|Absence makes the heart grow fonder. -|
No. 188, Part II, 27 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 UKRAINE MAKES PROGRESS TOWARD COUNCIL OF EUROPE MEMBERSHIP. Ukraine on 26 September moved one step closer to entry into the Council of Europe after the body's parliamentary assembly voted unanimously to approve its membership application, RFE/RL and Reuters reported the same day. Final approval is expected to be given on 19 October. Ukraine formally applied for membership in July 1992, but its entry was delayed because it did not meet many of the council's conditions for membership. But since then, legal experts advising the council have said that Ukraine has made "spectacular progress" in political reform and that it now complies with the organization's principles on democracy and human rights. Ukraine is obliged to ratify a series of international conventions within one year, including the European Convention on Human Rights and a convention on protection of minorities. It must also abolish the death penalty within three years and introduce an immediate moratorium on executions. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc. UKRAINE TO MAKE FURTHER CUTS IN ARMED FORCES. Ukraine intends to establish a 350,000-strong military, Interfax reported on 25 September. This goal was said to be in the government's plan of action submitted recently to the parliament. The report said that at present, there are slightly more than 400,000 personnel in the armed forces. The government document was also said to call for giving priority to servicemen's "social well-being" and for urgent measures to provide more housing and higher salaries. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. RUSSIA HANDS OVER PALDISKI BASE TO ESTONIA. Russian Rear Admiral Aleksandr Olkhovikov on 26 September signed a document officially handing over the former Soviet submarine base at Paldiski to Estonia, BNS reported. The Russian military officially left Estonia on 31 August 1994, but the 208 personnel who remained at Paldiski to dismantle the base's two nuclear reactors are to leave the country by 30 September. Estonian President Lennart Meri said the signing of the document marked the real end of Soviet occupation and that he hoped Paldiski would become a normal Estonian port. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. POPULAR SUPPORT FOR LITHUANIAN POLITICIANS, PARTIES. A poll of 1,014 residents taken on 12-19 September by the Lithuanian-British company Baltic Surveys showed a sharp decrease in the popularity of Adolfas Slezevicius, BNS reported on 26 September. The share of respondents viewing him favorably has declined by 10 percentage points since August, to 14%. Center Union Chairman Romualdas Ozolas, who has accused the premier of corruption, is currently the most popular political figure, having increased his favorable rating by seven points to 51%. The Homeland Union was the most popular party, overtaking both the Christian Democratic and Democratic Labor Parties. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. LITHUANIAN PREMIER IN PHILIPPINES. Adolfas Slezevicius, after meeting with high-ranking officials in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and China, arrived in Manila on 24 September for an official visit, Western agencies reported the next day. He discussed political, economic, and cultural cooperation with President Fidel Ramos. Officials from the two countries signed a treaty granting each other most-favored-nation trade status and a science and technology agreement calling for joint research and the exchange of students. Slezevicius on 26 September visited the former U.S. military base at Subic Bay, saying its conversion to a free economic zone could be a model for turning former Soviet military bases in Lithuania into special economic zones. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc. EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT IN POLAND. Jacques Santer met with Polish President Lech Walesa and Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy on 26 September, Polish and international media reported. He also held talks with Cardinal Jozef Glemp, the Polish primate. Santer said that European integration has a spiritual character and that entering the EU does not mean relinquishing national identity. Oleksy said that Santers confirmed all past declarations that the EU will eventually admit Poland as a member. Leaders of those countries with EU associate agreements, including Poland, will be invited to the EU December summit meeting in Madrid. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc. POLISH PRESIDENT, PREMIER ON PENSIONS. President Lech Walesa on 26 September said it is highly unlikely that he will sign the bill on pensions, which foresees only one increase in pensions next year that is 2.5% above the inflation level. Polish Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy asked Walesa not to veto the bill, since this may increase the 1996 budget deficit by another 5 billion zloty ($2.1 billion). According to Oleksy, the bill is misunderstood and is being used to spread misinformation during the presidential election campaign, Polish dailies reported on 27 September. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz, OMRI, Inc. POLISH GOVERNMENT APRROVES INCREASE IN MILITARY EXPENDITURES. The government has approved a 3% increase in military expenditures. Oleksy noted that "conditions in the army are very unsatisfactory from the point of view of the standards that would be obligatory for Poland if it were to join NATO." The premier also announced a five-year plan for the modernization of the army, Polish dailies reported on 27 September. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz, OMRI, Inc. CZECH PARLIAMENT PASSES HARD CURRENCY LAW. The Czech parliament on 26 September passed a hard currency law that will make the Czech koruna fully convertible, Czech and international media reported. Under the law, limits on the amounts of Czech koruny individuals can exchange for other currencies will be abolished. Czechs will also be allowed to directly invest abroad and will no longer be obliged to offer their hard currency to Czech banks. Both Czech citizens and companies will be allowed to buy real estate abroad without limitations. The law also liberalizes the system under which foreign banks can lend to Czech companies. The International Monetary Fund is expected to soon confirm the full convertibility of the koruna with a statement that the Czech Republic has fullfilled the conditions of full convertibility, while Western banks are expected to gradually start accepting Czech koruny in exchange for other hard currencies. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK SECRET SERVICE ACCUSES POLICE OF PRESSURING ITS AGENTS. Slovak Information Service (SIS) director Ivan Lexa on 26 September sent a letter to Attorney-General Michal Valo accusing police investigating the kidnapping of President Michal Kovac's son of "using criminal methods" in their investigation, Slovenska Republika reported. Lexa argued that Bratislava police have used "psychological pressure" against SIS agents and revealed state secrets by publicizing names of two SIS employees suspected of involvement in the kidnapping. He demanded that the Bratislava police department be taken off the case. Lexa has also filed charges against Jaroslav Simunic, the police investigator originally assigned to the case, who was removed after revealing possible SIS involvement. Lexa is a close ally of Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, who has been involved in a long-running dispute with President Kovac. Also on 26 September, police released a suspect in the case at the request of the regional prosecutor for Bratislava. Police investigator Peter Vacok has asked Lexa to reveal whether the man is an SIS employee. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SLOVAK POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS. The Slovak Constitutional Court on 26 September rejected a proposal by 30 opposition deputies that the constitutionality of a law on the organization of ministries and other central organs of the state administration be examined. According to Constitutional Court Chairman Milan Cic, "the law is in harmony with the constitution because it is not in conflict with it." Meanwhile, Sme reported on 27 September that 47 opposition deputies have asked the court to review the amendment to the large-scale privatization law passed on 6 September, which cancels coupon privatization. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN POLITICAL AGREEMENT REACHED . . . The foreign ministers of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and rump Yugoslavia approved a plan in New York on 26 September to provide a postwar constitutional framework for Bosnia. The republic will have free and democratic elections under OSCE supervision 30 days after monitors in major towns confirm that freedom of movement, speech, and the media have been restored, as well as basic human rights and the right of the refugees to return home or receive compensation for their property. Voting will take place in both the Croat-Muslim federation and the Bosnian Serb republic, Hina reported. A parliament, presidency, and Constitutional Court will be set up, with two-thirds of the legislature and presidency elected from the federation and the remaining third from among the Serbs. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. . . . BUT PROBLEMS GALORE REMAIN. The agreement leaves open a host of questions, including the composition of the government and the control of foreign policy, defense, and the police. It also sounds very similar to the arrangement that was in place when the Serbs launched the war in 1992 and that was a recipe for gridlock. The question of territorial divisions remains unsolved, and the Bosnian government has been charged by some of its own citizens with having agreed to partition the country with war criminals. It is also unclear who will represent the 150,000 or so "forgotten Serbs," who refuse to recognize Radovan Karadzic's authority and remain loyal to a multiethnic Bosnia. U.S. President Bill Clinton nonetheless said "we are making progress and we are determined to succeed," the International Herald Tribune reported on 27 September. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. GENERAL MLADIC REAPPEARS. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 27 September said that Croatian and Bosnian Serb forces exchanged artillery fire across the border region between Slavonski Brod and Novska. The International Herald Tribune and Nasa Borba reported that the Bosnian Serb commander, General Ratko Mladic, resurfaced at a press conference in Banja Luka after having been out of public view for some time. He said that he feels "better than most people my age" and endorsed solving "disputed questions by diplomatic means." But he warned that "if war continues, even greater suffering will be produced, not only in this area but wider as well." The indicted war criminal also blasted an "armed media and diplomatic war going on against the Serb people, the purpose of which is to demonize and deprive them of their legitimate rights." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc. TUDJMAN INSISTS ON REFUGEE REPATRIATION. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman has announced that Croatia will continue repatriating refugees on territories recaptured from Bosnian Serbs during the recent Croatian- Bosnian government offensive in western Bosnia, despite UN warnings not to do so, Reuters reported on 25 September. Under Tudjman's plan, out of a total of 200,000 Bosnian Croat and Muslim refugees in Croatia, 100,000 will be returned to "liberated" areas of Bosnia. Croatian officials claim that the Bosnian government has agreed to this decision, but Bosnian Minister for Refugees Muhamed Ceric told the Onasa news agency that his government was not consulted on the issue. UNHCR officials in Zagreb say that if refugees are repatriated close to the current front lines, their safety cannot be guaranteed. -- Daria Sito Sucic, OMRI, Inc. BOSNIAN PREMIER ON NEED FOR BETTER RELATIONS BETWEEN MUSLIMS AND CROATS. Haris Silajdzic has stressed the importance of improving relations between Bosnia's Muslims and Croats to facilitate the distribution of territories taken by the allies. He said that differences are being overcome through dialogue, Nasa Borba reported on 25 September. International media say the relationship between the allies is tense due to the lack of agreement over who will control which territories. Meanwhile, Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic has written a letter to Tudjman protesting that the Bosnian Muslim minority in Croatia--which was the second largest national minority there after the Serbs, according to the 1991 census--does not have guaranteed representatives in the parliament, unlike some other minority groups. -- Daria Sito Sucic, OMRI, Inc. SLOVENIAN PREMIER ON EUROPEAN UNION ISSUES. Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek, in an interview with Vienna's Der Standard on 23-24 September, reaffirmed Slovenia's commitment to joining and backing the EU, observing that membership is a priority for Slovenia. But he added that "we are trying to broaden our trade relations with other groups of countries." He also discussed Italian-Slovenian bilateral ties, suggesting that what appear to be Rome's efforts to impede, if not altogether block, Slovenian moves to join the EU may be placing renewed strain on relations that have seemed to be improving since early 1995. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH CLINTON. Ion Iliescu met with U.S. President Bill Clinton in the White House on 26 September, international agencies reported. They discussed, among other things, bilateral economic relations, the granting of permanent most-favored-nation status to Romania, and the prospects for its admission to NATO. Iliescu said after the talks that Clinton praised Romania's economic reforms so far, its democratization process, and its initiative for a "historic reconciliation" with Hungary. But a senior U.S. official was quoted by Reuters as saying that while the White House's attitude on MFN was "positive," the granting of permanent status was still conditional on continued progress on several issues, including fair treatment of the country's Hungarian minority. Defense Secretary William Perry stressed after meeting with Iliescu that one of the five conditions for the former communist countries' admission to NATO was the settlement of conflicts with neighbors. -- Michael Shafir and Matyas Szabo, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIA LAYS DOWN CONDITIONS FOR RUSSIA'S ADMISSION TO COUNCIL OF EUROPE. The Romanian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has laid down three conditions for Russia's admission to the council, Radio Bucharest reported on 25 September. It said that Russia should return Romanian state treasures that Russia failed to return after WW I; the former 14th army contingents should be withdrawn from Moldova; and the European Parliament should declare the Ribbentrop- Molotov pact of 1939 "null and void." That agreement led to the annexation of large chunks of Romanian territories that are now part of Ukraine and the Moldovan Republic. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT TO AMEND PROPERTY RESTITUTION LAW. The Chamber of Deputies on 26 September voted to accept a Constitutional Court ruling that two articles of the property restitution law passed by the parliament earlier this year violate the country's basic law. Radio Bucharest reported that the Liberal Party '93 and the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania did not vote in protest at what they called the Constitutional Court's muted criticism of the law. The court ruled that the article limiting restitution to Romanian citizens resident in the country restricted the freedom of movement. It also objected to an article that made no distinction between property legally or illegally confiscated. In the case of the latter, the property would have to be returned to the owner after the parliament reformulated the law. While the legislation now extends the right of compensation to all Romanian citizens, regardless of where they reside, it limits restitution to one apartment and provides only minimal compensation for other confiscated property. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. MOLDOVA PROTESTS RUSSIAN-BACKED ARRESTS IN TIRASPOL. The Moldovan delegation to the Joint Control Commission for Transdniestrian Conflict Settlement protested on 26 September that Lt.-Gen. Valerii Yevnevich, commander of the Russian forces, had supported the arrest of two Moldovan policemen, Infotag reported the same day. The delegation termed the arrest an "undisguised provocation by the Tiraspol secret services" aimed at "undermining the negotiation process and destabilizing the situation in the region." Yevnevich declared that the two were arrested "as Transdniestrian citizens for crimes committed while serving in the region's militia." The Moldovan delegation responded that the statement indicated the Russian commander's support for the "illegal, groundless and provocative action." -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc. AMMUNITION DESTRUCTION TO RESUME IN MOLDOVA. The Russian Group of Forces in Moldova (formerly the 14th army) will resume destroying obsolete ammunition next week, Lt.-Gen. Valerii Yevnevich told ITAR-TASS on 26 September. The destruction was suspended on 17 August after local authorities complained about the danger the operation posed to the local environment. Yevnevich indicated that money was now the local authorities' most pressing concern and said if the situation continued to develop along these lines "the only thing left for me to do will be to send a bill to the local authorities for the blasting operations." He indicated that 5,600 pre-WWII mines and shells have been destroyed and that another 4,000 await destruction. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc. GERMANY SAYS BULGARIAN NUCLEAR REACTOR MUST NOT REOPEN. German Environment Minister Angela Merkel on 26 September urged Bulgaria not to put back into service Unit 1 of the Kozloduy nuclear reactor, Reuters reported the same day. Merkel said everything must be done "to prevent this reactor starting up without sufficient safety precautions." Unit 1 was shut down in February for refueling, repairs, and inspections; it is scheduled to be brought back on line in the next few weeks. Bulgaria so far has rejected pleas to close down any of the four units at Kozloduy because the reactor provides around 40% of Bulgaria's electricity. Merkel said that "Bulgaria's energy worries ahead of the forthcoming winter are understandable but safety must have priority." -- Stefan Krause, 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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