|History is made out of the failures and heroism of each insignificant moment. - Franz Kafka|
No. 223, Part II, 15 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 PRESIDENT PROMOTES INDICTED WAR CRIMINAL. One day after the International War Crimes Tribunal indicted General Tihomir Blaskic for atrocities against the Muslims of the Lasva valley, Croatian President Franjo Tudjman's office announced his appointment as a staff member of the Croatian army's main inspectorate. Western news agencies on 14 November reported reactions from Croatia, Bosnia, and elsewhere that ranged from shock and incredulity to confirmation of old beliefs that Tudjman is arrogant and lacking in common political sense. Reuters quoted an unnamed Bosnian official as saying that the court will have to turn to "Croatia now and it will be up to them to hand [Blaskic] over to the tribunal or face international sanctions." It remains to be seen what effect Blaskic's promotion will have on Zagreb's relations with Sarajevo, Washington, and Bonn. -- Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE LABOR UNREST IN EASTERN UKRAINE. RFE/RL reported that 100,000 coal miners in eastern Ukraine went on strike on 14 November to demand the back payment of wages. Mykhailo Volynets, leader of the coal miners' union, said that 21 mines have already ceased operations and that all 62 mines represented by the union would eventually take part in the strike. He noted that the government owes coal miners some $150 million in back pay. UNIAN claims that many have not been paid since July. Deputy Premier for Fuel and Energy Vasyl Yevtukhov met with several deputy ministers on 11 November in an attempt to resolve the issue. -- Bruce Pannier UKRAINE TO EXPAND OIL, GAS INDUSTRIES. The board of the State Committee for Oil, Gas, and Oil Refining on 11 November approved a proposal to substantially increase oil drilling off its southern coast. According to an InfoBank report on 13 November, the proposal permits the drilling of almost 800,000 wells over the next 15 years in both the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea. Costs over this period are estimated at $3 billion, while profits are expected to exceed $5.9 billion. The application deadline for companies interested in participating has been extended to 31 January 1996. -- Roger Kangas UKRAINE MAY JOIN NATO'S BOSNIA FORCE. General Vadym Hrechaninov, military aide to President Leonid Kuchma, told RFE/RL on 14 November that Ukraine is willing to have its peacekeepers join the proposed NATO- led Bosnian peace implementation force. Hrechaninov rejected Russian complaints about serving under NATO command, saying Ukraine would be guided by its own national interests. He added that Ukraine's international image would be undermined if it did not participate in the NATO force. -- Scott Parrish ESTONIAN DEFENSE FORCES' CHIEF OF STAFF DISMISSED. Defense forces commander in chief Lt. Gen. Aleksander Einseln on 13 November dismissed Col. Arvo Sirel as chief of staff and named air force chief Col. Vello Loemaa as his acting replacement, BNS reported the next day. Einseln also appointed Aivar Voronov to replace Lt. Col. Manivald Kasepold as Tallinn garrison commandant. The two dismissed officers were implicated in the sale of weapons illegally imported from Finland. -- Saulius Girnius NO CONFIDENCE VOTE AGAINST LITHUANIAN PREMIER FAILS. Following a five- hour debate, the Lithuanian parliament on 14 November voted in a secret ballot on a resolution of no confidence in Adolfas Slezevicius signed by 52 deputies, Radio Lithuania reported. The ruling Democratic Labor Party decided that its members would not participate in the vote and thus assured its failure. The vote for the resolution was 57 to five, with three spoiled ballots. A minimum of 70 votes is required for a no confidence vote to pass. -- Saulius Girnius BELARUSIAN EX-PREMIER ACCUSES MEDIA OF DISCREDITING CANDIDATES. Vyacheslau Kebich told a news conference in Minsk on 13 November that the media are being used to "politically eliminate" possible candidates for the post of parliament chairman, including the incumbent, Mechyslau Hryb, Control Chamber Chairman Vasili Sakovich, and Kebich himself, Interfax reported. Kebich said he is planning to sue Narodnaya hazeta for libel. The newspaper published an interview with an investigator from the Prosecutor's Office who alleged that in May 1994, Kebich signed 32 bonds totaling $1.1 billion that the Finance Ministry would have to pay out between 1999 and 2004. Kebich said this showed the "complete economic ignorance" of the journalists who ran the interview since only the Finance Ministry and National Bank have the right to issue such securities. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH GOVERNMENT ACCEPTS AMENDMENTS ON ANTI-CORRUPTION LAW. The Polish government has accepted amendments to the 1992 law on anti-corruption measures that, among other things, ban high-ranking state officials from economic activity outside agriculture, from employment in commercial companies, and from owning more than 10% of shares in those companies. Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Justice Bogdan Zdziennicki said there were gaps in the new draft. The obligation to declare economic activities will not apply to the posts of president, speakers of the Sejm and Senate, and prime minister, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 15 November. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz KWASNIEWSKI LEADS IN OPINION POLL. The first opinion poll conducted by the Public Opinion Research Center (OBOP) between the two rounds of the Polish presidential elections gave Democratic Left Alliance leader Aleksander Kwasniewski a 3 percentage point advantage over incumbent President Lech Walesa. 51.5% of the respondents intending to vote said they would cast their ballot for Kwasniewski on 19 November, while 48.5% declared their support for Walesa. A dozen Roman Catholic bishops have expressed their support for Walesa, having refrained from doing so before the first round. Walesa said that if the bishop's support had come earlier, "the race would already be over," Polish dailies reported on 15 November. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH PREMIER IN FRANCE. French President Jacques Chirac reassured Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus on 14 November that he supports the enlargement of the EU and NATO and that he regards the Czech Republic as a front-rank candidate for membership in both organizations, Czech media reported. "Chirac assured me that France is unambiguously for the expansion of the EU and NATO--even though sometimes . . . it appears that it is not," Klaus told reporters during a one-day visit to Paris. Klaus also had talks with his French counterpart, Alain Juppe, and OECD Secretary-General Jean-Claude Paye. The Czech Republic hopes to become the first postcommunist country to join the OECD, possibly by the end of this year. -- Steve Kettle SLOVAK CABINET APPROVES 1996 DRAFT BUDGET . The government on 14 November approved its 1996 draft budget, which foresees a deficit of 27 billion koruny ($914 million), a minimum 5% growth in GDP, a 6-8% inflation rate, and a 13% unemployment rate. Maria Suranova, director of the budget department of the Finance Ministry, said real social expenditures will be higher in 1996 than in the previous year. Meanwhile, the budget of the Slovak Intelligence Service (SIS) will be increased by 47% to 759.6 million koruny, and that of the President's Office cut by 20% to 97 million koruny, Praca reported. The budget for the President's Office has already been substantially reduced this year, forcing the president to sack a number of employees. In other news, the parliament on 14 November adopted a controversial amendment to the law on prices allowing both the Finance Ministry and local officials to regulate prices of goods and services. -- Sharon Fisher POLICE INVESTIGATING ABDUCTION OF SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S SON CLEARED OF CHARGES. Pavol Zajac, director of the police force's Office of Inspection Services, told Slovak Radio on 14 November that Jaroslav Simunic and Peter Vacok did not commit any criminal offenses while investigating the kidnapping of Michal Kovac Jr. Simunic and Vacok were dismissed after linking the Slovak Information Service (SIS) to the kidnapping. In late September, SIS director Ivan Lexa, who is a close ally of Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, brought charges against Simunic and Vacok as well as other policemen, accusing them of using "psychological pressure" against SIS agents. Zajac said Simunic committed a disciplinary offense but noted that he cannot be punished because he quit the police force at the end of September. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES CONTROVERSIAL CUSTOMS BILL. A customs bill strongly criticized by foreign investors was unanimously passed by the Hungarian parliament on 14 November, Hungarian media reported. The new law--which aims to bring the country's customs procedures in line with EU standards--imposes higher duties on imported goods. American investors had opposed the bill, saying it could slow down technological progress and disrupt long-term investment plans. They added that if it passed, the level of active capital flowing into Hungary would likely drop. And they also found it alarming that the Hungarian authorities had failed to consult or inform them beforehand. Until now, Hungarian customs procedures and tariffs were regulated by decrees passed in 1966 and 1976, respectively. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE CROATIAN PRESIDENT PROMOTES INDICTED WAR CRIMINAL. One day after the International War Crimes Tribunal indicted General Tihomir Blaskic for atrocities against the Muslims of the Lasva valley, Croatian President Franjo Tudjman's office announced his appointment as a staff member of the Croatian army's main inspectorate. Western news agencies on 14 November reported reactions from Croatia, Bosnia, and elsewhere that ranged from shock and incredulity to confirmation of old beliefs that Tudjman is arrogant and lacking in common political sense. Reuters quoted an unnamed Bosnian official as saying that the court will have to turn to "Croatia now and it will be up to them to hand [Blaskic] over to the tribunal or face international sanctions." It remains to be seen what effect Blaskic's promotion will have on Zagreb's relations with Sarajevo, Washington, and Bonn. -- Patrick Moore ARE THE SERBS BACK-PEDALING ON EASTERN SLAVONIA? Many Croats suspect that latest agreement on eastern Slavonia is flawed and that the Serbs will put their own interpretation on it, as they did with Cyrus Vance's plan for occupied Croatia in early 1992. AFP on 14 November reported that the Slavonian Serbs indeed appear to feel that the agreement gives them the right to decide whether to return to Croatian sovereignty at the end of two years. Zagreb's interpretation closely reflects the text itself, which views the sovereignty question as closed and provides for a one-year transition with a possible one-year extension and for local elections but not a referendum. Meanwhile in Dayton, U.S., Secretary of State Warren Christopher has returned for what is seen as a last-ditch attempt to save the peace talks, which are deadlocked primarily on territorial questions and the status of Sarajevo. -- Patrick Moore IMF MISSION IN SARAJEVO, CENTRAL BANK TO INTRODUCE CURRENCY. An IMF mission arrived in Sarajevo on 13 November for a 10-day visit to assess the economic situation there and to provide assistance in drafting the 1996 budget, Hina reported the same day. IMF and World Bank officials have said that the Muslim-Croat federation will receive credits from them only if it adopts a common budget, establishes a joint central bank and currency, and agrees to service its share of the former federal Yugoslav debt. Meanwhile, Bosnian Central Bank governor Rasim Omicevic announced plans to establish a national currency in the coming months, Reuters reported on 10 November. He favors broadening the use of the existing Bosnian dinar rather than introducing a new currency. The Bosnian dinar has been stable for several months against the German mark owing to tight monetary policy. -- Michael Wyzan CROATIAN ELECTION FINAL RESULTS. Croatian media on 14 November reported that the governing Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) will have 75 of the 127 seats in the new lower house or Sabor. The HDZ was greatly aided by Tudjman's capitalizing on the army's successes and by the addition of 12 seats that were elected by Croats in Bosnia and elsewhere abroad, as well as by the government's control of the electronic and much of the print media. The HDZ nonetheless failed to get a two-thirds majority to be able to change the constitution. An opposition coalition took 16 seats, the Liberals 12, the former Communists 10, the Croatian Party of [Historic] Rights four, the regional Istrian party two, and the Independent Democrats one. The remaining seven seats went to the ethnic minorities, including three for the Serbs. -- Patrick Moore CROATIAN OPPOSITION PARTIES AGREE ON ZAGREB MAYOR'S RACE. Leaders of the seven opposition parties that in recent elections won 64% of seats in Zagreb's City Assembly and a majority of seats in the District Assembly have signed a cooperation agreement. Vecernji List reported on 15 November that they have agreed to nominate joint candidates for top posts. Goran Granic from the Liberals will run for mayor and district head, and Zdravko Tomac from the Party of Democratic Changes is the candidate for the president of both the city and district assemblies. -- Daria Sito Sucic CONFIDANT OF ACCUSED SERBIAN WAR CRIMINAL JAILED. Zoran Macai, friend and confidante of accused war criminal Zeljko Raznatovic "Arkan," has been found guilty of inciting murder in Hungary and has received a 10- year sentence, international media reported on 14 November. Macai, who was tried in the Serbian town of Subotica, served as a camp commander in rebel-Serb occupied Croatia. The same day, Marinko Magda, a professional killer, was sentenced to death for six murders committed in the province of Vojvodina. Magda is currently serving a life sentence in Hungary and was tried in absentia. Four other defendants, also believed to members of Arkan's notorious paramilitary Tigers, received lengthy jail terms but are expected to appeal them. -- Stan Markotich MACEDONIA BECOMES MEMBER OF PARTNERSHIP FOR PEACE. Macedonia on 15 November became the 27th member of the Partnership for Peace program, MIC reports. Macedonia has engaged in military cooperation with the US since 1994 and U.S. soldiers participated in a joint military exercise for the first time on 9 November. More Maneuvers are scheduled for March 1996. U.S. troops are present in Macedonia as a contingent of UN peacekeeping troops since December 1992. -- Fabian Schmidt ROMANIAN OPPOSITION LEADER'S FUNERAL DRAWS HUGE CROWDS. Some 100,000 people on 14 November attended the funeral of Corneliu Coposu, chairman of the National Peasant Party-Christian Democratic, who died on 11 November, Romanian and Western media reported. The crowd filed past Coposu's coffin on Revolution Square. Some mourners booed Senate speaker and chairman of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania Oliviu Gherman when he spoke at the ceremonies instead of Romanian President Ion Iliescu, who was on an official visit in Egypt. Ana of Bourbon- Parma, the wife of Romania's exiled King Michael, also attended the funeral and was greeted by well-wishers who shouted pro-monarchist slogans. Coposu spent 17 years in communist jails and was seen as a symbol of anti-communist resistance. -- Dan Ionescu SENIOR BRITISH OFFICIAL IN ROMANIA. Sir Nicholas Bonsor, minister of state at the British Foreign Ministry, on 13 November arrived in Romania to discuss boosting bilateral trade, Radio Bucharest reported. Bonsor met with Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu to discuss the extension of the EU, NATO expansion, and British-Romanian cooperation within the new world context. The next day, he participated in a seminar entitled "The Day of British Trade." He also signed a bilateral agreement on confiscating revenues accrued from illegal transactions, such as drug trafficking. -- Matyas Szabo OSCE EXTENDS MANDATE IN MOLDOVA. The OSCE has decided to extend its mandate in Moldova by six months, BASA-press reported on 14 November. The decision was taken on 9 November at an OSCE Permanent Council meeting in Vienna. Michael Wygant, head of the OSCE mission in Moldova, told Deputy Foreign Minister Ion Capatana that the participants in the Vienna meeting discussed the implementation of the Moldovan-Russian agreement on the withdrawal of Russian troops from eastern Moldova. He was quoted as saying that the vast majority of the OSCE member countries support Moldova's stance on the issue. -- Dan Ionescu HUGE NEW LOSSES AT BULGARIAN BANKS. Losses of Bulgarian banks in the first six months of 1995 were up 402% on the same period last year, Demokratsiya reported on 15 November. The government is resisting pressure from the IMF and World Bank to close the two most troubled state banks, Mineralbank and Stopanska Banka, although it is considering creating a "hospital bank" in which bad debt would be consolidated. However, such a step would cause problems for the upcoming mass privatization campaign and may lead to a chain reaction of enterprise bankruptcies, according to Deputy Prime Minister Rumen Gechev. -- Michael Wyzan ALBANIAN FORMER SUPREME COURT JUDGE'S ARREST "APPEARED IMMINENT." According to international news agencies, Zef Brozi left Albania for the U.S. (see OMRI Daily Digest, 14 November 1995) to avoid imprisonment. Justice Ministry officials reportedly charged Brozi with spending $100,000 in public funds on a new car, office furniture, and foreign visits. Koha Jone on 15 November reported that Brozi had received a Fulbright stipend but that the real reason for his leaving the country was to prevent his arrest. Observers, doubt the validity of the charges against Brozi and presume that the accusations are aimed at legitimizing his dismissal under dubious circumstances in September. Brozi is quoted as saying: "I am very grateful to the U.S. State Department and U.S. embassy in Tirana for standing by me in these very difficult conditions." -- 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. 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