|Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson|
No. 196, Part II, 9 October 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 NO OFFICIAL NATO DECISION ON POSTPONING ENLARGEMENT. Following East European and Russian media reports on 6 October that NATO defense ministers, meeting in Williamsburg on 5-6 October, decided to postpone making a decision on enlargement until January 1997, a NATO source on 9 October said such a decision can be made only by NATO foreign ministers, international agencies reported. While there has been no such official decision, most experts believe that NATO will not decide on enlargement before the Russian and U.S. presidential elections in 1996. A new U.S. president would not take office before January 1997. -- Michael Mihalka and Dagmar Mroziewicz CENTRAL EUROPEAN INITIATIVE AGREES ON NEW MEMBERS. The Central European Initiative, convening in Warsaw on 7 October, agreed to accept Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, Romania, and Ukraine as members at a foreign minister's conference in early 1996. international agencies reported. The group urged the international community to support post-war reconstruction of Bosnia and Croatia. Some members, including Italy and Slovenia, initially opposed enlargement because they felt it would divert the group from one of its initial purposes--to facilitate membership to such West European institutions as the EU. -- Michael Mihalka and Dagmar Mroziewicz UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT TAKES CONTROL OF NATIONAL GUARD. Leonid Kuchma, in a decree issued on 7 October, has taken "operational control" of the National Guard, Ukrainian TV reported. The decree said the move was to ensure the efficient use of the guard in "protecting Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, the lives and personal dignity of [its] citizens, and their constitutional rights and freedom from criminal infringements." ITAR-TASS estimated the guard to number some 40,000 and added that in late January, some units were subordinated to the Interior Ministry. It noted that while Ukrainian law banned the use of the armed forces in dealing with internal conflicts, the National Guard could be employed to this end. -- Doug Clarke UKRAINIAN ECONOMIC ROUNDUP. President Leonid Kuchma has issued a decree setting up a special presidential consultative council on banking activities, Ukrainian TV reported 6 October. The council, to be headed by National Bank of Ukraine chairman Viktor Yushchenko, will coordinate the activities of the government, the National Bank, and commercial banks. Interfax-Ukraine, citing a Statistics Ministry official on 7 October, reported that monthly inflation in Ukraine jumped to 14.2% in September. The highest increase occurred in the service sector, where prices rose 24.6%. In other news, the Ukrainian parliament on 6 October voted to approve a new law on privatization of agriculture-related industry, which will provide farmers with a majority stake in most enterprises, Interfax-Ukraine reported the same day. The legislation stipulates that 51% of shares in food-processing plants and other agricultural firms be transferred at no cost to farms that supply them with produce. The rest can then be sold to farms or employees for privatization vouchers or money. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUS TO RESUME CFE REDUCTIONS. Russian Public Television and Interfax on 7 October reported that Belarus will resume reducing conventional weapons in accordance with the CFE treaty on 15 October. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in February ordered that the dismantling of weapons be stopped because of financial difficulties. Since then, Germany and the U.S. have promised $230 million in aid. -- Ustina Markus ESTONIAN, LITHUANIAN INFLATION RISES IN SEPTEMBER. The Estonian Statistics Department announced that the consumer price index increased by 2.1% in September, compared with only 0.6% in August, BNS reported on 6 October. The cost of services and goods rose 2.4% and 1.8% (1.9% for food and 1.6% for manufactured goods). In Lithuania, inflation in September was 2%, compared with only 0.4% in August. The cost of food increased by 2.4%, while clothing rose by 3.3%, medical services by 2.4%, and rent and fuel by 0.4%. In the first nine months of the year, the consumer price index increased 20.8% in Estonia and 22.6% in Lithuania. -- Saulius Girnius DEPOSITORS OF BANKRUPT LATVIAN BANKS RECEIVE COMPENSATION. A Latvian Finance Ministry spokesman has said that some depositors of the bankrupt Latvijas Tautas Banka and Banka Baltija have received partial compensation for deposits lost in the banks, BNS reported on 7 October. The compensation was limited to a maximum of 200 lati ($375); 526 depositors with LTB received a total of 76,523 lati and 2,824 with Banka Baltija 494,249 lati. Former BB president Talis Freimanis, charged with misappropriation of bank funds and sabotage, was released from prison and placed under house arrest on 5 October, primarily due to poor health. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH PRESIDENT SENDS BILL ON PENSIONS TO CONSTITUTIONAL TRIBUNAL. Lech Walesa has sent the bill on pensions to the Constitutional Tribunal, after the Sejm on 29 September overruled his veto (see OMRI Daily Digest, 2 October 1995). Under the new bill, pension increases in 1996 would be pegged to prices instead of wages. Pensions are expected to increase by 19.5% (2.5% over the inflation rate, estimated at 17%). The president said it is unjust to keep public sector wages at 5.5% above the inflation rate, while pensions exceed it by only 2.5%, Polish dailies reported on 7 October. -- Jakub Karpinski and Dagmar Mroziewicz CZECH PRESIDENT VETOES EXTENSION OF SCREENING LAW. Vaclav Havel on 6 October returned to the Czech parliament the extension to the screening law it passed nine days earlier (see OMRI Daily Digest, 28 September 1995). Havel, in an article in Mlada fronta dnes on 7 October, argued that extending the law to the year 2000 was premature, since the current law is not due to expire until the end of 1996. The lustration law, which bans former secret police agents and high communist officials from public office, was adopted in 1991 as a protective measure during revolutionary times, Havel wrote. Extending it could suggest that the Czech Republic has been unable to create a normal system of rule of law since then. Leaders of governing parties said they will submit the law to a re-vote. Overturning a presidential veto requires 101 votes in the 200-member parliament. -- Steve Kettle PRO-GOVERNMENT DAILY ON SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S BANK ACCOUNT. Slovenska Republika, owned by Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), on 7 October published a copy of a bank statement for Michal Kovac's alleged Austrian account showing assets of over 23 million schillings ($2.3 million). In an accompanying commentary, Jan Smolec, the paper's editor-in-chief and an HZDS deputy, said he had received the bank statement by fax. But in a statement released to TASR that same day, Kovac denied that he had ever opened such an account. He said if the money really exists, he will withdraw it immediately and distribute it to Slovak orphanages. Kovac also said he will file suit against the daily's publisher and Smolec. In other news, according to a Sme report on 9 October, Vladimir Lamacka has been removed from his post as director of the police investigation department. Lamacka was recently criticized by Slovak Information Service director Ivan Lexa for his handling of the investigation of the abduction of Kovac's son. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN PREMIER REJECTS LABOR MINISTER'S RESIGNATION. Gyula Horn has rejected the resignation of Labor Minister Magda Kosa-Kovacs, who explained her decision by citing differences of opinion with other ministers over the government's social welfare policy, Hungarian newspapers reported on 7 October. Hungary's Finance Ministry wanted to extend the period for which employers must pay employees sick leave to 25 days from the current 10 days, which the Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional. Kosa-Kovacs's compromise proposal of 15 days was rejected at a cabinet meeting, after which she submitted her resignation. The Socialist Party asked Kosa-Kovacs to reconsider her resignation and said it would review the controversial decree once again. She is the fifth member of the socialist-liberal coalition to have stepped down in the last 15 months. -- Zsofia Szilagyi HUNGARIAN ANTI-ROMANI, ANTI-SEMITIC PAMPHLETEER PROSECUTED. A youth who published anti-Romani and anti-Semitic pamphlets and sold them to skinheads has been brought to trial for inciting hatred against minorities in Hungary, MTI reported on 8 October. The prosecutor said that the boy, aged 17, was a high school student in Eger who produced the leaflets on a computer, cut and pasted racist newspaper articles, sprinkled them with quotes from fascist leaders, and added his own articles. He was aided by a young girl who copied the pamphlets on a machine at her mother's office. Both are being tried at a juvenile court. -- Alaina Lemon SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SERBS SHELL REFUGEE CAMP TWICE. Bosnian Serb forces shelled the Zivinice refugee camp just south of Tuzla on 8 and 9 October and the northern Bosnian village of Tesnjaka on 8 October. The combined death toll is 17, with an additional 100 wounded. The Serbs attacked at least seven places in northwest Bosnia on 9 October in what Reuters described as an "armor and infantry [offensive] across a broad front." Reacting to the shelling of Zivinice, President Alija Izetbegovic called the Serbs "terrorists" and demanded that NATO knock out the Serbian guns responsible. Planes of the Atlantic alliance attempted a strike during the night but turned back because of bad weather. NATO spokesmen said they would try again, and Izetbegovic said his government might leave the "peace process" if they did not. -- Patrick Moore SACIRBEY PRAISES COMMON MUSLIM, CROATIAN INTERESTS. Bosnian Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey told Vecernji list on 9 October that the Muslims and Croats are not engaged in a marriage of convenience but that they have key mutual interests and will continue to have them once the war is over. He noted that Croatia and Bosnia will "go into Europe" together and that Serbia and Montenegro have degenerated into "new fascism." The vitality of the alliance was shown again on the battlefield over the weekend, and AFP reported that Bosnian and Croatian forces were fighting in a joint action at Bosanska Krupa. Novi list on 7 October quoted Croatian President Franjo Tudjman as confirming that regular Croatian troops are still in Bosnia. Vjesnik on 9 October said that the Bosnian army has requested the help of Bosnian Croat forces. The paper also quoted UN sources as denying Serbian reports that Kljuc had fallen to Bosnian Serb troops. Serbian propaganda has been trying doggedly to discredit the Croatian-Muslim alliance. -- Patrick Moore BELGRADE WELCOMES LATEST CEASEFIRE DEAL. Rump Yugoslav state-run and pro-government media report that officials have welcomed the latest Bosnia ceasefire accord, signed on 5 October and slated to go into effect on 10 October. Politika Ekspres on 6 October lauded Serbian President Milosevic's "decisive" role in the process, observing that "Milosevic was the first one to put his signature on this historic agreement." Tanjug the following day quoted Socialist Party of Serbia spokesman Ivica Dacic as saying the accord was regarded by his party as a step toward lasting peace in Bosnia. Montenegrin Premier Milo Djukanovic, quoted by Serbian Radio on 6 October, added his voice to the list of officials backing the accord, saying it was "encouraging." -- Stan Markotich MONTENEGRIN PREMIER CRITICAL OF BELGRADE. Milo Djukanovic on 6 October criticized federal rump Yugoslav authorities for their alleged failure to honor commitments to deliver fuel supplies and for running up debts on the republic's pension fund, AFP reported that same day. The report suggests this is yet another move on the part of the Montenegrin premier to distance his republic from Serbia and that the premier may in effect be announcing his intention "to play a more active role in the foreign policy of the region." But Djukanovic's ambitions may be counterbalanced by Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic, who has given no sign of wanting or aiming to rupture ties with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. -- Stan Markotich MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT'S CONDITION SAID TO BE IMPROVING. Vecher on 9 October reported that Kiro Gligorov is conscious and received visits from his family and state officials over the weekend. Macedonian Radio had reported two days earlier that Gligorov's condition was improving, adding that his respiratory system is functioning normally and the condition of his right eye is "satisfactory." Medical sources said a team of French ophthalmologists arrived in Skopje on 8 October to examine him further and prepare for a second operation. Meanwhile, a second person--Hristo Hristomanov, a minister of agriculture in socialist Macedonia--died on 7 October from injuries sustained in the assassination attempt, Nova Makedonija reported on 9 October. No one has yet claimed responsibility for 3 October car bomb. Experts from the U.S., Great Britain, and Germany have arrived in Macedonia to help with the investigation. -- Stefan Krause ROMANIAN, HUNGARIAN PREMIERS MEET IN WARSAW. Nicolae Vacaroiu and Gyula Horn, meeting on the weekend in Warsaw, where both attended a meeting of the Central European Initiative, agreed to set up a joint commission to examine educational reform, which has been the subject of an ongoing dispute between Bucharest and Budapest. Radio Bucharest said the joint commission will review the question of minority-language education in the two countries and reveal its conclusions at Romanian-Hungarian summit meetings. In a related development, Evenimentul zilei on 7 October quoted Defense Minister Gheorghe Tinca as saying Hungary and Romania will join NATO at the same time, because the "security interests of the region" require such joint action. Tinca made the declaration upon returning from Budapest. -- Michael Shafir ROMANIAN PRESIDENT LEADS OPINION POLL. A public opinion poll conducted for the Soros Foundation by the Institute for Research on the Quality of Life shows President Ion Iliescu and the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), with which he is closely associated, are well ahead of their political rivals. Iliescu was backed by 38% of the respondents, followed by Emil Constantinescu of the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR), with only 16%. The PDSR was supported by 34% of the respondents and the CDR by 21%. The poll was conducted from 15-22 September among a representative sample of 1,175 and the results published in Adevarul on 7 October. Presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled for autumn 1996. -- Michael Shafir IS DISPUTE BETWEEN ILIESCU, EXTREMISTS SUBSIDING? Evenimentul zilei on 7 October reported that the two sides involved in the conflict over remarks attributed to President Ion Iliescu about extreme nationalist leaders Corneliu Vadim Tudor and Gheorghe Funar (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5 and 6 October 1995) are seeking to play down the issue. Tudor, who is leader of the Greater Romania Party (PRM), said at a press conference on 6 October that despite some criticism, his party considered Iliescu's visit to the U.S a success. But he accused several of Iliescu's close associates of misleading the president. Funar, leader of the Party of Romanian National Unity, said he was still expecting a clarification of the president's remark that he and Tudor acted in "Zhirinovsky-like manner." Meanwhile, Oliviu Gherman, the chairman of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), denied that his party's reaction to Tudor's attacks on Iliescu was "an ultimatum." In a related development, the Democratic Convention of Romania said it was willing to collaborate with the PDSR if it renounced its alliance with the extremists. -- Michael Shafir BULGARIA RESTARTS NUCLEAR PLANT, DESPITE INTERNATIONAL PROTESTS. Bulgaria on 6 October reconnected Reactor No. 1 of the Kozloduy nuclear power plant to the country's electricity network, AFP reported the following day. The EU environment ministers criticized the decision, saying they will express formal disapproval at the Pan-European conference of environment ministers in Sofia later this month. An EU official was quoted by Reuters as saying that the decision to reconnect the reactor "will pose big problems for the Sofia meeting." Standart on 9 October reported that the German and French environment ministers, Angela Merkel and Corinne Lepage, have threatened to boycott the meeting. -- Stefan Krause STATE DEPARTMENT PROTESTS ALBANIAN JUDGE'S DISMISSAL. The U.S. State Department has sent a fax to Albanian President Sali Berisha protesting dismissal of Supreme Court Judge Zef Brozi, DITA reported on 8 October. This is the second time within one week that the State Department has denounced the Albanian parliament's decision to remove Brozi. The fax reportedly states that the parliament's decision is illegal and "evidence" offered by the Albanian government to justify the move is unconvincing. -- Fabian Schmidt NEW ALBANIAN MONARCHIST PARTY FOUNDED. A breakaway faction of the monarchist Legality Movement on 6 October--the 100th anniversary of King Ahmet Zogu's birthday founded a new party--the National Party of Legality, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 7 October. Abdi Baleta, one of the former leaders and founders of the Democratic Party of the Right (PDD), participated in the founding meeting. Baleta lost his post in the PDD during a political struggle with his former party co-founder Petrit Kalakulla at the party's congress in May. -- Fabian Schmidt [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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