|Old age is the most unexpected of all the things that happen to a man. - Leon Trotsky|
No. 182, Part II, 19 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 NEW UKRAINIAN CONSTITUTION MAY BE ADOPTED BY YEAR'S END. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, following a meeting of the Constitutional Commission, said a final draft of a new post-Soviet Ukrainian constitution may be ready for public debate in October and could be adopted in a national referendum by the end of the year, Ukrainian TV and UNIAN reported on 18 September. The commission--which consists of administration members, lawmakers, and legal experts--has already hammered out a preamble and the first section, but a number of critical issues, including civil rights, still need to be approved. Parliamentary speaker Oleksander Moroz said a final decision on the procedure for adoption of the constitution should be made by mid-October. Leftist forces, including Moroz, oppose adoption by a national referendum. They favor approval by either a constitutional assembly or the current legislature. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. OSCE HIGH COMMISSIONER IN UKRAINE. Ukrainian Radio on 18 September reported that OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel met with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko in Kiev to continue discussions on the situation in Crimea. Van der Stoel also met with parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Moroz and held a closed-door meeting with President Leonid Kuchma. The high commissioner is to travel to Yalta for a conference on the problems faced by deportees when seeking to return to their homelands. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. PRESIDIUM OF BALTIC ASSEMBLY MEETING. The Presidium of the Baltic Assembly, meeting in Riga on 18 September, decided that the assembly's seventh session will be held in Tallinn on 1-3 December, BNS reported. Founded in 1991, the assembly consists of 20 deputies each from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The presidium confirmed the 5 September statement by the assembly's Foreign and Security Committee condemning remarks by Russian officials who are opposed to the Baltic States' membership in NATO. The presidium also discussed strengthening ties with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Western European Union. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. DANISH FOREIGN MINISTER IN ESTONIA. Niels Helveg Petersen, at the beginning of a two-day official, met with his Estonian counterpart, Riivo Sinijarv, BNS reported on 18 September. Petersen expressed support for Estonia's membership in both the European Union and NATO, saying that Denmark's parliament would probably ratify Estonia's association agreement with the EU in October or early November. Petersen also had meetings with President Lennart Meri, Prime Minister Tiit Vahi, and Defense Minister Andrus Oovel. His visit ends on 19 September in Tartu with a tour of the city's university. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. DELIMITATION OF LATVIAN-LITHUANIAN TERRITORIAL WATERS. The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry on 18 December announced that Foreign Ministers Povilas Gylys and Valdis Birkavs agreed at their meeting in Riga on 14 September to determine the borders of their territorial waters by "generally recognized international norms and practices of international law," RFE/RL reported. A dispute arose when Latvia began negotiations with Western oil companies for explorations on territory also claimed by Lithuania. Groups of Lithuanian and Latvian experts will attempt to settle the border question after the Saeima elections at the end of this month. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. UPDATE ON POLISH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. Supreme Court President Adam Strzembosz has withdrawn from the presidential race and appealed to his followers to vote for Polish National Bank President Hanna Gronkiewicz- Waltz. In a statement published by Gazeta Wyborcza on 19 September, Strzembosz said the election of the Democratic Left Alliance leader Aleksander Kwasniewski, who currently heads opinion polls, would practically rule out Poland's chances of NATO entry. He also said the issue of the Russian armed forces stationed in Kaliningrad should be addressed and that it is unlikely that Kwasniewski would do so. President Lech Walesa's ratings recently improved to 16%, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 19 September. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. U.S. WARNS SLOVAKIA ABOUT DEMOCRACY. U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry, ending a two-day visit to Slovakia on 18 September, said the country needs to strengthen democracy before it can join NATO, Pravda reported. "A test of progress towards democracy is the government's tolerance of a diversity of opinions, full support of constitutional rights, and transparency . . . of government activities," Perry said after meetings with President Michal Kovac, Premier Vladimir Meciar, and other top officials. But he noted that Slovakia has made significant progress in meeting other basic conditions for NATO membership. Perry stressed that NATO will add new members individually, rather than in blocs. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK-BULGARIAN AGREEMENTS SIGNED. Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski visited Slovakia on 18 September to discuss bilateral and regional cooperation, Pravda reported. Pirinski and his Slovak counterpart, Juraj Schenk, signed a visa-free travel agreement and a readmission agreement. Commenting on a recent proposal by Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev to widen economic cooperation among countries of Central and Eastern Europe, Pirinski said "to speak about a return to the CMEA is nonsense." -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK KORUNA TO BE CONVERTIBLE IN OCTOBER? National Bank of Slovakia officials, in a press conference on 18 September, reported progress toward the stability of the Slovak koruna and favorable developments in monetary policy allow for the implementation of the currency's full convertibility October, TASR reported. Inflation decreased to 4.6% in the first eight months of 1995, and annual inflation was 9.8% in August. NBS foreign-currency reserves, excluding gold, reached $2.7 billion on 12 September. Parliamentary committees are now ending discussions on the draft law on foreign exchange, prepared by the NBS and Finance Ministry. The bill is expected to be approved by the parliament this month. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. CZECH SKINHEADS TAKE PART IN ATTACKS ON ROMA IN SLOVAKIA. About a dozen skinheads from the Czech Republic traveled to the southern Slovak town of Nesvady on 16 September, broke into a house, and beat up a 57-year- old Romani man, CTK and TASR reported on 18 September. They beat the man with a baseball bat and police truncheons, injuring him in the chest and elbow. A spokesman from the Slovak Interior Ministry told TASR that local skinheads the same day had invited skinheads from the Czech Republic to travel to Nesvady, where they had organized an attack on Romani citizens. TASR and Czech TV reported that another group attacked Roma the same night in Hodonin, in the Czech Republic. Fifteen skinheads broke the window of a house and beat a 64-year-old Romani woman, who sustained back injuries. Twelve members of the group have been accused of assault and inciting racial hatred. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARIAN MEDIA LAW TO BE PASSED IN 1995? Hungarian Premier Gyula Horn and the leaders of the six parliamentary parties have agreed to support the media law and have it passed "possibly this year," Hungarian media reported on 16 September. They decided to set up a committee to work out a new concept for the government's draft on media legislation by 15 October. Parliamentary discussions on the media will be suspended until the draft is ready. Since 1989, Hungary's badly needed media law has been the subject of repeated disagreements on how to secure media independence. Jozsef Torgyan, leader of the Smallholders' Party, left the meeting early, protesting the Hungarian media's "discrimination against his party." -- Zsofia Szilagyi, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARIAN DEPUTIES ON HUNGARIAN-ROMANIAN RECONCILIATION. Socialist deputy Matyas Szuros and Zsolt Lanyi, a representative of the Smallholders' Party, have criticized the Hungarian-Romanian dialogue, Hungarian newspapers reported on 18 September. Szuros noted that the proposed Hungarian-Romanian reconciliation--announced by Romanian President Ion Iliescu last month--must first be carried out between ethnic Hungarians in Romania and the Romanian leadership. Only after that, he stressed, can the problem be dealt with at an intergovernment level. Lanyi warned that the Hungarian minority is being "held hostage" by the new education law, and he called for more action by the Hungarian Foreign Ministry. -- Zsofia Szilagyi, OMRI, Inc. EASTERN EUROPE TO COOPERATE WITH EU ON ENVIRONMENT. Environment ministers from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia met with senior EU officials in Brussels on 18 September and agreed to convene at least annually to assess their progress on meeting EU environmental standards, international media reported. EU Environment Commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard said Eastern Europe still needed to do a great deal to meet those standards. Austria and the Scandanavian countries have stressed that standards should not be lowered to accommodate prospective members. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SACIRBEY OFFERS BANJA LUKA "DIALOGUE." As Croatian and Bosnian forces close in on Banja Luka, Bosnian Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey has offered to talk with Serb leaders there. AFP on 18 September quoted him as calling this "an opportunity to set an example of mutual coexistence for the future of how the entire peace process should go ahead. We are trying in fact to create the symbol of a Bosnian southern breeze, rather than a Bosnian storm." British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind agreed to help find Serbian leaders willing to talk. "We hope it could provide the basis for a ceasefire throughout the country," he said. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SERBS FLEE BANJA LUKA. Nasa Borba on 19 September reported that a column of refugees 70 km long is moving from the threatened Bosnian Serb stronghold of Banja Luka toward Derventa and Serbia beyond. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung added that the lightning offensive by allied forces has left the Serbs with only 50% of the republic's territory, and that figure appears to be shrinking rapidly. Tanjug reported unsuccessful Croatian and Bosnian advances near Mostar, but there has been no independent confirmation of the story. The VOA said that Bosnian Serb commander General Ratko Mladic is in a Belgrade hospital recovering from surgery to remove a kidney stone, and that his civilian counterpart, Radovan Karadzic, is largely ignored by fellow Bosnian Serbs. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. CROATIAN, MUSLIM CIVILIANS "IN GRAVE DANGER." The Banja Luka Serbs are reported to have been particularly ruthless and systematic in their "ethnic cleansing," which was extended to the complete destruction of historic mosques and other monuments. The BBC on 19 September quoted international monitors as saying that the few remaining Croatian and Muslim civilians now face special peril from the fleeing Serbs. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 18 September noted the same about the non-Serbs in Donji Vakuf. The BBC on 17 September, however, reported that Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic refused to comment on accounts of atrocities against 6,000 Serbs trapped in that area. British and Serbian papers, moreover, continue to carry articles about sinister behavior by Croatian forces in Krajina, including grisly murders of the few, mainly elderly and infirm Serbian civilians who stayed behind. Croatia denies the stories and accuses some of the journalists of long- standing bias. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. "THE PEACE PLAN FALLS WITH BANJA LUKA." This is how Nasa Borba on 19 September sums up the relationship between developments on the ground and diplomacy. The International Herald Tribune quoted Sacirbey as adding that "military pressure has been an effective force" in the peace process. The VOA reported that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic has urged the international community to use its influence in Zagreb and Sarajevo to halt the offensive. Following the killing of a Danish peacekeeper near Bihac, the UN Security Council demanded the Croatian and Bosnian forces stop fighting. A State Department spokesman insisted that the current peace plan remain the basis of future talks. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Strobe Talbott said "the light here is red. It's a red stoplight. Stop the fighting. Go back to the negotiating table," AFP reported from Moscow on 18 September. Meanwhile in New York, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali said that time has come to replace UN forces in Bosnia with "regional" ones. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT IN ROMANIA. Algirdas Brazauskas on 18 September began a two-day official visit to Romania, Radio Bucharest reported. Brazauskas, who is returning Romanian President Ion Iliescu's visit to Vilnius in March 1994, is the first Lithuanian head of state to visit Romania. Brazauskas' talks with Iliescu the same day focused on ways to coordinate the countries' efforts to join Euro-Atlantic structures. Addressing a joint session of Romania's two-chamber parliament, Brazauskas defined his country's "main [foreign policy] goal" as joining NATO. He said a selective admission to that organization would create the "emergence of gray zones in which a vacuum of security would prevail." Brazauskas also met with Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu and the chairmen of both houses of the parliament. The two countries are expected to sign accords on culture, health, and Interior Ministry cooperation. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIA WANTS TO JOIN NATO AT SAME TIME AS HUNGARY. Evenimentul zilei on 18 September quoted Defense Minister Gheorghe Tinca as saying his country wanted "to join NATO at all costs at the same time as Hungary." Budapest has already set 1997 as a deadline for joining the Western military alliance. Romania and Hungary have been negotiating a bilateral basic treaty since 1991 but have been unable to reach agreement on the final wording. The main stumbling block is the treatment of the large Hungarian minority in Romania. Tinca also commented that military relations with Russia were in "poor shape." He rejected Russian objections to Romania's plans to join NATO and suggested that Russia was "isolating itself" from the rest of Europe. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. NEW RESTRICTIONS ON ROMANIAN MEDIA. The Chamber of Deputies on 18 September adopted Article 206 of the new Penal Code on "defamation through the media." According to the article, Journalists using the electronic media and press for the purpose of calumny are liable to jail terms of between six months and three years. The opposition National Peasant Party-Christian Democratic denounced the legislation as curtailing freedom of expression and jeopardizing democracy in general. Meanwhile, two journalists who wrote that President Ion Iliescu worked for the KGB went on trial on 18 September for having "offended the authorities." If found guilty, the two could be sentenced to up to three years in prison. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. SEPARATISTS HINDERING 14TH ARMY AMMUNITION DESTRUCTION. Authorities in the breakaway Transdniester region in Moldova are obstructing efforts to destroy ammunition of the former 14th Army, the deputy commander of Russian troops in the region told Interfax on 18 September. The officer said that at the end of the previous week, the arms depots and testing ground near the village of Kolbasna had been blocked by units of the breakaway republic's armed forces. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIA WILL NOT HELP RUSSIA TO BREAK SANCTIONS AGAINST FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. Bulgarian deputies on 18 September rejected a call by a visiting delegation from the Russian State Duma to help create a land corridor to supply fuel to rump Yugoslavia, international agencies reported the same day. Chairman of Bulgaria's parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee Nikolay Kamov said there was a consensus [among committee members] on not breaking the UN sanctions and "no opportunity for Bulgaria to oppose unilaterally the sanctions or stop enforcing them." The Russian delegation had asked for a corridor through Bulgaria to deliver fuel to rump Yugoslavia as humanitarian aid. Standart on 19 September reported that the Russian deputies threatened serious consequences if Bulgaria did not comply. Gen. Leonid Mayorov, an adviser to Duma speaker Ivan Rybkin, was quoted as saying the first Russian air planes with humanitarian aid for the Bosnian Serbs will leave Russia on 19 September. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN SOCIALIST PARTY GAINS MAJORITY SHARE IN DUMA. Businessman Nikolay Krivoshiev, in a letter published in 24 chasa on 19 September, announced he will hand over his 49% stake in the Bulgarian Socialist Party's newspaper Duma to the party's Supreme Council, bringing the BSP's stake up to 51%. The remaining 49% is held by the newspaper's staff. Krivoshiev took his share in 1994 in order to "save the newspaper" and help the party, as he said in his letter. He accused Duma's editor in chief, Stefan Prodev, of working against the BSP's interests and its leadership, saying that handing over his shares to the party leadership will help the necessary "clarification process." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIA UPDATE. The Albanian government has asked the Constitutional Court to rule that the country's Supreme Court has no jurisdiction to hear an appeal by jailed Socialist leader and former premier Fatos Nano, international media reported on 18 September. Should the Constitutional Court rule in the government's favor, Nano, who was jailed for 12 years in April 1994 on charges of falsifying documents and misappropriating aid money, is likely to remain in prison. In other news, Republika on 14 September reported that Ramiz Alia, Albania's last communist ruler, has joined the Socialist Party. Alia, who had been serving a prison sentence for various crimes, including corruption, was released in July 1995. At the time, Socialist leaders vowed that Alia would not be welcome to join their ranks. -- Stan Markotich, 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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