|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
No. 178, Part II, 13 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 PREMIER ON BANNED RADICAL NATIONALIST GROUP. Yevhen Marchuk told journalists during a tour of the Cherkasy region that the Justice Ministry's recent decision to revoke the legal registration of the Ukrainian National Assembly does not outlaw its activities, UNIAN reported 9 on September. He said that if the radical nationalist group, which has two deputies in the parliament, changes its tactics, it can re-apply for formal registration. The group has been accused of sending armed mercenaries and other forms of support to aid anti-Russian separatists in such hotspots as Chechnya and Transdniester. Meanwhile, Ukrainian TV reported on 11 September that monthly inflation fell from 5.2% in July to 4.6% in August, despite last month's devaluation of the karbovanets. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. RABIN, SOBCHAK IN UKRAINE. Ukrainian Radio on 12 September reported that Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, in Kiev on a official visit, met with Premier Yevhen Marchuk and Defense Minister Valerii Shmarov. He also met with Minister of the Military-Industrial-Complex Valerii Malyev to discuss cooperation in the military and technical spheres. Agreements were signed on liberalizing trade between the two countries, the abolition of visas for those holding diplomatic passports, and cooperation in the medical field. Rabin is scheduled to meet with President Leonid Kuchma, parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Moroz, and representatives of the Jewish community. Also on 12 September, Kuchma met with St. Petersburg Mayor Anatolii Sobchak in Kiev. Sobchak signed an agreement on cooperation between St. Petersburg and Ukraine with Premier Marchuk and invited President Leonid Kuchma to visit his city during the festival "Ukrainian Days." -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. BELARUSIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT TO REVIEW PRESIDENTIAL DECREES. ITAR- TASS and Belarusian TV on 12 September reported that parliamentary speaker Mechyslau Hryb has asked the Constitutional Court to review the legality of some of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's decrees. The decrees considered questionable are those on issuing diplomatic and service passports, regulating state privileges to some categories of citizens, and on regulating wages and pensions for senior citizens. The Court has agreed to review all three decrees. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. POLISH POLITICIANS ON FOREIGN POLICY. Polish Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, referring to Russian President Boris Yeltsin recent statements on NATO expansion, on 12 September said that Poland's position on the matter remains unchanged. He said expansion should be a gradual process linked to improving cooperation between NATO and those countries that will remain outside the alliance, including Russia. Bartoszewski noted that "perceiving NATO--in a Cold War perspective--as a military alliance directed against any one is not only mistaken but must arouse concern," Polish Media reported on 13 September. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. GORBACHEV DEFENDS JARUZELSKI'S MARTIAL LAW AS "LESSER EVIL." Last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has declined an invitation to testify before the Sejm's Commission for Constitutional Accountability, which is considering bringing General Wojciech Jaruzelski and other authors of 1980 martial law in Poland before the State Tribunal. Gorbachev said in a letter to the commission that Jaruzelski had sought "to exclude any possibility of intervention of the Warsaw Pact armies in Poland's internal problems." Freedom Union deputy Bogdan Borusewicz commented that the letter was a piece of propaganda, Polish dailies reported on 13 September. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. CZECH PRIVATIZATION CHIEF GOES ON TRIAL. Jaroslav Lizner, former head of the Center for Coupon Privatization, went on trial at a Prague court on 12 September on bribery charges. Lizner was arrested last October after a meeting in a Prague restaurant with businessmen interested in buying shares in a dairy. He was carrying in a case more than 8.3 million koruny ($320,000), which the prosecution alleges was a bribe to facilitate the share deal. Lizner claims he accepted the money as a deposit for buying the shares in his role as mediator and that he intended to hand it over to the sellers later. Lizner is the highest Czech state functionary to go on trial for corruption since the end of communist rule. If convicted, he could face up to three years in prison. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. CZECH DEPUTIES CHANGE PARTIES. Five breakaway deputies of the Christian Democratic Party (KDS) on 12 September joined the parliamentary caucus of another member of the governing coalition, the Christian Democratic Union-Czech People's Party (KDU-CSL), Czech media reported. The five, who constituted half of the KDS's parliamentary representation, split from the party leadership over plans to merge the KDS with the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) of Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus. One of the group, Pavel Tollner, said the naming of KDS chief Ivan Pilip and Environment Minister Frantisek Benda among the ODS's election campaign leaders last weekend was the "last straw" prompting the move. The change makes the KDU-CSL the third-strongest party in the parliament. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK PARLIAMENT PASSES CONTROVERSIAL AMENDMENT. The parliament on 12 September approved an amendment to the law on civil service--the alternative to required military service. Anyone doing civil service is now required to do "physical labor in accordance with his physical ability and state of health" for a period of two years, Sme reported. A number of youth organizations have protested the amendment. But Slovak National Party Chairman Jan Slota told Slovenska Republika on 13 September that "it is certainly very positive for our society that this amendment was passed." He said that recently, increasingly more young people have "rejected discipline," which is exactly what they need. "Military service would not only teach them a bit of humility and discipline but also respect for their elders, nation, and homeland," Slota said. The parliament again rejected a proposal that the parliamentary organ overseeing the Slovak Information Service be expanded to include opposition deputies, Narodna obroda reported. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK FOREIGN CURRENCY RESERVES CONTINUE TO GROW. Foreign currency reserves at the National Bank of Slovakia reached $2.6 billion by 30 June--more than three times the level of estimated average monthly imports to Slovakia, TASR reported on 12 September. The increase in reserves was partly influenced by payments from the Czech Republic for exceeding the 130 million ecu limit in the bilateral clearing account. In other news, the cabinet on 12 September approved a report on the state budget as of 31 July. At that time, the budget deficit stood at 1.45 billion koruny ($46.8 million), which is only a fraction of the 21 billion koruny deficit planned for year-end in the state budget law. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARIAN PARTY LEADERS ON ECONOMIC POLICY. Gyula Horn, Hungarian premier and head of the Hungarian Socialist Party, and Ivan Peto, leader of its coalition partner, the Alliance of Free Democrats, said in a recent Hungarian TV interview that the reason for the current austerity measures is to improve the country's economy rather than to take popular steps, Hungarian papers reported. Horn hoped that 1996 will be the last year of austerity measures and that by 1997, signs of economic improvement will be evident. -- Zsofia Szilagyi, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARIAN ROMANI POLITICIAN BLACKMAILED. Armed men trapped and blackmailed the President of the Hungarian National Gypsy Minority Self- Government, Florian Farkas, in a Szolnok hotel on 8 September, MTI reported on 12 September. Police investigators say no political motive has been revealed so far but cannot be ruled out. The armed men held Farkas hostage until they made him give them 35,000 forint and promise to pay another 4 million later. Farkas is also on the editorial board of Lungo Drom, a newspaper for Roma in Hungary. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE NATO PLANES HIT SERBS AGAIN. Clear skies on 12 September enabled NATO aircraft to resume their attacks on Bosnian Serb military targets. Nasa Borba on 13 September said the munitions complex at Vogosca near Sarajevo was especially hard hit. In Tito's Yugoslavia, much of the defense industry was centered in Bosnia-Herzegovina and was subsequently taken by the Serbs. NATO therefore has a wealth of targets, including the air defense system, which was based in Banja Luka as a key component of Tito-era strategy. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. HOW FAR WILL NATO GO? NATO officials denied comments by the Bosnian foreign minister to the effect that the alliance's aircraft are ready to hit Bosnian Serb troops, Nasa Borba said on 13 September. The International Herald Tribune quoted a UN officer as saying that "if we hit individual fighting units, we become a warring faction." Meanwhile, Italy has threatened not to allow U.S. Stealth bombers to be based on its soil until Rome is given a full-fledged role in the peace process. It had only observer status at the 8 September Geneva talks but wants a larger role as a regional power. AFP on 12 September said that U.S. negotiator Richard Holbrooke told Foreign Minister Susanna Agnelli that Italy should be content to stay quiet and sit behind EU mediator Carl Bildt. Agnelli replied that "as long as I am foreign minister no Italian will sit behind anyone." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. PESSIMISM ON BOSNIA, OPTIMISM ON SLAVONIA. Holbrooke on 12 September appeared to dampen expectations that the vague declaration signed in Geneva could quickly lead to a concrete settlement. AFP quoted him as saying a particular problem is "the way the parties avoid committing themselves to individual parts of the agreement. They can all at any time renege on anything they've agreed to." He also noted the presence of "almost completely incompatible positions." Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher said he was optimistic that a peaceful solution could be found in eastern Slavonia, Serbia's richest and only remaining conquest in Croatia. Christopher urged Croatia to show "flexibility and statesmanship," Reuters reported. AFP quoted UN mediator Yasushi Akashi as saying that "very intensive, quiet diplomacy is going on." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. DONJI VAKUF FALLS TO ALLIED FORCES. Akashi also confirmed that Croatian, Bosnian Croat, and Bosnian government troops took Donji Vakuf from the Serbs. Croatian Television on 12 September said that Bosnian Croat troops pushing east from Drvar took the strategic mountain pass of Mliniste and the key peaks of Demirovac and Vitorog. Meanwhile, Bosnian government troops continue to advance in the central Mt. Ozren area. AFP on 13 September reported that President Alija Izetbegovic congratulated his men in the newly taken town of Vozuca, telling them: "you have broken the backbone of the Chetnik [Serb] enemy. You show the way . . . how we could continue with the aim of liberating our country." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SERBIAN RENEWAL MOVEMENT CRITICIZES BOSNIAN SERBS. BETA on 13 September reported that the opposition Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) has sharply criticized the Bosnian Serb authorities. According to SPO spokesman Ivan Kovacevic at a press conference in Belgrade, the Bosnian Serb leaders of the Republic of Srpska are alone responsible for "carrying out the war against NATO and against the whole world." Kovacevic singled out Bosnian Serbian military leader Ratko Mladic for criticism because of Mladic's willful refusal to remove heavy weapons from around Sarajevo. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS OPPOSITION MOTION. The Chamber of Deputies on 12 September rejected an opposition motion accusing Nicolae Vacaroiu's government of mishandling the bumper 1995 wheat crop, Romanian and international agencies reported. The debate was carried live by Radio Bucharest. The motion, launched by the Democratic Convention of Romania and the Democratic Party-National Salvation Front, was defeated by a vote of 155 to 116. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIA AND NATO. North Atlantic Assembly chairman Karsten Voigt, at an improvised press conference in Bucharest, responded to a question about Romania's chances of admission to NATO by saying "in the Warsaw Pact it was easy to get in, but difficult to get out. It's the other way around with NATO." He noted that the main purpose of his visit was to discuss with Romanian officials about Romania's future in Euro-Atlantic structures for a report under preparation. He said Romania's chances depended to a great extent on its progress on reform. Asked whether Budapest and Bucharest could be admitted into NATO at the same time, Voigt diplomatically said "If they develop in similar manner and fulfill the same conditions, then this is possible." Meanwhile, AFP, citing the daily Cronica romana, reported on 12 September that a group of Romanian farmers who were apparently unaware that a NATO military exercise was taking place near the Transylvanian town of Sibiu (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 September 1995) grabbed pitchforks and axes to rush to the rescue of Romanian troops. Officers reasssured the farmers and the exercise was able to continue. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT ENDS MOLDOVA VISIT. Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 12 September ended a two-day visit to Chisinau, signing agreements aimed at improving ties between the two states, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. At a joint press conference, Lukashenka and President Mircea Snegur pledged to lift barriers to bilateral trade that resulted from Belarus's exclusive tariff agreement with Russia. Snegur said Moldovan food exports to Belarus markets are still facing problems because of that agreement. According to a protocol signed during the visit, problems arising from the non-implementation of agreements between Moldova and Belarus will be solved by 1 December, Infotag reported. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. COURT RULES AGAINST MOLDOVAN GOVERNMENT IN CHURCH DISPUTE. A Chisinau court on 12 September ruled that the Moldovan government must legally register the Bessarabian Metropolitan Seat, which is subordinated to Bucharest. Radio Bucharest said the government can appeal to the Supreme Court within 10 days. The government has refused to register the seat for three years (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29 August 1995). The Moldovan Orthodox Church, to which most Orthodox believers in the country belong, is subordinated to the Moscow Patriarchate. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULES AGAINST GOVERNMENT. The Constitutional Court on 12 September ruled that the government "cannot dispose of state-owned real estate where the president, the parliament, and the judicial authorities are accommodated" without the consent of those institutions, Bulgarian media reported the same day. The decision was in response to the government's attempt to evict the Constitutional Court from the government building where it is housed (see OMRI Daily Digest, 4 August 1995). The Constitutional Court contested the case before the Supreme Court, which has yet to make a ruling but is likely to support the Constitutional Court on the issue. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN OPPOSITION WANTS PREMIER TO RESIGN. The parliamentary faction of the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) on 12 September decided to ask for a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Zhan Videnov in connection with the death of 14 soldiers on 11 August (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 September 1995), Demokratsiya reported the following day. SDS Chairman Ivan Kostov said the vote forces all parliamentary deputies to make a "dramatic moral-political choice." 24 chasa and Standart reported that the vote will be requested when Videnov is in Moscow next week. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH CLINTON. Sali Berisha and U.S. President Bill Clinton on 12 September discussed Albania's economic and political development as well as the Balkan conflict, AFP reported the same day. Berisha said the NATO air attacks on Bosnian Serbs are the "right way to contribute to peace and stability." With regard to the Kosovo crisis, he told journalists that Clinton assured him "that the United States will fully support the restoration of human and national rights of Albanians in Kosovo." Clinton praised Berisha for the country's economic and democratic reforms and urged him to make more progress on Greek-minority rights. He also offered to help establish a training program for judges, prosecutors, and police and to equip and outfit the Albanian peacekeeping contingent under the NATO Partnership for Peace program. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIA PROTESTS SERBS' USE OF KOSOVO MEMORIAL CENTER FOR REFUGEES. The Albanian government strongly protested the settling of Krajina Serb refugees into the facilities of the 1878 Pristina League Memorial Center, Montena-fax reported on 12 September. The Albanian statement called the Serbian authorities' move a "heavy provocation by the Serbian occupying forces" and "an open attack on a symbol of the Albanian people's resistance and their culture." The memorial is under UNESCO protection. The International PEN center also protested the move. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. GREEK-MACEDONIAN TALKS FAIL TO GET OFF THE GROUND. Direct talks scheduled for 12 September between the foreign ministers of Greece and Macedonia, Karolos Papoulias and Stevo Crvenkovski, were postponed several times and finally did not take place, AFP reported the same day. An unnamed UN diplomat said the two spent the day "niggling over the tiniest things" in meetings with UN mediator Cyrus Vance. The main sticking point seems to be the timing of the lifting of the Greek embargo. Macedonia wants the embargo lifted as soon as the accord is signed and will then change its flag and constitution within 30 days. Greece insists that those changes take place simultaneously with the lifting of the embargo. Papoulias and Crvenkovski decided to put off a face-to-face meeting until their differences are resolved. -- 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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