|Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most times he will pick himself up and carry on. - Winston Churchill|
No. 224, Part II, 16 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CROATIA CRITICIZED FOR PROMOTING ACCUSED WAR CRIMINAL. "I hope there is an innocent explanation. It's difficult to imagine one," said South African Judge Richard Goldstone in Washington. He was commenting on Croatian President Franjo Tudjman's promotion of General Tihomir Blaskic just one day after Blaskic was indicted for war crimes by Goldstone's tribunal in the Hague. AFP on 15 November also quoted a court spokesman as saying that the promotion and transfer of Blaskic from Bosnia to Croatia will make it easier to arrest him. U.S. Ambassador Peter Galbraith called on Croatia to hand over all six men whom the tribunal indicted. In Dayton, Ohio, State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns warned the Croats that "their ability to participate in international organizations will be affected by their inclination to cooperate or not with the tribunal." -- Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE COAL MINERS END STRIKE IN EASTERN UKRAINE. Striking coal miners in Ukraine agreed to return to work on 15 November after the government promised to pay back wages totaling 20 trillion karbovantsi ($112 million) incrementally, Reuters reported. One-quarter of the back pay is to be handed out immediately; but Mikhailo Volynets, head of the Independent Coal Miners' Trade Union, said the union still wants to talk to the government about rescuing the coal industry. Coal production in Ukraine is expected to reach 85 million metric tons this year, down from 95 million in 1994 and far below the 192 million tons extracted in 1988. The government insists that payments to miners will not impact on plans to curb inflation and the budget deficit. It also claims there is no need to print more money in order to pay the miners. -- Bruce Pannier CRIMEAN TATARS PRESS FOR MORE REPRESENTATIVES IN PARLIAMENT. Reuters on 15 November reported that nearly 2,000 Tatar demonstrators staged a protest outside the Crimean parliament building in Simferopol. Despite a recent agreement providing for Crimean Tatar seats in the legislature based on proportional representation, the protesters demanded one-third of the total seats. They also want the Tatars' Turkic language to be considered equal to Russian and Ukrainian in Crimea. Refat Chubarov, a leader of the Tatar Mejlis, addressed the protesters and urged them not to adversely affect the domestic situation in Ukraine. He also relayed a similar message from President Leonid Kuchma, whom he met earlier in the week to discuss the formation of a government commission on inter-ethnic problems in Crimea (see OMRI Daily Digest, 14 November 1995). -- Roger Kangas EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RATIFIES ASSOCIATION AGREEMENTS WITH BALTIC STATES. The European Parliament on 15 November voted to approve the European Union association agreements with Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, BNS reported. The vote for Estonian ratification was 414 to none with 10 abstentions. Latvian and Lithuanian ratification received similar support, although there were two votes cast against the Lithuanian agreement. Latvia and Estonia have already ratified the agreements, which will go into effect only after the parliaments of all 15 EU countries ratify them. The governments of Denmark, Sweden, Germany, and Finland have already sent the ratification bills to their parliaments, which may approve them before the end of the year. -- Saulius Girnius ESTONIA, RUSSIA BORDER ISSUE. Following two days of talks in Tallinn, Deputy Chancellor of the Estonian Foreign Ministry Raul Malk on 15 November said an agreement in principle had been reached with Russia on the border between the two states, ETA reported. Estonia agreed to regard the present control line as the de facto state border, thereby effectively giving up its claim to 2,000 square kilometers of land that had belonged to Estonia under the 1920 Tartu Peace Treaty. Estonia is still trying to convince Russia to recognize the validity of the treaty. Working groups on the borderline are scheduled to meet next week in Moscow. -- Saulius Girnius LATVIA SIGNS TRADE PACT WITH CYPRUS. Foreign Minister Valdis BIrkavs and Cypriot ambassador Tasos Panayides signed a bilateral trade agreement on 15 November in Riga, BNS reported. This is the first agreement between the two countries, which are currently drafting accords on long-term economic, scientific, and cultural cooperation; air communications; and shipping. The two sides also discussed the process of integration into the European Union. Both countries are associate member states. -- Saulius Girnius BELARUSIAN POPULAR FRONT CONDEMNS PRESIDENTIAL POLICIES. The council of the Belarusian Popular Front has issued an appeal condemning the policies of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, Belapan reported on 15 November. The appeal claimed the economy had reached a state of collapse, with hidden unemployment reaching 20%, most collective farms on the brink of bankruptcy, and foreign and domestic debts steadily increasing. The president, moreover, has transferred well-armed military units to the jurisdiction of the Interior Ministry and formed his own personal guard, the appeal stated. It also called on citizens to participate in the 29 November parliament elections. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN UPDATE. Opinion polls conducted by the Public Opinion Research Center (CBOS) and Demoskop on 9-12 November give incumbent President Lech Walesa a slight advantage over Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) leader Aleksander Kwasniewski. The Supreme Council of the Polish Peasant Party (PSL), the SLD's coalition partner, on 15 November decided not to support either candidate, but Polish National Bank President Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, who lost in the first round of elections, asked her supporters to vote for Walesa, Polish media reported. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH OIL REFINERIES DEAL SIGNED. Representatives of the International Oil Consortium (IOC), Czech oil refineries, and the Czech government on 15 November signed contracts for the IOC to take a 49% stake in the two largest Czech refineries, Hospodarske noviny reported the following day. An outline agreement, almost four years in the making, was signed in July, shortly after the French company Total abruptly pulled out of the IOC. Its remaining three members --Agip, Conoco, and Shell--are to pay $173 million for the shares and are expected to invest a further $480 million in the refineries over the next five years. According to the contracts signed, the holding company Unipetrol will retain a 51% controlling interest in the refineries Chemopetrol Litvinov and Kaucuk Kralupy. -- Steve Kettle HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER CRITICIZES SLOVAK LANGUAGE LAW . . . Gyula Horn, in a letter sent to his Slovak counterpart, Vladimir Meciar, before Slovakia's language bill was debated in the parliament on 15 November, said the bill contains several restrictions on the use of Hungarian in Slovakia and contradicts the Slovak-Hungarian treaty and the European Convention on Human Rights, Hungarian and international media reported. He warned that if the passage of the bill by the Slovak parliament could fuel tensions in bilateral relations, slow down implementation of the basic treaty, damage international perceptions of both nations, and cast doubt on their aspirations toward integration into Western organizations. "There are nearly 600,000 Hungarians living in Slovakia, for whom the law on the state language would be an unacceptable step backward," Horn said. -- Sharon Fisher . . . BUT SLOVAK PARLIAMENT APPROVES IT ANYWAY. Neither Horn's letter nor strong opposition from the Hungarian minority stopped the parliament from approving the law, however. With the support of the ruling coalition and the opposition Democratic Union and Party of the Democratic Left, 108 deputies voted in favor, 17 against, and 17 abstained. The vote was likely influenced by a proposal from Movement for a Democratic Slovakia deputy Milan Secansky that each deputy state his opinion out loud after his name was called. Only about 200-300 demonstrators, bussed in from around the country by the government, gathered outside parliament to show support for the law. A larger crowd had been expected. The bill will now go to President Michal Kovac for approval, but it can be passed again through a simple majority even if he vetoes it. -- Sharon Fisher TEACHERS PROTEST IN HUNGARY. At least 40,000 teachers, university instructors, and public education workers on 15 November attended a demonstration organized by three trade unions outside the parliament building, Hungarian and international media reported. The demonstrators demanded a 25% pay hike, increased funds for cultural and educational institutions, and job security guarantees. They also called for the resignation of Culture and Education Minister Gabor Fodor and warned they will go on strike if their demands are not met. Ministry of Culture and Education State Secretary Zoltan Szabo is scheduled to meet with union representatives on 17 November. Teachers, who have an average take-home pay of approximately 25,000 forints ($185) per month, have been hard hit by the austerity measures introduced by the government earlier this year. -- Sharon Fisher ************************************************************************ Would you like more details and expanded analysis on many of the topics covered in the Daily Digest? OMRI also publishes the biweekly journal Transition. The 17 November issue examines the changing nuclear threat in the former USSR and Eastern Europe, including these titles: "Nuclear Arms -- A Soviet Legacy" "The 'Sapphire' File: Lessons for International Nonproliferation Cooperation" and "The Chornobyl Fallout Persists" The 1 December issue takes a special look at the Russian election campaign ahead of the crucial 17 December Duma elections with such articles as: "Are the Communists Poised for Victory?" "Divided Democrats Face Uncertain Prospects" and "Zhirinovsky's Uphill Battle" For subscription info, send an e-mail to TRANSITION@OMRI.CZ By mail to OMRI Publications, Motokov Building, Na Strzi 63, 140 62 Prague 4, Czech Republic. Tel.: (422) 6114 3303; Fax: (422) 426 396 ************************************************************************ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE CROATIA CRITICIZED FOR PROMOTING ACCUSED WAR CRIMINAL. "I hope there is an innocent explanation. It's difficult to imagine one," said South African Judge Richard Goldstone in Washington. He was commenting on Croatian President Franjo Tudjman's promotion of General Tihomir Blaskic just one day after Blaskic was indicted for war crimes by Goldstone's tribunal in the Hague. AFP on 15 November also quoted a court spokesman as saying that the promotion and transfer of Blaskic from Bosnia to Croatia will make it easier to arrest him. U.S. Ambassador Peter Galbraith called on Croatia to hand over all six men whom the tribunal indicted. In Dayton, Ohio, State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns warned the Croats that "their ability to participate in international organizations will be affected by their inclination to cooperate or not with the tribunal." -- Patrick Moore TUDJMAN LEAVES DAYTON. The Croatian president has again left the peace talks in Ohio for Zagreb, although this time Hina gave no reason. It is unclear if there is any connection between his departure on the 15th and the Blaskic case (see "Top Story" above). AFP reported that Secretary of State Warren Christopher did not raise the issue with Tudjman when they met the previous day but that U.S. negotiator Richard Holbrooke would do so. Other international agencies said that before leaving Tudjman signed an agreement with Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic and Croat-Muslim Federation President Kresimir Zubak to help 20,000 Muslim refugees loyal to deposed Bihac pocket kingpin Fikret Abdic to go home. Zubak also issued a statement saying that the Bosnian Croats will not give up any territory in the Posavina region enabling the Serbs to widen their supply corridor, Vecernji list reported on 16 November. -- Patrick Moore U.S. REPORTER TELLS OF MORE MASS GRAVES. David Rohde, the journalist from the Christian Science Monitor whom Bosnian Serbs took prisoner on 29 October and held for ten days, says there are more fresh burial sites in eastern Bosnia. He told a news agency on 15 November that he found two graves large enough to hold 1,000 people in Sahanici before the Serbs captured him. Rohde also spoke of an additional site but added that the Serbs are "tampering with the evidence." Rohde has interviewed survivors and reported extensively on the massacre of mainly Muslim male civilians from Srebrenica in July, from which some 8,500 people remain unaccounted for. -- Patrick Moore OGATA SAYS REPATRIATION OF REFUGEES MAY START IN SPRING. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata, after meeting with other senior UN officials to discuss post-war repatriation and human rights programs in former Yugoslavia, said the region's refugees may be able to return to their homes in the spring if political agreement is reached by the end of the year, Reuters reported on 14 November. She also estimated that two years and some $500 million were necessary to repatriate the 3 million or so displaced people from former Yugoslavia. The UNHCR foresees three stages for the repatriation program, beginning with the 1.3 million displaced people within Bosnia. The second stage would focus on the return of the 820,000 displaced people from other ex-Yugoslav republics, and the third stage on the repatriation of the 700,000 refugees now in Western Europe. -- Daria Sito Sucic NATO COMMANDER VISITS SARAJEVO. General Michael Walker, the commander of NATO's Rapid Reaction Corps, held talks with top Bosnian military and civilian officials in Sarajevo on 15 November to discuss NATO's possible deployment in the former Yugoslav republic, Reuters reported the same day. Walker would be the commander of 60,000 NATO ground forces expected to replace UN troops in Bosnia if a final peace agreement is reached. A NATO source described his visit to Bosnia as "routine [reconnaissance] for planning purposes." Walker met with General Rasim Delic, commander of the Bosnian army, and Vice President Ejup Ganic, who urged him to get actively involved in Bosnia's problems in order not to repeat the UN's mistakes. -- Daria Sito Sucic SERBS STAND FIRM ON PARTITION OF BOSNIA. While peace talks in Dayton continue under much secrecy--with some media reports suggesting that a breakthrough is imminent and others contending the talks may be on the verge of collapse--the Serb side appears to be pressing demands that may preclude a just peace agreement being reached. Nasa Borba on 16 November reported that the Serbian delegation continues to lobby for at least a de facto partition of Bosnia, the division of Sarajevo, access to the sea for the Republic of Srpska, and "the return of territories in western Bosnia." -- Stan Markotich RUMP YUGOSLAV ARMY ENGAGED IN MANEUVERS. AFP and Tanjug on 15 November reported that troops from the rump Yugoslavia are engaged in maneuvers in Montenegro's Mount Golija region. The purpose of the exercises is for "the units to carry out complex operations." Official reports stress that units have demonstrated a "high level of motivation and ability, in difficult weather conditions." -- Stan Markotich ROMANIAN PRESIDENT IN FRANCE. Ion Iliescu, on an official visit to France, met with his French counterpart, Jacques Chirac, on 15 November, Radio Bucharest and Western agencies reported. The two leaders discussed a program for bilateral economic cooperation aimed at encouraging trade and investments. Iliescu is scheduled to attend ceremonies marking UNESCO's 50th anniversary on 16 November. Romanian Culture Minister Viorel Marginean, Education Minister Liviu Maior, and Science and Technology Minister Doru Dumitru Palade joined the Romanian delegation in Paris to take part in the ceremonies. -- Dan Ionescu HUNGARIAN AMBASSADOR EVALUATES TIES WITH ROMANIA. Hungarian ambassador to Romania Ferenc Szocs said at a 15 November press conference in Bucharest that Hungary is prepared to respond next month to Iliescu's call for a "historic reconciliation" and that negotiations may begin in January, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. He added that Hungary will ask for three joint commissions to be set up to negotiate a Hungarian- Romanian basic treaty, a political declaration on intergovernmental agreements, and another document on minority rights. -- Matyas Szabo SNEGUR'S PARTY PLEDGES TO PULL MOLDOVA OUT OF CRISIS. The Party of Revival and Conciliation in Moldova (PRCM), which supports President Mircea Snegur, has declared itself the main force capable of pulling Moldova out of its current economic and political crisis, Infotag and BASA-press reported on 15 November. Snegur, who presided over a meeting of the PRCM Executive Board the previous day, noted that reforms were losing momentum and poverty was becoming more widespread. He stressed that most public sector employees have not received wages for months. Senior PRCM officials warned that "social unrest might arise" if the parliament fails to approve Snegur's initiative to change the name of the state language in the constitution. The PRCM was set up in July by Snegur loyalists who quit the ruling Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIAN LAW ON PRIVATIZATION FUNDS MAKES ITS WAY THROUGH PARLIAMENT. Bulgarian deputies on 15 November adopted on its first reading the chapter of the Law on Privatization Funds dealing with control over those funds, Pari reported the next day. The law is a key component of Bulgaria's Czech-inspired mass privatization campaign. The Council of Minister's Commission on Licensing of Funds will be able to confiscate the licenses of funds found to violate the law, although only the executive board can be fined (not the fund itself). A fund may transform itself into a holding or investment company six months after the final auction. Kalin Mitrev, executive director of the Center for Mass Privatization, noted that citizens can register to take part in the privatization process one week after the law's proclamation. Registration will last three months, while the transfer of vouchers will take one month. Auctions will then take place over eight months. -- Michael Wyzan U.S. SPY PLANE MISSION SUSPENDED DURING WINTER. Koha Jone on 16 November reported that the U.S. has suspended unmanned reconnaissance flights over Bosnia. The three "Predator" spy planes that have been stationed at the Gjader airbase in Albania since July have reduced their number of flights recently. U.S. officials said plane missions cannot be conducted during the winter months, but they did not rule out the possibility that they might begin again next year, depending on the situation in Bosnia. -- Fabian Schmidt ALBANIAN DESERTER RECEIVES FIVE-MONTH JAIL TERM. Maiko Zace, an Albanian sargeant who deserted his unit during a joint military exercise with U.S. troops in Louisiana this summer, has been sentenced to five months in prison by a military court, Zeri I Popullit reported on 16 November. The exercise, codenamed "Eagle of Peace," was aimed at creating an Albanian unit that could participate in future UN peacekeeping missions. Five other soldiers who deserted the unit--two journalists from the military newspaper Ushtria dhe Koha, one medical doctor, and two squadron commanders--are still in the U.S. Albania is demanding their extradiction. -- 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 email@example.com for a copy of the new policy or look at this URL: http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Digests/DigestReprint.html Copyright (C) 1995 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
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