|It is easier to love humanity than to love one's neighbor. - Eric Hoffer|
No. 230, Part II, 28 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ LINTON SAYS U.S. MUST LEAD IN BOSNIA. President Bill Clinton made a 20- minute televised address on 27 November aimed at securing popular and congressional support for his plans to send 20,000 troops to Bosnia. He acknowledged there would be losses but stressed that the U.S. was not trying to police the world but rather seeking to bring peace to the "very heart of Europe." The president argued that "in fulfilling this mission, we will have the chance to help stop the killing of innocent civilians, and especially children, and, at the same time, bring stability to central Europe, a region of the world that is vital to our national interests." Using a combination of moral and strategic arguments, he told his audience that the troops' task would be clear- cut, that America's friends and allies needed it to lead, and that worse conflicts would follow if the U.S. tried to shirk its responsibilities now. -- Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE KUCHMA CRITICAL OF GOVERNMENT, POLITICAL OPPONENTS. At a news conference following a visit to the Ivano-Frankovsk region, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma criticized Prime Minister Vitalii Masol's government, UNIAN reported on 25 November. He noted that the government has failed to act on economic reform programs and is about to lose international credit as a result. Kuchma also voiced skepticism over the national democratic forces in the country, saying that personal ambitions of the far right are adversely affecting the political process. With elections for 45 vacant seats in the Ukrainian parliament less than two weeks away, such political sparring is likely to increase. -- Roger Kangas UKRAINIAN CABINET OF MINISTERS DISCUSS 1996 BUDGET. The Presidium of the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers has begun discussing the 1996 draft budget, UNIAN reported, as cited by the BBC. According to the draft budget, the national deficit will be 6% of GDP, or 427,200 billion karbovantsi. Budget revenues are pegged at 2.40 trillion karbovantsi and expenditures at 2.83 trillion. Problems that have to be addressed include the low output in the industrial sector, which is expected to increase by only 0.8% over 1995; limited external financing; and the chronic balance-of-payment and trade deficits. -- Roger Kangas CASE DROPPED AGAINST RUSSIAN COMMUNITY OF SEVASTOPOL. Sevastopol's Leninskii District Court has dropped a lawsuit filed by the city prosecutor-general against the organization Russian Community of Sevastopol, Russian TV reported on 27 November. The prosecutor-general had urged the dissolution of the organization, charging it with "escalation of interethnic tension" and "attempts to violate the territorial integrity of Ukraine" by assisting residents acquire Russian citizenship. The Ukrainian government is concerned about separatist tendencies in Crimea, because elements of the Russian population there insist that Sevastopol become part of Russia. -- Constantine Dmitriev BELARUSIAN ELECTION UPDATE. Belarusian Radio on 25 November reported that 865 candidates will compete for the 141 still-vacant seats in the Belarusian Supreme Soviet on 29 November. More than a third of the candidates (301) are independents, 121 belong to the Communist Party, 63 to the Belarusian Popular Front, 50 to the Agrarian Party, 37 to the Party of Popular Accord, and 30 each to the Belarusian Patriotic Movement and Social Democratic Hramada. Of the parliament's 260 deputies, 119 were elected in May. The legislature can begin work when two-thirds (174) are elected. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who has promised to introduce direct presidential rule if a new parliament is not elected, told a press conference on 27 November that he would probably not vote because "people who should not even be allowed near the parliament may get into it," Western agencies reported. -- Saulius Girnius ESTONIA'S TRADE DEFICIT INCREASES. The Estonian Customs Department on 27 November announced that the country's foreign trade deficit in October increased by 163 million kroons over the September level to reach 788 million kroons ($70 million), BNS reported. Imports increased by 259 million kroons to 2.97 billion kroons, while exports grew by only 96 million kroons. Finland was the source of 40.1% of imports and 23.7% of exports; Russia and Sweden both had a share of more than 10% share in imports and exports. The leading exports were farm products (15.8%), mechanical equipment (10.6%), and forest products (10.3%), while the leading imports were mechanical equipment (14.3%). farm products (12.1%), and electrical equipment (10.6%). -- Saulius Girnius NATIONAL CONCILIATION BLOC PREPARED TO FORM LATVIAN GOVERNMENT. Democratic Party Saimneiks Chairman Ziedonis Cevers, the prime minister candidate of the National Conciliation Bloc, on 27 November said that the bloc will announce its cabinet only after President Guntis Ulmanis formally invites it to do so, BNS reported. He said the candidates for economics, education, and interior ministers named in October have since been changed. Joachim Siegerist--the previous nominee for economics minister, whom Ulmanis refused to accept as a minister--is reported to have been seriously injured in an automobile accident in Italy. Modris Plate, who was to have been education minister, resigned from the Saeima on 27 November, saying he was returning to work as a Lutheran pastor. -- Saulius Girnius POLAND, BELARUS INTENSIFY COOPERATION. Polish Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy and his Belarusian counterpart, Mikhail Chyhir, signed in Warsaw on 27 November an agreement on cooperation in science and culture guaranteeing national minorities the right to education in their mother tongues. Representatives of Polish and Belarusian governments also signed an agreement on cooperation in customs procedures and the development of tourism. Work has already begun on drafting a clearing agreement between the two countries, Polish dailies reported on 28 November. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz POLISH OPINION POLL ON STATE INSTITUTIONS. An opinion poll conducted before the conclusion of the November 1995 presidential elections shows that the rating of the Presidency has increased considerably, from 23% in September to 51% this month. For the first time since 1991, more respondents approved than disapproved of the institution of the president. The ratings of the Sejm, the Senate, and the government also improved. Polish Radio and TV and the army led the approval rankings, with more than 70%. The Catholic Church received a 58% approval rate. The poll was conducted by the Public Opinion Research Center (CBOS) from 9-12 November and was published by the Polish press on 28 November. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECHS INVITED TO JOIN BRITISH BOSNIAN FORCE. Britain has said that Czech troops could be part of the British contingent in the planned NATO Bosnian peace implementation force, a Czech Foreign Ministry spokesman told CTK on 27 November. Karel Boruvka said British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind made the offer in a recent reply to a letter from Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec. The Czechs are thinking of providing a unit composed of 600-700 troops to operate in northwestern Bosnia. -- Doug Clarke SLOVAK ROUNDUP. Foreign Minister Juraj Schenk on 27 November told journalists that "the political will" does exist in Slovakia to ratify the bilateral treaty with Hungary. Slovak parliamentary committees will begin discussion of the treaty on 28 November, and it is likely that it will be placed on the agenda of the December parliamentary session. In a press conference on 27 December, the opposition Democratic Party (DS) described the coalition's actions during the recent joint session of Slovak and European parliamentary deputies as "shocking and shameful." DS Deputy Chairman Frantisek Sebej noted that immediately after the European deputies left, the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) began discussions about a law on the protection of the republic. HZDS Deputy Chairwoman Olga Keltosova noted the possibility of reducing funds for the opposition Democratic Union. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN, SLOVAK CONSTITUTIONAL COMMITTEES FAIL TO REACH AGREEMENT. Meeting in Budapest on 27 November, the Hungarian and Slovak parliamentary Constitutional Committees were unable to agree over Slovakia's recent controversial language law, Magyar Hirlap reported the next day. Jan Cuper, head of the Slovak delegation, told journalists that the language law meets European norms and is neither unconstitutional nor aimed at preventing ethnic minorities from using their own languages. He added that he saw no opportunity for the two foreign ministers to appeal to any international or European organization to examine the legality of the law, since that would constitute an interference into the internal affairs of a sovereign country. Peter Hack, chairman of the Hungarian committee, said the law violates several provisions of the Slovak constitution, including the one guaranteeing the rights of national minorities. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE KARADZIC WARNS THAT SARAJEVO WILL BE EITHER BERLIN OR BEIRUT. The Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported on 28 November that Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has said again that partition of the Bosnian capital is essential for peace. He argued that if it were not divided like Cold War-era Berlin, it would bleed like Beirut. He also warned that a "blood bath" would result if anyone attempted to arrest him or other internationally wanted Bosnian Serb war criminals. Nasa Borba quoted him as arguing that "the Dayton conference recognized our struggle for freedom and our state as well. I am the legal and official chief of state." He also claimed that he and his people have nothing to do with war crimes: "At the beginning of the war I ordered my officers to uphold the Geneva conventions [on the conduct of war]. I am sure that my army did not commit crimes." The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung added that Bosnian Serb commander General Ratko Mladic issued a statement that his army "would not give up Sarajevo." -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN PRESIDENT SAYS SERBIAN LEADER WANTS TO SPREAD WAR. Hina on 27 November quoted Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic as saying that Karadzic was simply trying to scare world opinion with his threats. Izetbegovic added that "my opinion is that Karadzic is afraid of peace and wants to spread the war, but this time by using the Serbian people [whom he has brought out to demonstrate]." Nasa Borba on 28 November cited Bosnian Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey as arguing that Karadzic's attitudes could lead to a continuation of the war. -- Patrick Moore BITTERNESS IN CROATIA OVER DAYTON AGREEMENT. Nasa Borba on 28 November also reported on the general dissatisfaction among Croats with the treaty, which is widely seen as "legalizing [the results of] ethnic cleansing," as Cardinal Vinko Puljic put it. Vecernji list added that people in the Posavina region of northern Bosnia are especially disappointed and that an assembly of refugees from there called the agreement "illegitimate and illegal." AFP reported that some 700 refugees have meanwhile "laid siege" to Zagreb city hall in protest and demanded that President Franjo Tudjman meet with them. -- Patrick Moore REFUGEES RETURN TO VELIKA KLADUSA. Attempts are under way to return the 20,000 refugees from Kuplensko in Croatia to the Velika Kladusa region in northwestern Bosnia. But there were only 600 takers by 26 November, when more than 200 people went, Vecernji list reported next day. The refugees are followers of local kingpin Fikret Abdic and are unwelcome in Croatia and politically at odds with the Bosnian authorities. The interior ministers of Bosnia, Croatia, and Turkey have agreed to work together to enable them to return home safely. The ministers visited both Kuplensko and the Velika Kladusa area to plan deployment of a joint police force. -- Daria Sito Sucic NATO MILITARY COMMITTEE DECIDES ON DEPLOYMENT PLAN. The NATO Military Committee on 27 November decided on an operations plan for the deployment of troops in Bosnia, Western agencies reported. But France, which is not a member of NATO's integrated military structure, is resisting turning over command of the operation to U.S. General George Joulwan, NATO supreme commander, until the promised 20,000-strong U.S. contingent arrives, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported the next day. This could threaten the beginning of NATO deployment, which is scheduled to take place after the formal signing of the peace treaty in Paris probably in mid-December. The NATO foreign ministers are expected to approve the operations plan at their meeting scheduled for 5-6 December. Under the plan, NATO forces will not be required to wait until being fired on before shooting. -- Michael Mihalka FUEL PRICES DROPPING ON SERBIAN BLACK MARKET. Bulgarian media on 28 November report that since sanctions have been eased against the rump Yugoslavia, the black market rates for vital commodities is tumbling. Most notably affected is the price of gasoline, which now sells at the equivalent of $0.56. Rump Yugoslav media report that large quantities of domestic fuel products are now on sale, partly in response to an anticipated influx of nearly 50,000 tons of foreign fuel deliveries. -- Stan Markotich UN SPECIAL ENVOY FOR HUMAN RIGHTS VISITS KOSOVO. International agencies on 27 November reported that Elizabeth Rehn was told by Serbian officials that Albanians have chosen to boycott public schools and other institutions and that the Kosovo conflict is an internal Serbian affair. Rehn, however, disputed this claim, saying when such rights are in question, "the international community has the right to interfere and try to help people." She also met with Kosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova and representatives of the Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms. Meanwhile, Margit Savovic, rump Yugoslav minister without portfolio in charge of human rights, declared that the Albanians of Kosovo have been accorded rights that "far surpass" international standards, AFP reports on 28 November. -- Fabian Schmidt ROMANIA'S RULING PARTY ELECTS LEADERSHIP. The National Council of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) on 26 November re- elected Oliviu Gherman and Adrian Nastase as the party's chairman and executive chairman, respectively, Radio Bucharest reported. The election followed the third nationwide PDSR conference, held in Bucharest on 24- 25 November, at which the party adopted its new program and discussed changes in its statutes. In a message to the conference, President Ion Iliescu said if he decided to run for office again, he would do so under the PDSR banner. The leftist PDSR, which has governed in coalition with nationalist and neo-communist parties, is the most popular single party in Romania. -- Dan Ionescu OSCE CRITICIZES RUSSIAN DUMA'S RESOLUTION ON MOLDOVA. The OSCE has criticized the Russian State Duma's recent resolution proclaiming the Dniester region a zone of special strategic importance for the Russian Federation, BASA-press reported on 27 November. According to a statement released by the Office of the OSCE Permanent Council's Chairman, the organization reaffirms its recognition of Moldova's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its current borders. The statement says that the OSCE regards continued talks as the only way to ensure a special status for eastern Moldova and that it fears "the Duma resolution can impede the process of finding a peaceful solution to the conflict." The OSCE calls upon the Russian government to continue to participate in the negotiations, pointing out the important role it has played to date. -- Matyas Szabo BULGARIA STOPS EXPORTS OF GRAIN. Despite an above-average grain harvest of 3.5 million tons this year, Bulgaria is presently facing a severe grain shortage, Bulgarian and Western media report. The government on 23 November banned the export of wheat, rye, and hops until 30 September 1996 in order to secure domestic supplies. A further export ban on sunflower seeds and cooking oil takes effect on 11 December. Prime Minister Zhan Videnov blamed speculators for the shortage but said "there will be no problems with bread supplies." The government on 27 November dismissed the managers of seven state-run mills for exporting grain, despite the ban. According to Agriculture Minister Vasil Chichibaba, the government controls about 40% of the grain supplies in the country. In order to secure fodder supplies, some 550,000 tons of corn will have to be imported, he said. -- Stefan Krause NANO'S SENTENCE INCREASED BY ONE YEAR... The Albanian Supreme Court has overruled an earlier decision by an appeals court and increased Albanian Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano's prison term by one year. A presidential amnesty and several courts of appeal reduced Nano's original 12-year term to four years. Following the introduction of the new Penal Code in June, a Tirana appeals court shortened his sentence to three years. Under this latest ruling, Nano will now have to spend another three years and seven months in jail. The Socialist Party claims that Nano, who was sentenced for misappropriation of Italian aid funds as prime minister in 1991, is a political prisoner and that his imprisonment is aimed at weakening the opposition. Amnesty International has also called for Nano's release, pointing out irregularities in his detention and trial. -- Fabian Schmidt ...PROMPTING RENEWED CHARGES OF POLITICAL MANIPULATION. Nano's lawyer, Perparim Sanxhaku, responded to the ruling by saying it proved that the court was politically manipulated, Reuters reported on 27 November. The Socialist Party has accused President Sali Berisha of keeping Nano in jail until Albania's parliamentary elections in May 1996. It has also condemned a controversial "genocide law" barring people who held high office until March 1991 from running for public office until 2002. Nano is affected by the law. Observers suspect that Berisha might pardon Nano by presidential amnesty on 28 November, Albanian Liberation Day, to prove that the judiciary is independent and to resolve the political conflict. -- 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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