an end to all attacks on the capital as well as three other "safe areas." More than 1,500 sorties have been flown since 30 August, when NATO planes began their raids. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. SERBS REFUSE TO WITHDRAW HEAVY GUNS. The Bosnian Serb Army is quoted by Reuters as saying that NATO's "unscrupulous and barbaric" air strikes have killed about 100 civilians in the past week and wounded hundreds more. Meanwhile, Bosnian Serb chief of staff General Manojlo Milutinovic talked of "minor losses" among his soldiers and "several" civilian casualties, BBC reported on 7 September. UN spokesman Alexander Ivanko said that Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic is in a "defiant mood" but that he hopes he will start complying with UN demands. Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic called the raids a "terrible bombardment" of a magnitude that "hasn't been seen since the Second World War." However, he proposed only reopening Sarajevo airport to UN and humanitarian flights. Karadzic told reporters that "we have withdrawn as much as we could. But we can't withdraw (all) what we possess [since we have] to protect ourselves." The UN. says the Bosnian Serbs have made no substantial withdrawals. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. IS THERE A RIFT BETWEEN KARADZIC AND MLADIC? Karadzic has denied that there is a rift between himself and Mladic, insisting that he is running the self-declared "Republika Srpska." Karadzic is quoted as saying "I am in control" after being absent since 1 September, Reuters reported on 7 September. The Bosnian Serb leadership will meet in Pale the same day to discuss its strategy, the BBC reported. Meanwhile, the search continued for two French pilots shot down in the first round of the air strikes. NATO questioned Bosnian Serb allegations that the pilots were captured. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. DIPLOMATIC UPDATE. Representatives of the Conference of Islamic States and the Contact Group will meet in Paris on 7 September, international agencies reported. U.S. special envoy Robert Holbrooke will explain his peace proposal to the diplomats. The foreign ministers of Bosnia, Croatia, and the former Yugoslavia are preparing to meet in Geneva the following day for preliminary peace talks. Holbrooke, continuing his shuttle mission, briefed Croatian President Franjo Tudjman on 6 September. He denied that Washington was deliberately using air power to bomb the Bosnian Serbs into taking their place at the negotiating table. "This has nothing to do with peace negotiations. It is related to the UN's attempt to enforce its mandate. . . . If it affects the negotiations, that's not its intent," Reuters reported him as saying on 6 September. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN OPPOSITION CHALLENGES GOVERNMENT'S FARM POLICY. Romanian and international media on 6 September reported that Romania's opposition parties has initiated a motion to discuss the government's mishandling of the bumper 1995 wheat crop. According to Chamber of Deputies' regulations, the debate must be held within six days. The parties accuse the government of failing to end state monopoly on grain trading and storage. They also say the lack of credits for grain purchase is destroying private farming. The motion does not qualify as a no- confidence vote and cannot unseat Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu's government. An attempt by the Liberal Party '93 and the Democratic Convention of Romania to hold a no-confidence vote failed to receive enough support from among other opposition factions. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN TURKEY. Teodor Melescanu on 6 September ended a three-day visit to Turkey, Radio Bucharest announced. He conducted talks with his Turkish counterpart, Erdal Inonu, on bilateral relations and the Bosnian crisis. The two leaders signed agreements on cooperation and the restoration of historical monuments. Melescanu was also received by President Suleyman Demirel and other Turkish officials. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. CHOLERA IN ROMANIA, MOLDOVA. Reuters, citing Health Ministry sources, reported on 5 September that the number of cholera cases in the Romanian Danube Delta has risen to 57 and that the disease is spreading upstream. In neighboring Moldova, a fifth person has died from cholera and the number of those infected has jumped to 220, Infotag reported the next day. The latest death occurred in the breakaway Dniester region, whose authorities are blamed by Chisinau for having failed to react promptly to the spread of the disease from neighboring Ukraine. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. NEW JEWISH SCHOOLS IN MOLDOVA. A Jewish school was opened on 3 September in Chisinau and a Jewish college--the first of its kind in the countries of the former Soviet Union--will begin operating in the second half of September, BASA-press reported on 4 September. The school is the second Jewish educational institution in Chisinau, where there are also two Jewish kindergartens and a Jewish library. The college, named the Jewish People's University, was set up with the support of the U.S. Jewish organization Joint, which has opened a branch in Moldova. An international symposium on Jewish history and culture, attended by delegates from the U.S., Israel, Russia, and Ukraine will take place on 9-12 September at the Department for National Minorities. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIA, EU SET UP JOINT PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE. Bulgaria and the European Union on 6 September set up a joint parliamentary commission designed to forge closer ties on economic and political issues, Reuters reported the same day. The committee held its first session in Sofia that day, marking the official beginning of Bulgaria's EU associate membership, which came into effect on 1 February 1995. Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski said his country will draw up a national strategy for its integration into the EU, while parliament chairman Blagovest Sendov said EU associate membership is a "fundamental and irreversible priority of the country in line with its national interests." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. WILL GREECE COMPROMISE ON NAME OF MACEDONIA? Greek Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias on 6 September hinted for the first time that Greece may compromise on the name of its northern neighbor Macedonia, AFP reported the same day. Asked if he were ready to discuss names including the word "Macedonia," Papoulias said "We have . . . some difficult negotiations in front of us and I cannot prejudge the results." He said the Greek side continues to be against the use of the name Macedonia but talks were continuing. Meanwhile, the business community in the northern Greek town of Thessaloniki welcomed the latest developments "with relief and satisfaction." Iordanis Adamidis of the Union of Greek Industrialists put the annual losses caused by Greece's economic blockade of Macedonia at $90 million. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. CONTROVERSY AT ALBANIAN SUPREME COURT. Chief judge Zef Brozi has challenged Justice Minister Hektor Frasheri, who fired three Supreme Court judges, arguing they were former agents of the communist-era secret police. The three judges deny the charges; but on 5 September, police surrounded the court, forcibly removed one judge, and prevented two others from entering. Brozi said he sought to intervene and was himself pushed away by the police. He argued that the justice minister cannot fire employees of the Supreme Court, international agencies and Koha Jone reported on 6 and 7 September. -- Fabian Schmidt, 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
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