|Everyone knows it is much harder to turn word into deed than deed into word. - Maxim Gorky|
No. 215, Part II, 3 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ BOSNIAN REFUGEE DEAL REACHED IN DAYTON. Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic and Croatian President Franjo Tudjman have reached agreement on a deal that would see the return of hundreds of Muslim and Croatian refugees, international media reported on 2 November. A joint statement by the two leaders stressed that the deal addresses only "the first phase" of the refugee issue. In another development, AFP reported that the Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian delegations at the talks have so far received four draft proposals from international mediators focusing on the broad question of peace, a constitutional structure for the Bosnian state, electoral issues, and "the separation of military and paramilitary forces." -- Stan Markotich ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINIAN-G7 TALKS FAIL TO RESOLVE CHORNOBYL CLOSURE. International agencies on 2 November reported that talks in Kiev between Ukraine and the G7 on a timetable and financing for Chornobyl's closure broke down without any agreements being signed. Ukraine demanded a precise financing schedule listing the exact sum each country is to contribute, the dates the money is to be released, and through which banks. The G7 countries, for their part, wanted a precise timetable for Chornobyl's closure. The G7 package promises $1.8 billion in loans to Ukraine and a further $450 million in grants. Ukraine is to contribute $900 million. The money is to be spent on launching two new reactors and modernizing Ukraine's energy sector. -- Ustina Markus CRIMEAN TATARS STAGE HUNGER STRIKE. Ten members of the Crimean Tatar caucus in the Crimean legislature have begun a hunger strike demanding that lawmakers restore quotas of seats reserved for ethnic minorities and left out of the new regional constitution, UNIAN and ITAR-TASS reported on 2 November. The deputies--all of whom are members of the Kurultai faction--insist that the Crimean parliament reconsider its decision to omit a clause in Article 14 of the new constitution that would have retained a quota of 14 seats to represent some 200,000 Crimean Tatars living on the peninsula. The clause was included in the old constitution, annulled by Ukrainian authorities in March as separatist. -- Chrystyna Lapychak CRIMEAN LAWMAKERS APPROVE DRAFT CONSTITUTION. After approving Article 1 on 1 November, lawmakers have approved the remaining articles of the draft constitution. The document provides for three state languages: Russian, Ukrainian, and Tatar but designates Russian as the official language of government. It also asserts that the Crimean government is the leading authority in the region and that is led by a prime minister appointed by the Crimean parliament. The head of the Crimean Security Service is to be appointed by the chief of the Ukrainian Security Service with the approval of the leaders of the Crimean Assembly. Ukraine's interior minister names his representative to head the Crimean branch of the Interior Ministry with the approval of the Crimean legislature. -- Chrystyna Lapychak EU OFFICIAL ON BELARUS. Interfax on 2 November reported that European Commission member Hans van den Broek said Belarus was "on the farthest approaches from being admitted into the European Union." Van den Broek was on a one-day working visit to Minsk. He said he assumed Belarus would put forward its candidacy to be admitted to the EU but warned that first it must ensure not only economic stability but also democratic reform. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN ARMS DEALS ANGER RUSSIA. ITAR-TASS on 3 November reported that Belarus has been negotiating another arms deal that is harmful Russian interests. Last year Minsk reportedly sold an anti-aircraft missile system to the U.S. Now it is said to be attempting to sell two top-of-the-line SU-27 fighter aircraft from its base at Baranovichy. Documents on the sale have been handed over to the aircraft manufacturing plant at Komsomolska-na-Amure. The deals are perceived in Moscow as detrimental to both Russia's defense capacity and its arms exports. The documents will be handed over to the Russian State Duma for appropriate action, according to the news agency. -- Ustina Markus LATVIA ADOPTS PENSION LAW. The Latvian parliament on 2 November adopted a law on pensions, BNS reported. Earlier recommendations that the pension age be raised to 65 were defeated. Men will be able to draw pensions at 60 and women at 55. Those who are of pension age, however, can continue working, and their contributions to the social fund will increase the size of their pensions. Latvian citizens will receive pensions for all years worked, regardless of where, while non-citizens will be paid only for the years worked in Latvia. -- Saulius Girnius LATVIAN, LITHUANIAN PREMIERS DISCUSS BORDER DISPUTE. Maris Gailis and Adolfas Slezevicius agreed in telephone talks on 2 November on the need to determine their sea borders peacefully, BNS reported. Slezevicius accepted Gailis's suggestion that a third party be invited to help settle the border dispute. The premiers also agreed that representatives from the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry and parliament travel to Riga next week to acquaint themselves with the agreement on oil exploration that Latvia signed on 31 October with the American Amoco and Swedish OPAB oil companies. Gailis confirmed that no exploratory work for oil in the disputed area would be started before an agreement with Lithuania is signed. He also noted that any contract with the oil companies would have to be ratified by the new parliament that holds its first session on 7 November. * Saulius Girnius POLISH PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN UPDATE. Campaign staff of Aleksander Kwasniewski, leading candidate in the 5 November Polish presidential elections, have accused the secret services of intervening in the campaign, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 3 November. Kwasniewski's staff suspects the secret services of revealing to the press the financial assets of Kwasniewski's wife (a topic that has received much press attention) and of organizing violent protests at Kwasniewski's campaign meetings. Spokesmen for President Lech Walesa, who has control over the secret service, and the Internal Affairs Ministry denied the accusations. Presidential candidates Leszek Moczulski and Bogdan Pawlowski withdrew from the race on 2 November, asking their supporters to vote for Walesa. The presidential campaign ends at noon, on 3 November. -- Jakub Karpinski in Warsaw POLISH SENATE REJECTS PROPOSED REFERENDUM ON DISTRIBUTING STATE PROPERTY. The Polish Senate on 2 November rejected a presidential proposal for a referendum on dividing up state and communal property. The president was asked by Solidarity to make the proposal. Senators criticized the proposed questions as unclear and violating the constitution. The president the same day signed a cooperation agreement with Solidarity stating that the president will put his right to initiate legislation at Solidarity's disposal, Warsaw dailies reported on 3 November. -- Jakub Karpinski in Warsaw CZECH PARLIAMENT TIGHTENS CONFLICT OF INTERESTS LAW. By a near-unanimous vote, the Czech parliament on 2 November passed wide-ranging revisions to the law on conflict of interests. As of 1 January, government ministers, other high state officials, parliamentary deputies, and members of the still-to-be-created Senate will have to declare any potential conflict of interests involving not just themselves but also their spouses and close relations. Members of the government will be barred from engaging in any business activities. All those covered by the law will have to declare additional income and gifts of higher value than their monthly salary and, after next June's elections, declare all property they own or sell. The need for a new law was discussed for almost three years, following a series of scandals involving leading politicians. -- Steve Kettle SLOVAK PRESIDENT LAUNCHES COUNTERATTACK. Michal Kovac, in a speech on 2 November broadcast on Radio Twist and Slovak Radio, reacted to a series of attacks by Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar and his allies aimed at forcing the president's resignation. Kovac called on Meciar to "give up plans to usurp and concentrate power" and to move toward cooperation. Sharply criticizing the activities of Meciar's coalition, Kovac demanded that Meciar change his domestic policy, which is "challenging the principle of a law-abiding state and leading Slovakia into international isolation." Meciar's party--the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS)--said Kovac's speech demonstrated his collaboration with opposition parties and said the address was "undignified" for a head of state, Pravda reported. -- Sharon Fisher UPDATE ON SLOVAK-RUSSIAN RELATIONS. Meciar, returning on 3 November from a four-day trip to Russia and Turkmenistan, denied that Slovakia wants to form a customs union with Russia. Meanwhile, the opposition reacted negatively to Meciar's visit, saying he is putting too much emphasis on the East. The Party of the Democratic Left on 2 November expressed concern about Slovakia's increasing economic contacts with Russia and stressed that Meciar has not convinced anyone that Czech-Russian financing of the Mochovce nuclear plant (see OMRI Daily Digest, 1 November) is the best option regarding safety issues. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN NEO-NAZI TRIAL OPENS. Two neo-Nazi leaders have appealed to the right to free speech at their trial in Budapest, which began on 1 November. The two men, along with several others, are charged with inciting racial hatred at numerous meetings where they denied that the Holocaust took place. They have also been accused of using prohibited symbols and circulating neo-Nazi propaganda material. Both denied the charges, saying that Hungarian neo-Nazi circles were formed "to serve the Hungarian nation . . . and to protect Hungarian culture and language." Meanwhile, liberal deputies suggested that President Arpad Goncz's earlier proposal to redefine what is meant in the criminal code by combatting extremism and incitement against minority groups. -- Zsofia Szilagyi HEROIN SEIZURE IN HUNGARY. Hungarian customs officials on 2 November found almost 14 kg of heroin in a Bulgarian car at the Romanian border , Hungarian newspapers reported. The smugglers said they wanted to travel to Western Europe with their haul. The amount of drugs seized in Hungary so far this year totals 493 kilograms. Meanwhile, Hungary and Ukraine the same day reached an agreement to improve coordination to curb cross- border crime. The accord comes in the wake of a series of attacks by Ukrainians on tourist buses in eastern Hungary. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN REFUGEE DEAL REACHED IN DAYTON. Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic and Croatian President Franjo Tudjman have reached agreement on a deal that would see the return of hundreds of Muslim and Croatian refugees, international media reported on 2 November. A joint statement by the two leaders stressed that the deal addresses only "the first phase" of the refugee issue. In another development, AFP reported that the Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian delegations at the talks have so far received four draft proposals from international mediators focusing on the broad question of peace, a constitutional structure for the Bosnian state, electoral issues, and "the separation of military and paramilitary forces." -- Stan Markotich MILOSEVIC, TUDJMAN AGREE TO FIND PEACEFUL SOLUTION IN SLAVONIA. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and his Serbian counterpart, Slobodan Milosevic, agreed in Dayton to continue talks on eastern Slavonia, AFP reported on 2 November. Both sides pledged to work toward "full normalization of their relation" on the basis of " full respect" for human rights and the right of all refugees to return home or receive a just compensation. The aim is to find "a peaceful resolution . . . as rapidly as possible," a U.S. State Department spokesman said. As yet, the two sides appear to have agreed only that Croatia and Serbia will not intervene militarily. U.S. Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith and UN negotiator Thorvald Stoltenberg began a visit to the region on 2 November. -- Fabian Schmidt HAS MILOSEVIC ABANDONED BOSNIAN SERB LEADERS? BETA on 2 November reported that Bosnian Serb civilian leader Radovan Karadzic and his military counterpart, General Ratko Mladic, are likely to resign from their posts in the very near future, apparently because of pressure to do so from the U.S. According to the report, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, eager to accept some key US demands, has agreed to the idea of the two leaving their posts. AFP the same day reported that "a few days ago" at a meeting in Pale, the Bosnian Serb leadership agreed in principle that Karadzic and Mladic would step down. U.S. State Department official Nicholas Burns has said "We don't believe these two individuals should be among the leaders of the new state that emerges from a peace agreement." -- Stan Markotich BOSNIAN MUSLIMS RECOUNT MASSACRES. AFP on 2 November reported accounts of massacres by Bosnian Serbs in Sanski Most who earlier this week were among a group of 303 Muslim civilians and 21 soldiers exchanged for 135 Serbian troops and two civilians. They told The Guardian that Serbian paramilitaries executed at least 11 men before fleeing from the approaching Bosnian Army; 30 prisoners who were taken from a factory outside Sanski Most are still missing. Eleven bodies have been found, Bosnian government officials and foreign observers reported that another 110 remain scattered around the town and surrounding villages. -- Daria Sito Sucic ROMANIA CRITICIZES UKRAINIAN ENVOY. Foreign Ministry spokesman Mircea Geoana, at a press conference on 1 November, said Romania was "surprised" by Ukrainian special ambassador Vladimir Vasilenko's recent statements on the Romanian-Ukrainian basic treaty. Vasilenko heads the Kiev side in parleys on the treaty. Romanian media reported that Geoana rejected Vasilenko's accusations that Romanian insistence on mentioning the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact in the treaty constitutes an attempt to question the borders between the two states. He also criticized his comment that Bucharest's position was influenced by internal political considerations. Vasilenko was violating the two side's agreement not to involve the press in the parleys, he said. The last round of treaty negotiations ended in Bucharest on 26 October, apparently without any results. -- Michael Shafir ROMANIAN FINANCE MINISTER ON 1996 BUDGET. Finance Minister Florin Georgescu told a press conference in Bucharest on 1 November that the 1996 budget was one of "austerity" aimed at "reducing to a minimum non- productive costs" and encouraging the growth of public services. The budget foresees a 4.5% growth in GDP, a 4.7% growth in industrial production, a 3.5% increase in agricultural production, and an 8.8% rise in investments. Inflation is forecast at 20%. The budget was submitted to the parliament after discussions with representatives of the opposition parties, Romanian media reported. -- Michael Shafir EU OFFICIAL PRAISES MOLDOVAN PROGRESS. EU External Affairs Commissioner Hans van den Broek said in Chisinau on 2 November that "Moldova's success in establishing a genuine democracy is convincing" and that "economic stabilization has been achieved and true progress made in privatization and restructuring," Reuters and Moldovan agencies reported the same day. Van den Broek paid a one-day visit to Moldova, meeting President Mircea Snegur, parliamentary chairman Petru Lucinschi, and Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli. He said the parliaments of EU member states and the European Parliament are likely to ratify next year a cooperation partnership agreement signed in 1994. -- Michael Shafir MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT INITIATES JUDICIAL REFORM. Moldovan President Mircea Snegur has sent to the parliament a legislative proposal calling for the abolition of the death penalty. He has also petitioned the Constitutional Court to comment on whether the basic document should be changed to provide for judges to be appointed for life after an initial five-year term, Infotag and BASA-press reported on 30 October and 1 November. Meanwhile, the Moldovan parliament on 1 November adopted laws on state security and state security organs, BASA-press reported on the same day. Threats to state security are defined as "actions whose purpose is the violent change of the constitutional regime, suppression of independence and territorial integrity, provoking civil war or military actions against the state, [and] treason through helping foreign states in organizing hostile acts" against Moldova. -- Michael Shafir EXPLOSION AT BULGARIAN ARMS PLANT. Bulgarian Radio on 2 November reported a major explosion the same day at the Arsenal plant killing one person and wounding three. Minister of Industry Kliment Vuchev said a fire caused the blast and added that damage was serious. Arsenal is located in the town of Kazanlak and is one of the nation's largest arms production centers. -- Stan Markotich ALBANIAN POLICE LOSES BATTLE WITH FUEL SMUGGLERS. Albanian police lost a fierce five-hour battle with fuel smugglers armed with automatic weapons and grenades near the Montenegrin border, Reuters reported on 2 November. During a routine check, police managed to block the path of 20 smugglers and 10 fuel trucks but suddenly found itself surrounded by armed men. After five hours of fierce fighting, local police and special Interior Ministry forces from Tirana ran out of ammunition and were forced to leave, abandoning three destroyed police vehicles. The smugglers continued their journey. The Interior Ministry was not immediately able to confirm the battle. -- Fabian Schmidt BOMB ATTACK ON HOUSE OF ALBANIAN INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER CHIEF. Unknown assailants on 1 October carried out a bomb attack on the house of Nikolle Lesi, chief editor of Koha Jone, according to Gazeta Shqiptare on 3 November. Nobody was injured in the attack, which caused considerable damage to Lesi's apartment. Lesi said the assault must be seen against the background of the upcoming parliamentary elections. He said that in his capacity as chief editor, he was recently offered thousands of dollars to support "a big party in the elections"; he rejected that offer. He did not specify who had offered him the money. Gazeta Shqiptare reported that five suspects have been detained but gave no details. -- 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. 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