|A host is like general: calamities often reveal his genius. - Horace|
No. 176, Part II, 11 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 WALESA REGISTERS FIRST. Polish President Lech Walesa was the first candidate to submit the 100,000 supporting signatures required for a place on the ballot for the 5 November elections, Rzeczpospolita reported. The deadline to submit supporting signatures expires on 28 September. Democratic Left Alliance leader Aleksander Kwasniewski and Freedom Union candidate Jacek Kuron are believed to be the only other candidates to have so far collected the 100,000 minimum. In other election news, former Broadcasting Council Chairman Marek Markiewicz on 8 September agreed to enter the presidential race, provided opinion polls indicate sufficient support for his candidacy by mid-October. -- Louisa Vinton ZLOTY APPRECIATION SPARKS CONFLICT IN POLAND. The value of the Polish zloty rose by 1% against most hard currencies on 8 September, amid renewed conflict between National Bank President Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz and Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Grzegorz Kolodko. The National Bank criticized Kolodko for sparking speculative purchases of Treasury bills by suggesting the previous day that the Polish economy could withstand dramatic appreciation of the zloty. Kolodko argued that appreciation would work best to curb inflationary inflows of hard currency. The bank countered that the government should reduce import tariffs and allow exporters to retain hard-currency earnings, Rzeczpospolita reported. -- Louisa Vinton DOMINANT CZECH PARTY CHOOSES ELECTION LEADERS. The Executive Council of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) met on 9 September to choose 14 leading politicians to spearhead the party's campaign for next year's parliamentary elections. Two politicians will lead the campaign in each of the Czech Republic's seven regions. Among the election leaders are Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, six other cabinet ministers, the current chairman and a deputy chairman of the parliament, and Czech Ambassador to Slovakia Filip Sedivy. The list also includes two leading members of the Christian Democratic Party, which is due to merge with the ODS before the elections. -- Steve Kettle SLOVAK PREMIER ON RELATIONS WITH HUNGARY. Vladimir Meciar on 8 September addressed the parliament to discuss a 29 August meeting with his Hungarian counterpart, Gyula Horn, Narodna obroda and TASR reported. Meciar said the talks focused on the issue of the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros dam dispute, which was taken to the International Court of Justice in The Hague in 1993. Although the two sides are trying to reach a mutually acceptable agreement out of court, the case will remain before the court for now, Meciar said. Economic concerns--including the construction of a highway between Bratislava and Gyor, to be completed by late 1997--were also discussed. Meciar also said the controversial draft law on the state language will be discussed with the Council of Europe before being submitted to the parliament. Finally, the premier announced the Slovak- Hungarian treaty will be presented to the parliament for ratification in November. -- Sharon Fisher UPDATE ON HUNGARIAN COALITION. The two Hungarian coalition partners--the Hungarian Socialist Party and the Alliance of Free Democrats--have agreed to set up two working groups to define the norms of cooperation and to review certain provisions of the coalition agreement, which deal with government structure, institutional guarantees, and operational rules. Negotiations between the two partners ended last week with the Socialists, in particular, making many compromises (see OMRI Daily Digest, 7 September 1995). Some opposition parties have called the present political situation in Hungary a "government crisis" or the coalition's "loss of prestige." The government has commented that disputes within a government coalition are "natural." -- Zsofia Szilagyi BELARUSIAN POLITICAL CRISIS CONTINUES. Belarusian TV on 7 September quoted Leanid Sinitsyn, head of the president's administration, as saying the president and parliament agreed in May that the legitimacy of the legislature was questionable since its term had expired and that it could continue to meet only in cases of extraordinary events "such as war." Sinitsyn thus charged that the parliamentary session that began on 6 September was destabilizing and invalid. The deputies' decision to lower the minimum voter turnout requirement from 50% to 25% for elections to be valid was "detrimental" to the new parliament since it meant some deputies would have been elected under one set of regulations and others under another. He said the president agreed that a state cannot be without a legislature and was ready to take all necessary measures to have a new parliament elected--but not under new regulations. -- Ustina Markus HEAD OF NATIONAL BANK OF BELARUS TO QUIT. Radio Mayak on 9 September reported that head of the National Bank of Belarus Stanislau Bahdankevich has submitted his resignation. Bahdankevich said he was stepping down because "contradictory" banking legislation issued by the president's administration and the prime minister demanded that supervision of the commercial bank Belarusbanka cease and that the bank be united with the state bank Sberbank. Under Belarusian law, only the parliament can accept Bahdankevich's resignation. -- Ustina Markus LATVIAN SAEIMA APPROVES REGULATIONS ON HUMAN RIGHTS BUREAU. The Saeima has approved regulations on the Human Rights Bureau that were issued by the cabinet while the parliament was not in session, BNS reported on 8 September. The rules established an independent state institution that would consider residents' complaints about human rights violations. Chairman of the Saeima State Administration and Local Governments Committee Janis Lagzdins said the institution was already operating, although the Saeima had not confirmed its head. His committee had drafted an alternative bill that would have narrowed the functions of the bureau, but the Saeima rejected the draft. -- Saulius Girnius LOW AUGUST INFLATION IN BALTIC STATES. The Lithuanian Statistics Department announced that inflation fell from 2.7% in July to 0.4% in August, BNS reported on 7 September. The price of consumer goods and services rose by 3.3%, housing and energy by 2.6% and clothing by 2%, but the price of food fell by 0.6%. The Estonian Statistics Department reported that the consumer price index declined from 1.7% in July to 0.6% in August. The cost of goods in August increased by 0.8% (food products by 0.4% and manufactured goods by 1.5%) and services by 0.4%. The situation in Latvia was even more favorable, with the consumer price index in August falling by 0.3% from July, BNS reported on 8 September. The price of food decreased by 2%, with a 20% decrease for fruits and vegetables. The cost of medical services increased by 2.8%. -- Saulius Girnius SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE NATO HITS SERBS WITH CRUISE MISSILES. International media on 10 September reported that 13 Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched from the USS Normandy in the Adriatic against the Bosnian Serb air defense system around Banja Luka. NATO air strikes were suspended for a few hours earlier in the day while UN commander General Bernard Janvier met with the Serbs' General Ratko Mladic. The latter again refused to agree to the UN's key demand that he take heavy weapons outside the 20 km exclusion zone around Sarajevo. He had earlier claimed that the artillery is necessary "to protect the Serbian population," the VOA said. This marks the first use of the missiles in the Yugoslav conflict, a step taken because piloted aircraft have had difficulty operating in the current bad weather conditions. A NATO spokesman denied Serbian charges that the use of the Tomahawks constituted an escalation. The extent of the damage the missiles caused is not yet clear. -- Patrick Moore "BOSNIAN ALCHEMY." This is how Nasa Borba on 11 September described the brief document signed in Geneva on 8 September by the foreign ministers of Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and rump Yugoslavia. The text is the result of weeks of shuttle diplomacy by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke, who called it "an important milestone in the search for peace." The International Herald Tribune on 9 September also quoted him as saying that "significant differences exist between the sides." Among the unresolved points of contention is mutual diplomatic recognition, particularly that of Bosnia by rump Yugoslavia. -- Patrick Moore SOMETHING FOR EVERYBODY? The accord is sufficiently broad and vague as to allow mutually contradictory interpretations. The Bosnian government, for example, might stress the point that the country will remain one state, while the Serbs would point to the provision for "parallel special relationships" with neighboring countries. That clause opens the way for the Bosnian Serbs to have links to Belgrade similar to those the Croat-Muslim federation will have to Zagreb. Novi list on 11 September cited Oslobodjenje's paradoxical headline that "Bosnia [remains] whole in two parts." The agreement does not even begin to deal with the thorny issue of territorial divisions, except to take the Contact Group's 51- 49% figure as a starting point. It also allows for the possibility that the results of "ethnic cleansing" will become permanent by stipulating that displaced persons may either go home or receive compensation for what they lost. -- Patrick Moore CROATIA REMAINS FIRM ON EASTERN SLAVONIA. Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic said in Geneva on 9 September that Serbia is trying to "buy time" and keep control of prosperous eastern Slavonia by not recognizing Croatia. Ranking diplomat Miomir Zuzul told news agencies that Zagreb wants a peaceful solution to the problem but that it is prepared to wait only two or three more months. Reuters reported the following day that there was no sign of Croatia or Serbia implementing an agreement to withdraw heavy weapons from the confrontation line there. Slobodna Dalmacija on 11 September quoted Health Minister Andrija Hebrang as saying that some 70% of the Croatian medical personnel, who fled Krajina following the Serbian conquest of it in 1991, now refuse to go back. Nasa Borba reported on the pilot project for Donji Lapac of the Serbian Community in Croatia's Commission for Human Rights. The aim is to encourage Krajina Serbs to return home, but the Serbs fear their property has been destroyed and that they will not enjoy full rights. -- Patrick Moore ROMANIAN EXTREMIST PARTY WANTS "AUTHORITARIAN RULE." Corneliu Vadim Tudor, leader of the extremist Greater Romania Party, told a press conference carried by Radio Bucharest on 8 September that one of his party's two slogans for the 1996 general elections will be "[Romania needs] two years of authoritarian rule." Tudor said it was not true that Romania's wartime dictator, Marshal Ion Antonescu, had been responsible for ordering massacres of Jews. On the contrary, he said, hundreds of thousands of Jews "owe him their lives" and it was "outrageous" for Jews to "claim from Romania restitution or compensation of billions of dollars for an invented Holocaust." Tudor also said that in view of the NATO strikes in Bosnia--which had transformed that organization, as well as the UN, into "executioners of the Serbian people and into murderers of children"--the Romanian people should be asked in a referendum whether they still wanted to join NATO, whose "hands are stained with the blood of Iraqi and Serbian infants." -- Michael Shafir FIRST NATO MILITARY EXERCISE IN ROMANIA. A NATO exercise involving 440 troops from Germany, Luxemburg, Holland, Turkey and the U.S. (from among member states) and Bulgaria, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania (from among the signatories of the Partnership for Peace program) began on 10 September near the Transylvanian town of Sibiu. The exercise, the first of its kind in Romania, will last five days and simulate the setting up of peacekeeping units and extending humanitarian help, National Defense Minister Gheorge Tinca said in an interview with Radio Bucharest on 9 September. At a press conference in Sibiu, he said in response to a question about Russian President Boris Yeltsin's position on NATO enlargement that Moscow was entitled to its own opinions but that the issue concerns "the sovereign decision of Central European states that wish to be integrated into NATO structures." -- Michael Shafir MOLDOVA WILL NOT JOIN NATO. Moldova is taking part in the Partnership for Peace program but does not intend to join NATO structures because it is a neutral state, Foreign Minister Mihai Popov said at a press conference in Chisinau at the end of Latvian Foreign Minister Valdis Birkav's visit to Moldova. BASA-press reported on 8 September that Popov said Moldova "would not like to play the role of buffer between the two blocs and its security should not be damaged." In his opinion, the PFP program should involve rather than isolate Russia. Popov and Birkavs on 8 September signed a protocol on cooperation and consultations and initialed a treaty of friendship, Moldovan press agencies reported. -- Michael Shafir RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR ON TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM MOLDOVA. Aleksandr Papkin, Russia's new ambassador to Moldova, told the Chisinau Russian-language daily Kishinyovskie Novosti that the countdown for the withdrawal of his country's troops from Moldova will begin only when the State Duma ratifies the withdrawal agreement. BASA-press on 9 September quoted Papkin as saying the government has already taken "some concrete steps" to reduce the contingent, although it was not legally obliged to do so before ratification of the agreement. He said the three-year timetable for the withdrawal was imposed "by natural factors" and that the "evacuation of munitions in a shorter period is impossible." -- Michael Shafir UKRAINE JOINS TRANSDNIESTRIAN PEACE PROCESS. Ukrainian Charge d'Affaires in Moldova Yevhen Levitsky told Infotag on 8 September that a representative of President Leonid Kuchma will participate in the Chisinau-Tiraspol negotiations scheduled for 13 September. Ukrainian Premier Yevhen Marchuk said at the end of a visit to Moldova last month that his country will take part in the peacekeeping process (See OMRI Daily Digest, 30 August 1995). Levitsky said Ukraine's participation has been approved by both sides in the conflict as well as by the Russian and OSCE mediators. -- Michael Shafir BULGARIAN POLITICAL ROUNDUP. The Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) on 8 September announced it will ask for a vote of no confidence in the government, Standart reported the following day. The SDS said it was responding to Prime Minister Zhan Videnov's refusal to dismiss Interior Minister Lyubomir Nachev and Transport Minister Stamen Stamenov, whom the opposition blames for the death of 14 soldiers in a road crash (see OMRI Daily Digest, 14 and 25 August 1995). In other news, about 15,000 people demonstrated in Sofia on 9 September to mark the 51st anniversary of the communist accession to power in 1944, which they described as the "victory over fascism," AFP reported the same day. Some 5,000 SDS supporters staged a demonstration to commemorate the victims of the communist regime. -- Stefan Krause GREECE, RUSSIA ON BOSNIA. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev on 8 September met with Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou and Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias in Thessaloniki, AFP reported the same day. Both sides criticized the NATO air strikes against the Bosnian Serbs and once again called for a political solution to the crisis. Kozyrev told a news conference that Russia and Greece will begin joint efforts to end the crisis. The three leaders also reached a verbal agreement to go ahead with the construction of a $1 billion oil pipeline from the Bulgarian Black Sea port of Varna to Alexandroupolis, in northern Greece, international agencies reported the same day. -- Stefan Krause GREEK-MACEDONIAN UPDATE. The foreign ministers of Greece and Macedonia, Karolos Papoulias and Stevo Crvenkovski, on 9 September left for New York, where they are expected to sign a bilateral agreement on 14 September, AFP reported. Before leaving Athens, Papoulias said the small number of problems to be settled are no obstacle to signing the accord. He described the agreement as "a historical accord...that at last frees [Greek] foreign policy." Greek media suggested that Greece will propose that the name issue be resolved by Macedonia's using two or even three names--one for internal use and one or two for international and Greek use. -- Stefan Krause ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER IN ALBANIA. At the end of his two-day visit to Albania, Romanian Defense Minister Gheorghe Tinca was received by President Sali Berisha, Radio Bucharest announced on 9 September, citing ATA. Tinca and his Albanian counterpart, Safet Zhulali, signed a joint declaration on cooperation. Tinca said talks focused on the exchange of information about the two countries' armies, cooperation possibilities, participation in the Partnership for Peace program, and the two countries' membership in NATO. -- Michael Shafir and Fabian Schmidt FORMER LEADER OF ALBANIAN YOUTH FORUM RELEASED FROM PRISON. Arben Lika, former leader of the Albanian Youth Forum and parliamentary deputy for the Democratic Party, has been released from prison after serving about 10 months for smuggling cigarettes worth some $30,000 and forging documents, Koha Jone reported on 9 September. The 27-year-old Lika was arrested at the end of October 1994 and sentenced to ten years in prison by a Tirana court. The First Court of Appeal reduced his sentence to three years and Supreme Court Chief Judge Zef Brozi subsequently gave him a 14-month sentence. Koha Jone noted that there are no legal obstacles preventing Albania's youngest legislator from returning to the parliament. -- Fabian Schmidt [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. 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