|He who knows nothing is nearer the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors. - Thomas Jefferson|
No. 183, Part II, 20 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 SLOVAK CABINET ASKS PRESIDENT TO RESIGN. The Slovak government on 19 September issued a statement, broadcast on Slovak Radio, calling for the resignation of Michal Kovac. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, who has been embroiled in a long-running dispute with Kovac, had sent Kovac a letter inviting him to attend the 19 September session but did not mention the topic of discussion. According to presidential spokesman Vladimir Stefko, Kovac responded by asking Meciar to be more specific. Meciar replied that "the only point of the meeting" would be to discuss Kovac's remarks "against the cabinet and representatives of the coalition." Kovac refused the invitation, Pravda reported. The government complained that Kovac had refused its invitation and had "seriously damaged the prestige of the head of state as a symbol of Slovakia." -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK PARLIAMENT CHAIRMAN CRITICIZED BY ETHNIC HUNGARIAN PARTY. Miklos Duray, chairman of the ethnic Hungarian Coexistence movement, at a press conference on 19 September criticized statements made the previous day by parliamentary chairman Ivan Gasparovic. Gasparovic had told Slovak Radio that the Slovak-Hungarian treaty could not be ratified until several laws were approved, including those on the state language and the country's territorial organization. Gasparovic said ratification "should take place by the end of the year," while Duray stressed that the treaty's ratification cannot be conditioned on the acceptance of certain laws. Coexistence also rejected the cabinet's plans for defining eight territorial districts, none of which would be more than one-third ethnic Hungarian. It argued that the cabinet does not want the Hungarian community to have "a single deputy" in the parliament. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. PENSIONERS PICKET UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT. Several thousand pensioners, including many World War II veterans, picketed outside the Ukrainian Parliament building on 19 September to protest austerity measures, Ukrainian TV and Reuters reported the same day. A leader of a veterans' group read out a list of 15 demands to the parliament session, which included pension increases and greater benefits for the elderly. Lawmakers ordered the government to find money to meet their demands by 15 October. Meanwhile, Finance Minister Petro Hermanchuk said this year's budget deficit may exceed the 7% of the GDP approved by the IMF because the government received only 44% of expected revenues by August, Ukrainian TV reported on 18 September. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. CRIMEAN LAWMAKERS DEBATE NEW CONSTITUTION. The Crimean parliament on 19 September debated the provisions of a new regional constitution, Ukrainian Radio reported the same day. Deputies sparred over changes and amendments to the September 1992 Crimean Constitution, which is expected to serve as a foundation for the new document. According to the current draft, the autonomous region will retain the right to adopt its own budget, approve its own law on citizenship, and re-establish its Interior Ministry. The post of president is not included in the document. The Crimean legislature will be authorized to adopt the new constitution. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT PASSES DECREE ON SECURITY COUNCIL. President Leonid Kuchma on 19 September signed a decree changing the composition of the Council of National Security and the Presidium of the Council of National Security. The Presidium, which is headed by Kuchma, includes presidential national security adviser Volodymyr Horbulin; deputy prime minister in charge of questions on national security and extraordinary situations Vasyl Durdynets; Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk; the head of the security service, Volodymyr Radchenko; and Defense Minister Valerii Shmarov. Meanwhile, ITAR-TASS on 19 September reported that Ukraine has carried out its obligations for tank reductions under the CFE treaty with the scrapping of the final T-54 tank at a repair plant in Lviv. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. FORMER BELARUSIAN BANK HEAD JOINS DEMOCRATIC OPPOSITION. Stanislau Bahdankevich, former head of the National Bank of Belarus, has officially joined the Union of Democratic Parties of Belarus, Belarusian Radio reported on 18 September. Bahdankevich, who submitted his resignation earlier this month, had opposed monetary union with Russia and advocated market economic reforms, including halting state subsidies to unproductive enterprises. He was among the last leading government officials who openly opposed some of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's initiatives. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc. ESTONIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES 1996 DRAFT BUDGET. Prime Minister Tiit Vahi told reporters on 19 September that the key priorities of the 1996 draft budget, approved that day by the cabinet, were education, culture, and law and order, BNS reported. Expenditures for culture and education would account for 23% of the budget, while those for the Interior and Justice Ministries would be 13% and 4.1%, respectively. Vahi also noted that local governments would get a greater share of revenue by receiving all land taxes and 66% of personal income taxes. The budget still has to be approved by the parliament. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. PARLIAMENTARY HEARINGS ON MARTIAL LAW IN POLAND. The parliamentary Commission on Constitutional Accountability on 19 September heard former Minister of Internal Affairs Miroslaw Milewski, who held that post from 1980-1981 and is considered to have been a "Moscow man" who advocated taking tough measures against Solidarity before the introduction of martial law in December 1981. Milewski did not deny his contacts with KGB residents in Poland but argued that they arose from his professional duties and that he was only carrying out orders, Polish media reported on 20 September. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. OPINION POLL ON POLISH PRESIDENTIAL PREFERENCES. According to a poll carried out by the Warsaw-based Public Opinion Research Center (CBOS) and published in Gazeta Wyborcza on 20 September, Democratic Left Alliance leader Aleksander Kwasniewski, the unquestionable favorite of the first round of elections, will lose to Polish National Bank President Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz in the second round. The Confederation of Independent Poland leader Leszek Moczulski sent a letter on 19 September to other right-wing candidates proposing his withdrawal from the race on the condition that negotiations be held on future policies and the composition of a new government, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 20 September. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. CZECH POLICE ARREST DEPUTY. Republican Party deputy Jan Vik was arrested on 19 September at a party meeting in Znojmo. He had been sought by police for almost two months after the parliament was recalled from its summer recess and voted to lift Vik's immunity so that he could face charges of "spreading alarmist news." Vik's signature was on an order to print 1 million leaflets that claimed that the Czech and German governments had made a deal to rehabilitate Sudeten Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War II (see OMRI Daily Digest, 17 and 18 July 1995). Czech media report that Vik was driven to Prague but refused to answer police questions because his lawyer was not present. He was later released from custody. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. PERRY IN CZECH REPUBLIC. U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry and Czech Defense Minister Vilem Holan on 19 September signed a bilateral agreement on the exchange and protection of classified military information, Czech media reported. The agreement enables the Czech army to obtain information about American weapons with a view to purchasing them. In return, the Czechs promised to rework legislation that does not correspond to NATO norms on the protection of classified data. Perry confirmed that the U.S. will provide information on F-16 fighters, which Czech politicians want to buy to replace aging MiG-21s. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. UPDATE ON HUNGARIAN COALITION. The Hungarian Socialist Party and the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) have still not reached agreement on the issue of the cabinet reform proposed by socialist Premier Horn and strongly opposed by the SZDSZ, Nepszabadsag reported on 19 September. The SZDSZ are also opposed to the Socialists' idea of renegotiating the original coalition agreement as the next attempt to ease differences within the coalition. Deputies have warned that the continuation of disputes between the ruling parties could endanger political stability and lead to the country's loss of credibility abroad. Relations between the coalition parties have become more tense since last week, when the Constitutional Court declared further parts of the Finance Minster Lajos Bokros's austerity package unconstitutional. -- Zsofia Szilagyi, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE ALLIES NOW CONTROL 60% OF BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA. Croatian, Bosnian, and Bosnian Croat forces hold 60% of Bosnia. The 20 September Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung added that it has been confirmed that the Croats have taken Bosanska Kostajnica and Bosanska Dubica, while the Bosnian Fifth Corps has moved into Bosanski Novi. The fate of Prijedor remains unclear. Reuters on 19 September noted that government troops have also made major gains in the Ozren salient and that "the new line runs from Rjecice, north of Maglaj, to Bosansko Petrovo in the east." The BBC reported that Croatian and Bosnian authorities have agreed on who will administer the various territories "regardless of who liberated them." Meanwhile around Sarajevo, Bosnian Serbs continued to pull their heavy weapons out of the exclusion zone. In New York, the UN Security Council condemned the Serbs for the death of two Danish peacekeepers near Bihac. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc., OMRI, Inc. BOSNIA, CROATIA AGREE TO HALT OFFENSIVE. International media on 19 September reported that Croatian President Franjo Tudjman met in Zagreb with his Bosnian counterpart Alija Izetbegovic and Bosnian Croat leader, Kresimir Zubak. The two countries' foreign ministers were also present, along with the Croatian defense minister and the Bosnian chief-of-staff. The two sides agreed to suspend their military advance to allow U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke, who was also present, an opportunity to explore the chances for a political solution. The diplomat said that things were coming along "step by step." U.S. Senate majority leader Bob Dole stated that despite his great admiration for the U.S. negotiators, the actions on the ground were having a greater impact than "all the skills of the U.S. diplomats put together," Croatian media noted. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. FATE OF BANJA LUKA HANGS IN THE BALANCE. Bosnian Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey told AFP on 19 September that his troops would not enter Banja Luka in order to facilitate a peaceful settlement and to prevent panic. Reuters the next day said, however, that Bosnia still insists on "the effective surrender" of the Serbian stronghold. The BBC quoted Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic as warning the Serbs that an attack could come if they continued to resist reintegration into the republic. Nasa Borba said on 20 September that "there is no [Bosnian Serb] state without Banja Luka." Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic stated that his forces will "take revenge" now that they have "consolidated their defenses." His "vice president," Nikola Koljevic, told AFP that his people would reject Sacirbey's offer of dialogue and that the allied advance was "very bad for the peace process." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. CROATIAN PARLIAMENT DEBATES ELECTION LAW. Croatian media continue to report that the Sabor is discussing a bill introduced by the ruling Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ). President Franjo Tudjman is expected to call early elections to the lower house by the end of the year to enable the HDZ to capitalize on the popularity of the army's recent successes against the Serbs. The bill would reduce the number of seats from 138 to 127, of which 80 would be elected by party lists and only 28 by a direct district vote. An additional 12 deputies would be elected by party lists among the 420,000 registered voters working abroad. A party would need 5% of the total vote, instead of the current 3%, to gain entry into the parliament. All these measures are expected to favor the HDZ, which also enjoys control over the most important media as well as substantial funds. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SERBIAN UPDATE. Nasa Borba on 20 September reported that Vojislav Seselj, leader of the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS) and accused war criminal, has reissued a call to Belgrade citizens to assemble outside the federal legislature on 21 September to protest NATO air strikes against Bosnian Serbs and the policies of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. He also invited representatives of the opposition Democratic Party and Democratic Party of Serbia to attend, advising participants to leave all weapons at home. In another development, Orthodox Church leaders in the rump Yugoslavia appear to be allying ever closer with ultranationalist sentiment. BETA on 19 September reported that Metropolitan Radovic has sent U.S. President Bill Clinton a letter condemning American involvement in recent NATO air strikes against Bosnian Serbs and alleging "genocide" against the Serbs. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. ILIESCU ON NATO, RUSSIA. Romanian President Ion Iliescu was quoted by Radio Bucharest on 19 September as saying that his country's "participation in joint exercises with NATO within the Partnership for Peace program and the wish to join [that organization were] not directed against anyone, hence not against Russia either." He added that Romanian was seeing NATO's presence in Eastern Europe as a factor of stability. Iliescu was speaking in Bucharest at a joint press conference with his Lithuanian counterpart, Algirdas Brazauskas. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. TOUGH ENVIRONMENTAL LAW ADOPTED IN ROMANIA. The Romanian Senate on 19 September passed the Law on Environmental Protection that severely punishes individuals or enterprises that cause massive pollution, Radio Bucharest reported. The bill provides for prison terms of between six and 10 years for failing to take emergency steps in case of nuclear accidents or for deliberately releasing toxic substances into natural waters. The import of toxic waste is punished with up to six years in jail. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT RESUMES WORK. The parliament of the Republic of Moldova on 19 September reconvened after the summer recess, BASA-press and Infotag reported. In an inaugural address, parliamentary chairman Petru Lucinschi warned against increasing polarization as a result of the current political crisis in the country. The main opposition party, the Christian Democratic Popular Front (FPCD), announced that its deputies might walk out if the executive and legislative did not reveal what efforts have been made to free the so called "Ilascu group," jailed in the breakaway Dniester region. FPCD Chairman Iurie Rosca was quoted as saying that his party repeatedly asked the authorities in Chisinau to intervene on the behalf of Ilie Ilascu and his associates, who are being detained in Tiraspol under charges of terrorism. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. DNIESTER AUTHORITIES BAN LATIN SCRIPT. All schools in Moldova's breakaway Dniester region that "provide education in Moldovan based on the Latin script" will be closed down by 10 November, the local authorities announced on 19 September. Tiraspol accused Chisinau of breaking earlier agreements by helping finance Latin-script tuition on the left Dniester bank. A Moldovan Education Ministry official said that all Romanian-language schools in the Dniester region would be transferred to the right bank of the Dniester River if Tiraspol enforced its restrictions. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. PARLIAMENTARY CONTROL OVER BULGARIAN STATE MEDIA UNCONSTITUTIONAL. The Constitutional Court on 19 September ruled that the parliament's control over the state media is unconstitutional, Demokratsiya reported the following day. Under a "provisional status" adopted in 1991, Bulgarian state television, radio, and the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency are controlled by a parliamentary committee pending the adoption of a new media law, which has yet to be passed. The Constitutional Court ruled that the committee may appoint the directors-general of the three state media but will no longer be entitled to approve regulations, structures, programming, financing, or the board of directors. The court also ruled that the president, prime minister, chairman of the parliament, and representatives of the Supreme and Constitutional Courts will have unlimited access to TV and radio but that the heads of parliamentary committees will no longer enjoy this privilege. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS NAME SOFIA MAYORAL CANDIDATE. The Sofia organization of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) on 19 September named Ventsislav Yosifov as its mayoral candidate for the upcoming local elections, Duma reported the following day. In a first vote, the BSP delegates decided to support a nominally independent rather than a party candidate. In a second vote, Yosifov won the nomination over Aleksandar Karakachanov of the Green Party. Yosifov is head of the First Private Bank; his candidacy was proposed initially by a so-called initiative committee. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIAN COURT RULES AGAINST EX-PREMIER. Albania's Constitutional Court on 19 September ruled that the Supreme Court is neither legally nor constitutionally empowered to hear an appeal sought by jailed Socialist leader and former Premier Fatos Nano. Nano has been serving a 12-year sentence since April 1994 partly for his role in a funds misappropriation scandal. Supreme Court Chair Zef Brozi, who has been seeking greater judicial autonomy for the court, said he was not certain how the Supreme Court justices would react to the Constitutional Court's ruling, Reuters reported. -- 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. 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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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