|You see things and you say 'Why?' But I dream thing that never were; and I say, 'Why not?'. - Geroge Bernard Shaw|
No. 177, Part II, 12 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 CRIMEANS ELECT INCUMBENTS IN LOCAL BY-ELECTIONS. Some 53.8% of eligible voters turned out to vote in by-elections to local councils, Ukrainian TV and ITAR-TASS reported on 11 September. Preliminary results reveal the majority chose incumbents over their challengers. Two rounds of elections earlier this summer were declared invalid due to low turnout. Ukrainian authorities reportedly made special efforts to attract voters to the polls, including distributing free lottery tickets at Yalta polling stations. They also pledged to return Russian-language dubbing to the Crimeans' favorite prime-time soap opera "Santa Barbara," after hundreds protested a decision by state-owned Ukrainian TV to start dubbing the show in Ukrainian. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINE ON RUSSIAN PROPOSAL FOR BOSNIA. Ukrainian Radio on 11 September reported that the Ukrainian parliament has not formulated its position on the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Russian State Duma asked the Ukrainian and Belarusian legislatures to work out a common stance on the crisis. According to the report, shouting and noises in the Ukrainian legislature made it clear that there is no common position among the deputies themselves, let alone with Russia and Belarus. Some deputies were critical of Russia's initiative to have the three Slavic republics take a common stand on Bosnia. Deputy Oleksandr Lavrinovych said international organizations such as the Council of Europe and the OSCE already have mechanisms for consensus. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. LATVIAN, GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTERS DISCUSS NATO. Valdis Birkavs, on an official visit to Germany, held talks with Klaus Kinkel in Bonn on 11 September, Reuters reported. The talks focused on the Baltic States' possible membership in NATO, despite Russian opposition. The ministers issued a statement that the admission of new members to the alliance must contribute to peace and stability in all of Europe. "Gray zones for security policy may not be allowed to arise to the detriment of the Baltic countries," the statement stressed. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. POLISH LEFT UNITED BEHIND ITS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. Twenty-seven of the 28 organizations constituting the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), ruling in coalition with the Polish Peasant Party, on 11 September signed a document of support for the SLD's presidential candidate, Aleksander Kwasniewski. The Pensioners Association--the only SLD organization not to have signed yet--wants to meet with Kwasniewski before signing. Kwasniewski said that the Left has shown it can find an internal agreement and noted that the Right's efforts to reach an understanding are "grotesque," Polish dailies reported on 12 September. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. POLISH DEFENSE MINISTER ENDS U.S. VISIT. Zbigniew Okonski, during his visit to the U.S. from 6-11 September, met with Defense Secretary William Perry, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, and presidential security adviser Anthony Lake. He noted that no dates for NATO's enlargement were given and that Talbott "seemed to made efforts to erase his image as Russia's sympathizer." Okonski told a Rzeczpospolita reporter that Talbott said he was always for NATO expansion but did not want to isolate Russia. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. CEFTA SUMMIT AGREES ON EXPANSION AND REDUCTION OF TARIFFS . . . The prime ministers of the four countries of the Central European Free Trade Agreement (Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary), meeting in Brno on 11 September, agreed to further liberalize trade between their countries and to expand the membership of CEFTA, Czech and international media reported. Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus said all four members agreed on the admission soon of Slovenia and on opening the door also to Romania, Bulgaria, and the Baltic States. The prime ministers of Slovenia, Romania, and Bulgaria as well as the Lithuanian foreign minister attended the summit. The CEFTA members agreed to cut back the list of so-called "sensitive items" in industrial and agricultural trade that are still protected. They also mandated Czech officials to prepare plans for liberalization of trade in services and authorized Poland to take the same steps for financial transactions. But Czech ministers rejected a Slovak proposal to create a permanent CEFTA Secretariat in Bratislava. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. . . . WHILE CZECH, SLOVAK PREMIERS WANT CUSTOMS UNION TO CONTINUE. Vaclav Klaus and Vladimir Meciar, meeting officially for the first time since February 1993, stressed in Brno on 11 September that they wanted to continue the customs union between their countries, Czech media reported. The Czechs accused Slovakia of breaching the union by scrapping customs duties and import surcharges on some foreign-made cars (see OMRI Daily Digest, 6 September 1995). Meciar said the step was temporary and due to last only until the end of 1996. Klaus distanced himself from remarks made during the weekend by Czech Interior Minister Jan Ruml in connection with the abduction of Slovak President Michal Kovac's son. Meciar, too, sharply criticized Ruml, who had said that Slovakia was in a deep political crisis, that democratic control mechanisms were not functioning, and that Slovak security services were too closely linked to Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK INFORMATION SERVICE REFUSES INVESTIGATOR'S REQUEST. SIS director Ivan Lexa, in a letter to TASR on 11 September, refused a request by Maj. Jaroslav Simunic to remove SIS agents' obligation of secrecy, saying such a step would "damage state interests." Simunic, who initially headed the police investigation into the recent kidnapping of President Michal Kovac's son, suspected that SIS agents were involved in the matter. He was removed from the case on 7 September and subsequently left the police force. According to Reuters on 11 September, Simunic has promised to continue a private investigation of the case. In other news, Lexa, who is a close ally of Premier Vladimir Meciar, on 11 September announced that he has filed charges with the attorney-general against three Slovak opposition dailies for their coverage of the case, saying the papers aimed to discredit the SIS. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK CURRENCY TO BE CONVERTIBLE? Premier Vladimir Meciar, speaking on Slovak Radio on 11 September, announced that the Slovak koruna could be convertible by 1 October if the parliament added the cabinet's recently approved foreign exchange bill to the program of its current session. At a party gathering four days earlier, Meciar had said the koruna would be fully convertible by 1 October. According to Narodna obroda on 12 September, if the bill is not discussed during the current parliamentary session, the currency cannot be made convertible until December, since the next parliamentary session begins in November. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARY TO RECEIVE LOAN. The Hungarian National Bank on 11 September signed an accord with an international bank consortium granting it a $200 million loan with a five-year maturity, international media reported. Experts said the HNB was granted better conditions than in the case of previous loans owing to the country's improving image on international financial markets. Hungary's foreign debts have been restructured so that only 75% of its total debt obligations currently fall on the state, HNB Vice President Frigyes Harshegyi said. According to Harshegyi, Hungary's current account deficit will remain below $3 billion in 1995. -- Zsofia Szilagyi, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE "WAVES OF PLANES" HIT PALE. AFP on 12 September reported that NATO air attacks are continuing around the Bosnian Serb capital. The BBC noted that the recent cruise missile attacks on the Serbs' air defense system at Banja Luka resulted in "severe damage," and that further strikes may be in the offing. The VOA added that Stealth aircraft would soon arrive in Italy to take part in the Bosnian operations as needed. The broadcast pointed out that the air defense system has not yet been put totally out of commission, adding there is no confirmation of Serbian reports that the attacks have caused civilian casualties. The International Herald Tribune quoted NATO sources as saying more strikes will be needed, but AFP cited UN special envoy Yasushi Akashi as saying he and Secretary- General Boutros Boutros Ghali are opposed to adding targets of civilian importance to the list. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. KARADZIC THREATENS TO LEAVE PEACE PROCESS. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has sent a message to Presidents Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin and to Prime Minister John Major setting down his position in the wake of the cruise missile attacks. He lamented that the new moves have come after a major "breakthrough" was achieved in the peace process in Geneva, the BBC reported on 12 September (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 September 1995). The internationally sought war criminal said it is "incomprehensible" that NATO has "taken sides with our enemies" and "declared war against the Serbs." Karadzic called the attacks "unjustified and truly barbaric," Nasa Borba reported. Most important, he added that "faced with continuing attacks, [the Bosnian Serbs] could be forced to reconsider further participation in peace negotiations." It is unclear whether Belgrade, with which Pale now forms a joint delegation at the peace talks, supports him on this issue. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. BOSNIAN SERBS APPEAL TO RUSSIA. Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA carried a message from the Pale leadership to the "Russian people, President Boris Yeltsin and the Duma to demand in the form of an ultimatum an end to the NATO operations." AFP on 12 September cited the statement as saying that "the NATO action deprives of sense the peace process that has scarcely begun and its initial results, although the Serb people are prepared to compromise." Russia has already pledged additional humanitarian aid for the Bosnian Serbs. The history of Russia's relations with the Serbs over the centuries has been checkered, however, with Russian policy based on hard calculations rather than on sentimentality. At times, St. Petersburg or Moscow has openly favored Sofia over Belgrade. An Izvestiya analyst recently told the BBC that Russia should now concentrate on its main interest in Europe, which is the EU and not Serbia. (See related story in the Russian section.) -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. BOSNIAN GOVERNMENT SECURES TUZLA-ZENICA ROAD. Reuters on 11 September said Bosnian government forces may have not taken advantage of the Serbs' current troubles in the Sarajevo area but that they are pressing their enemy elsewhere. The town of Voguca fell to government troops, thereby consolidating their hold on the key all-weather road connecting Tuzla and Zenica. Vjesnik on 12 September spoke of Croatian and Bosnian government forces' success to the north as well. Vecernji list added that Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic, who is visiting Washington, said again that eastern Slavonia must be returned to Croatia as part of a comprehensive regional settlement. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SERBIA'S DEMOCRATIC PARTY CRITICIZES NATO. BETA on 12 September reported that Serbia's opposition Democratic Party (DS), led by Zoran Djindjic, has issued its sharpest verbal attack against NATO. The DS said that NATO air strikes against the Bosnian Serbs amount to "a shameful, terrorist attack." The party pledged to hold "peaceful protests" against the international organization. In another development, BETA reported the same day that the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SANU) has published a book arguing that a famous and controversial 1986 memorandum was "not a blueprint for war and ethnic cleansing." The SANU Memorandum- -Replies to the Critics has been released to coincide with the ninth anniversary of the document's contents being made public. Observers point out that in 1986, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, who then was beginning his rise to power, used the notorious SANU Memorandum as the basis for his ultranationalist policies and to whip up ethnic hatred against Serbia's minorities. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. ETHNIC HUNGARIANS PROTEST ROMANIAN EDUCATION LAW. Members of the Federation of Hungarian Democratic Youth of Romania--a component member of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR)--left on bicycles for Strasbourg on 8 September to protest to the European Council against Romania's new controversial education law, Radio Bucharest announced the same day. Reuters on 11 September reported that the group was received that day at the Hungarian parliament. The UDMR on 8 September organized a meeting to protest the law in the Transylvanian town of Miercurea Ciuc. Local UDMR branch leader Erno Borbely said that although there will be no boycott of the opening of the new school year, the UDMR will initiate other protests. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT EASES BAN ON HOMOSEXUALITY AMID PROTESTS. The Chamber of Deputies on 12 September voted to ease Penal Code provisions on homosexual acts, Romanian media reported. These will now be punished only if they are committed in public, in cases of rape, or in incidents involving those under the age of consent. The opposition was split on the vote, with the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic opposing the amendment. The daily Curierul national on 12 September reported that the Association of Christian Orthodox Students in Romania pledged to continue a drive to gather signatures opposing homosexual relationships among consenting adults. It has so far gathered nearly 200,000 signatures and needs 500,000 to have the matter submitted to a national referendum. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. MOLDOVA PROTESTS SMIRNOV'S SPEECH TO RUSSIAN DEPUTIES. The Moldova's Foreign Ministry on 11 September said the Russian State Duma committed an "unfriendly act" toward Moldova two days earlier "by giving the floor" to Igor Smirnov, leader of the Transdniester breakaway region, BASA-press and Infotag reported. The ministry said the Duma "brutally violated international law, norms, and principles" and breached Moldova's "sovereignty and territorial integrity." Smirnov, in fact, did not address the State Duma but rather a meeting of the Agrarian Party faction in the parliament building. He called on the Russian deputies to "promote Transdniestrian statehood or to make the region part of Russia." Smirnov said NATO was "slowly approaching the borders of Transdniester, a truly Russian land," and that Russia was "the only power that can defend us." -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT IN MOLDOVA. Alyaksandr Lukashenka, beginning a two- day visit to Moldova on 11 September, criticized NATO's air strikes against the Bosnian Serbs, Western agencies reported. He said the protests against the bombings will not bear fruit unless the former Soviet republics "attain unity in the military-political sphere. Ten years ago, such bloodshed would have been impossible, because the USSR acted as guarantor of stability." -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN PRESIDENT CRITICIZES YELTSIN STATEMENT ON NATO EXPANSION. Zhelyu Zhelev, reacting sharply to Russian President Boris Yeltsin's remarks that an eastward NATO expansion may lead to war in Europe (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 September 1995), has told Russia to mind its own business. In a statement presented by his spokesman Valentin Stoyanov on 11 September, Zhelev said that "Bulgaria is an independent state that conducts its own foreign policy, taking only its national interests into consideration, and it will not allow anybody--in the East or the West-- to decide questions related to its national security and sovereignty." At the same time, Zhelev expressed understanding for Yeltsin, noting that he was the first to support Yeltsin during the August 1991 coup, Demokratsiya reported on 12 September. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIAN PRESIDENT IN U.S. Sali Berisha, speaking on 11 September at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said his country is prepared to offer NATO more military bases, Reuters reported the same day. The U.S. army already uses bases in northern Albania for unmanned spy planes flying over Bosnia. Berisha said the sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia should remain in place until a solution to the Kosovo crisis has been found, adding that the issue should be put on the agenda of the Contact Group. He added that "failure to give this issue a solution will be disastrous." Berisha met with Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Defense Secretary William Perry. He is due to hold talks with U.S. President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore on 12 September. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. GREEK, MACEDONIAN REACTIONS TO DIRECT TALKS. Only days before the Greek and Macedonian foreign ministers start direct talks in New York, opinion polls and statements show that this move is controversial in both countries. A poll published in the Athens daily Ethnos on 11 September indicated that more than 60% of those questioned are against signing an agreement with Macedonia. Some 28% said the government would be "selling out" to the U.S. if it negotiated any deal, while 32% said the proposed accord would inevitably lead to the recognition of Macedonia under that name. Only 18.5% said the name does not matter. Meanwhile, Macedonian Orthodox Church communities in Australia protested the changing of the flag and the constitution in a letter sent to the political leadership on 10 September calling it "not acceptable at all," MIC reported the following day. They joined the nationalist opposition, which has accused the government of preparing a "non-legitimate compromise" with Greece. -- 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
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