|A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday. - Jonathan Swift|
No. 227, Part II, 21 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ OFFICIAL RESULTS OF POLISH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. According to the official results of the 19 November run-off election, Democratic Left Alliance leader Aleksander Kwasniewski won 51.72% of the vote, while incumbent president Lech Walesa received 48.28%. Turnout was put at 68.23%. Kwasniewski won in 34 provinces, mostly in northern and western Poland, while Walesa was successful in 15, mostly in the southeast of the country. Speaking immediately after the official results were released, Kwasniewski said there are more things uniting Poles than separating them. Acknowledging Walesa's "indisputable place in history," he promised to pursue the path of reform and reiterated the goal that Poland join NATO and the EU, Polish and international media reported (See related stories in Russian section). -- Jakub Karpinski ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINIAN PREMIER SACKS TOP COAL, NUCLEAR ENERGY OFFICIALS. Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk told a government meeting on 20 November that he has asked Minister of Coal Industry Viktor Poltavets and State Committee on the Use of Nuclear Energy Chairman Myhkailo Umanets to resign, Ukrainian TV and Reuters reported the same day. Marchuk said both officials' lack of initiative to begin restructuring the coal and nuclear energy industries has exacerbated the crisis in the energy sector. By firing Poltavets, Marchuk also met another demand made by coal miners, whose strike last week forced the government to pay 5 trillion of the 20 trillion karbovantsi it owes them in wage arrears. The premier promised that no new money will be printed and no new taxes introduced to settle the debt, but he gave no details on the source of the funds. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT DEFENDS CENSORSHIP. Belarusian TV on 20 November carried a speech by Alyaksandr Lukashenka in which he denied that his media policies amounted to heavy-handed censorship. The president said he was willing to support "media that worked constructively" and gave as an example the TV company Myr, which, he said, is "working toward the consolidation of [the CIS] countries and peoples." Referring to the newspapers he had closed down for "twisting facts," Lukashenka challenged them to take him to court and prove they had not been "unconstructive." -- Ustina Markus U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY VISITS BALTIC STATES. William Perry, at the beginning of a three-day tour of the Baltic States, met with Estonian President Lennart Meriin in Tallinn on 19 November. The next day he discussed with Prime Minister Tiit Vahi military cooperation and NATO membership. He noted that NATO expansion was a long process and that new member states would have to fulfill five criteria: democratization, a free market economy, civilian control of the army, military training according to NATO standards, and good relations with neighbors, BNS reported. Perry then flew to Vilnius for talks with President Algirdas Brazauskas and Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius. On 21 November , Perry travels to Riga for meetings with Latvia's leaders. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIAN CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY CONVENES IN VILNIUS. The Lithuanian Christian Democratic Party convened for its annual conference in Vilnius on 18-19 November, BNS reported the next day. Former Foreign Minister Algirdas Saudargas was elected party chairman, replacing Povilas Katilius, who was elected chairman of the party's board. The conference adopted a party manifesto proposing that democracy in Lithuania be based on Christian values, advocating a social market economy rather than socialism or liberal "laissez faire" capitalism. The manifesto rejects "any plans to have our country play the role of middleman between East and West" and supports Lithuanian membership in the EU and NATO. -- Saulius Girnius COURT FAILS TO RESOLVE DISPUTE OVER PRAGUE CATHEDRAL. The Prague District Court has failed to decide who owns St. Vitus Cathedral and other buildings in Prague Castle claimed by the Catholic Church, Mlada fronta dnes reported on 21 November. The court decided to return the case to the lower court that 11 months ago ruled that the cathedral was illegally nationalized by the communist regime in the 1950s and should be returned to the Church. After a public outcry, based on the medieval cathedral's being a national monument that should remain in public hands, President Vaclav Havel's office appealed the decision. The district court judged that there were several procedural errors in the lower court's ruling. "It is no joy that the question of ownership is being dragged out," said Miloslav Fiala, spokesman of the Czech Bishops Conference. "But we will respect the decision," he added. -- Steve Kettle CONTROVERSY OVER SLOVAK TV BROADCAST. Jan Havlat, the lawyer who represents both Michal Kovac Jr. and Martin Syc-Mily in the Technopol fraud case, on 20 November sent a letter of complaint to Slovak Television (STV), Sme reported. Havlat complained about STV's prime time broadcast on 18 November of a 20-minute statement by Peter Krylov, who was jailed in Munich in connection with the Technopol case. Krylov accused Kovac Jr., Syc-Mily, and others of organizing the fraud; he also gave their full names and explained details of the case. Havlat criticized STV for violating the principle of "presumption of innocence" (neither Kovac Jr. nor Syc-Mily has been formally charged in Slovakia), and he demanded that his clients be allowed to air their views during the same time slot. Dusan Kerny, editor-in-chief of STV's main news program, promised to broadcast the responses of Havlat's clients. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK POLITICAL UPDATE. The parliament on 20 November approved Prosecutor-General Michal Valo's request that the ban on divulging information about the Slovak Intelligence Service (SIS) be lifted, Narodna obroda reported. The request was made to the chairman and members of the parliamentary Separate Control Organ (OKO)--which was set up in November 1994 to oversee the SIS--in connection with a report OKO presented to the parliament on 5 May. On the basis of the report, the parliament passed a vote of no confidence in President Michal Kovac. Also on 20 November, the parliament failed to approve the first version of a bill on anti-communist resistance, which was submitted by the opposition Christian Democratic Movement. A second version, put forward by the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, will be discussed at the next session. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER RESPONDS TO SLOVAK ACCUSATIONS. Laszlo Kovacs on 18 November dismissed the Slovak claim that Hungary has interfered in Slovakia's internal affairs (see OMRI Daily Digest, 20 November 1995). He told MTI that the Hungarian government's stance on Slovakia's new language law cannot be described as interference, since international agreements specify that the issue of minority rights is not simply a domestic affair. In a heated parliamentary debate on foreign policy, Hungarian Premier Gyula Horn on 20 November said that the Slovak language law and the Romanian education law are not conducive to achieving advanced democracies. As regards the Slovak language law, the Hungarian government will make its views known at international forums, he said. Horn added that the government will appeal to those heads of state who welcomed the Hungarian-Slovak basic treaty before the Paris conference on stability last spring. -- Zsofia Szilagyi LOW TURNOUT AT HUNGARY'S MINORITY ELECTIONS. According to the official results of the Hungarian minority elections on 19 November, 138 minority local governments were elected across the country, Hungarian media reported. The Central Registration and Election Office reported that only 40,000 of the 2.5 million eligible voters--or 1.73%--cast their ballots. Sixty-one Roma councils were elected, 38 German, and 13 Slovak. -- Zsofia Szilagyi HUNGARIAN TV CHIEF RESIGNS. Adam Horvath resigned as president of Hungarian Television (MTV) on 20 November, saying he could not stay in his current position if the media bill is passed by parliament, Magyar Hirlap reported. MTV Vice President Ferenc Szekely will run MTV until a new president is elected. MTV officials attributed Horvath's resignation to several discriminatory provisions in the media bill, primarily the restrictions placed on the president's powers during the transitional period. The media bill was submitted to the parliament on 17 November and is expected to be passed this year. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE DAYTON DEADLINES COME AND GO. Two "last-chance" deadlines declared by the U.S. State Department came and went on November 20-21, and still no peace agreement was announced. The BBC said that the three groups of "Yugoslavs called the Americans' bluff." Regional and international media stressed that the problem remains territorial issues, specifically the Posavina corridor in the north and the status of Sarajevo. The Bosnian and Serbian delegations at different points each had their respective aircraft's engines started, and German media said that only a telephone call from President Bill Clinton dissuaded his Croatian counterpart, Franjo Tudjman, from leaving as well. The final deadline passed after a late night marathon session. -- Patrick Moore HAVE THE TALKS DIED? State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said that "these talks have not failed. The negotiators continue to negotiate." Bosnian Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey, however, said the talks had indeed collapsed. Off the record, unnamed U.S. officials also told news agencies they were pessimistic. The BBC quoted Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic as telling Bosnian Radio on 21 November that the talks were in a crisis but had not failed. Speculation now centers on the possibility of continuing discussions in Dayton for an unspecified length of time or holding them at some future date elsewhere, such as Paris. The Dayton round has dragged on for three weeks amid Spartan living conditions and a virtual news blackout. Tudjman has twice left on business and returned. The problem remains that core issues are unsettled and that no side has been totally defeated on the battlefield and hence forced to negotiate a settlement. -- Patrick Moore FIRST MUSLIM ARRESTED, CHARGED WITH WAR CRIMES. Nasa Borba and Novi list reported on 21 November that an unidentified Bosnian Muslim was arrested in the Netherlands on 15 November at the request of the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. The man is suspected of having killed a large number of Bosnian Serb civilians while serving with the Bosnian Croat army, and he is expected to be formally charged within a month. Of the 52 men indicted for war crimes to date, 45 are Serbs, including Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic. The remaining seven are Croats; but to date, apart from the unidentified Bosnian Muslim, only one of the 52 has been arrested, namely the Serbian prison guard Dusko Tadic. Croatia wants some Muslims charged with war crimes for atrocities committed against Croatian civilians in 1991 when the Muslims in question were serving with the rump Yugoslav army. -- Patrick Moore CROATIA, RUMP YUGOSLAVIA AGREE ON PRISONERS, MISSING PERSONS. The Croatian and Serbian foreign ministers have signed an accord in Dayton on the immediate release of all detainees as a part of a general agreement on prisoners and missing persons, Reuters reported on 20 November. According to unofficial estimates, more than 10,000 Croats have been missing since 1991. An investigation is to be launched into the fate of those still unaccounted for. In another development, Minister for Refugees Adalbert Rebic announced his resignation owing to "numerous obligations elsewhere," Slobodna Dalmacija reported the next day. -- Daria Sito Sucic BELGRADE OFFICIAL SAYS NO EXTRADITION FOR WAR CRIMINALS. The Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA on 19 November reported that Borisav Jovic, the chairman of the rump Yugoslav legislature's Foreign Policy Committee, said Belgrade is not prepared to turn over accused war criminals to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Jovic said that sending accused criminals to the Hague to face charges would violate the rump Yugoslav constitution, which purportedly stipulates that rump Yugoslav nationals may not be handed to a "foreign" tribunal. Jovic did, however, reiterate Belgrade's official line on war crimes, observing that "we oppose them, and we will prosecute criminals if there are any." * Stan Markotich ROMANIAN EXTREMIST LEADER PROPOSES EXPANDED NATIONALIST ALLIANCE. Speaking at the National Convention of the Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR) in Bucharest on 17 November, PUNR chairman Gheorghe Funar proposed that the chauvinist Greater Romania Party (PRM) join the National Unity Bloc (BUN), which includes the PUNR, the Democratic Agrarian Party, and the Romanian Ecologist Movement. Addressing the gathering, PRM chairman Corneliu Vadim Tudor said there has never been any conflict between the two parties. Curierul national on 18 November wrote that Funar told the PUNR gathering that his party has no intention of leaving the alliance with the PDSR. Also on 18 November, Funar was re-elected chairman of the PUNR. He accused President Ion Iliescu of attempting to stage his ouster. Presidential spokesman Traian Chebeleu on 20 November rejected the accusation. -- Michael Shafir STOCK EXCHANGE OPENS IN BUCHAREST. Romania's first stock exchange since World War II opened on 20 November in Bucharest, Radio Bucharest and international agencies reported. A total of seven companies were quoted at the opening session, with five more due to appear in the near future, exchange officials said. Of the seven listed companies, only one is completely in private hands; the Romanian state still holds a 70% stake in the other six. The opening of a stock exchange was one of the conditions set by IMF for the granting of new credits to Romania. Initially, it will operate only once a week. -- Matyas Szabo SNEGUR SAYS SUMMIT MEETING "QUESTIONABLE." At a meeting with head of the OSCE Permanent Mission to Moldova Michael Wygant, President Mircea Snegur welcomed the decision to prolong the mission and the "firm position of most OSCE members at a recent meeting in Vienna in support of Moldova's efforts to remove Russian troops from its territory." Snegur said his next meeting with Igor Smirnov, scheduled for 29 November, was now "questionable" because the Tiraspol leadership is seeking help from the Russian State Duma and requesting the recognition of "their illegitimate, self-proclaimed republic." He added that the "Tiraspol leaders are taking their time, are waiting for the results of the parliamentary elections in Russia and, in fact, are grossly violating our earlier agreements." The Moldovan Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on all UN and OSCE members to express disapproval of the Duma's resolution on the Transdniestrian problem, Infotag reported on 20 November. -- Michael Shafir BULGARIAN, GREEK, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET. Georgi Pirinski, Karolos Papoulias, and Hennadii Udovenko met in Sofia on 20 November to discuss possible cooperation between their countries, Reuters reported the same day. They agreed to boost cooperation in regional transportation, telecommunications, and natural gas and oil pipeline projects "through coordinated initiatives." In separate talks with Papoulias and Udovenko, Pirinski discussed joint participation in rebuilding the war-battered former Yugoslav republics. Udovenko and Pirinski also signed a trade and economic cooperation agreement. Also on 20 November, Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos arrived for a three- day state visit and met with Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev to discuss the situation in the former Yugoslavia and bilateral relations. -- Stefan Krause LARGE OIL DEPOSITS DISCOVERED IN ALBANIA. According to Albanian Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Abdyl Xhaja, more than 440 million tons of oil-deposits have been discovered in the regions of Durres, Patos, and Tirana, AFP reported on 21 November. Contracts for exploitation have reportedly been signed with Shell, OMV, BHP, OXY, and Agip, which had invested more than $100 million dollars over the past two years in on- and off-shore prospecting. The firms are expecting to spend another $60 million in 1996. Current on-shore production of an estimated 1,200 barrels a day could shortly rise to 20,000 barrels. More than 200 foreign firms have been asked to study production possibilities. -- Fabian Schmidt STOCK MARKET TO OPEN IN ALBANIA. Albanian Finance Minister Dylber Vrioni said a stock market will open in March 1996, Reuters reported on 20 November. It will trade shares in Albania's recently privatized companies. The government is preparing to set up a register of shares. So far, 20 holding companies have been privatized through the sale of vouchers; and there are now 4,068 shareholders in Albania, of whom 2,700 are employees of the privatized companies. According to Vrioni, another 25 enterprises will be privatized soon. Rothschild Bank, Greek Alfa Financing, Salomon Brothers, Merrill Lynch, and a Bulgarian group have already requested information on Albanian investment funds. A minimum of $20,000 is required to set up an investment fund, and foreigners may own no more than 50%. -- 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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