|The burnt child shuns the fire until the next day. - Mark Twain|
No. 221, Part II, 13 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CROATIAN-MUSLIM AGREEMENT SIGNED. Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic and his Croatian counterpart, Franjo Tudjman, signed a new document in Dayton on 10 November. The pact will strengthen the Croatian-Muslim federation in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which was established with American mediation in early 1994. The alliance has proven highly effective in recent months on the battlefield, but results have otherwise been slim. There remains much mistrust stemming from the 1993 internecine war, and local kingpins on both sides are reluctant to share power. International media said that the new agreement allows for the return of some 100 refugee families from each side, the reuniting of divided Mostar, and the setting up of a customs union. Slobodna Dalmacija and Novi list reported on 13 November that Izetbegovic has ordered officials to begin work immediately on the return of refugees to Bugojno, Travnik, Jajce, and Stolac. -- Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT INSISTS ON REFERENDUM ON NEW CONSTITUTION. Leonid Kuchma stepped up the ongoing war of words between himself and the Ukrainian parliament over political reforms during a weekend visit to Kharkiv. Ukrainian TV reported on 12 November that Kuchma said his version of the country's postcommunist constitution calls for a strong executive. He insisted that his version be approved in a national referendum. "If parliament doesn't agree to hold a referendum, then I will call one," he told Ukrainian TV. He said the left's proposal to abolish the Presidency and make Ukraine a parliamentary republic "would be a disaster." -- Chrystyna Lapychak CRIMEAN TATAR DEPUTIES END HUNGER STRIKE. Nine deputies from the Crimean Tatar caucus in the Crimean legislature have ended their 10-day hunger strike but vowed to continue to press their demands by staging acts of civil disobedience throughout the region, Ukrainian TV and Reuters reported on 12 November. The Mejlis, the Crimean Tatars' internal assembly, ordered Tatars throughout Crimea to begin a campaign of non- violent civil disobedience to pressure the ethnic Russian majority in the Crimean parliament for equal status for their language and greater political influence in the new regional constitution. Crimean lawmakers have conceded to some demands by adopting a proportional electoral system assuring them a share of seats in their 98-member assembly. They also voted on 11 November to exempt all Crimean construction firms-- together with the Crimean Tatar charity organization Krym, involved in resettling Tatars returning from exile in Central Asia--from profit and value-added taxes. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BLACK SEA FLEET TO GIVE UP DONUZLAV BASE. Admiral Eduard Baltin, commander of the Baltic Fleet, has ordered that all military units belonging to the Crimean Naval Base at Lake Donuzlav be disbanded by 15 January 1996, Radio Ukraine reported on 10 November. Komsomolskaya pravda reported in August that a secret directive had been issued to turn this base over to Ukraine. The base is supposedly the most modern one in the fleet, and the Russians have proposed that Ukraine base its navy there. -- Doug Clarke BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT REFUSES TO RECOGNIZE COURT RULING. Russian TV on 10 November reported that Alyaksandr Lukashenka will not recognize the Constitutional Court's rulings on parliamentary elections or the illegality of some of his decrees. Lukashenka said there will be no elections under the new law, which reduces the minimum turnout from 50% to 25%. He declared elections will take place only under the law stipulating 50% turnout. In other news, Nezavisimaya gazeta on 11 November reported that Lukashenka has dismissed Industry Minister Uladzimir Kurenkau. The president had criticized Kurenkau for the continued decline in industrial production. Data from the Ministry of Statistics show that industrial production fell by 20% in the first nine months of the year, compared with the same period last year. -- Ustina Markus VIETNAMESE DEPUTY PREMIER IN LATVIA, LITHUANIA. Nguyen Khanh, on a visit to Latvia from 6-8 November, signed agreements with Latvian Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs on promotion and protection of mutual investments and on economic cooperation. Vietnam is interested in selling textile goods, fruit, and food stuffs and in obtaining chemical industry products and radio equipment. The two sides are also preparing an agreement on avoidance of double taxation. Khanh met with Lithuanian Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius on 9 November in Vilnius and with President Algirdas Brazauskas the next day, BNS reported. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIA BEGINS NEGOTIATIONS ON JOINING WTO. Deputy Foreign Minister Algimantas Rimkunas is heading a Lithuanian delegation that began negotiations in Geneva on 10 November on Lithuania's becoming a member of the World Trade Organization, BNS reported. At the first session of a working group, Rimkumas presented a Lithuanian memorandum on foreign trade and reported on the current state of the economy, the system of regulations for domestic and foreign trade, and progress in economic reform. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH JUSTICE MINISTER CALLS FOR CONSTITUTIONAL TRIBUNAL RULING. Jerzy Jaskiernia has said he wants the Constitutional Tribunal to rule on whether politicians should also declare property owned by their spouses, Polish dailies reported on 13 November. He added that Democratic Left Alliance leader and presidential candidate Aleksander Kwasniewski had not given false information about his wife's assets but rather had "concealed the truth." The Prosecutor-General's Office in Warsaw said the decision whether to launch an inquiry into Kwasniewski's case will be reached before the second round of presidential elections on 19 November. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz CZECH INFLATION SLOWS, FOREIGN INVESTMENT GROWS. Consumer prices in the Czech Republic rose by 0.6% in October, Czech media reported on 13 November. According to figures issued by the Statistics Office, prices were 8.1% higher than in October 1994, the lowest such comparative figure since economic transformation began. Inflation for the whole of 1995 is expected to reach 9.5%. Meanwhile, the Czech National Bank said direct foreign investment for the first nine months of this year totaled $1.98 billion. The bulk was accounted for by the $1.32 billion paid by a Dutch-Swiss consortium for a stake in the telecommunications firm SPT Telecom. Since 1990, direct foreign investment has totaled $5.275 billion. -- Steve Kettle PETITION DRIVE LAUNCHED TO OUST SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER. Robert Krajnak, a 35-year old beer distributor, on 11 November placed an advertisement in the opposition daily Sme calling on Slovaks to sign a petition to remove Vladimir Meciar. The full-page advertisement includes the headline "I was born under a totalitarian regime; I do not want to die under one." Krajnak needs to gather 350,000 signatures to call a referendum on Meciar's dismissal. Meciar's party--the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia--won 35% of the vote in last year's elections and remains the most popular party in Slovakia. The next parliamentary elections are scheduled for fall 1998. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN, SLOVAK PREMIER AT ODDS OVER LANGUAGE BILL. Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn said Hungary will seek urgent consultations with the Council of Europe after no progress was made in talks with his Slovak counterpart, Vladimir Meciar on Slovakia's controversial language bill, Hungarian and Slovak newspapers reported. The two leaders met in Berlin on 10 November while participating in an international conference on European integration. Meciar stressed that the bill does not alter or affect the use of minority languages and that further consultations with Horn are difficult since the bill is now before the parliament. In other news, the Conference of Bishops of Slovakia and several other Church organizations have expressed opposition to aspects of the language law, Pravda reported on 11 November.-- Zsofia Szilagyi and Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN HEALTH WORKERS STAGE DEMONSTRATION. Some 60,000 health workers demonstrated outside Hungary's parliament building on 11 November, demanding a 35% wage increase, a 10% increase in state funds for health institutions in 1996, and the possibility of early retirement, Hungarian media reported. Mihaly Kokeny, political state secretary at the Ministry of Welfare, told Nepszava on 12 November that the health workers' wage demands could not be met in the first half of 1996, and he proposed further negotiations. The health workers say they will stage strikes if the government does not guarantee a wage hike. The health workers are the third group to protest the government's rigorous stabilization program. -- Zsofia Szilagyi HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION LEADER OUTLINES NEW PLATFORM. Jozsef Torgyan, the populist leader of the Smallholders' Party, on 11 November told a crowd of 10,000 at a Budapest sports hall that he expects early elections by next fall and that his party is likely to repeat the 1945 election victory of its predecessor, the historical Smallholder's Party, Hungarian newspapers reported. The Smallholders popularity reached that of the Socialists in September owing to growing popular discontent with the ruling coalition. Torgyan said his party's top priority is to provide an alternative to "the ransacking liberal-bolshevik power." As part of its economic program, the Smallholders' Party will examine the country's external and internal debts and release all relevant details once it takes power, Torgyan said. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE A PEACEFUL SOLUTION IN EASTERN SLAVONIA? International media on 12 November reported that representatives of the Croatian government and rebel Serbs in Croatia signed an agreement at separate ceremonies to return eastern Slavonia to Croatian control. The pact was drawn up by Tudjman and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in Dayton and mediated by U.S. Ambassador Peter Galbraith and UN negotiator Thorvald Stoltenberg. Its 14 points provide for a transition period of one year, with a possible extension for another year; demilitarization of the region; UN supervision; local elections before the end of the transition; full human rights for all nationalities; and the right of all refugees to return to their homes and property. It comes into effect as soon as the UN Security Council endorses it. Galbraith said that the pact marks the return of the region's multiethnic character, but Reuters reported that local Croats are skeptical. -- Patrick Moore DID KARADZIC TRY TO MAKE A DEAL WITH WASHINGTON? German media on 13 November reported that Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his military counterpart, General Ratko Mladic, have offered to leave public office in return for not being extradited to The Hague. The two internationally wanted war criminals reportedly made the offer through Milosevic in Dayton, but the Serbian weekly NIN was quoted as saying that U.S. diplomats refused it. An existing draft agreement on Bosnia's constitutional future would ban indicted war criminals from holding office. It is unclear whether Karadzic and Mladic have offered to withdraw from public life altogether. -- Patrick Moore SHATTUCK PLEASED WITH BANJA LUKA TALKS. John Shattuck, assistant U.S. state secretary for human rights, said after his 10 November talks with Banja Luka's mayor that for the first time, Bosnian Serb authorities have admitted to arresting Muslim civilians, some of whom have not been accounted for, Reuters reported the next day. He estimated that nearly 1,400 Banja Luka Muslims have been either arrested or taken to forced labor camps. However, he underscored that there is no evidence of mass killings in the area, unlike in Srebrenica. The mayor promised that Muslims and Croats wanting to leave the area will be allowed to do so and that their property will not be confiscated. Meanwhile, the UN sanctions committee has authorized rump Yugoslavia to import natural gas, liquid petroleum gas, and heating oil from Russia--on condition that the gas flow to Sarajevo not be interrupted, Reuters reported the same day. -- Daria Sito Sucic ROMANIAN OPPOSITION LEADER DIES. Corneliu Coposu, chairman of the National Peasant Party-Christian Democratic (PNTCD) and a leading figure of the opposition Democratic Convention of Romania, died in Bucharest on 11 November at the age of 79, Radio Bucharest reported. Coposu, who spent more than 17 years in jail under communism, was considered a symbol of anti-communist resistance. In December 1989, he revived the historical National Peasant Party, which had been banned in 1946. The party later added "Christian Democratic" to its name to better define its political orientation. Western agencies reported that thousands of people paid their last respects to the PNTCD leader. King Michael, who lives in exile in Switzerland, has demanded a visa to attend Coposu's funeral on 14 November. -- Dan Ionescu ROMANIAN EXTREMIST PARTY WITHDRAWS SUPPORT FOR CABINET. The chauvinistic Greater Romanian Party (PRM) on 10 November announced it was withdrawing its support for the current cabinet, Romanian media reported. PRM leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor, speaking at a press conference, criticized the government for failing to respect the commitments it made in 1992. He also demanded early elections in order to "heal Romanian society." The PRM, which used to be a member of a four-party coalition supporting Nicolae Vacaroiu's cabinet, was forced out of the alliance following Tudor's attacks on President Ion Iliescu. -- Dan Ionescu ROMANIAN PRESIDENT REJECTS BISHOP TOKES'S "ALTERNATIVE RECONCIL-IATION" PROPOSAL. Ion Iliescu on 12 November rejected Bishop Laszlo Tokes's alternative proposal for Romanian-Hungarian reconciliation (see OMRI Daily Digest, 1 November 1995), Radio Bucharest reported. He said that proposal, based on the South Tyrol model, led to the "extremist conclusion" that the only way toward reconciliation would be to grant autonomy to the Hungarian minority. Iliescu further accused Tokes of "systematically spreading lies about the situation of the Hungarian minority in Romania." Meanwhile, Bela Marko, leader of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania, said Iliescu's proposal for reconciliation was not a serious attempt to resolve differences but was merely aimed at postponing a bilateral treaty between Romania and Hungary, Reuters reported on 10 November. -- Matyas Szabo FORMER 14TH ARMY NOW ALL-RUSSIAN. The former 14th Army stationed in the Dniester region of Moldova is now "fully Russian," according to Russian Defense Minster Pavel Grachev. Interfax on 10 November quoted him as saying that all the conscripts recruited in the Dnestr region have been dismissed and replaced by draftees from Russia. He added that the structures set up by former commander Lt.-Gen. Aleksandr Lebed that engaged in counterintelligence, intelligence, sabotage, and other such activities had been removed from the division. -- Doug Clarke BULGARIAN OPPOSITION WINS MAYORALTY IN SOFIA . . . Stefan Sofiyanski, the mayoral candidate of the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS), won the run-off in the capital on 12 November, Standart reported the following day. According to several exit polls, Sofiyanski gained between 56% and 62% of the vote, while the nominally independent Ventsislav Yosifov, a banker supported by the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), won between 38% and 44%. The Municipal Electoral Commission put turnout at 45%. Many media outlets had conducted a campaign against Sofiyanski; and on 11-12 November, 24 chasa and 168 chasa reported that Sofiyanski had been a member of the Bulgarian Communist Party since 1984. Sofiyanski denied those reports, saying the party membership card reprinted in the publications was falsified. -- Stefan Krause . . . BUT SOCIALISTS WIN MOST MAYORAL SEATS IN PROVINCES. According to preliminary results released by the Central Electoral Commission, BSP candidates won in 20 out of the 27 former administrative centers. In addition to Sofia, the SDS won in the Black Sea port of Varna and in the city of Gabrovo in runoffs on 12 November. It was also successful in Stara Zagora on 5 November and in the country's second-biggest town, Plovdiv, in the first round on 29 October. In Kardzhali, where a vote along ethnic lines had been feared, the candidate of the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom beat the socialist candidate on 12 November. The Socialists also took the majority of the mayoral seats in smaller towns and villages. -- Stefan Krause FATOS NANO DOES NOT WANT HIS CASE REVIEWED. Albanian Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano said he will not participate in the review of his case by the Supreme Court, international agencies reported. Nano, in a letter to his lawyer, described the trial as a "farce" and added that "there is no more time to lose in such trials." Nano expects to be released from prison if the Socialists win the upcoming elections. Nano has three years left to serve after he was convicted of misappropriation of Italian aid funds. The Socialist Party claims he is not guilty and is a political prisoner. -- Fabian Schmidt MASS GRAVES FOUND IN ALBANIA. A mass grave containing the bodies of some 40 people has been discovered in the courtyard of a local radio station in Shkoder, Reuters reported on 10 November. The victims are believed to have been political prisoners killed over a 20-year period by the communist regime. Among them are thought to be those who led a revolt in 1985 in the Qafa e Barit jail and were later executed. Other mass graves have been found near Tirana in recent weeks. Albanian officials estimate that more than 400,000 Albanians were politically persecuted by the Communists and more than 7,000 of them executed. -- 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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