|One must learn by doing the thing; though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try. - Sophocles|
No. 187, Part II, 26 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 ECONOMIC REFORM PROGRAM. Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk, on the eve of a four-day visit to the United States, told reporters he planned to reassure U.S. officials that Ukraine remains committed to economic reforms, international and Ukrainian agencies reported on 25 September. He said however, if the West failed to provide crucial financial assistance for reforms, Kiev would need to seek new alliances in the east, especially with Russia. On the same day, the government released the draft of its 1996 program, which calls for an acceleration of the sluggish privatization process, but allows the government to maintain its monopoly in several key sectors and retain a large share in many companies. The plan also foresees reductions in the state bureaucracy and the armed forces. Marchuk said Kiev will focus on liberalizing energy and agriculture next year and meet IMF targets of 1.5% monthly inflation and a budget deficit of 6%. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. ESTONIA PERMITS IMPORT TARIFFS ON FOOD. The Estonian parliament, by a vote of 42 to 25 with four abstentions, passed a law on 25 September allowing the introduction of tariffs on food imports, BNS reported. Ants Kaarma, chairman of the parliament's rural affairs committee, suggested that a 10-15% import tariff would be enough to open more of the country's market to local products. Although it remained opposed to any kind of farm subsidies, the government supported the law. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. BELARUS SAYS BIRTH RATE CUT 50% BY CHORNOBYL. Foreign Minister Uladzimir Syanko told the UN General Assembly on 25 September that his country's birth rate had fallen 50% as a result of the April 1986 accident at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant, Reuters reported. He said that Belarus annually spends more than 20% of its national budget to mitigate the economic, ecological, and medical after-effects of the accident. He noted that an international conference will be held in Minsk in March 1996 with the help of UNESCO and the European Commission to commemorate the "lamentable 10th anniversary" of the disaster. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. UPDATE ON THE POLISH PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN. Three candidates--current President Lech Walesa, the Union of Real Politics leader Janusz Korwin- Mikke, and Kazimierz Piotrowicz, a non-party ironworker--were registered in the presidential election by the State Electoral Commission by September 25. Collecting 100,000 signatures is a condition for registration and the deadline is 28 September. On 25 September, three motions to register were deposited in the commission. Democratic Left Alliance leader Aleksander Kwasniewski presented a record 451,000 signatures, while motions to register former prime ministers Jan Olszewski and Waldemar Pawlak were also deposited, Polish dailies report on 26 September. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. WALESA COURTS DEFENSE WORKERS. Walesa promised workers at the Bumar Mechanical Equipment Combine in Labedy that, if he were reelected, "I will not let anybody harm you. I wish you more money, happiness and peace." Gazeta Wyborcza on 25 September reported that Walesa visited the assembly hall where the new "Twardy" tank is being assembled. This modernized version of the T-72 is being produced for the Polish Army but the report said the plant had not yet received any orders for 1996. The workers were said to have told the president to "take immediate action to prevent the collapse of the arms industry in Poland and protect the employees in this industry." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. EU COMMISSION PRESIDENT IN POLAND. Jacques Santer, during a visit to Poland on 25 September, considered the country's progress towards joining the European Union as satisfactory but said its inflation rate should be slowed down, Rzeczpospolita reported the following day. Aleksander Kwasniewski, the Democratic Left Alliance leader, assured Santer that the upcoming presidential elections would not delay Poland's integration into the EU. During the visit, an agreement granting Poland 50 million ECU from the EU PHARE program was signed. The money is destined for cross-frontier cooperation between Poland and Germany, Polish dailies reported. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz, OMRI, Inc. U.S. MILITARY CHIEF: RELATIONS WITH CZECH ARMY THE BEST. Gen. John Shalikashvili, the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in Prague on 25 September that the Czech Army probably had the "most mature" relations with the American Army of all the post-communist states taking part in NATO's Partnership for Peace. CTK quoted him as saying the Czech armed forces were taking a lead in the program both in terms of quality and quantity. Shalikashvili met with Czech Defense Minister Vilem Holan to discuss speeding up the work of a joint commission reviewing air defense. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. POLITICIANS EVALUATE SLOVAKIA'S FIRST 1,000 DAYS. According to the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, the first 1,000 days of independence will be evaluated as "a period of intensive work to build a lasting and prosperous home for every citizen," TASR reported on 25 September. Slovak National Party deputy Marian Andel said that Slovakia has "fully proven its ability to survive." If the country's development continues at the current rate, Slovakia will become another Switzerland in the next few years, Andel stated. Although the opposition Hungarian Christian Democratic Movement positively evaluated the situation in the areas of finance and monetary policy, the party said a stable political structure has not been created, and tension in society has grown. Slovakia will celebrate 1,000 days of existence as an independent state on 27 September. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. OPPOSITION PARTY ACCUSES SLOVAK TV OF CENSORSHIP. Marian Kardos, moderator of the Sunday TV talk show "Kroky," informed Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) Chairman Jan Carnogursky on 25 September that his closing words were being cut from a late night rerun of the show. The words referred to a demonstration which will take place on 28 September, organized by the committee for freedom of speech. The KDH responded with a statement saying Kardos's move "represents the first open exercise of censorship on the part of this public service institution since November 1989." Kardos told Narodna obroda that Carnogursky had broken a statute by "making publicity" for the meeting. Slovak TV editor Ladislav Pilz later told TASR that despite Carnogursky's "violation of ethical principles," STV would broadcast the show without changes. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK PRESIDENT MEETS WITH ROMA. Michal Kovac on 26 September met in Kosice with representatives of the Union of Romani Political Parties. The parties said they consider Kovac "the only constitutional official who has understanding for their problems and reacts to their letters," Praca reported. The Romani representatives pointed out that Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar has not responded to four of their letters this year. Preparations for an October demonstration in Kosice are continuing, they said. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARY SIGNS PACT ON ETHNIC MINORITIES. Hungary signed a Council of Europe convention on 25 September to protect ethnic minorities, in the spirit of pushing for a solution to the long-running tension with neighboring Romania, Reuters reported the same day. The convention, already ratified by Romania, Slovakia and Spain, sets rules on the treatment of ethnic nationals. Hungary has 13 ethnic minorities living within its borders, including more than 500,000 Roma and a small Romanian community. Romanian President Ion Iliescu's call for a "historic reconciliation," deeply welcomed by Hungary, has been recently contradicted by a controversial education law discriminating against the 1.7 million ethnic Hungarians living in Romania. The Council of Europe convention, effective once 12 nations have ratified it, includes a clause providing for ethnic minorities to be taught in their own language. -- Zsofia Szilagyi, OMRI, Inc. HUNGARIAN STUDENTS PROTEST AGAINST TUITION FEES. University students throughout Hungary on 25 September launched a 10-day protest against a government decision to cut education subsidies and introduce tuition fees, Hungarian newspapers report. The monthly fee of 2,000 forints ($15) was announced in March as part of an austerity package designed to revitalize the economy. The National Federation of Student Governments, which claims to represent 140,000 students at 70 institutions of higher education, plans to have about 100 students camp in front of the Parliament continuously until 5 October, when a mass demonstration is planned. -- Zsofia Szilagyi, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN TALKS OPEN IN NEW YORK. International media report on 26 September that the U.S.-sponsored meeting of the foreign ministers of Bosnia, Croatia, and rump Yugoslavia is set to open. Bosnia agreed to drop its threatened boycott once it was reassured that the Serbs would not be allowed to secede. AFP noted that guarantees were also given on the right of refugees to return to their homes and property, on the holding of new elections, and on the stationing of OSCE monitors in the republic's major towns. U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher said that no settlement would be acceptable that undermines Bosnia's territorial integrity. The current plan, however, like the previous ones, is based on the premise of partitioning an ethnically mixed country into ethnically based districts. It thus tends to invite and sanction "ethnic cleansing." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. UN TELLS SERBS NOT TO ATTACK GORAZDE. AFP on 25 September reported that UN spokesman Chris Vernon said the Serbs had shelled Gorazde the previous day and warned they would be "mad to attack" it. Rump Yugoslav Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic was quoted in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 23 September as saying that Belgrade's army might intervene in the conflict outside its borders, but a Bosnian Croat (HVO) spokesman told AFP on 25 September that the Croatian and Bosnian allies are ready for them. "Bosnian army and HVO units are capable of confronting Serb forces even if Serbia enters the war." The BBC on 26 September reported that press gangs visit Croatian Serb refugee camps in rump Yugoslavia "on a daily basis" and that the victims are sent to eastern Slavonia under the command of internationally wanted war criminal Zeljko Raznatovic "Arkan." When Serbian authorities are confronted by journalists with cases of press ganging, they call it "a small, simple problem." But the men are taken away before any investigation can start, the broadcast noted. Nasa Borba added that Sanski Most is now under Arkan's control. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. CHIRAC MEETS TUDJMAN. The presidents of France and Croatia met in Paris on 25 September, international media reported. Jacques Chirac told Franjo Tudjman that France opposes any moves that could generate new waves of refugees. Chirac stressed "his refusal to allow movements of people which are against our values," AFP said. The French and Croatian presidents agreed that Bosnia must not be allowed to become a radical Islamic state, a charge that the government in Sarajevo has long dubbed a red herring. Tudjman stressed the need for Croatian-Serbian reconciliation on the German-French model as the key to peace in the Balkans. The Croatian ambassador to France told the VOA that Zagreb is increasingly looking to Paris as an important partner in the future. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. BONN, WASHINGTON WARN CROATIA OVER SERBS. Tudjman is basking in the success of the his military's virtual elimination of the Krajina Serb state, and new parliament elections are slated for 29 October. Novi list on 26 September quoted Tudjman as saying: "I promise today that we will soon enter Ilok and Vukovar," a reference to east Slavonian towns still under Serb control. German media on 22 September, however, quoted Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel as warning the Croats to respect abandoned Krajina Serb property and not to do anything that would hinder Serbs from returning. Kinkel said that Croatia would jeopardize its relations with Germany and the EU if it did otherwise. Germany has already excluded the Bosnian Serbs from any postwar German reconstruction aid because of their behavior. Reuters on 24 September cited the U.S. ambassador to Croatia, Peter Galbraith, as similarly warning the Croats that postwar aid will be linked to Zagreb's policy toward its Serbian minority. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. YUGOSLAV AND GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET. Deutsche Welle on 26 September reported that on the previous day rump Yugoslav Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic met with his German counterpart, Klaus Kinkel. It was the first such high-level meeting between Belgrade and Bonn since the beginning of the wars in the former Yugoslavia in 1991. According to the report, what made this meeting possible for the German side was the break between Belgrade and the authorities in the Bosnian Serb stronghold of Pale. This, however, begs the question of why such a meeting did not take place earlier, since Belgrade and Pale split publicly in August 1994; and indeed in recent weeks the ties between Belgrade and the Bosnian Serbs have been underscored by rump Yugoslavia seemingly having emerged as negotiator for Pale. Observers have remarked that Bonn may be motivated to reestablish contact with rump Yugoslavia in anticipation of relations in a post-war setting. -- Patrick Moore and Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. ILIESCU BEGINS U.S. VISIT. President Ion Iliescu on 25 September began a one-week working visit to the U.S., Romanian and international media reported. His schedule includes talks with President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore and other members of the administration. Iliescu will also meet members of the Congress and American businessmen, as well as the presidents of the World Bank and the IMF. Before departing, Iliescu said that one of the main aims of the visit is to have the Most Favored Nation status, now granted to Romania on a yearly basis, extended without time limitation. Iliescu referred to his visit as an "official" one, which is in fact not the case -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. MELESCANU ON "HISTORIC RECONCILIATION" WITH HUNGARY. In an interview with MTI, Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu said the Romanian initiative for a "historic reconciliation" with Hungary includes meetings of heads of states every six months and monthly discussions of officials from the two countries' foreign ministries to monitor the implementation of points agreed on, Radio Bucharest reported on 25 September. The concrete proposals of the Romanian initiative were handed over to the Foreign Ministry in Budapest by Romania's ambassador to Hungary on 22 September. Melescanu also said Romania rejected criticism regarding the law on education and legislation forbidding the hoisting of foreign flags. He reiterated Romania's opposition to a basic treaty with Hungary that should follow the model of the Hungarian-Slovak treaty. -- Michael Shafir and Matyas Szabo, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN JOURNALISTS PROTEST AGAINST PENAL CODE PROVISIONS. Romanian television reported on 25 September that prominent journalists from seven leading dailies sent a protest to President Ion Iliescu and to the Constitutional Court against the Chamber of Deputies' decision to stiffen penalties provided for libel, insult and offending public officials by journalists. The protest says articles 205 and 206 of the Penal Code, as passed by the chamber, infringe on the constitutional article stipulating the equality of all citizens, as well as limit the freedom of the press. Ion Diaconescu, the deputy chairman of the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic, said his formation was against the "strangulation of the press," Reuters reported on 25 September. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. YEVNEVITCH AGAIN DENIES TRANSFER OF ARMAMENT TO TIRASPOL AUTHORITIES. Lt. Gen. Valerii Yevnevitch, the commander of Russian troops in the Transdniester region, denied again that parts of the Russian armament had been transferred to the Tiraspol authorities. In an interview with the daily Dnestrovskaya pravda, Yevnevitch said, however, that while "we do not sell our armaments and combat machinery to anybody," neither is the armament "evacuated to Russia." Infotag reported on 25 September that Yevnevitch explained that the withdrawal agreement had not yet been ratified, and "hence is not in force." The future of the breakaway region had not been clarified either, he added. At this point, "we are preparing to send to Russia only non-military engineering machinery." He also said that, following an agreement with the Tiraspol authorities, some 5,600 mines and shells dating from before WWII had been destroyed, and some 4,000 have still to be disposed of. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. BULGARIAN TECHNOLOGY FAIR OPENS. The 51st International Technology Fair opened in Plovdiv on 25 September, RFE/RL reported the same day. The fair is divided into three sections--transport and automobile industry, building and construction machinery, and telecommunications and office equipment. The 1,508 companies present at the fair account for 80% of Bulgaria's exports and 90% of imports. More than half of them are Bulgarian, followed by Germany with more than 200, Austria with 76, and Italy with 54 companies. Participation from East Central and Eastern European countries has also increased over the past years. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc. GREEK PREMIER ON RELATIONS WITH MACEDONIA. In an interview with the daily Ta Nea on 25 September, Andreas Papandreou described the Greek- Macedonian accord signed on 13 September as "a good beginning" to bilateral relations between Athens and Skopje. According to Papandreou, "normalization of relations with our northern neighbor" will open up economic opportunities for Greece. He said a "solution can be found" in the dispute between Greece and Macedonia over the latter's name, although there is "significant disagreement" on it. Greece will uphold its decision not to tolerate any name including the term "Macedonia" or any derivative, the premier said. -- 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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