|A disagreement may be the shortest cut between two minds. - Kahlil Gibran|
No. 201, Part II, 16 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 UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT ORDERS GOVERNMENT TO RAISE POVERTY LINE. Ukrainian lawmakers have ordered the government to find some 230 trillion karbovantsi ($1.3 billion) to raise the country's poverty line, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 14 October. Deputies on 12 October voted to increase the minimum poverty level to 4.8 million karbovansti ($27) a month after monthly inflation rose to 14.2% in September. The government issued a statement claiming the move "will provoke a disastrous economic aftermath" and said there is no money in the current budget to fund it. President Leonid Kuchma said the decision was a politically motivated effort by opposition deputies to discredit the executive branch and economic reforms. -- Chrystyna Lapychak UKRAINE ON RUSSIAN RELATIONS. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko, following a meeting with his Russian counterpart, Andrei Kozyrev, in Moscow on 13 October, said 36 issues, including the Balkan crisis, had been discussed in a friendly atmosphere, Interfax reported the following day. Udovenko said the cost of peacekeeping operations made Ukraine's continued participation questionable, but he added that Ukraine wanted to continue to take part. With regard to the Black Sea Fleet, Udovenko said he wished to hold talks with Kozyrev on proposed draft agreements on Russian deployment and funding before the prime ministers of the two countries meet to discuss the issue. As for NATO expansion, Udovenko said both sides expressed concern over the issue. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma the previous day criticized the idea of a referendum on the unification of CIS Slavic states, saying it was unreasonable to create a military bloc of CIS countries. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT OPPOSES CONSTITUTIONAL COURT DECISION. Interfax on 12 October reported that Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka still refuses to recognize the legitimacy of the old parliament. The Constitutional Court the previous day ruled that, in the absence of a newly elected parliament, the old legislature remains legitimate. Lukashenka maintained that the real reason for his problems with the parliament was his decree stripping deputies of many privileges. If he allowed them to have their "undeserved privileges," there would be fewer conflicts between legislature and president, he maintained. -- Ustina Markus ESTONIAN REFORM PARTY REELECTS KALLAS. A general meeting of the Estonian Reform Party on 14 October unanimously re-elected Siim Kallas as party chairman, BNS reported. Kallas said his party was opposed to extraordinary elections if a new government cannot be formed following Tiit Vahi's resignation last week, even though the Reform Party would probably be more successful in them. He suggested the party define the principles to which it would adhere if it entered a ruling coalition, and he proposed these include adoption of a new law on pensions, paying more attention to education and the family, and better social protection for the population. The farming sector should be supported through investment, and not through subsidies and price regulation, he added. -- Saulius Girnius LATVIA FORMALLY APPLIES FOR EU MEMBERSHIP. Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis and Prime Minister Maris Gailis on 13 October, having gained the unanimous approval of the cabinet, signed a formal application document to join the European Union, Reuters reported. The next day, the chairmen of all parliamentary parties met with Ulmanis and signed a declaration asserting that admission into the EU was the most essential goal of Latvia's foreign policy. Even Socialist Party Chairman Filip Stoganov, whose party was considered to be opposed to EU membership, now supports it. -- Saulius Girnius LATVIAN PRESIDENT NOT TO NOMINATE PREMIER CANDIDATE BEFORE 7 NOVEMBER. Guntis Ulmanis said in a radio interview on 13 October that he would not nominate a candidate for prime minister before the first session of the sixth Saeima on 7 November, BNS reported. Democratic Party Saimnieks Chairman Ziedonis Cevers, however, hinted that he had found a party that was willing to join the coalition of the DPS, Latvian Unity Party, National Harmony Party, and Popular Movement for Latvia and that supported his candidacy for prime minister. BNS suggested the party was the Christian Democratic Union (KDS), which won four seats in an election coalition with the Farmers' Union. KDS secretary-general Maris Vitols, however, said the party would not break its links with the right-of-center National Bloc. -- Saulius Girnius NEW TAX THRESHOLDS IN POLAND. The Sejm on 13 October approved new tax scales which, according to Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy, mean lower tax rates for low income earners. The opposition criticized the new taxation system, arguing that "85% of tax payers will pay slightly lower taxes and 15% will pay considerably higher taxes." The Sejm accepted the Freedom Union's proposal to reduce taxes for citizens who do not use the state medical care system. It also agreed to lower rates for taxpayers who have children and/or mortgages. President Lech Walesa said he did not know whether he would sign the bill, Polish dailies reported on 14 October. Meanwhile, a recent public opinion poll shows that support for Walesa has grown over the past month. Democratic Left Alliance leader Aleksander Kwasniewski led the poll with 27%, followed by Walesa with 17% and Central Bank President Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz (12%). -- Dagmar Mroziewicz and Jakub Karpinski SECURITY TIGHTENED AFTER LETTER BOMB SENT TO CZECH PREMIER. Security around Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus was especially tight on 15 October when he appeared at television studios in Ostrava for a live debate, Czech Television reported. Government officials on 13 October revealed that an anonymous letter containing explosive powder and addressed to Klaus had arrived at the government office two days earlier. It was detected by X-ray screening and made safe, but the officials said the explosive was not primed. They added that it was the first such device to be sent to Klaus and that the writer made threats and demands for money, which they did not specify. Lidove noviny on 16 October quoted the head of Klaus's bodyguards as saying that extra security measures were in force according to directions laid down by Interior Minister Jan Ruml. -- Steve Kettle CONFUSION WITHIN SLOVAK LEFTIST PARTY. Three representatives of the post-communist Party of the Democratic Left (SDL) held simultaneous meetings in Bratislava on 13 October, offering three standpoints, Pravda reported. Chairman Peter Weiss threatened that the coalition could be leading Slovakia toward an authoritarian regime, while SDL deputy Robert Fico said he was glad that his party had disappointed the opposition Christian Democratic Movement by not participating in the joint meeting on 10 October (see OMRI Daily Digest, 12 October 1995). Deputy Lubomir Fogas launched an attack on the opposition Democratic Union. The SDL Republican Council met on 14 October to discuss the party's dwindling popularity in opinion polls. The council issued a statement saying the SDL "does not want to and cannot be in a homogenous opposition camp." But it was highly critical of the cabinet and expressed dissatisfaction with the "current political, economic, and social state of society," Sme reported. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK FOREIGN RELATIONS. Slovak President Michal Kovac concluded his visit to Germany on 13 October, meeting with his German counterpart, Roman Herzog. Bilateral relations, European security issues, and European integration topped the agenda. Herzog praised Kovac's contribution to building democratic institutions in Slovakia and expressed satisfaction with the favorable development of bilateral economic relations, TASR reported. Germany is Slovakia's biggest foreign investor and Slovakia's second biggest trade partner. In other news, U.S. President Bill Clinton on 13 October announced his intention to nominate Ralph Johnson, a career diplomat, as U.S. ambassador to Slovakia. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN PREMIER, FINANCE MINISTER ON IMF. Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn on 14 October said that he agreed with the IMF's terms of a credit agreement but that his government will have to show greater sensitivity toward social considerations in order not to endanger political stability, Reuters reported the same day. Horn was responding to Finance Minister Lajos Bokros's statement that he had reached a verbal agreement with the IMF. Bokros returned earlier that day from the annual meeting of the IMF and World Bank with a letter listing the conditions Hungary has to satisfy in order to clinch an 18-month standby credit agreement early next year. Bokros said none of those points was in conflict with government policy. -- Zsofia Szilagyi PFP EXERCISES BEGIN IN HUNGARY. NATO and Partnership for Peace countries on 14 October began six-day exercises in Hungary that were jointly planned by Germany, Britain, and Hungary, international media reported the same day. The exercises, involving 350 foreign and 200 Hungarian officers, are to focus on increasing cooperation between decision-makers and staff to solve tasks that may arise during peacekeeping missions. Nine countries have sent observers to the exercise, codenamed "Cooperative Light '95." But one notable absentee is Russia. "They were invited but are not attending. They did not say why," a NATO spokesman said. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE KARADZIC DEMANDS SCAPEGOATS . . . The Bosnian Serb parliament met in Banja Luka on 15 October following a gathering of the ruling Serbian Democratic Party. Civilian leader Radovan Karadzic continued his apparent power-play with military commander General Ratko Mladic, demanding that the army leadership "bear the consequences . . . for a considerable loss of territory and military defeats. Army commanders must look each other in the eyes and see which of them was taking brigades out [of battle] without an order or approval. Those unable to respond to enemy attacks must be either replaced or they must change their attitude." The International Herald Tribune and Nasa Borba ran the story on 16 October. -- Patrick Moore . . . BUT ONLY A MINOR LEADER GOES. Independent legislator Milorad Dodig and seven colleagues have demanded a purge of both the civilian and military leaderships, AFP noted. Other deputies have urged the sacking of General Milan Gvero and three other commanders. Mladic, who can usually count on the backing of his generals and of Belgrade, simply called for a "decisive battle," the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung added. But in the end, the legislature left both internationally wanted war criminals, Karadzic and Mladic, in power. The only "resignation" was that of Prime Minister Dusan Kozic, a relatively minor figure. Meanwhile, as Serbian refugees continue to flee in northwest Bosnia, the legislature took steps to shore up the Serbian position there. Although it rejected a motion to move the capital from Pale to Banja Luka, it did agree to place the supreme military command there and to call for a reorganization of regional defenses. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN BATTLEFIELD UPDATE. International media on 16 October reported that the military situation is stabilizing. Serbian military sources the previous day said the Banja Luka front is firming up 50 km west and 35 km south of the town. The Serbs charged on 13 October that allied forces shelled Prijedor, where Karadzic was visiting. He called on the U.S. to use its influence with the allies to make them stop. A UN spokesman said that 40,000 Serbs fled Prijedor on one day alone, Reuters noted. Croatian Radio on 15 October quoted Bosnian Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey as urging Serbian civilians not to abandon their homes. Elsewhere, AFP quoted Bosnian General Atif Dudakovic as saying that peace will be made only on the battlefield, and that "the Serbs must be stopped with the only language they know." -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN SERBS REOPEN CONCENTRATION CAMPS. Bosnian Croats and Muslims expelled from the Banja Luka area claim that the Bosnian Serbs have reopened two concentration camps near the northwestern city, AFP reported on 16 October. The Manjaca camp held between 4,500 and 6,000 people, mostly Muslims, at the beginning of war in 1992; it was later shut down under international pressure. Meanwhile, Moslem authorities in Sanski Most, recently recaptured from the Serbs, have found the corpses of 85 people killed during the Serbs' retreat. They fear that 160 may still be found. Some 1,000 Moslem men are missing in Sanski Most, and the authorities suspect they are being held by Serbs at the Manjaca camp. -- Daria Sito Sucic SHALIKASHVILI'S BALKAN TOUR. U.S. army General Chief of Staff John Shalikashvili began a tour of Albania, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Croatia on 12 October, international media reported. He attended the closing ceremony of a joint U.S.-Albanian military exercise and promised U.S. assistance in building a military training center in Albania, which has provided NATO with port and air facilities. Shalikashvili met with parliamentary chairman and acting President Stojan Andov in Skopje on 13 October, saying he supports Macedonia's ambitions to join the Partnership for Peace program. Shalikashvili the next day met with government and military leaders in Sarajevo to review NATO plans to send 60,000 troops, including 25,000 Americans, to supervise the implementation of a Bosnian peace settlement. -- Fabian Schmidt ROMANIAN PRESIDENT ON YUGOSLAV-RELATED LOSSES. Ion Iliescu, speaking to journalists on 15 October in La Valletta, said the UN economic embargo against the rump Yugoslavia has cost his country some $8 billion. He also said that international loans granted Romania are no compensation for those losses. Iliescu arrived in Malta on 14 October to attend a Crans Montana conference of countries from Europe and the Mediterranean on possible ways to ease the sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro, Radio Bucharest reported. The next day, he began a two-day official visit to Tunisia at the invitation of his Tunisian counterpart, Zine al- Abidine ben Ali. -- Dan Ionescu ROMANIAN COURT ON THRONE SUCCESSION. A court in Alexandria on 13 October issued a statement supporting the claims of self-styled Prince Paul of Romania to the succession of the Romanian throne, Radio Bucharest reported. The statement proclaimed the validity on Romanian territory of a decision taken by a Lisbon court in 1955 in favor of Paul's father, Carol Mircea, the son of late Romanian King Carol II from a morganatic marriage. Romanian independent media consider the court's decision a direct attack against Romania's last king, Mihai I, who was forced into exile by the communists in December 1947 and now lives in Swiss exile. The 13 October decision coincided with a visit to Romania by Mihai's wife, Ana de Bourbon-Parma. -- Dan Ionescu ROMANIA, EU DISCUSS INTEGRATION. Romanian and European Union officials met in Bucharest on 12-13 October to discuss Romania's integration into European structures, Romanian and international media reported. The participants analyzed Romania's strategy for EU integration as well as the implementation of the European Integration Agreement. Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu said economic and legislative reforms were the main condition for EU integration. It is hoped that in the future, Romania and other associate members will participate in EU programs as full members. Meanwhile, the 94th Conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union ended in Bucharest on 13 October, Radio Bucharest reported. The conference adopted resolutions on the global political and economic situation, on the role of parliaments in fighting corruption, and on banning nuclear tests. -- Matyas Szabo MOLDOVAN TRADE UNIONS STAGE PROTESTS. Several trade unions held protests throughout Moldova to demand an improvement in living standards and crime-fighting measures, BASA-press reported on 14 October. About 3,000 people attended the protest meeting in Chisinau, where speakers said that the government owed 194.4 million lei ($43 million) to employees in unpaid wages and that every sixth employee at state enterprises was on forced leave. Crime in Moldova went up 19% in the first half of 1995, with every fourth offense committed by a jobless person. -- Matyas Szabo ALBANIAN PRESIDENT VISITS ITALY. Sali Berisha and Albanian Defense Minister Safet Zhulali, during a three-day visit to Italy that began on 13 October, signed a friendship treaty as well as military and economic agreements with Italian Defense Minister Domenico Corcione and Finance Minister Augusto Fantozzi, Reuters reported the same day. Berisha promised to stop illegal immigration from Albania to Puglia. Italian officials said the first steps toward an agreement on the issue of visas for Albanians performing seasonal work were taken in an exchange of letters. Some 100,000 Albanians are estimated to have migrated to Italy since 1991, of whom 35,000 have done so legally. Berisha also met with President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, Prime Minister Lamberto Dini, and the pope, Gazeta Shqiptare reported the next day. -- Fabian Schmidt GREECE LIFTS BLOCKADE ON MACEDONIA. Greece on 14 October officially opened its border with Macedonia, international agencies reported. While Greek sources say the border was indeed opened that day, Macedonian reports say that only a Macedonian TV crew was allowed to cross following the intervention of Greek colleagues. The next day, individuals on foot and passenger cars were reported crossing the border, but no trucks. Macedonian tourists will be given a Greek visa stamped on white sheets of paper. Greece imposed the embargo in February 1994 in order to force Macedonia to change its name, flag, and constitution. Under an accord signed on 13 September 1995, Greece agreed to lift the embargo within 30 days. -- Stefan Krause [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. 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