|The only certainty is that nothing is certain. - Pliny the Elder|
No. 203, Part II, 18 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 PRESIDENT ACCEPTS PROSECUTOR-GENERAL'S RESIGNATION. President Leonid Kuchma has accepted the resignation of Prosecutor-General Vladyslav Datsiuk, Ukrainian TV reported on 17 October. Datsiuk submitted his letter of resignation on 10 October, claiming persistent interference by the parliament had made it impossible for him to remain in this post. He was also the subject of a prolonged political battle between lawmakers and the president, with deputies twice voting to dismiss him. Kuchma supported his efforts in battling corruption, including several high-profile inquiries into top legislators, who claimed his actions were politically motivated. Kuchma is expected to nominate Hryhoryi Vorsinov, the chief prosecutor in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, to replace Datsiuk. -- Chrystyna Lapychak UKRAINE'S MEMBERSHIP IN COUNCIL OF EUROPE IMMINENT? President Leonid Kuchma met with a delegation from the Council of Europe in Kiev on 17 October, Ukrainian Radio reported. Kuchma assured the delegation that Ukraine will carry out all obligations demanded of council members. The same day, it was announced that the death penalty has been suspended to fulfill membership requirements, making Ukraine the first former Soviet republic to take this step. Deputy Prime Minister Vasyl Durdinets said the relevant clause will be removed from the criminal code within two to three years. An RFE/RL correspondent reported on 18 October that officials from the Council of Europe anticipate that Ukraine will be formally accepted as a member that day. -- Ustina Markus UKRAINIAN-POLISH STATEMENT ON BORDERS. The Ukrainian and Polish embassies in the U.S., responding to a statement by Senator Kay Hutchinson, issued a joint statement denying there were any border problems between the two countries, Ukrainian Radio reported on 17 October. Hutchinson had told the U.S. Senate a week earlier that the Polish-Ukrainian border is a potential hot spot and that border disputes between Poland and Ukraine continued. Poland and Ukraine categorically denied there are any border disputes whatsoever. -- Ustina Markus UKRAINE NOT TO MEET CFE DEADLINE. Ukraine cannot meet the 16 November deadline to destroy its excess conventional weapons, according to a Foreign Ministry official in charge of disarmament, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 October. Vladimir Balashov said that the treaty covers naval infantry and coastal troops equipment and that Ukraine does know what its share of this equipment is because it has not yet agreed with Russia on the division of the fleet. A Ukrainian Defense Ministry official last month said Ukraine will have no trouble meeting the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty deadline. Balashov also said Ukraine was ready to agree to the "temporary basing of the Russian Fleet on its territory until the Russian Federation creates its own base." -- Doug Clarke VAHI RENOMINATED FOR ESTONIAN PRIME MINISTER. President Lennart Meri on 17 October nominated Tiit Vahi as his candidate for prime minister, BNS reported. Vahi resigned on 11 October after the dismissal of Center Party Chairman Edgar Savisaar as interior minister. Vahi has two weeks to form a government, which must then be approved by the 101-seat parliament. He leads the Coalition Party and Rural Union alliance of 41 deputies and is expected to seek a coalition with the Reform Party, which has 19 deputies, and perhaps the Rightists (five). He has no plans to continue the coalition with the Center Party, which had five ministers in the previous government. Meri is unlikely to play a role in the formation of the new cabinet because he leaves on 18 October for a two-week trip to the U.S. and Mexico. -- Saulius Girnius LATVIA, CHINA PLAN TO INCREASE TRADE. The head of the Europe section of the Chinese Ministry of Economic Cooperation and the director of the Latvian Foreign Ministry Multilateral Relations Department, signed in Riga on 17 October a protocol to increase the volume of trade, BNS reported. The document also provides for transit through Latvian ports, developing tourism, and improving business relations between entrepreneurs in the two countries. Volume of trade between the two countries was more than $27 million in 1994 but fell to only $6 million in the first half of 1995. -- Saulius Girnius MASS PRIVATIZATION TO START EARLY IN POLAND. The Polish government on 17 October announced that the mass privatization program will begin on 22 November, one week earlier than planned. Minister for Ownership Transformation Wieslaw Kaczmarek said that certificates for participating in the program will cost 20 zloty ($8.2). A document outlining the course of privatization in 1996 was approved by the government. It provides for the privatization of, among others, large chemical enterprises, Polish Copper, Polish Airlines LOT, and Polish Baltic Shipping Lines, Polish dailies reported on 18 October. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH HARD CURRENCY RESERVES AT RECORD HIGH. Czech hard currency reserves stood at close to $15 billion early this month, Mlada fronta dnes reported on 18 October. The paper quoted Czech National Bank (CNB) spokesman Martin Svehla as saying the CNB held $11.8 billion of the total sum. He added that in the first half of this year, 30% of the bank's reserves were accounted for by short-term or speculative capital. A further overwhelming influx of such funds has been braked by measures introduced by the Bank since then, he noted (see OMRI Daily Digest, 23 June 1995). The bulk of the $500,000 increase in the reserves from September to October resulted from a Dutch-Swiss consortium's partial payment of a $1.32 billion stake in the communications company SPT Telecom. -- Steve Kettle 24 KILOS OF SEMTEX STOLEN FROM CZECH DEPOT. Police in Brno said on 17 October that they are seeking two men who stole 24 kilos of red Semtex a week ago from a storage depot run by the explosives manufacturer Synthesia Semtin, Czech media reported. The thieves broke into the depot and escaped without an alarm being raised, despite the fact that it is guarded by soldiers. Meanwhile, the Justice Ministry in Prague was evacuated on 17 October after an anonymous bomb threat. The same happened a day earlier at one of Prague's biggest hospitals, while an amateur letter bomb, which proved to be harmless, was sent to Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus last week. -- Steve Kettle OFFICIAL INVESTIGATING ABDUCTION OF SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S SON IS DISMISSED. Bratislava regional prosecutor Robert Vlachovsky, who is overseeing the investigation into the abduction of Michal Kovac Jr., has dismissed Maj. Peter Vacok, who was working on the case, TASR reported on 18 October. Vacok is the second investigator to be fired from the case. His predecessor, Maj. Jaroslav Simunic, was removed in September and later resigned from the police force. In late September, Slovak Information Service director Ivan Lexa, a close political ally of Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, filed criminal charges against Simunic, Vacok, and Vladimir Lamacka, who was removed as director of the police investigation department on 9 October. Lexa accused the police of "using criminal methods" in their investigation and of applying "psychological pressure" against SIS agents. Police investigators have found evidence that the SIS was involved in the abduction, but political involvement in the case could delay its resolution. -- Sharon Fisher BRITAIN WARNS SLOVAKIA ABOUT DEMOCRACY. British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind on 17 October issued a warning to Slovak Foreign Minister Juraj Schenk, who is in Britain for a three-day official visit. Expressing concern about political developments in Slovakia, Rifkind said the country will win entry to the European Union only if it meets basic democratic standards, Reuters reported. A British official said Britain is helping Slovakia prepare for EU entry, but he stressed that "a great deal" of work remains to be done. "The EU partners, including the UK, have been very concerned about the trend of recent political development in Slovakia," he said. Schenk told reporters that Slovakia would like to join NATO "as soon as possible" and that the legal and economic conditions for EU entry should be fulfilled by 2000. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK CABINET UNEASY ABOUT "DISINFORMATION CAMPAIGN." The government on 17 October expressed "serious concern" about the "massive disinformation campaign" aimed at Slovakia's "international isolation," Slovenska Republika reported. Agriculture Minister Peter Baco called attention to a recent article in The Economist on the abduction of President Michal Kovac's son. Baco accused the opposition of contributing to "the liquidation of our state on international soil." Kovac's recent visit to Germany was also criticized, since he traveled there "without the knowledge" of the foreign minister and at the invitation of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, which "cooperates with the opposition Christian Democratic Movement." The cabinet delayed discussion of the controversial state language law until next week. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN PREMIER ON VISIT TO CROATIA, SERBIA. Gyula Horn told the parliament on 16 October that the purpose of his visit to Zagreb and Belgrade is to help start economic reconstruction efforts there, Hungarian media reported. He noted that this is of primary importance for Hungary because its economy has suffered significant losses since the outbreak of war in the region. He also commented that as acting head of the OSCE, Hungary will do everything in its power to secure the earliest possible resolution to the Yugoslav crisis. Horn the next day met with leaders of four parties representing Croatian and Vojvodina Hungarians to discuss how his visit can help the situation of ethnic Hungarians in the region, according to Hungarian media on 18 October. Vojvodina Hungarians said they asked the premier to pressure Belgrade to move most Serb refugees out of the Vojvodina region to other parts of Serbia. Representatives of Hungarians in Croatia told reporters they want to take part in any negotiations on the future of eastern Slavonia. Hungary and Croatia have signed a basic treaty and an accord on the mutual protection of minorities, but Budapest's links with Belgrade are rather tense at present. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN SERBS REOPEN CONCENTRATION CAMP--FOR THEIR OWN PEOPLE. The Guardian on 17 October reported that the notorious Omarska prison camp complex is full again, this time with Serbian refugees. As when Muslim and Croat inmates were held in 1992, there is little food or shelter, the guards are abusive, and men are beaten and taken away--this time to be press-ganged. Refugees said they were robbed by paramilitaries commanded by the internationally wanted war criminal Zeljko Raznatovic "Arkan." The British daily echoed the refugees' sentiments in noting that "the Arkanovci have proved themselves to be far more efficient looters than fighters." -- Patrick Moore GANIC SAYS SERBS WILL RECEIVE LESS TERRITORY. Slobodna Dalmacija on 18 October reported that Prijedor is half empty as its Serbian inhabitants flee before advancing allied forces. It added that Croatian soldiers in Mrkonjic Grad have discovered the corpses of six Muslims whom Serbian soldiers used as human shields. Nasa Borba quoted Bosnian Vice President Ejup Ganic as saying that the Serbs will no longer be able to claim 49% of the republic's territory in view of their recent losses on the battlefield. Reuters on 17 October noted that the U.S. has selected the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base outside Dayton, Ohio, as the site for the planned peace talks involving the presidents of Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia. American officials claimed it was difficult to find equal accommodations elsewhere for three heads of state. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN SERB "PATRIOTIC FRONT" DEMANDS PURGE. Bosnian Serb opposition parties have joined to form the Patriotic Front, Nasa Borba reported on 18 October. Calling the recent sacking of four generals and the prime minister "cosmetic," they demanded that "the main guilty parties" be fired and that there be "radical changes" in the leadership. In a letter to civilian leader Radovan Karadzic, they did not specify exactly whom they meant. Reuters said the Bosnian Serb military leadership has rejected the firing of the four generals and blamed the civilian authorities for the recent monumental losses. A statement issued in Belgrade pointed to "the failures of state policy and especially [the civilians'] incapability to assert the results of our struggle at the international level, [including] determining the borders of the Republika Srpska." SRNA noted that Bosnian Serbs have appealed to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to "protect the Republika Srpska and its people." -- Patrick Moore INTERNATIONAL NEGOTIATORS IN BELGRADE. International media on 18 October report that U.S. representative Richard Holbrooke, EU envoy Carl Bildt, and Russian negotiator Igor Ivanov are in Belgrade. According to Reuters, the purpose of their visit is "to brief Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic on the accelerating Bosnia peace process." -- Stan Markotich TUDJMAN REELECTED PARTY LEADER. Hina on 15 October said Croatian President Franjo Tudjman was reelected president of the governing Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) at the party's third congress. He ran unopposed and took 1,199 out of 1,247 votes. Mate Granic, Gojko Susak, Jadranka Kosor, Ivic Pasalic, and Franjo Greguric were elected vice presidents. Tudjman stressed that the party must shun extremes, but the common denominator among his deputies appears to be personal loyalty rather than any ideological position. The Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) also held its convention, which was addressed by leaders of some other opposition parties, including the Liberals and the Independent Democrats. They stressed that Croatia must not become a one-party state. The HSS is challenging the HDZ for the 12 seats reserved for Croats living abroad. -- Patrick Moore MONTENEGRIN-ALBANIAN FLOUR SMUGGLING. Shkoder police and customs officials on 16 October confiscated 200 tons of flour from Montenegro bound for Albania, Gazeta Shqiptare reported. The smugglers were arrested in a village near the checkpoint between Shkoder and Ulcinj. The Albanian daily said smuggling flour from the rump Yugoslavia has begun because of the low price of flour in Vojvodina and on the Kosovo plains. Elsewhere, Montena-fax on 16 October ran a report alleging that Montenegrin authorities initially failed to disclose information on, and later tried to play down, the sinking of a tanker carrying 30 tons of bitumen in the Bay of Hoti in Lake Shkoder on 24 September. -- Fabian Schmidt STUDENTS PROTEST IN BUCHAREST. Thousands of students on 17 October marched in downtown Bucharest to protest plans to implement new university fees, Radio Bucharest reported the same day. The rally followed strikes over the past few days at universities in the provinces protesting the new charges, which range from $100 to $2,300, depending on which courses are taken. The students are also calling for amendments to a controversial education law recently adopted by the parliament and demanding that the internal affairs minister be summoned to the parliament to account for the actions of policemen at previous student demonstrations. Several opposition parties, including the Liberal Party '93, have expressed support for the students. -- Dan Ionescu ROMANIA MARE ATTACKS SECRET SERVICE CHIEF. In its latest issue, the weekly of the chauvinistic Greater Romania Party (PRM) has published a letter, allegedly written by a group of senior SRI officers, accusing Virgil Magureanu, head of the Romanian Intelligence service (SRI), of "gross interference in politics" and of appointing his close associates to top positions within the service, Mediafax reported on 17 October. The accusations were made in the form of 15 questions to Magureanu. The anonymous authors of the letter threatened to published "irrefutable proof" supporting their charges should the SRI chose to ignore the criticism and leave the questions unanswered. Romania Mare in June published a similar letter from 300 army officers accusing President Ion Iliescu of having "liquidated" the Romanian army under pressure from NATO. -- Dan Ionescu MOLDOVAN GOVERNMENT BACKS INITIATIVE FOR POLITICAL FORUM. The Moldovan government on 17 October said it supported an initiative by the Social Progress Party (PPS) to hold a round-table conference of all political forces in the country, Infotag reported. The president, prime minister, and parliamentary chairman are also invited to attend the conference, whose aim is to overcome Moldova's current political crisis. The PPS was founded this summer by a splinter group from the ruling Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova. It is considered the brainchild of parliamentary chairman Petru Lucinschi, a former Central Committee secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIA TO PROMOTE SILKWORM INDUSTRY. Reuters on 17 October reported that Bulgarian officials plan to deal in part with the problems of unemployment and economic demands imposed by the "needy and landless" by encouraging such people to take part in the revival of the country's ancient silkworm industry. The idea is to revive a tradition that can be "a major means of earning a livelihood in various regions," Social Minister Mincho Koralski said. Meanwhile, Bulgarian media on 17 October reported that the first six-kilometer-long section of Sofia's underground rail system made a trial run on 17 October. This part of the system is slated to begin operating in early 1996. -- Stan Markotich [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. 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