|To appreciate nonsense requires a serious interest in life. - Gelett Burgess|
No. 229, Part II, 27 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ BOSNIAN SERBS ACCEPT DAYTON AGREEMENT. Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic gathered together top Serbian, Montenegrin, rump Yugoslav, and Bosnian Serb leaders outside Belgrade on 23 November. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote two days later that Bosnian Serb chief Radovan Karadzic and his associates accepted the Dayton agreement, which parliamentary speaker Momcilo Krajisnik had earlier criticized. Karadzic said after the Belgrade meeting that the peace accord was "painful" for his people but that he would seek to obtain changes by "political means," not military ones. According to the Dayton text, Milosevic is obliged to ensure that the Bosnian Serbs comply with it. -- Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINIAN LEADERS SAY G-7 AID OFFER IS INSUFFICIENT TO CLOSE CHORNOBYL. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk said late last week that the latest offer of $2.2 billion in loans and grants by the G-7 powers was insufficient to shut down the Chornobyl nuclear power plant by the year 2,000, international and Ukrainian agencies reported. It was the first time Kuchma had doubted whether the station can be closed by that deadline, despite pledging in April that it would be. Kuchma said the latest G-7 offer, made during talks in Kiev last week, was inadequate to cover the construction of a new permanent encasing to replace the current crumbling sarcophagus around the ruined fourth reactor. Marchuk said if the Western powers do not come up with $4 billion, Ukraine will proceed with modernization of the two reactors. Meanwhile, the parliament on 24 November ratified an EU loan package worth 85 million ECU to supplement the country's hard currency reserves and support its balance of payments, Ukrainian Radio reported. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUS'S TOP COURT MAKES ELECTION OF PARLIAMENT MORE DIFFICULT. Belarus's highest court on 23 November changed its mind on the rules governing parliamentary elections, Reuters reported. It ruled that a 50% turnout was needed to validate the by-elections for the 141 seats that were not filled in May because of low voter turnout. The court in October agreed that the parliament could lower the threshold to 25%. Asserting that the same rules should apply for electing parliament deputies, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka had demanded that the court change its ruling. Lukashenka has severely restricted media coverage for the elections, which are to take place on 29 November. He has vowed to introduce direct presidential rule if a full-fledged parliament is not elected. -- Saulius Girnius ESTONIA SIGNS FORMAL EU APPLICATION. Prime Minister Tiit Vahi on 24 November signed Estonia's formal application for full membership in the European Union, ETA reported. Vahi said that he was optimistic that Estonia will become an EU member since it meets the membership criteria "fairly well." At the same time, he acknowledged it will take time and require a referendum. The Danish and Swedish parliaments recently ratified the association membership agreements of the three Baltic states with the EU, which were signed in June. -- Saulius Girnius LATVIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS NEW GOVERNMENT. The Saeima on 23 November rejected by a vote of 51 to 48 the right-of-center government proposed by prime minister candidate Maris Grinblats, BNS reported. Ziedonis Cevers, head of the National Conciliation Bloc, said after talks with President Guntis Ulmanis that his proposed cabinet would probably not now include Joachim Siegerist, chairman of the Popular Movement for Latvia. Ulmanis had declared that Siegerist was an extremist whom he would not allow to be a minister. -- Saulius Girnius PRIVATIZATION BILL SCRAPPED IN POLAND. The Polish Constitutional Tribunal on 22 November declared as void the bill on privatization and commercialization, which President Lech Walesa vetoed in July. Walesa's veto was rejected by the Sejm, and the president appealed to the Constitutional Tribunal, saying the bill "violates the government's exclusive authority and the constitutional principle of the division of power." The tribunal agreed with the president's arguments. -- Jakub Karpinski POLISH PRESIDENT VETOES TAX BILL. Lech Walesa on 25 November vetoed the bill providing for new tax classes (see OMRI Daily Digest, 16 October 1995), Polish dailies reported on 27 November. Walesa explained his move by saying that the bill would restrict "initiatives for economic development." He also questioned the provision stating that the new tax thresholds will not be adjusted to keep step with inflation and criticized the bill for not allowing donations for charitable purposes to be deducted from taxes. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz CZECH COALITION PARTIES FAIL TO AGREE ON SENATE ELECTIONS. Leaders of the four parties in the Czech governing coalition on 24 November failed to agree on a date for the first elections to the upper chamber of parliament, the Senate, Czech media reported. The Civic Democratic Party of Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus and the Christian Democratic Party want the elections to be held concurrently with the regular parliamentary elections, which the four parties agreed should take place on 31 May and 1 June 1996. The Civic Democratic Alliance and Christian Democratic Union-Czech People's Party would prefer the Senate ballot to be held in the fall. A meeting of the coalition parties later this week should decide the issue. President Vaclav Havel, who is responsible for calling elections after consulting with Klaus, has already said he would prefer the parliamentary and Senate votes to be held separately. -- Steve Kettle EURO DEPUTIES REJECT SLOVAK CRITICISM. Members of the European Parliament on 24 November denied that the EU has interfered in Slovakia's internal affairs by criticizing the state of democracy in the country, Reuters reported. The agency quoted Herbert Boesch--the Austrian head of the European delegation, which met Slovak parliament deputies to discuss strengthening dialogue--as saying that they did not accept Slovak charges that their concerns were based on one-sided information. Slovak parliament chairman Ivan Gasparovic told the meeting that diplomatic notes from the U.S. and EU, together with the European Parliament's resolution last week calling on Slovakia to show greater respect for human rights and democracy, were creating dangerous tensions in Slovakia. -- Steve Kettle SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S SON DEFENDS HIMSELF IN TV BROADCAST. Michal Kovac Jr., in a program broadcast by Slovak Television on 25 November, rejected accusations of his involvement in fraudulent business transactions, Slovak and international media reported. Kovac Jr., who was abducted to Austria on 31 August and detained there, called the charges "complete lies." The accusations were made a week earlier on STV by Peter Krylov, who was convicted in Germany of fraud and implicated the son of the Slovak president. Kovac Jr. said he had never had any business connections with Krylov and accused state-run STV of not bothering to seek proof of Krylov's charges, which discredited both him and "above all, my father." -- Steve Kettle HUNGARIAN FINANCE MINISTER TENDERS RESIGNATION . . . Lajos Bokros on 23 November offered his resignation after the Constitutional Court declared another part of his austerity package unconstitutional, Hungarian media reported. Bokros claimed that the court's recent rulings--including annulling a government decision to raise mortgage interests--have drastically reduced the government's scope for action in economic policy. Prime Minister Gyula Horn refused to accept Bokros's resignation while Bokros made it clear that his future moves will depend on whether the government's powers are broadened. Meanwhile, at their annual congress this weekend, the Socialists approved a policy statement favoring economic stabilization and maintaining the present governing coalition, thus strengthening Bokros in his position. -- Zsofia Szilagyi . . . AS DOES EDUCATION MINISTER. Gabor Fodor also tendered his resignation on 24 November, saying he cannot accept a government decision to cut spending on public education next year. He added that he had not received the necessary support from Horn to back up his work, Hungarian newspapers reported. Fodor's resignation was accepted by Premier Horn and goes into effect on 1 January, following the conclusion of discussions on the 1996 budget. Fodor, a member of the Alliance of Free Democrats, told reporters his resignation is related neither to the recent teachers' demonstrations nor to Bokros's resignation. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN SERBS THREATEN "A NEW BEIRUT." Bosnian Serbs, while accepting the Dayton peace plan, have recently staged protests against establishing a unified city administration for Sarajevo. Karadzic met with Bosnian Serb leaders on 26 November, and international media reported that the Serbs insisted that parts of the Dayton agreement dealing with Sarajevo and with the international peace force be renegotiated. German media quoted him as saying his troops will stay in place until this happens. Karadzic told BBC TV that without his approval the treaty is "worth nothing," and he threatened that Sarajevo could become "a new Beirut in Europe." BBC Radio commented that he was "trying to scare the U.S. Congress" into blocking plans to send 20,000 troops to Bosnia and thereby trying to upset the entire peace agreement. Mlada fronta Dnes wrote on 27 November that the Bosnian Serbs are determined not to yield on Sarajevo and will "defend every house" rather than give up some districts currently under their control. -- Patrick Moore WHAT NOW FOR BOSNIAN SERBS? Top U.S. officials made it clear on 26 November that the Dayton agreement will not be renegotiated and that Karadzic, as an indicted war criminal, could face arrest if he tries to attend the signing in Paris. Madeleine Albright, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told AFP: "If there is any kind of [armed] action [on the ground in Bosnia] by rogue elements, they are going to get whacked." Speculation has been rife that Milosevic might deal with the problem of war criminals by forcing Karadzic into retirement and offering General Ratko Mladic a top post in the rump Yugoslav army, where he would still be in a position to influence Bosnian affairs. Milosevic might then offer formal leadership of the Bosnian Serbs to someone from Banja Luka or to Nikola Koljevic. The latter is a professor who is often portrayed as a moderate, but whom former U.S. Ambassador Warren Zimmermann described in Foreign Affairs as "directing artillery fire on the civilian population of Sarajevo." -- Patrick Moore IS SERBIA STILL MANUFACTURING POISON GAS? The BBC, citing ITV's program "World in Action," reported on 26 November that Serbia is continuing to produce sarin, a poison nerve gas, raising questions about its possible future use and why Belgrade apparently did not make it available to the Bosnian Serbs. In other news, ultranationalist leaders in Serbia continue to criticize Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic for his role at the Dayton peace talks. Nasa Borba on 24 November quoted Vojislav Seselj, leader of the Serbian Radical Party and accused war criminal, as dubbing the peace accord "the greatest sellout and the greatest defeat ever in history of our people." He added that Serbs were "disappointed" with the deal. -- Stan Markotich CROATIAN TROOPS TORCHING MRKONJIC GRAD. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 27 November reported that uniformed Croats are systematically looting and burning properties in Mrkonjic Grad and surrounding areas. Croatian forces took the region in the weeks before the peace conference but will return it to the Serbs rather than yield land to them along the northern supply corridor. The daily also wrote about the extensive devastation of Roman Catholic churches and other property in Croatia by the Krajina Serbs during the four years of their uprising. -- Patrick Moore PREVLAKA PENINSULA AT CENTER OF CROATIAN CONTROVERSY. All local opposition parties from the Dubrovnik region on 26 November protested that the possible swap of the Prevlaka peninsula, which controls access to Montenegro's Bay of Kotor, for the Serb-controlled Dubrovnik hinterland, Nasa Borba reported the next day. Meanwhile, Vecernji list and Slobodna Dalmacija recently published interviews with Minister of Foreign Affairs Mate Granic saying that Croatia emerged from Dayton with its international borders intact, referring to Prevlaka and eastern Slavonia. He said that the Serbs and Montenegrins demanded certain "territorial swaps" but that no discussions can start before both Croatia and rump Yugoslavia officially recognize each other. -- Daria Sito Sucic PERRY IN MACEDONIA. U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry, during his visit to Macedonia on 23-24 November, said that 25 countries have so far offered to contribute troops to the 60,000-strong peacekeeping force for Bosnia, international agencies reported. He added that the mainly NATO force would be deployed very quickly after the signing of a peace agreement in Paris in early December and that there would be enough troops in Bosnia within weeks to carry out essential tasks. Perry also met with Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov, who appeared in public for the first time since the assassination attempt on 3 October. Perry was accompanied by the defense ministers of Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, which have 1,100 peacekeeping troops deployed in Macedonia. -- Fabian Schmidt SLOVENIA TO BECOME MEMBER OF FREE TRADE ASSOCIATION. Ljubljana on 25 November signed an agreement, to go into effect on 1 January, whereby Slovenia will become a member of the Central European Free Trade Agreement. Slovenia joins the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia in CEFTA. Reuters quoted Slovenian Minister of Economic Relations and Development Janko Dezelak as saying "we expect trade with CEFTA members will significantly increase as a result of the agreement." -- Stan Markotich ROMANIAN PRESIDENT SIGNS CONTROVERSIAL RESTITUTION LAW. Ion Iliescu on 24 November promulgated a controversial restitution law offering Romanians modest restitution for properties confiscated under the Communists in the late 1940s and 1950s, Romanian and Western media reported. Communist nationalization stripped hundreds of thousands of Romanians of most of their property, including homes and flats. The new law provides for compensation not exceeding 50 million lei (some $18,000). A communique released by the Presidential Office said the current administration cannot accept the blame for the actions of the former regime. It also said the authorities have to prevent "new injustice" against those currently living in nationalized flats. Romania has yet to resolve numerous arguments over the restitution of property that belonged to the Jewish community and the Greek Catholic Church. -- Dan Ionescu ROMANIAN SENATE ASKED TO LIFT EXTREMIST SENATOR'S IMMUNITY. Justice Minister Gavril Iosif Chiuzbaian asked the Senate to strip Corneliu Vadim Tudor, leader of the chauvinistic Greater Romania Party, of his parliamentary immunity, Radio Bucharest and Reuters reported on 24 November. The minister's decision came one month after the prosecutor- general's request to start procedures for lifting Tudor's immunity. Tudor has been accused of offending President Ion Iliescu and defaming state institutions (see OMRI Daily Digest, 26 October 1995). The final decision will be taken through a secret vote in the Senate, where two thirds of the senators have to vote for lifting his immunity. -- Matyas Szabo MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT ON RUSSIAN DUMA RESOLUTION. The Moldovan parliament on 24 November issued a declaration to the Russian State Duma demanding the recognition of the Dniester region's independence, BASA-press reported. According to the declaration, the Duma's resolution of 17 November "runs counter to the principles of interstate relations, Moldovan-Russian agreements, and CIS foundation acts." The document adds that the Moldovan legislation, its policy toward national minorities, and the commitments made to international organizations "do not give other states, including Russia," reasons to treat Moldova in a discriminatory manner. -- Matyas Szabo BULGARIAN JOURNALISTS ACCUSE GOVERNMENT OF CENSORSHIP. Thirty-four journalists working for state-run Bulgarian National Radio on 22 November issued a declaration accusing the socialist government of censoring state-run media, RFE/RL reported. The declaration accuses the government of suppressing "professionalism and freedom of speech," deciding which news items and studio guests will appear, rearranging newscasts, and virtually stripping journalists of the right to produce commentaries. Journalists can be fined 2,000 leva ($29), one third of their average salary, for not complying with government regulations. BNR Director-General Vecheslav Tunev refuted the charges, saying his policy aims at defending "national interests" and "the agenda of society." President Zhelyu Zhelev on 24 November received the 34 journalists to show solidarity with them. He called Bulgaria's postcommunist development "an imitation of freedom of speech, of democracy, of pluralism, and sometimes even of opposition." -- Stefan Krause FURTHER CHARGES BROUGHT AGAINST ALIA. Former Albanian President Ramiz Alia has been accused of ordering police to shoot at demonstrators in Tirana on 20 February 1991, international agencies reported on 25 November. It is reported that documents are available proving Alia gave the order as demonstrators toppled the monument of his predecessor, Enver Hoxha. Hekuran Isai, Alia's interior minister at the time, said he refused to obey the order because "bloodshed [was] certain." In a speech held after the incident, Alia complained to army officers that "the police did not carry out its task" and spoke of "organized bloodshed, if necessary...to organize the army to fight the internal enemy." -- Fabian Schmidt ROMANIAN PRESIDENT IN TURKEY. Ion Iliescu, heading a large delegation that included business leaders as well as his foreign, trade and transport ministers, paid a one-day visit to Turkey on 23 November, Western media reported. Iliescu met with Turkish President Suleyman Demirel to discuss strengthening bilateral economic and political ties. Annual bilateral trade totals $700 million, and an estimated 4,000 Turkish companies are active in Romania. -- Lowell Bezanis [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 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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