|When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain|
No. 220, Part II, 10 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ TENSIONS MOUNT IN EASTERN SLAVONIA. International media on 10 November reported that Croatian troops have occupied part of the buffer zone formerly separating them from rebel Serb forces backed by the rump Yugoslav army in the Vinkovci-Nustar area behind Vukovar. A UN official told AFP that there was no fighting and that the Croatian move did not indicate that an offensive was under way. Reuters added that 350 men of the 3,000-strong elite Croatian Tiger Brigade were also seen heading toward the area. Other international agencies said the previous day that both Croatian and Serbian forces were massing and that, "in a surprise move," Belgian peacekeepers pulled out of their observation and control posts. Top Croatian officials have repeatedly said they would retake eastern Slavonia by force if talks fail. Serbian negotiators this week rejected international mediators' proposals and set conditions that Zagreb considers unacceptable. -- Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT PLEDGES GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR CULTURE. Leonid Kuchma, speaking to the Plenum of Creative Unions in Kiev on 9 November, said the government will continue to support culture, Ukrainian TV reported the same day. He said the state will provide immediate assistance to the cinematographers' and writers' unions. Cultural activists and artists complained bitterly at the meeting about the decay of culture in the face of Ukraine's economic crisis and government cuts in subsidies. Kuchma also announced that he will shortly issue a decree on the reconstruction of the Mykhailivskyi and Uspenskyi cathedrals in Kiev, destroyed by the Soviet regime in the 1930s and 1940s, respectively. -- Chrystyna Lapychak UKRAINE HALTS OIL DELIVERIES AFTER PIPELINE ACCIDENT. Ukrainian TV on 9 November reported that oil deliveries via the Druzhba pipeline to Europe have been suspended following an accident the previous night. The Druzhba pipeline transports oil from Russia to East and Western Europe. The accident occurred in the Transcarpathian region. Some 150 square meters of ground surface were contaminated, and some oil spilled into the nearby Latoritsa River. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT RAILS AGAINST CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULING. Alyaksandr Lukashenka, following the Constitutional Court's ruling earlier this week that decrees passed by the president in August contravene the constitution, has charged that the court itself is unconstitutional, NTV reported on 9 November. At a closed session with the incomplete new parliament, Lukashenka said he had information that the Constitutional Court has ties to opposition politicians. He also stated that the nine members of the Constitutional Court, which was not elected by the people, should not be allowed to pass judgment on legislation for the whole population. He added that he would take decisive action if the court did not change its ruling. Secretary- General of the Constitutional Court Leanid Litkau defended the court's decision, saying no member of the court is involved in politics or has any political ambitions. The court judges decrees only in accordance with the country's constitution and legislature, he stated. -- Ustina Markus ESTONIAN PREMIER IN ICELAND. Tiit Vahi on 9 November met with his Icelandic counterpart, David Oddson, to discuss, among other things, the introduction of visa-free travel between the two countries, BNS reported. Oddson said his Foreign Ministry was working on abolishing visas between all the Baltic states and Nordic countries. Vahi presented a draft investment protection agreement. Iceland's investments in Estonia have risen this year from 1.5 million kroons ($131,000) to 5.2 million kroons. Vahi also had talks with president Vigdis Finnbogadottir, parliamentary speaker Olafur Einarsson, and Nordic Council President Solrun Gisladottir. -- Saulius Girnius TALKS ON FORMING LATVIAN GOVERNMENT. Prime minister nominee Maris Grinblats of the rightist National Bloc and Latvia's Way coalition held unsuccessful talks with the Unity Party and the leftist Socialist Party on 9 November, BNS reported. Unity Party faction head Edgars Bans said the party would not leave the rival National Conciliation Bloc. The heads of the two largest factions in the NCB--Aivars Kreituss of the Democratic Party Saimnieks and Odisejs Kostanda of the Popular Movement for Latvia--refused even to hold talks with Grinblats. -- Saulius Girnius CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT CLARIFIES POLISH PRESIDENT'S RIGHTS. The Sejm on 9 November amended the so-called small constitution to state that the Sejm has three months in which to pass the budget once it has been submitted and that if it fails to do so, the president has 21 days to dissolve the parliament, Polish dailies reported on 10 November. President Lech Walesa earlier this year delayed promulgating the 1995 budget and threatened the Sejm with dissolution, arguing that the time he had delayed promulgating the budget should be subtracted from the three months allocated to the Sejm. -- Jakub Karpinski POLAND ON BOSNIAN PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS. US Defense Secretary William Perry, speaking in Brussels on 9 November, said that countries not belonging to NATO that take part in peacekeeping operations in Bosnia cannot count on financial help from the alliance. Polish Ambassador to Belgium and the WEU Andrzej Krzeczunowicz, however, told reporters that Poland is ready to send a battalion, a field hospital, or a logistic unit to Bosnia-Herzegovina, saying Polish participation under the alliance's supervision is important for Poland's future NATO membership, Polish dailies reported on 10 November. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz UN SECRETARY-GENERAL IN POLAND. Boutros Boutros Ghali arrived in Poland on 9 November for a four-day visit. Polish President Lech Walesa declared that Poland will support all UN actions but said "our further participation in financing peace operations cannot be expected" due to economic difficulties. Ghali came to Poland to hold talks with Polish politicians on country's duties as a non-permanent member of the UN, Rzeczpospolita reported on 10 November. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz CZECH INTERIOR MINISTER SAYS RACIST ATTACKS BECOMING MORE VIOLENT. Jan Ruml told a parliamentary seminar on extremism on 9 November that racist attacks in the Czech Republic account for only a insignificant part of all crimes but that they are becoming increasingly violent, Czech media reported. He admitted that the public frequently sympathizes with those who attack Roma. Attorney-General Bohumira Kopecna said the number of people prosecuted for racist crimes increased from 168 out of a total of almost 86,000 prosecutions last year to 239 out of 54,000 in the first six months of 1995. Parliamentary chairman Milan Uhde criticized a draft law due to be submitted by Ruml this month for its "clumsy" definition of extremism. President Vaclav Havel earlier this week also criticized the proposed law, as it lists environmental activists alongside skinheads in a directory of "extremist" groups. -- Steve Kettle SLOVAK PRESIDENT RESPONDS TO ACCUSATIONS. President Michal Kovac on 9 November responded to accusations made the previous day by Igor Urban, chairman of the parliamentary agency overseeing the Slovak Information Service. Urban had said that Kovac may have misused his powers by seeking intelligence reports from the SIS. Kovac strongly rejected Urban's accusations, saying he was "deeply troubled" that Urban had suggested that the president had violated the law. Kovac said all he had done was ask for a report on SIS activities, to which he is fully entitled by law, Pravda reported. Also on 9 November, Kovac's son, who was abducted in August and is currently in jail in Austria, announced that he wants to enter Slovak politics after his case is closed. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK OPPOSITION CRITICIZES LANGUAGE BILL. The Hungarian Civic Party on 9 November expressed concern about preparations for a demonstration outside the Slovak parliament on 15 November, when the controversial language bill is scheduled for discussion, Pravda reported. The demonstration is allegedly being organized by the government coalition in order to influence voting on the bill. Also on 9 November, the Democratic Union stressed its opposition to the bill. DU Deputy Chairman Ludovit Cernak, who previously served as chairman of the Slovak National Party, told reporters that DU deputies are not against a state language law; however, he criticized the current version, saying that under its provisions, the popular Slovak opera singer Peter Dvorsky would be prosecuted if he were to sing an aria in Italian. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN PREMIER NOMINATES NEW LABOR MINISTER. Gyula Horn has nominated Peter Kiss, administrative state secretary at the Prime Minister's Office and a fellow member of Socialist Party, as labor minister, Hungarian newspapers reported on 9 November. If his appointment is approved by the parliament, Kiss will replace Magda Kovacs Kosa, who resigned last month because of differences of opinion over the government's social welfare policy (see next item). Kiss is closely linked to the Socialist Party's left wing, which has become increasingly critical of government economic policy for neglecting leftist values and the party's election platform. -- Zsofia Szilagyi HUNGARIAN CABINET ACCEPTS FIRST VERSION OF MODERNIZATION PROGRAM. The cabinet on 9 November accepted the first version of a modernization program that includes preparations for meeting criteria for EU and NATO accession and a three-year economic plan, Hungarian media reported the next day. The cabinet also approved a legal harmonization program stipulating regulations for accounting, insurance, competition, consumer protection, and the banking system. Further, it decided that employers will have to pay full sick benefit for the first 15 days of an employee's illness. The original proposal was for employers to pay full benefits for 25 days. Former Labor Minister Kosa--fearing that if this proposal were implemented, employers would want to dismiss workers who were frequently sick--had advocated 15 days only. She resigned over this issue, and many other ministers threatened to follow suit if the government were not able to agree on a social welfare policy. -- Zsofia Szilagyi NEW TRADE UNIONS HEAD IN HUNGARY. Laszlo Sandor on 9 November was elected president of the National Federation of Trade Unions (MSZOSZ), Hungarian media reported. Formerly vice president of the union, Sandor said the MSZOSZ will be somewhat different but noted that since all decisions are made collectively, there are unlikely to be any radical changes. Sandor replaces Sandor Nagy, who resigned last month because of differences with the government over leftist values and internal conflicts within MSZOSZ (see OMRI Daily Digest, 19 October, 1995). -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE KRAJINA REFUGEES SUFFER IN SERBIA. The UN Security Council on 9 November unanimously approved a resolution condemning all violence in the former Yugoslavia. The bulk of the admonitions was directed at the Bosnian Serbs, who were urged to close detention camps and provide international monitors with access to suspected mass grave sites. AFP added that Croatia was told to respect the rights of Serbs in the former Krajina and to let refugees go home. The warnings to Zagreb reportedly came at the behest of Moscow, Paris, and London. Mlada Fronta Dnes on 10 November showed a photo of elderly Serbs near Knin receiving UN relief packages. Meanwhile in Belgrade, the Alternative Information Network said that Serbian refugees in Krajina who fled to Serbia live as outsiders and are terrorized by paramilitaries led by internationally wanted war criminal Zeljko Raznatovic "Arkan." Many Krajina Serbs said they would rather go home, even if their houses were in ruins, than stay on in Serbia under such conditions. -- Patrick Moore MILOSEVIC SHOWS NO DESIRE TO COMPROMISE. Reuters on 9 November reported that U.S. negotiators will hand over documents to the Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian delegations at the Dayton talks that, it is hoped, may lay the foundation for a regional peace. But Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic has already said that he will back no plans providing for the ouster of Bosnian Serb leaders and indicted war criminals Radovan Karadzic and his military counterpart, Ratko Mladic before a peace accord is reached. Also, on 9 November, Vecernji list reports that Milosevic will continue to refuse to recognize Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, nor will he discuss the issue of human rights in Serbia. -- Stan Markotich BOSNIA, SERBIA TO RECEIVE GAS SUPPLIES. Following a joint request by the presidents of Bosnia and Serbia for domestic gas supplies to be turned on "as a humanitarian exception" to the embargo, agreement was reached at the Bosnia peace talks in Dayton on 9 November to partially lift economic sanctions against rump Yugoslavia, Reuters reported the same day. A UN committee overseeing sanctions met later in New York to discuss the issue but postponed talks for a day after one member said it needed instructions. -- Daria Sito Sucic WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL INDICTS RUMP YUGOSLAV OFFICERS. Nasa Borba on 10 November reported that the International Crimunal Tribune for the Former Yugoslavia the previous day indicted three Yugoslav army officers for their part in crimes against humanity. Colonel Mile Mrksic, Major Veselin Sljivancanin, and Captain Miroslav Radic have been charged in connection with the slaying of 260 non-Serbian prisoners of war held in the Croatian town of Vukovar. On 20 November 1991 the victims were massacred behind a local hospital and their bodies concealed in a mass grave. The Belgrade daily observed this is the first instance of the court charging rump Yugoslav nationals with wartime atrocities. -- Stan Markotich MACEDONIA, UKRAINE BECOME MEMBERS OF COUNCIL OF EUROPE. Macedonia and Ukraine on 9 November became the 37th and 38th member states of the Council of Europe, international agencies reported the same day. They are the 13th and 14th states from Central and Eastern Europe to enter the council in the last five years. To fulfill membership requirements, Macedonian officials made formal pledges to guarantee human rights, and Ukrainian officials agreed to suspend and eventually eliminate the death penalty from the country's criminal code. Ukraine is the first former Soviet republic to abolish capital punishment. The council's legal and human rights committees are currently reviewing membership applications from Russia, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. -- Fabian Schmidt ROMANIAN SENATE PASSES RESTITUTION LAW. The Romanian Senate on 9 November passed a version of the restitution law that takes into account the Constitutional Court's objections to a version passed by the Chamber of Deputies, Radio Bucharest reported the same day. The Chamber of Deputies amended its original version to make Romanian citizens eligible for restitution even if they reside abroad and to allow owners of apartments taken over by the state without appropriate legislation to reclaim their property. The opposition considers the law too restrictive. Romanian media on 10 November reported opposition members as saying the vote in the Senate was a fraud, since among those who voted "yes" were parliamentarians on a visit to China and other absentees. The opposition says that without these fraudulent votes, the draft would have failed to garner the necessary support. -- Michael Shafir ROMANIA DENIES BANNING HUNGARIAN TV CHANNEL. Romania's National Audio- Visual Council has denied banning broadcasts of the Hungarian satellite program Duna TV on cable network (see OMRI Daily Digest, 8 November), Romanian media reported on 9-10 November. The controversial decision aroused strong criticism among Romania's Hungarian minority. -- Matyas Szabo NATO AIRCRAFT ALLOWED TO FLY OVER ROMANIA. Romania and NATO have signed an agreement allowing NATO transport aircraft to fly over Romanian territory, Reuters reported on 9 November, citing the Foreign Ministry spokesman in Bucharest. The agreement was signed in Brussels last week. Mircea Geona said the agreement was "an important step towards Romania's integration into NATO." -- Michael Shafir WORLD BANK ON MOLDOVAN ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE. James Park, World Bank permanent representative in Moldova, said the country has made important progress in macroeconomic tightening, liberalization of trade and prices, and privatization, BASA-press reported on 9 November. In an interview with the government daily Moldova suverana, Park said that it was nonetheless necessary to introduce other reforms as well, especially in agriculture and the social sector. He said that if the reforms lost momentum, the "achieved results would be minimized." -- Michael Shafir BULGARIA PROTESTS TO ANKARA. Bulgaria has protested to Turkey for what it called that country's diplomatic support for candidates of the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms in the recent local elections. A spokesman for the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said the activities of Turkish diplomats exceeded normal standards of diplomatic representation and could strain bilateral relations, noting that their activity can be interpreted as "an attempt to influence the outcome of elections," Reuters reported on 9 November. The Movement for Rights and Freedoms won about 5% of the vote in the first round of elections, which took place on 29 October. -- Lowell Bezanis ANOTHER BOMB ATTACK ON JOURNALIST IN ALBANIA. Just six days after a bomb damaged the house of Koha Jone chief editor Nikolle Lesi (see OMRI Daily Digest, 3 and 8 November), the car of the Albanian Radio and TV journalist Sami Selishta was destroyed by explosives in northeastern town of Peshkopi, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 9 November. The daily claimed that an "anti-media Mafia" was responsible for the attacks, but so far police have no leads on the assailants. -- 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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