|If you're sure you understand everthing that is going on, you're hopelessly confused. - Walter Mondale|
No. 175, Part II, 8 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 UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT MAY RETAIN MONOPOLY IN KEY SECTORS. President Leonid Kuchma's chief economic adviser, Anatolii Halchynskyi, told Uryadovyi Kuryer on 7 September that the Ukrainian leader is ready to issue two important economic decrees. One decree would allow the government to retain 100% ownership of enterprises deemed strategically important, including those that manufacture arms and "environmentally hazardous" products, and to maintain a government monopoly in key economic sectors, such as transportation, communications, energy, ports, pipelines, postal services, and the manufacturing of spirits. The second decree would give the state the controlling package of shares--51% or more--in enterprises transformed into joint-stock companies but barred from total privatization by the Ukrainian parliament. The restructuring of all those enterprises is to be completed by the end of the year. The decrees mark a shift in Kuchma's reform policies. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. UPDATE ON BELARUSIAN POLITICAL CRISIS. Russian TV on 7 September reported that the conflict between Belarus's parliament and president continues. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has ordered government officials not to have any contact with the old parliament, which began its session on 6 September. He also avowed that he himself would not have anything to do with the outgoing legislature. Following Lukashenka's instructions, Minister of Finance Stsyapan Yanchuk refused to give an account of the budget before the parliament. In turn, the legislature issued a declaration blaming the president for inflaming the situation. The deputies also lowered the minimum voter turnout from 50% to 25% in order for parliamentary elections to be valid. Voters failed to elect enough deputies to form a new parliament in May, and there are fears that owing to the turnout requirement, no new legislature will ever be elected. Parliamentary by-elections are scheduled for 29 November. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. BALTIC PRESIDENTS MEET IN TALLINN. Presidents Lennart Meri (Estonia), Guntis Ulmanis (Latvia), and Algirdas Brazauskas (Lithuania) on 7 September discussed economic relations, trade problems, and relations with NATO, the EU, and Russia, BNS reported. In a joint communique issued after the meeting, they stressed their states' desire to join NATO as soon as possible. They backed Poland's proposal to have a summit meeting of EU members and associate members to discuss concrete questions on the union's expansion. And they also agreed to facilitate transit through their territories and bolster control over their eastern borders. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. MEETING OF LATVIAN, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS. Valdis Birkavs held talks with Andrei Kozyrev in Moscow on 7 September, BNS reported. The discussions focused on economic questions, with the two foreign ministers agreeing to create a joint committee to solve bilateral economic issues. Kozyrev promised to speed up the departure of Russian officers who should have left Latvia last year. Birkavs said European security and NATO expansion was barely discussed. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Krylov, who attended the meeting, appeared to modify his reported assertion that Russia could not accept the Baltic States' membership in NATO by saying that the question of NATO expansion was an internal matter of that organization. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. TV TIME SET FOR POLISH ELECTIONS. The National Election Commission on 7 September announced that each candidate for the presidential elections will receive two hours on public TV and four hours on public radio free of charge, Gazeta Wyborcza reported. The sum total of election programming cannot exceed 16 hours on public TV and 32 hours on public radio, the commission decided. If more than eight candidates register, programming time will be shortened. Candidates, rather than public TV and radio, bear exclusive responsibility for the contents of their programming. The commission statement said nothing about paid TV election spots, but a member of the National Broadcasting Council, which supervises Polish broadcasting, told reporters that paid advertisements will be banned. In related news, the Defense Ministry on 7 September prohibited election campaigning and the collection of supporting signatures at all military institutions. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc. UPDATE ON SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S SON. Maj. Jaroslav Simunic, the police investigator leading the inquiry into the recent kidnapping of President Michal Kovac's son (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5 and 6 September 1995), received news in the middle of a press conference on 7 September that he had been taken off the case, Slovak and international media reported. According to Simunic, there had been interference in his work and witnesses were being intimidated. He also said he had delivered letters to Slovak Information Service director Ivan Lexa, Interior Minister Ludovit Hudek, and parliament chairman Ivan Gasparovic informing them that SIS agents were possibly connected to the case. Although the government has denied official involvement in the case, opposition politicians think otherwise. Lexa is a close ally of Premier Vladimir Meciar, who has been embroiled in a long-term dispute with the president. Simunic told Sme on 7 September that he already had a list of four suspects, the names of whom made him "feel a certain unease." -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTS. The Slovak parliament on 7 September reapproved laws on investment funds and state control over "strategic" industries that had been vetoed by President Michal Kovac, Narodna obroda reported. Kovac objected to the law on investment funds because it prevents them from serving on the board of firms in which they have shares. The opposition has said it will take the two laws, along with one on bond privatization reapproved the previous day, to the Constitutional Court. In other news, Premier Vladimir Meciar announced at a party gathering on 7 September that the Slovak koruna will be fully convertible from 1 October. He also promised that the cabinet will neither raise energy prices in 1995 nor increase apartment rents until 1997, TASR reported. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. JOINT MILITARY EXERCISE BEGINS IN SLOVAKIA. A joint military exercise on 7 September began in the central Slovak military training area at Lest, TASR reported. Some 1,000 soldiers from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Ukraine, Romania, and Slovakia are participating, while Austria is attending as an observer. This is the first international military exercise to be held in Slovakia. The Hungarian contingent the previous day was detained for three hours at the Slovak border as customs officials were reluctant to let the soldiers cross the border with weapons in hand. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. IMF TO DISCUSS STAND-BY DEAL WITH HUNGARY. An IMF delegation has begun talks in Budapest on a stand-by agreement with Hungary, international media reported on 6 September. The agreement would involve two separate loans totaling $800 million, which Hungary plans to spend on budget reform and structural changes. The delegation is to review Hungary's economic stabilization program, a three-year economic strategy plan, and next year's budget. Preliminary reports say that the IMF is satisfied with Hungary's stabilization plan and its proposed budget deficit for 1996 of 258 billion forints ($1.9 billion), which would represent 3.9% of GDP. One of the preconditions for a stand-by loan was setting the deficit at a maximum of 3% of GDP. The IMF also wants monetary and wage reform as well as further austerity measures in addition to those adopted by the government in March 1995. -- Zsofia Szilagyi, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE CONTACT GROUP PREPARES PEACE PLAN . . . The international Contact Group has finalized outline proposals for a Bosnian peace settlement, which are to be presented at the first meeting of the foreign ministers of Bosnia, rump Yugoslavia, and Croatia in more than 18 months, international agencies reported on 8 September. The preparatory meeting was attended by EU mediator Carl Bildt and his UN counterpart, Thorvald Stoltenberg. U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke said the foreign ministers' talks on 8 September will include constitutional arrangements but no territorial issues. He refused to predict the outcome of the negotiations, saying that failure of the talks would be "an absolute disaster." Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher played down differences with Russia over recent NATO air strikes. He said Russia supported the Holbrooke peace initiative and added he believed that "we'll be able to work and stay together with the Russians." -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. . . . BUT PEACE MAY BE HARD TO ACHIEVE. Holbrooke, after meeting with rump Yugoslav Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic late on 7 September, said "we had some problems" but gave no details, international media reported. The meeting was requested by the Yugoslav delegation. Other delegates also agreed that peace will be hard to achieve. Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic is quoted as saying that he would be satisfied if "only one piece of paper concerning some basic element about constitutional arrangements" were produced. Negotiations between Granic, Milutinovic, and their Bosnian counterpart, Muhamed Sacirbey, began at the U.S. mission in Geneva on 8 September under Holbrooke's chairmanship. The new proposal has not yet been published but is reported to be based on a 51%--49% division of Bosnia between the Muslim-Croat federation and the Serbs. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. NATO AIR RAIDS CONTINUE. NATO warplanes using night vision gear continue to bomb Bosnian Serb positions around the clock, Reuters reported on 8 September. NATO said night attacks on military barracks and ammunition dumps near Sarajevo and other strategic targets, including bridges and radar posts in Foca and west Bosnia, were a "success." NATO pilots have so far flown about 2,000 sorties. The Serbs said civilian targets were also being hit. U.S. Secretary of State Christopher said the strikes will not cease, adding that "this campaign can continue for some time." Another U.S. official is quoted as saying "we've advised the Bosnian government to be restrained militarily . . . [and] not to initiate their own military operations under cover of the NATO-UN operations." Elsewhere, a Yugoslav government statement called on the UN Security Council to rein in NATO, saying "unacceptable and unreasonable" air strikes put the peace process in jeopardy, international agencies reported. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. SERBS REFUSE TO WITHDRAW. Bosnian Serbs on 7 September insisted that more NATO air strikes will not make them pull back their big guns from the 20 km exclusion zone around Sarajevo, international agencies reported the next day. UN spokesman Alexander Ivanko said there was no evidence the Serbs were about to comply with the UN demand that big guns be pulled back. "We have checked and no heavy weapons have moved out of the exclusion zone." Ivanko said. He added that "the Bosnian Serbs continue to defy the will of the international community." -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMNS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS. The UN Security Council issued two separate statements rapping Croatia for the mass exodus of 150,000 Serbs and condemning the lack of Bosnian Serb cooperation in allowing access to Muslim prisoners, Reuters reported on 7 September. It demanded that access be provided to sites deemed important by the International War Crimes Tribunal for its investigations. The U.S. has produced evidence that between 2,000 and 2,700 Bosnian civilians were machine-gunned to death soon after Srebrenica fell in July. UN investigators have not been allowed to visit those sites. About 10,000 civilians from Srebrenica and 3,000 from Zepa are unaccounted for. The second statement on Croatia expressed "deep concern" at the mass exodus of local Serbs. The council demands that Croatia "immediately investigate . . . report [on the burning of houses, looting of Serbian property, and killings], and take appropriate measure to put an end to such acts." The council also demanded respect for the rights of local Serbs, including their return in safety. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. MACEDONIA TO RECEIVE $200 MILLION IN FOREIGN AID. Donor countries and international organizations belonging to a consultative group chaired by the World Bank have agreed on new aid for Macedonia worth $200 million, Reuters reported on 7 September. Together with some $400 million saved through a debt rescheduling accord reached with the Paris Club in July 1995, the new credit will cover Macedonia's 1995 external financing gap of about $600 million. World Bank Director Rachel Lomax said financial support for Macedonia in 1996 looked strong, since the country has made great progress in economic reforms since 1994, despite "adverse external circumstances." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIA'S AUDIO-VISUAL COUNCIL BANS BBC NEWS ON STATE TV. The National Audio-Visual Council, in a communique broadcast by Romanian TV on 6 September, demanded that Romanian TV stop broadcasting a special BBC Romanian-language newscast, claiming that the broadcast breaches public television rules. According to its statutes, the council is not empowered to influence the contents of newscasts by public and private broadcasters. Reuters on 7 September reported that the demand amounts to banning the program, launched last week and sent by satellite to Romanian TV and several private television companies. The council said that "international rules that hold in both Britain and Romania" prohibit public stations from "airing news programs made by foreign public stations in the language of the recipient." The ban was echoed in an editorial in the government daily Vocea Romaniei accusing the BBC of disseminating news that is "openly hostile to the Romanian government." -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. ILIESCU ON ANTI-SEMITISM, MARSHAL ANTONESCU. Romanian President Ion Iliescu pledged in a letter to members of the U.S. Congress, published in the daily Adevarul on 8 September, that he would be "the first" to oppose anti-Semitism "if there were any real threat" of its resurgence in Romania. U.S. politicians had expressed concern about attempts to rehabilitate war-time leader Marshal Ion Antonescu and the government's failure to react to the desecration of a Jewish cemetery in Bucharest. Iliescu said the rehabilitation demands "have no anti-Semitic connotation," since they are "disparate attempts" by war veterans who fought under Antonescu's command. He claimed nobody denied the "negative role" played by Antonescu in pitting Romania against the Allies during World War II and his "responsibility for the crimes committed against Jews." Meanwhile, Radio Bucharest on 7 September reported that Senate Chairman Oliviu Gherman told a visiting Israeli delegation that compensation for the property confiscated from the Jews by the fascist and communist governments was not "a matter that can be settled from one day to the next or in a year or two." Chamber of Deputies chairman Adrian Nastase told the delegation that the restitution of property owned by the Jewish community must be dealt with in a law on restitution of property to other national communities as well in order to avoid "discrimination." -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON RESOLUTION OF TRANSDNIESTRIAN CONFLICT. Mircea Snegur told Hungary's Duna TV that he is confident the Transdniestrian conflict will "sooner or later" be solved by political means. He said the Moldovan side will display "as much patience and persistence" as is needed in order for Tiraspol to understand that "their intentions to set up a confederation do not have a chance." Snegur said granting Gagauz- type autonomy status to the Transdniestrian region would be "a fair solution," Infotag reported on 7 September. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN SOFIA. Andrei Kozyrev arrived in Sofia on 7 September for his first official visit to Bulgaria, AFP reported the same day. He met with his Bulgarian counterpart, Georgi Pirinski, and President Zhelyu Zhelev. Talks focused on the situation in the former Yugoslavia and a possible eastward expansion of NATO. Kozyrev said the Yugoslav conflict has to be solved by the warring sides, rather than outside forces. He also repeated Russia's position against a NATO expansion, while Zhelev said the decision to apply for membership was Bulgaria's sovereign choice and was not directed against Russia. The two sides also signed a new consular treaty. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN PRESIDENT, PREMIER ON EUROPEAN INTEGRATION. Zhelyu Zhelev and Zhan Videnov on 7 September addressed the National Assembly to mark the creation of a Bulgarian-EU parliamentary committee, Bulgarian newspapers reported the following day. Both stressed the importance of closer ties with the EU. Zhelev said Bulgaria will be able to present its request for EU membership within months. He called integration into European structures the best guarantee "for [Bulgaria's] democratic and stable development." Videnov said his government is preparing a strategy for beginning negotiations on full EU membership, which he described as Bulgaria's main foreign policy priority. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. GREEK-MACEDONIAN UPDATE. AFP on 8 September reported that the foreign ministers of Greece and Macedonia, Karolos Papoulias and Stevo Crvenkovski, will meet in New York on 12 or 13 September to sign an agreement between their two countries. The Greek Foreign Ministry said the accord "should enable mutual recognition." Tanjug, citing Macedonian press reports, reported that Greece and Macedonia will sign a seven-year friendship treaty, drafted by the U.S., the EU, and the UN, that will require Macedonia to change its flag and clarify certain articles of its constitution. Greece, for its part, will lift the embargo on Macedonia and stop blocking Macedonia's admission to certain international bodies. Only the name issue will remain frozen for the time being. Reuters on 7 September cited Macedonian Finance Minister Jane Miljovski as saying that a name change was not realistic and that the dispute over it had not been rational from the start. -- Stefan Krause, 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 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
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.