|Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith. - Christopher Fry|
No. 186, Part II, 25 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 NIGHT REPAIRS OR BURGLARY IN THE POLISH PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN? Supporters of former Prime Minister Jan Olszewski said that his campaign office in an annex to the Warsaw Sobanski Palace was burgled during the night from 22 to 23 September and documents were stolen, including signatures supporting Olszewski's presidential candidacy. Strong competition is going on to collect the 100,000 signatures needed to register a candidate and Olszewski has not yet been registered. According to former Deputy Minister of Defense Romuald Szeremitiew, repairs to the annex started on Friday at night and Olszewski's belongings were removed and sealed, but no documents were there. Szeremitiew leads a split party once led by Olszewski; his offices were located in the main building of the Sobanski Palace, which Szeremitiew recently gave to current President Lech Walesa for his electoral campaign. Jacek Trznadel, the chief of Olszewski's campaign, demanded "explanations from candidate Walesa," Polish dailies reported on 25 September. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. OSCE CONFERENCE ON DEPORTED PEOPLES IN YALTA. A three-day OSCE conference on the repatriation and accommodation of deported people concluded in Yalta on 22 September, RFE/RL reported. OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel noted that about 250,000 deported Crimean Tatars had returned to the Crimea and about the same number hoped to do so in the future. Unfortunately, neither Ukraine nor Crimea have the necessary funds to pay for the absorption of the new immigrants. He said that he would seek financial help from Western governments for the returnees. The spirit of cooperation and understanding with which Ukrainian and Crimean officials were addressing the Crimean Tatar issue were an indication that a Yugoslav-type ethnic conflict on the peninsula was unlikely, van der Stoel added. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. BELARUS, UKRAINE PRESIDENTS MEET. Alyaksandr Lukashenka held talks with Leonid Kuchma in Kiev on 24 September, ITAR-TASS reported. They agreed that Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia did not need to strengthen their ties by creating new structures and that cooperation should be boosted by restoring the economic contacts that had existed in the Soviet period. They also noted that the implementation of a free-trade agreement between their countries was limited by the customs union of Belarus, Russia, and Kazakhstan, but would work together to overcome this problem. The presidents agreed to hold regular bimonthly meetings in the future. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. ESTONIA, FINLAND SIGN AGREEMENT ON RETURNING IMMIGRANTS. Estonian and Finnish Interior Ministers Edgar Savisaar and Jan-Erik Enestam signed an agreement in Tallinn on 22 September setting up regulations for the expulsion by one country and admission by the other of illegal immigrants, BNS reported. This agreement and an earlier one on cooperation in fighting crime were the two conditions Finland had set for establishing visa-free travel between the two countries. Negotiating teams for formal talks on visa-free travel should be named soon. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. CZECHS SHELVE MIG-21 MODERNIZATION PLAN. The Czech Defense Ministry has put a plan to modernize its fleet of Russian-built MiG-21 jet fighters on hold while it studies a proposal to buy used American F-16 fighters, Reuters reported on 22 September. Defense Minister Vilem Holan had ordered three prototypes of the modernized MiGs to be produced, but his plan was not supported in the parliament. The Czechs have suggested that they might team with Poland to get a better deal on the F-16s. Pravo reported on 23 September that replacing the MiGs with 24 F-16s would cost around $280 million, more than three times the estimated price for modernizing the MiG-21s. -- Doug Clarke and Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. CZECHS TO APPLY FOR EU MEMBERSHIP IN JANUARY. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus said on 22 September that the Czech Republic will formally apply next January for EU membership, Czech media reported the following day. The government is expected to formulate the application, which does not need parliamentary approval, in November. Hungary and Poland applied for EU membership in April 1994, and Romania and Slovakia followed in June this year. Lidove noviny on 25 September quoted Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez as saying at the weekend EU summit in Spain that the Czech Republic could join Cyprus and Malta as a group when the process of admission negotiations begins. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS. Following a cabinet meeting in the west Slovak town of Trencin on 22 September, Premier Vladimir Meciar told a public rally there are "three ways to remove the tension" on the political scene. The parliament can accept a constitutional law to end President Michal Kovac's term in office without an investigation; the parliament can conduct an investigation of political changes since 1994; or a referendum can be held, TASR reported. Meciar also announced the cabinet's plans to make Trencin the center of Slovakia's military industry; a new firm called Holding is being established. The republican council of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) on 23 September voiced unambiguous support for the cabinet in its call for the president's resignation. In other news, an opinion poll taken by Slovak Radio showed that the HZDS would win 31.6% of the votes if new elections were held in the first half of September. A distant second would be the Christian Democratic Movement, with 11.4%, followed by the Hungarian coalition with 10.8%, the Democratic Union with 9.8%, and the Party of the Democratic Left with 8%. The Slovak National Party and the Democratic Party would also make it into the parliament. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK TRADE UNIONS HOLD DEMONSTRATION. Some 20,000 trade unionists gathered in Bratislava's Slovak National Uprising Square on 23 September to protest government social policies, particularly the cabinet's cancellation in July of public transport discounts for the socially disadvantaged. Alojz Englis, president of the Slovak Confederation of Trade Unions (KOZ), which organized the demonstration, asked the cabinet to stop making empty promises and meet workers' demands, Slovak and international media reported. Englis pointed out that 10% of families live below the minimum level and another 75% barely surpass that level. The demonstration was one of the largest to be held in Bratislava since 1989. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SYMPOSIUM ON HUMAN RIGHTS ENDS IN HUNGARY. "Cultural and minority rights are intertwined and should be protected on the same basis" Voyin Dimitrievic, deputy chairman of the UN Human Rights Commission, said on 23 September in Budapest at the end of a four-day symposium on human rights, Hungarian media reported the same day. The current, eighth such conference was jointly organized by the Council of Europe and Hungary's Justice Ministry and took place for the first time in Eastern Europe. With some 250 participants, the symposium discussed citizens', cultural and minority rights included in the European Human Rights Convention, and argued for better implementation of existing standards rather than the creation of new ones, Dimitrievic said. Hungarian Justice Minister Pal Vastagh emphasized that the idea of once hosting a human rights conference in Budapest seemed utopian 10-15 years ago. -- Zsofia Szilagyi, OMRI, Inc. BOSNIANS SEEK REFUGE IN HUNGARY. A group of 200 Bosnians sought temporary shelter in Hungary over the weekend, border guard spokesman Attila Krisan told Hungarian journalists on 25 September. The group would be accommodated at a new refugee camp in the eastern city of Debrecen. In the past few months, some 2,000 people from Serbia have also taken refuge in Hungary. Over the past years, Hungary has given shelter to thousands of refugees from Bosnia but tension is now increasing along its southern borders, where 300,000 ethnic Hungarians face the threat of forced eviction from their homes as a large number of the approximately 150,000 Serb refugees fleeting Croatia's Krajina region look to resettle in Vojvodina. -- Zsofia Szilagyi, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN FORCES FIND MASS GRAVE. Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic announced that government soldiers had discovered a mass grave containing the bodies of some 540 people in the village of Krasulje. The International Herald Tribune on 25 September quoted him as saying that "Serbian terrorists killed the Bosnians of the town of Kljuc and buried them in a mass grave--that is genocide." Silajdzic added that the massacre probably took place soon after the Serbs launched the war in 1992. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. FIGHTING CONTINUES AROUND BANJA LUKA . . . The Bosnian Serbs have rejected the government's call for the demilitarization of Banja Luka. The BBC on 24 September quoted Silajdzic as saying that Bosnian forces will therefore continue to put pressure on the Serbian stronghold. AFP cited Fifth Corps Commander General Atif Dudakovic as telling reporters that he will "pursue the Chetniks [Serbs] as long as they remain" in northwestern Bosnia. He added that his goal is still to link up with the Seventh Corps as they converge on Banja Luka. Vreme on 25 September stated that a "Saigon atmosphere" prevails among the Serb refugees crowded into that town. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. . . . AND IN THE POSAVINA AREA. Serbian media said over the weekend that Bosnian Serb forces had launched a counteroffensive, while Western news agencies suggested that government troops backed by Croatian artillery were holding their own. Fighting was intense around Brcko, Doboj, and elsewhere along the Posavina corridor, with Bosnian Radio saying that the Serbs flew 80 helicopter sorties there. There has been little independent confirmation of the often highly contradictory reports coming from the front. The International Herald Tribune on 25 September stated that the internationally wanted war criminal Zeljko Raznatovic "Arkan" was active around Sanski Most to the west of Banja Luka. That same paper on 21 September had noted the close links between Arkan and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. DIPLOMATIC SHADOW BOXING PRECEDES PARTITION CONFERENCE. Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic announced that his government would not attend the conference slated for 26 September in New York. The foreign ministers of Bosnia, Croatia, and rump Yugoslavia have been invited by U.S. diplomats to discuss Washington's latest project to carve up the republic. Reuters on 24 September quoted Silajdzic as saying that "the Serb terrorists and the regime in Belgrade wanted actually to partition Bosnia, to make a Greater Serbia at the expense of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Partition is our main concern and main problem." Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey later said, however, that he might attend if certain unspecified constitutional demands were met. Nasa Borba on 25 September quoted Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic as stating that nothing concrete has been agreed regarding borders. He received a delegation from the Russian Duma and told them that peace cannot be established in Bosnia without Russia and that "we are aware of all that Russia has done to defend Serbian interests." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. SERBIAN MINISTER WARNS OF WAR. Rump Yugoslav Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic, during a visit to France, on 22 September suggested that the eventuality of Belgrade's involvement in regional conflict could not be ruled out. According to Reuters, he said "There are many who would really like to see Serbia in this war . . . if the call is made it would no longer be a war of bows and arrows--I am speaking figuratively--all means would be used." He alleged that "Yugoslavia is at least 10 times, even 20 times, stronger from a military point of view than all the states around it." The same day, Serbia's first lady, Mirjana Markovic, delivered a different message through state-run media, saying Belgrade should stay clear of military conflict in Bosnia and the regime should add greater distance between itself and "ultranationalist extremists." -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. KOSOVARS DEMONSTRATE IN SWITZERLAND. An estimated 20,000 people from Kosovo demonstrated outside of the UN in Geneva on 23 September, protesting "ethnic cleansing" and "colonization" of Kosovo by Serbian authorities, AFP reported the same day. Demonstrators filed a petition urging UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali to help "stop police and military violence" in Kosovo, and also called for Kosovo's independence. Most of the participants came from Switzerland, with large contingents from neighboring countries also represented. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. SLOVENIA, CROATIA MOVE CLOSER TO SOLVING PROBLEMS. Croatian radio reported on 20 September that meetings between Croatian Premier Nikica Valentic and his Slovenian counterpart Janez Drnovsek in Maribor have resulted in both sides agreeing that outstanding problems, particularly those revolving on border questions, are nearing a resolution. For his part, Valentic observed that on "all outstanding border issues [there are only] questions of nuance left open." He did, however, add that the differences over the Gulf of Piran are "important" and "major." A Croatian consulate-general is slated to be opened in Maribor sometime in early 1996. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT VISITS ROMANIA. Momir Bulatovic on 22 September paid a one-day official visit to Romania, Radio Bucharest reported. According to both Romanian and Yugoslav media, the visit permitted a continuation of a top-level dialogue initiated during Romanian President Ion Iliescu's visit to Belgrade in May 1993. Bulatovic's talks with Iliescu focused on the Bosnian crisis, as well as on ways to restore and boost traditional bilateral relations--especially in the economic field- -after the UN embargo against Serbia and Montenegro would be lifted. Bulatovic was quoted as praising Romania's diplomatic role in the Balkans. At a joint conference, Iliescu spoke of a "new favorable moment" in the Yugoslav negotiations, and said that he noticed that the Yugoslav side was positively assessing the U.S. involvement in efforts to settle the crisis. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER ON NATO PROSPECTS. Gheorghe Tinca on 22 September told Radio Bucharest that Romania had several "trumps" in its efforts to join NATO. According to Tinca, Romania and Poland have the largest populations in Eastern Central Europe, have considerable economic potential, and significant armies. Besides, Romania has "clearly expressed its will" to join the alliance, a determination which the minister described as a further trump for his country. Tinca also said that the countries which joined NATO's Partnership for Peace program do not consider that form of military cooperation as a substitute for full-fledged NATO membership. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. LEFT-WING RADICALS DEMONSTRATE IN TIRASPOL. Over 1,000 people on 23 September protested in Tiraspol against the economic policies of the local authorities, BASA-press and Infotag reported. The rally was staged by the Coordinating Council of several radical left-wing organizations in the self-styled "Dniester Moldovan republic." The council's chairman, Vasilii Yakovlev, criticized the current Tiraspol leadership and demanded a stop to privatization plans and the setting up of a single Dniester bank to replace the existing flurry of commercial banks. The organizers of the rally asked Russia to admit the "Dniester republic" into the ruble zone. A leader of the young Communists in the region called former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev "a Judas," accusing him and other former Soviet officials of having "destroyed the USSR." -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc. ALBANIA BARS FORMER COMMUNISTS FROM PUBLIC OFFICE. The parliament on 23 September passed a law on "genocide and communist crime," which effectively bars thousands of former Communists form seeking public office until 2002, Western agencies reported the same day. The law applies to members of the former Party of Labor of Albania's Politburo and Central Committee, ministers, parliamentary deputies, presidents of the Supreme Court, and former secret police agents and informers, who are not allowed to hold posts in the government, parliament, judiciary, and mass media. The law was passed by 74 of the 140 legislators. Socialist and Social Democrat politicians denounced it as "revenge" and an attempt to hit the opposition before the general elections next year. At least seven of the 11-member presidency of the Socialist Party are affected by the law, including chairman Fatos Nano, as is Social Democratic Party chairman Skender Gjinushi. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. FLOODING IN ALBANIA KILLS FOUR. Heavy flooding across much of Albania claimed four lives and caused considerable damage, Reuters reported on 22 September. Interior Ministry spokesman Nikolin Thana said that helicopters, special troops, and engineers were deployed to rescue people in isolated areas. Three people drowned in the northeastern district of Has, and a fourth person was killed in Tirana. The northern town of Shkoder and several districts in the northeast, and the district of Lushnje south of Tirana, were hit hardest. Thana said authorities were mobilized to provide tents and first aid to people whose houses were destroyed, and that road repairs are underway. Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi and Interior Minister Agron Musaraj traveled to the flooded areas to consult with local authorities. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Steve Kettle 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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