|The only certainty is that nothing is certain. - Pliny the Elder|
No. 179, Part II, 14 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 EASTERN AND CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUSIAN AIR DEFENSE FORCES SHOOT DOWN U.S. BALLOONISTS. International agencies on 13 September reported that the U.S. has denounced the downing of a balloon by Belarusian air defense forces, which resulted in the deaths of two Americans. The balloon, which crossed into Belarus from Poland, was taking part in the Gordon Bennett International Race. Organizers said there were no boundaries as to where the balloons could fly and that they had permission to enter Belarusian air space. Belarusian officials claimed they tried to make contact with the balloonists visually and by radio before shooting it down. US Ambassador to Belarus Kenneth Yalowitz has been in touch with the Belarusian Foreign Ministry over the incident, and Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has sent a letter of regret to President Bill Clinton. Another balloon was forced to land in Belarus, but the two pilots are reportedly safe. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. IMF APPROVES CREDIT TO BELARUS. RFE/RL on 13 September reported that the IMF has approved a stand-by credit worth $293 million to Belarus. The 12-month credit is to help the country implement economic reforms. Belarusian Prime Minister Mikhail Chyhir told Radio Rossii the previous day that Belarus has met most of the IMF's requirements for the credit: the budget deficit was only 3.2%, inflation stood at around 3%, and the average wage reached $72. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. TUG-OF-WAR OVER UKRAINIAN PROSECUTOR-GENERAL CONTINUES. The Ukrainian legislature has voted to sack Prosecutor-General Vyacheslav Datsiuk for the third time in four months, Reuters reported on 13 September. Lawmakers said Datsiuk was too preoccupied with political scandals, including investigations into alleged criminal activities by the assembly's deputy speaker Oleksander Tkachenko, instead of fighting organized crime. Deputies received a letter last week from former acting Prime Minister Yukhim Zvyahilskyi, who has been under investigation and who accused Datsiuk of leading a politically motivated conspiracy against him. Zvyahilskyi fled to Israel last year amid charges he resold aviation fuel purchased by the government and pocketed $25 million. Datsiuk told a news conference that President Leonid Kuchma had expressed confidence in him and that he vowed to remain in office. Kuchma has issued two decrees overturning the parliament's previous decisions to dismiss Datsiuk. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. KUCHMA SAYS UKRAINE WILL REMAIN NEUTRAL. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said on 12 September that Ukraine will not participate in any military blocs, including any CIS security or NATO alliances, NTV reported. He also stated that Ukraine has not strayed from a single "letter" of any agreements on the Black Sea Fleet and that the problem is Russia's delay in accepting Ukraine as an equal partner. Russian Public Television reported Kuchma as saying that NATO views Ukraine as an equal partner. This is illustrated by the separate agreement on cooperation it will sign with Ukraine in Brussels over the next two days. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. PROBLEMS WITH ESTONIAN DEFENSE BUDGET. BNS on 13 September reported that Estonia may not be able to fulfill its obligations under international agreements if defense spending is not substantially increased. Estonia is obliged to pay some $50 million for arms purchases from Israel, pay for the Estonian unit in the proposed joint Baltic UN peacekeeping battalion and Estonian participation in NATO's Partnership for Peace program, and set up a training center for peacekeepers in Paldiski. This year's defense budget was only 4.7% of the total state budget. Deputy Chancellor of the Defense Ministry Elvo Priks said the defense budget should be closer to 8-12% of the total budget. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. POLISH CONSTITUTIONAL TRIBUNAL ON SEJM PREROGATIVES. The Polish Constitutional Tribunal on 13 September clarified when the Sejm is entitled to overrule the tribunal's verdicts. It stated that if the president has not yet signed a bill that the Constitutional Tribunal considers to be unconstitutional, the Sejm cannot overrule the tribunal's verdict. This Sejm's right to overrule bills applies to only those already signed into law by the president. The tribunal's ruling may have practical consequences for the bill on privatization and commercialization, which has been contested by the president and sent unsigned to the Constitutional Tribunal, Polish media reported on 14 September. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. CZECH PARTY CLEARED IN CORRUPTION SCANDAL. Police investigators on 13 September halted criminal proceedings against three people charged with fraud in connection with a 52 million koruny ($2 million) debt owed by one of the members of the Czech governing coalition, the Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA), since before the 1992 elections. Among the accused was the head of the ODA Secretariat, Josef Reichman, who resigned his post in August. After a 10-month investigation, police decided no laws had been broken, Czech media reported. The affair caused the ODA's popular support to drop dramatically earlier this year and generated frictions within the coalition. ODA chairman and Deputy Prime Minister Jan Kalvoda said the dropping of charges against Reichman should clear the name of the party. Meanwhile, the trial of the former head of the Czech Republic's Center for Coupon Privatization, Jaroslav Lizner, was adjourned on 13 September for two weeks to ensure that further witnesses can give evidence (see OMRI Daily Digest, 13 September 1995). -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK OPPOSITION DEPUTY BEATEN UP. Frantisek Miklosko, an outspoken deputy chairman of the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), told reporters on 13 September that he was beaten up by three unknown men outside his home in Bratislava the previous evening. Miklosko described the attackers as "trained professionals." He alleged that the attack was connected with a recent speech he made in the parliament calling for a thorough investigation into the abduction of President Michal Kovac's son. KDH officials blamed the government for the current state of affairs, saying the cabinet "determines the rate of violation of the law." Roman Kovac of the opposition Democratic Union agreed that the attackers could have had political motives, and he stressed that the Interior Minister should take action, Pravda reported. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARY'S SMALLHOLDERS GAIN IN OPINION POLLS. Opinion polls indicate that while the popularity of the governing Socialists has dropped from 28% to 23% over the summer, that of the Smallholders' Party is increasing, Hungarian media recently reported. Experts say the growing number of supporters of Jozsef Torgyan's party, which has often been accused of populism, is owing to frustration among Hungarians toward the ruling parties and not to the achievements of the Smallholders. The party has often criticized the ruling coalition but lacks a comprehensive political and economic strategy to solve Hungary's current problems. The next general elections are in 1998. -- Zsofia Szilagyi, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARY: WORLD IS IGNORING SERBIA'S HUNGARIANS. Hungary on 13 September warned that the world is ignoring the plight of ethnic Hungarians in Serbia's northern province of Vojvodina, where a flood of Serbian refugees threatens to unsettle the delicate ethnic balance, Reuters reported. Csaba Tabajdi, senior official responsible for national minority issues, said that refugees are not voluntarily settling in Vojvodina but are directed to this area by Serbian authorities. He pointed out that Hungarians now only represent some 6% of the Vojvodina population, compared with 28% at the end of World War II. Budapest last month protested to Belgrade over the treatment of ethnic Hungarians and called on the authorities to stop forcible evictions. -- Zsofia Szilagyi, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE HAS JAJCE FALLEN? Croatian media on 13 September reported that Croatian soldiers were in control of Jajce, in central Bosnia, as well as Sipovo and Drvar. A Bosnian Serb statement called the story "disinformation" and insisted that Serbian lines were holding. But AFP on 14 September quoted UN envoy Yasushi Akashi as saying that NATO intelligence suggested the Croats' reports were true. If that is the case, the road to Banja Luka will be open to Croatian and Bosnian troops, which are advancing on the Serbian stronghold from several directions. Jajce has a key hydroelectric station and its fall would have a significant practical as well as psychological impact on the Serbs. The BBC said that 40,000 Serbs were now in flight in the area. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. CROATS, BOSNIAN GOVERNMENT TROOPS ADVANCE. A UN military spokesman told news agencies on 13 September that Bosnian government forces have scored important gains in the Mt. Ozren area and that claims of successes by the Bosnian and Croatian forces seem "likely." He denied charges that NATO air strikes made the changes on the ground possible, pointing out that the raids have been mainly in eastern Bosnia whereas the land action has been to the west. Another UN official, however, urged caution on the ground at a time when diplomatic initiatives are under way and protested that the government's advance has sent Serb civilians fleeing. Meanwhile in London, the Foreign Office again singled out Croatia for blame. A spokesman told Reuters: "We would condemn what Croatia is doing in western Bosnia." The BBC on 14 September added that the UN Security Council and the U.S. have also called for a halt to the advance. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. GENERAL SMITH STAYS TOUGH ON SERBS. The Guardian and some other media on 13 September suggested that NATO and the UN might allow the Serbs to keep some of their big guns around Sarajevo. This would be "to reassure their own population," in keeping with statements made by Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic. Some observers have suggested that Bosnian Serb commander General Ratko Mladic has been holding out against the air strikes in the hope that Western politicians will lose heart and opt for just such a compromise. UNPROFOR commander Lt.-Gen. Rupert Smith, however, thinks otherwise. As his spokesman told Reuters, he argued that: "Our line remains we're into peace enforcement here. Peace enforcement is not negotiating. . . . We've seen that. It has failed over years here. We are saying if you do not do this, no conditions, you continue to get bombed." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. KARADZIC CLAIMS FEW CIVILIAN CASUALTIES. Visiting one of the areas under attack from allied Bosnian and Croatian forces, Karadzic said that "we have had very few civilian casualties from NATO aircraft and from enemy artillery." This contradicts a Russian statement that claimed that the Serbs were a victim of "genocide" because of the air strikes, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung pointed out on 14 September. The internationally wanted war criminal was seeking to bolster sagging Serb morale. The BBC, however, quoted his "foreign minister" as telling an international audience that the air raids had produced great damage and heavy civilian casualties, which has generally been the Serbian line to date. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. HOLBROOKE MEETS WITH MILOSEVIC. U.S. envoy and Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke concluded talks with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in the early hours of 14 September, Tanjug reported the same day. Milosevic and Holbrooke spoke at length about regional peace prospects. Rump Yugoslav Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic also participated in the meeting. Meanwhile, AFP on 13 September reported that at least "several hundred" protesters gathered around the U.S. cultural center in Belgrade the same day to protest NATO actions in Bosnia and the U.S.'s "involvement in the Bosnian crisis." The rally was organized by Serbia's opposition Democratic Party. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN FOREIGN POLICY. Foreign Ministry spokesman Mircea Geoana, at a press conference on 13 September, reiterated his country's position on NATO enlargement, saying that the matter concerns only NATO and the countries that have asked to become members. Radio Bucharest quoted Geoana as also saying Romania welcomes the Geneva agreement on the former Yugoslav countries and considers the agreement "an important step" toward "mutual recognition among the three states." He said Romania was "satisfied" with the renewal of contacts between Greece and Macedonia. Finally, Geoana expressed "full support" for Moldova's rejection of "any parallel" between the conflict in Bosnia and the Transdniester (as alleged in Igor Smirnov's speech before deputies of the Russian State Duma). Romania believes the conflict in "eastern Moldova" must be solved "exclusively through peaceful means." -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. CHOLERA IN ROMANIA, MOLDOVA. A statement released by the Ministry of Health and carried by Radio Bucharest on 13 September says the number of cases of cholera in Romania has reached 70. BASA-press reported the same day that the number of cholera cases in Moldova has now reached 235. Thirteen cases were reported in the capital, Chisinau -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. NO BREAKTHROUGH IN CHISINAU-TIRASPOL TALKS. International agencies on 13 September reported that the summit meeting between the Moldovan and Transdniestrian leaders ended with no progress reported. A press release by the Transdniestrian side said the "discussions were tense" and differences persisted. Infotag said Mircea Snegur and Igor Smirnov failed to achieve any progress in defining the legal status of the breakaway region but that it was agreed negotiations would continue. A member of the Moldovan delegation told Infotag that Tiraspol is "taking its time" to await the results of the Russian parliamentary elections in December. He said Transdniestrian "stubbornness" about insisting on the recognition of its independent status prevented solving "simpler matters" of an economic nature or the question of restoring bridges over the River Dniester destroyed during the fighting. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. TRANSDNIESTRIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES NEW ELECTION LAW. The breakaway republic's parliament on 12 September passed a new election law, Infotag reported the next day. The law provides for a mixed system of party lists and single-constituency representation. Elections are due on 24 December, but Infotag cited Igor Smirnov as saying the timing of the elections may yet be decided in a referendum in which other issues, among them the region's constitution, will be voted on. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN LOCAL ELECTION LAW UNCONSTITUTIONAL. The Constitutional Court on 13 September ruled that the local election law partly violates the constitution, Reuters reported the same day. The court overruled a provision that reporters of state-run media are not allowed to express their personal opinion about elections to be held in late October. Constitutional Court judge Ivan Grigorov said reporters "have the right to express opinions in their reporting of the local elections" and that this right "in turn guarantees every Bulgarian's right to be kept informed." But the court did not reject two other provisions--that soldiers can vote only in their home constituency and that mayoral candidates are not allowed to have dual citizenship. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. GREECE, MACEDONIA SIGN ACCORD. The foreign ministers of Greece and Macedonia, Karolos Papoulias and Stevo Crvenkovski, on 13 September signed an agreement in New York aimed at normalizing relations between their countries. The signing came after more than two years of mediation by the UN and the U.S. Under the accord, Greece recognizes Macedonia's sovereignty and will lift its embargo, while Macedonia will change its flag and amend its constitution to stress that it has no claims on Greek territory. Each side will set up liaison offices in the other's capital and will recognize the common existing border. Greece and Macedonia have 30 days to implement these measures, and the agreement will remain in effect for seven years or until a definitive accord is signed. However, the name issue has yet to be settled; negotiations are scheduled to start later this year. According to AFP, UN mediator Cyrus Vance said the agreement will have a ""positive effect . . . in the region." UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali and U.S. President Bill Clinton also hailed the accord. The U.S. established full diplomatic relations with Macedonia only hours after the accord was signed. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. U.S. SUPPORTS ALBANIA'S STAND ON KOSOVO. Albanian President Sali Berisha on 13 September said the U.S. was watching Serbia's treatment of the ethnic Albanian majority in Kosovo and that U.S. President Bill Clinton "will insist" on the restoration of Kosovo's autonomy, Reuters reported the same day. Berisha asked Clinton to initiate negotiations between the Kosovar leadership and the Belgrade government under international mediation. Berisha said U.S. support, such as the U.S. contingent in the UNPREDEP force in Macedonia, would have a stabilizing effect. Earlier that day, Boston University President John Silber abruptly canceled plans to award an honorary degree to Berisha after Nicholas Gage, a best-selling author of Greek ancestry, alleged that Albania fails to provide proper education to its Greek minority. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIAN OPPOSITION WALKS OUT OF PARLIAMENT. The Albanian opposition walked out of the parliament on 13 September to protest government attempts to unseat Supreme Court Chief Judge Zef Brozi. The government, claiming that Brozi has violated the constitution in some rulings, asked the Constitutional Court to convene a hearing on Brozi's conduct in office on 14 September. The government, however, has not specified its charges. If the Constitutional Court dismisses Brozi, he will be prevented from reviewing Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano's case on 20 September. Brozi is expected to release Nano, who is serving a disputed prison term for misappropriation of Italian aid funds. Nano's release might reduce the ruling Democrats' chances of winning the upcoming elections in early 1996, international agencies reported. Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi earlier ignored an opposition request to explain police actions outside the Supreme Court on 6 September (see OMRI Daily Digest, 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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