|We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us. - George Eliot|
No. 213, Part II, 1 November 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, 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 ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^TODAY'S TOP STORY^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ TRANSYLVANIAN BISHOP MAKES "ALTERNATIVE RECONCILIATION" PROPOSAL. Reformed Church Bishop Laszlo Tokes, honorary chairman of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania, has revealed the contents of an open letter addressed to the presidents of Hungary and Romania calling for an "alternative reconciliation proposal" between the two countries. Romanian TV on 31 October reported that Tokes proposed following the model of southern Tyrol, where the German-speaking minority was granted autonomy, rather than the French-German reconciliation model, as suggested by President Ion Iliescu. He also criticized the Hungarian government for neglecting the problems of the Hungarian minority in Romania. * Michael Shafir ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^HEADLINES^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Final Results of Croatian Elections Romanian Opposition Leader in Critical Condition ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE EU "CEREMONIAL" MEETING WITH EAST EUROPEAN FOREIGN MINISTERS. East European foreign ministers of the countries with EU association accords were supposed to meet with their counterparts in Luxembourg on 31 October, but EU foreign ministers were represented instead by deputy ministers or ambassadors, according to an RFE/RL correspondent. EU Commissioner for External Affairs Hans van den Broeck told the gathering that the region will receive 11 billion ECUs ($14.3 billion) by 2000 to assist democratic and economic transition. Asked why he was not attending the meeting, British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind told AFP on 30 October, "There is a limit to what can be achieved by ceremonial meetings." The meeting of the foreign ministers is part of a process of what the EU calls "structured dialogue" to help prepare associate members for admission to the EU. * Michael Mihalka UKRAINIAN LAWMAKERS VETO PRESIDENTIAL DECREE. The Ukrainian parliament has vetoed a presidential decree transferring most of the powers held by local councils to local administrations, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 31 October. Deputies have set up a commission aimed at resolving differences between President Leonid Kuchma and the legislature over the distribution of local government authority. Kuchma recently issued the decree in accordance with a June constitutional agreement between himself and a majority of legislators giving him greater executive powers, including the right to overrule local councils. * Chrystyna Lapychak UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT VOTES TO JOIN COUNCIL OF EUROPE. Reuters on 31 October reported that the Ukrainian parliament has voted to join the Council of Europe. Some deputies, however, have expressed reservation over one of the long-term requirements for membership in the organization-the abolition of the death penalty. Parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Moroz has argued that nine out of 10 Ukrainians favor keeping capital punishment. Meanwhile, Ukrainian Radio the same day reported that Kiev is trying to convince the EU to lift its export quota on textiles from Ukraine. Officials at the Ministry of External Economic Relations told the head of Britain's trade department, Sir Derek Hornby, that Ukraine has lost $1 billion because of the restrictions. * Ustina Markus HEARINGS BEGIN OVER FATE OF SEPARATIST GROUPS IN SEVASTOPOL. A district court in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol has begun hearings on the future of two pro-Moscow separatist groups, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 30 October. The court is considering charges by Crimean and Sevastopol prosecutors that the Russian Community of Sevastopol and the Crimean Movement of Voters for the Republic of Crimea are guilty of inciting inter-ethnic discord and publishing material calling for the "violation of Ukraine's territorial integrity." * Chrystyna Lapychak U.S. MILITARY DELEGATION IN BELARUS. An American delegation led by U.S. State Secretary's Special Adviser on CIS Affairs James Collins and US Defense Secretary's Adviser on International Security Ashton Carter met with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in Minsk on 31 October, Interfax reported. After the talks, it was announced that Russian strategic rocket troops are to be withdrawn from Belarus next year after the last strategic missiles are removed from the country. Collins praised Lukashenka for his readiness to increase cooperation with NATO within the context of the Partnership for Peace program and said the US would give $1 million to Belarus to reimburse it for its participation in the program. * Ustina Markus LITHUANIA RECALLS AMBASSADOR FROM LATVIA FOR CONSULTATIONS. Deputy Foreign Minister Albinas Januska on 31 October announced that Ambassador to Riga Rimantas Karazija was being recalled "for an indefinite period to clear up current relations between Latvia and Lithuania," BNS reported. This is the first time that Lithuania has recalled an ambassador since regaining independence. Januska said that Latvia's decision to sign an oil exploration agreement with foreign companies without considering numerous Lithuanian protests was contrary to the spirit of good neighborliness and Baltic solidarity. Lithuania had asked that no agreement be signed before the two countries settle the issue of their sea borders. * Saulius Girnius NO CONFIDENCE VOTE AGAINST LITHUANIAN GOVERNMENT SUBMITTED. Leaders of the Conservative faction on 31 October submitted a no confidence motion, signed by 52 deputies, against Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius, BSN reported. Party board chairman Gediminas Vagnorius said the purpose of the motion was to force changes in the economic and social policies of the government and halt corruption. The government has 14 days to respond to the motion; the Seimas will then vote in a secret ballot after discussion. It is unlikely that the motion will receive the 70 votes needed for passage, but the vote will show if the ruling Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party is truly unified. * Saulius Girnius UPDATE ON POLISH PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN. Former Supreme Auditing Commission President Lech Kaczynski, backed by the Center Alliance (PC), has become the second presidential candidate to withdraw from the race, after Marek Markiewicz (see OMRI Daily Digest, 30 October 1995). PC leaders said the party has switched its support to former Prime Minister Jan Olszewski, Polish TV reported on 31 October. Meanwhile, Polish TV on 31 October ended a series of live interviews with the presidential candidates. Candidates were also given three minutes of air time to present their programs. * Jakub Karpinski in Warsaw POLISH POLITICAL NEWS. Finance Minister Grzegorz Kolodko on 31 October submitted the draft 1996 budget to Sejm Deputy Speaker Aleksander Malachowski. Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy the same day accepted the resignation of Deputy Finance Minister Elzbieta Chojna-Duch, who, according to media reports, has not paid taxes for an apartment rented to Vietnamese tenants. She explained that she had acted in her sister- in-law's name, to whom the apartment belonged. Oleksy said that Chojna- Duch had resigned earlier but that he had delayed accepting her resignation until the draft budget was ready. * Jakub Karpinski in Warsaw CZECH CENTRAL BANK ACTS TO STOP RAIDS ON INVESTMENT FUNDS. The Czech National Bank on 31 October said it has banned a small bank from buying shares and from continuing with a huge advertising campaign designed to help it win control of some of the country's biggest investment funds. The aggressive television and press campaign conducted by Plzenska Banka had cost more than 1 billion koruny ($38.4 million) by 23 October, Hospodarske noviny reported. Though the largest banks (who control many of the big investment funds) have closed ranks to stop Plzenska Banka's lightning raids, the Finance Ministry refused to allow the huge Komercni Banka fund to protect itself by removing its shares from open trading. The CNB said it was not clear who was behind Plzenska Banka, while Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus termed the bank's campaign-based on the slogan "Small shareholders, cry"-as false, dirty and unethical. * Steve Kettle SLOVAKIA, RUSSIA AGREE TO COMPLETE MOCHOVCE. After a 31 October meeting in Moscow, Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar and his Russian counterpart, Viktor Chernomyrdin, signed six bilateral agreements, including one on the completion of the controversial Mochovce nuclear power station, Western and Russian agencies reported. Under the agreement, the Russian firm Atomenergoexport, with $150 million of Russian financing, will complete the first two of four planned VVER-440 reactors at Mochovoce. Meciar and Chernomyrdin also discussed a proposed pipeline for delivering Russian natural gas to Slovakia, for which a deal could be signed this November, and the possible creation of a free trade zone between the two countries. Slovakia and Russia continue to disagree over NATO expansion, however, as Meciar said Slovakia remains committed to joining NATO, which Russia opposes. Still, he added that Slovakia's concept of a safe Europe is based on the creation of a "continental security system including Russia." * Sharon Fisher and Scott Parrish EIGHT FIRED AFTER ACCIDENT AT SLOVAK STEELWORKS. VSZ on 31 October fired two managers and six technicians, blaming them for the recent carbon monoxide leak that killed 11 people, TASR and Reuters reported. The decision was made by the boards of the company's subsidiaries, VSZ Ocel and VSZ Keramika, which dismissed their production manager and technical director, respectively, and recommended the dismissal of six technicians. VSZ will provide a total of 1 million koruny ($33,000) for the families of victims. The Slovak Office of Work Safety announced on 31 October that in the first nine months of 1995, 80 fatalities occurred in workplace accidents, TASR reported. * Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN POLITICAL UPDATE. Prime Minister Gyula Horn on 31 October announced he expects to meet his Slovak counterpart, Vladimir Meciar, next week to discuss the Slovak language bill. He added that he will ask Meciar to submit a bill that does not violate the rights of ethnic Hungarians. With regard to relations with Romania, Horn said he had agreed with Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu to restart talks on the basic treaty. * Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE FINAL RESULTS OF CROATIAN ELECTIONS. Reuters on 31 October reported that the Croatian Electoral Commission had announced that with nearly all the ballots counted from the 29 October elections, the governing Croatian Democratic Union won with about 44.8% of the votes. It was followed by the five-party coalition led by the Peasant Party with 18.4% and the opposition Social Liberals with 11.6%. AFP on 31 October reported that observers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) were among those who pointed out polling irregularities. According to a statement issued by the observers, voters were "not always guaranteed" a secret ballot and "numerous bulletins were filled in publicly." The observers added, however, that "the atmosphere was positive in general." * Stan Markotich SERBIAN PRESIDENT VOICES "OPTIMISM" ON PEACE TALKS . . . Nasa Borba on 1 November reported that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic the previous day declared his "optimism" as he left for the U.S. to attend peace talks slated to open on 1 November in Ohio. Also attending the talks will be Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic. Representatives from the U.S., the EU, and Russia will mediate. "Our aim is peace," Milosevic said. AFP quoted the Serbian president as saying that "We are all hoping . . . that a fair and lasting peace will finally be established. . . . It will be lasting and fair in so far as the peace accord will protect in an equitable fashion the interests of the [Serbian, Croatian, and Moslem] peoples and all the citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina." The Serbian delegation also includes Bosnian Serbs-notably Momcilo Krajisnik, the speaker of the Bosnian Serb assembly-who continue to advocate the partitioning of Bosnia- Herzegovina. * Stan Markotich . . . WHILE CROATIAN PRESIDENT SAYS HE IS "HOPEFUL." As he left for the Ohio talks, Franjo Tudjman remarked he was "hopeful" a peace deal could be hammered out that would lead to a stable peace in the war-torn former Yugoslavia, AFP reported on 31 October. He further noted that "it is difficult to say that something is certain . . . after all the conferences we have had since 1990." It is expected that Tudjman will not stay for the duration of the talks, and that Foreign Minister Mate Granic will take over as chief Croatian negotiator. * Stan Markotich EXPULSION OF MUSLIMS CONTINUE IN NORTHWESTERN BOSNIA. According to the UNHCR, Bosnian Serbs are continuing to expel Muslims from the Banja Luka region. A UN spokesman quoted local police as saying the Muslims had "no right" to demand protection. Meanwhile Bosnian Prime Minister Muhamed Sacirbey demanded that the UN Security Council launch an investigation into the fall of Srebrenica in July. He added that the peace talks will not succeed unless the council insists on investigating "ethnic cleansing" around Banja Luka, Reuters reported on 31 October. Sacirbey also accused Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic of ultimate responsibility for the slaughter of thousands of people after the fall of Srebrenica. He commented that he should not be a party in the Ohio peace talks. * Fabian Schmidt SLAVONIAN SERBS REJECT US-UN PROPOSED DRAFT AGREEMENT. The self-declared ethnic Serbian Assembly of the Srem-Baranja Region on 31 October approved the refusal by their negotiator Milan Milanovic to a draft agreement, proposed by UN negotiator Thorvald Stoltenberg and U.S. Ambassador Peter Galbraith. The accord would have put eastern Slavonia under UN control for two years. Milanovic demanded a period of five years, while Croatia has said it will accept 12 months, AFP reported the same day. * Fabian Schmidt CROATIA THREATENS TO STRIKE BACK. Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic has threatened that Croatian forces will strike back if the Bosnian Serbs attack Dubrovnik again. Referring to an alleged attack on 29 October, Granic is quoted by Reuters on 31 October as saying that "similar attacks will not be tolerated." The Bosnian Serbs deny the charges and accuse the Croatian army of launching the attack on the weekend. Meanwhile, the UN said it plans to withdraw 6,000-8,500 of the 18,000-strong contingent as a cost-cutting measure and in expectation of 60,000 NATO troops arriving after a peace settlement, AFP reported. * Fabian Schmidt ROMANIAN OPPOSITION LEADER IN "CRITICAL" CONDITION. Corneliu Coposu, leader of the opposition National Peasant Party Christian Democratic, was hospitalized on 30 October in Bucharest and his situation is "critical," Radio Bucharest announced on 31 October. Coposu suffers from a lung ailment and has undergone surgery in Germany, where he has often been hospitalized during the last two years. * Michael Shafir EUROPEAN INVESTMENT BANK FINANCES NEW PROJECTS IN ROMANIA. European Investment Bank Vice President Wolfgang Roth on 31 October signed in Bucharest an agreement granting a loan of 60 million ECU to Romania for the modernization of its electricity supply structure, Radio Bucharest announced the same day. He said he hoped Romania will soon become a member of the EIB. * Michael Shafir MOLDOVAN STUDENTS RESUME, THEN POSTPONE STRIKE AGAIN. Moldovan students on 31 October briefly resumed their protest strike but later agreed to postpone it again, international agencies reported. The strike was renewed after students learned that a parliamentary debate on the government's performance, scheduled for 31 October, had been postponed until 7 November owing to the opening in Chisinau of a conference of foreign ministers from member states of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Council. Parliamentary deputy chairman Dumitru Motpan told a delegation from the striker's committee that the debate in the parliament on President Mircea Snegur's initiative to change the name of the country's official language from "Moldovan" to "Romanian" has been postponed because Snegur wants first to consult parliamentary factions. In a related development, Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli on 31 October met a delegation of the National Federation of Student Organizations to discuss proposals for improving the students' economic situation. * Michael Shafir BULGARIAN OPPOSITION PREPARES FOR COOPERATION IN LOCAL ELECTIONS. Cooperation talks between the opposition parties due to take part in the second round of the local elections seem well under way, Standart reported. The leaders of the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS), the People's Union (NS), and the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom (DPS) are due to meet on 1 November to discuss the possibility of a nationwide agreement. In some towns, including Sofia, the NS has already withdrawn its candidates in favor of the better-placed SDS candidates. In ethnically mixed regions, the SDS will support DPS candidates, SDS chairman Ivan Kostov said. In Sofia, the SDS is demanding that the runoff be set for 5 November, after the Communal Electoral Commission on 31 October changed the date from 11 to 12 November. * Stefan Krause in Sofia ALBANIA WANTS KOSOVO INCLUDED IN PEACE TALKS. Albanian Deputy Foreign Minister Arian Starova, during a visit to Greece, repeated calls that Kosovo be included in U.S. efforts to forge a comprehensive peace agreement for the Balkans. Reuters on 31 October quoted Starova as saying that "they cannot ignore Kosovo and they should address this issue by putting it on the agenda." * 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. 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