|There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in. - Graham Greene|
No. 231, Part II, 29 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ KARADZIC SAYS HE BACKS DAYTON AGREEMENT. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic told CNN on 28 November that he supports the peace pact. He added, however, that time would be needed for its implementation and that his government would have to build new housing for Serbs from Sarajevo and other areas assigned to the Croat-Muslim federation. He used a conciliatory tone and avoided the bluster and references to bloodbaths that characterized his spate of interviews in recent days. Karadzic said that U.S. troops did not have to worry about "incidents" if they "came as friends." -- Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINE ON SENDING TROOPS TO BOSNIA, ANGOLA. Defense Minister Valerii Shmarov told a news conference on 27 November that Ukraine is willing to send Ukrainian peacekeepers to enforce the Dayton accord in Bosnia, but not under NATO command, UNIAN reported. He said Kiev has proposed to place Ukrainian troops under separate French command, although NATO would retain overall control of the mission. Shmarov also said that Ukraine has agreed to a UN proposal to send 1,200 engineers to Angola. Meanwhile, international agencies reported Shmarov as saying Kiev would follow Moscow's lead and seek relief from some restrictions in the 1990 CFE treaty. While Ukraine has met most CFE targets in arms cuts and troop reductions, the defense minister hopes to strengthen its military presence on the southern flank, bordering the Black Sea, Moldova, and Romania. -- Chrystyna Lapychak OCSE OFFICIAL SUGGESTS CRIMEA RETAIN QUOTAS FOR ETHNIC MINORITIES. OSCE High Commissioner on Ethnic Minorities Max van der Stoel has recommended in a letter to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko that Crimea retain quotas for ethnic minorities for representation in the regional legislature, Ukrainian TV reported on 27 November. The quota system, which until recently provided for 14 seats in the 98-member Crimean assembly to be reserved for Crimean Tatar representatives, was left out of the new Crimean Constitution, prompting protests by the Tatar minority. The quotas set aside one seat each for the Bulgarian, German, Greek, and Armenian minorities on the peninsula. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUS PRESIDENT'S ALLEGED PRAISE FOR HITLER CAUSES CONTROVERSY. Opposition parties in Belarus have blasted Alyaksandr Lukashenka over a leaked interview with the German newspaper Handelsblatt in which he praised Hitler, Western agencies reported on 28 November. Izvestiya, citing a Belarusian Radio broadcast, quotes Lukashenka as saying "Germany was once built up out of the ruins with the help of a strong hand. Not everything that was connected to a certain Adolf Hitler in Germany was bad." Opposition leaders said the president's comments showed a lack of respect for the many victims of World War II. A presidential spokesman said that the controversy was a "ruse that was circulated by the Belarus nationalists on the eve of the run-off [parliamentary] elections." -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIA ORDERS REGISTRATION OF ALL EXPLOSIVES. Prompted by the 70 or so bombings this year, the Lithuanian government on 27 November issued a decree ordering the registration of all explosive materials, BNS and Western agencies reported the next day. The decree says that people will not be punished for illegal possession of explosives if they are voluntarily handed over to the police. The authorities' inability to stop the bombings has been severely criticized and led to an abortive parliamentary vote of no confidence in Interior Minister Romasis Vaitekunas on 28 November The minister remained in office since the ruling Democratic Labor Party decided not to participate in the vote. -- Saulius Girnius RESIGNATION OF POLISH KEY MINISTERS ACCEPTED. Polish Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy on 28 November accepted the resignations of Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, Internal Affairs Minister Andrzej Milczanowski, and Defense Minister Zbigniew Okonski. The three ministers asked for their resignations to take effect on 20 December, two days before the inauguration of President-elect Aleksander Kwasniewski. Under Polish constitutional law, the holders of all three portfolios are appointed after consultations with the president. Oleksy said that, despite speculation to the contrary, it "would be quite astonishing" if the three posts were offered to members of the opposition, Polish dailies reported on 29 November. -- Jakub Karpinski WALESA MEETS WITH OPPOSITION LEADERS. Polish President Lech Walesa has begun talks with leaders of the opposition parties. On 28 November, he met with the Freedom Union leaders Leszek Balcerowicz and Bronislaw Geremek. Balcerowicz said that an agreement was possible between his party and the four opposition groups not represented in the Sejm. According to Rzeczpospolita on 29 November, Walesa said he had different ideas. The daily suggests the possibility of creating a Walesa-led political institute reminiscent of the "citizens' committees" founded in 1989. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH REPUBLIC JOINS OECD. Czech Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec and Jean-Claude Paye, secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, on 28 November signed documents admitting the Czech Republic as the first post-communist country to the OECD. The Czech parliament is expected to ratify the agreements in December, after which the Czech Republic will become the OECD's 26th member. Following the signing ceremony at OECD headquarters in Paris, Zieleniec said being accepted into the organization signified that industrialized countries valued the Czech Republic's successful economic development since 1989, Czech media reported. -- Steve Kettle SLOVAK PRESIDENT SIGNS LANGUAGE LAW . . . Michal Kovac on 28 November signed the controversial law making Slovak the only official language in Slovakia and restricting the use of other languages in public life. According to presidential spokesman Vladimir Stefko, Kovac considers the law "necessary and important" in fulfilling the constitutional article stating that Slovak is the "state language on Slovak territory," Sme reported. Kovac signed the law, despite the fact that the parliament has not yet passed a bill on minority languages; but he said he received a promise from Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar that the cabinet would submit such a bill to the parliament in the near future. -- Sharon Fisher . . . AS OPPOSITION THREATENS TO APPEAL. Frantisek Miklosko, deputy chairman of the opposition Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), told Reuters that his party does not understand why Kovac signed the law "in the hope that Meciar would keep his promise." Miklosko said his party considers it "a bad law," and he noted that the KDH will challenge it in the Constitutional Court. Representatives of the Hungarian coalition called the law unconstitutional and also promised to appeal. According to Stefko, if the government does not submit the minority languages bill shortly or if the rights of minorities are limited before it is passed, Kovac will take the law to court. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES TRANSIT OF NATO TROOPS. The Hungarian parliament on 28 November overwhelmingly gave its assent for the Nato Implementation Force (IFOR) to transit Hungarian territory, establish logistics bases, and use Hungarian airspace and designated airports before performing peacekeeping operations in Bosnia, Hungarian media reported. MTI quotes "reliable sources" as saying that a technical team of 200-300 Hungarian soldiers will take part in the peacekeeping operations by building and guarding a bridge along a stretch of the Sava River. NATO requested the participation of Hungarian troops when Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs visited Brussels last week. In an opinion poll conducted in Hungary the same day, the majority of respondents were opposed to the idea. -- Zsofia Szilagyi NEW HUNGARIAN MINISTERS. Socialist deputy Peter Kiss was sworn into office on 28 November as minister of labor beginning 1 December, Hungarian media reported. He replaces Magda Kosa Kovacs, who resigned in late September. Balint Magyar of the SZDSZ is that party's nominee for minister of culture and education, replacing fellow party member Gabor Fodor, Nepszabadsag reported on 29 November. Fodor resigned last week after disagreeing with a government decision to cut state funds. Hungary's stabilization program has prompted six ministers to leave the cabinet so far this year. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE KARADZIC SAYS HE BACKS DAYTON AGREEMENT. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic told CNN on 28 November that he supports the peace pact. He added, however, that time would be needed for its implementation and that his government would have to build new housing for Serbs from Sarajevo and other areas assigned to the Croat-Muslim federation. He used a conciliatory tone and avoided the bluster and references to bloodbaths that characterized his spate of interviews in recent days. Karadzic said that U.S. troops did not have to worry about "incidents" if they "came as friends." -- Patrick Moore GERMAN CABINET DECIDES TO SEND TROOPS TO BOSNIA. The German cabinet on 28 November decided to send 4,000 troops to the former Yugoslavia, Western agencies reported the next day. The troops will consist largely of auxiliary personnel, including medical and transport units, and for the first time will be guarded by their own troops. To date, Germany has avoided sending combat troops to the former Yugoslavia because of sensitivities over World War II. The troops will be based in Croatia. The Bundestag is expected to endorse the cabinet's decision next week. The opposition Social Democrats have said they will vote for the deployment. -- Michael Mihalka PRO-PALE SERBS TO LEAVE SARAJEVO? UN officials in Sarajevo said tens of thousands of Bosnian Serbs would rather leave than live in the Muslim- Croat Federation, Nasa Borba reported on 28 November. A UNHCR spokesman estimated that 40,000-60,000 Serbs live in the Serb-controlled part of the city (Bosnian Serb leaders put the figure at 120,000-150,000). He added that they do not trust the Bosnian government, despite its call for Serbian civilians to stay in their homes. It is unclear how the Bosnian government intends to differentiate between those who actively participated in the war and those who did not. Meanwhile, pro-government Serbs in Sarajevo have urged fellow Serbs in the Pale-controlled parts of Sarajevo to accept the Dayton agreement and not be manipulated by Pale, the BBC reported, quoting Radio Sarajevo. -- Daria Sito Sucic TURKISH PREMIER IN BOSNIAN CAPITAL. Tansu Ciller on 28 November paid a one-day working visit to Sarajevo aimed at investigating how Turkey can contribute to Bosnia's postwar reconstruction, international media reported. She noted that Turkey was prepared to help train Bosnian soldiers, and she opened a branch office of the Turkish Foreign Ministry, to be run by the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency. Her visit is part of an effort to highlight Turkey's ties to Bosnian Muslims in the run-up to parliamentary elections scheduled for 24 December. -- Lowell Bezanis SERBIAN PRESIDENT PURGES PARTY OF "HARDLINERS." Tanjug on 28 November reported that a number of top-level nationalist leaders of the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) were removed from their posts on the eve of the rump Yugoslavia's national holiday. According to the news agency, three prominent hardliners were sacked from executive ranks to be replaced by purported moderates. Mihailo Markovic and Borisav Jovic, long-time aides of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic who helped found the party, were removed as vice presidents, while Milorad Vucelic was ousted as leader of the SPS in the parliament. Replacing them are Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic, former Premier Nikola Sainovic, and federal President Zoran Lilic. AFP reported that Jovic said in an interview with Radio B 92 that he had no idea what prompted the dismissals. -- Stan Markotich CROATIAN UPDATE. The Croatian Sabor (the lower house of the parliament) on 28 November unanimously elected Vlatko Pavletic as its speaker, Vjesnik reported. The new government won a vote of confidence by 77 to five with 39 abstentions. Hina reported that opposition parties criticized the government for failing to present its economic program and demanded that the Sabor discuss the Dayton peace agreement. Also on 28 November, Pavletic received a delegation of Bosnian Posavina expellees, who staged a protest rally outside Zagreb's town hall. Some 170,000 Croats lived in Bosnian Posavina before the war; about 3,000 Muslims and Croats are estimated to have lost their lives in its defense. -- Daria Sito Sucic DID TUDJMAN SELL OUT POSAVINA CROATS? Evidence continues to mount that the Croats at the Dayton conference made little or no effort to regain the Posavina. Bosnian Croat leader Kresimir Zubak told Novi list on 29 November that the delegation split over the Posavina question. Zubak is from northern Bosnia and opposes the agreement. Hina quoted Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic as saying that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic got up at the opening session and "in front of everybody said that there existed an agreement with the Croats about the area and that there was nothing left to discuss." Silajdzic added that the Americans provided the Croat-Muslim federation with crucial support on the questions of Sarajevo, Gorazde, and the constitution, but "where there was no American support, we didn't get what we wanted." -- Patrick Moore SLOVENIA OPPOSES BELGRADE'S ATTEMPTS TO ASSERT JURISDICTION OVER ASSETS. Hina on 28 November reported that representatives from Bosnia- Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, and Slovenia met in Ljubljana to discuss and coordinate strategies aimed at countering Belgrade's efforts to assert control over access to foreign assets once held by the former Yugoslavia. With the recent suspension of sanctions, Belgrade is apparently attempting to gain control over foreign-currency and gold reserves. Slovenia's Foreign Minister Zoran Thaler said "the succession issue should be discussed apart from the peace process. It has nothing to with war in Bosnia." He also observed that all of the Yugoslav successor states should have an equal say over the contested assets. -- Stan Markotich ROMANIAN PREMIER IN RUMP YUGOSLAVIA. Nicolae Vacaroiu on 27-28 November paid an official visit to Serbia and Montenegro, Radio Bucharest reported. He was accompanied by Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu and Trade Minister Petru Crisan. In a series of interviews, Vacaroiu stressed it was the first visit paid by a head of government to that country since the lifting of U.S. sanctions. He also said the talks focused on resuming traditionally close economic ties, and he expressed hopes that bilateral trade would reach $1 billion a year. Vacaroiu met with senior officials, including Yugoslav President Zoran Lilic and the presidents of Serbia and Montenegro, Slobodan Milosevic and Momcilo Bulatovic. The two sides signed a series of bilateral agreements, including one on promoting and protecting mutual investments. -- Dan Ionescu STUDENTS, TEACHERS DEMONSTRATE IN BUCHAREST. Thousands of Romanian teachers protested in Bucharest on 28 November over low pay and the poor state of education, Radio Bucharest and international media reported. The teachers were joined by Bucharest University students, who have resumed earlier protest actions against a controversial education law (see OMRI Daily Digest, 18-20 October 1995). Representatives of teachers' trade unions handed over their demands to the Government, and agreed to start negotiations next week. Meanwhile, the Senate adopted a set of modifications to the education law, already passed by the Chamber of Deputies. According to a senate official, most of the students' claims were thus met. -- Matyas Szabo MOLDOVAN-DNIESTER SUMMIT CALLED OFF. Moldovan President Mircea Snegur and the president of the self-styled Dniester republic, Igor Smirnov, have called off a meeting scheduled for 29 November, BASA-press reported. Dniester Vice President Aleksandr Karaman was quoted as blaming Chisinau for allegedly presenting Tiraspol with "unacceptable proposals and ultimatums." Chisinau repeatedly signaled its willingness to grant the breakaway region broad autonomy, but Tiraspol insists on full recognition of its independent statehood. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIAN ETHNIC TURKISH PARTY ASKS PRESIDENT FOR HELP. The Central Council of the Movement for Rights and Freedom (DPS) on 28 November asked President Zhelyu Zhelev to assist in the "normalization of the situation" in Kardzhali, Standart reported the following day. Rasim Musa of the DPS was elected mayor of that city, but the governing Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) demanded that the election be invalidated (see OMRI Daily Digest, 20 November 1995). The Municipal Electoral Commission declared the elections valid and the Regional Court in Kardzhali rejected the BSP's petition. Nonetheless, the government-appointed provincial governor has so far not confirmed Musa's election or called a meeting of the city council, Demokratsiya reported. -- Stefan Krause TURKISH POLICY SHIFT ON CFE? Ankara has announced its willingness to accept an unspecified modification in the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty, Turkish and Western media reported on 28 November. Turkey previously was adamantly opposed to any modification of the treaty. An unnamed official told AFP that Turkey may accept such changes as long as they meet its security needs. -- Lowell Bezanis BLACK SEA ECONOMIC COOPERATION. Parliamentary delegations from 11 countries participating in the Black Sea Economic Cooperation organization met in Ankara on 28 November, international media reported. The meeting opened with an appeal for closer cooperation. Turkey's parliamentary chairman, Ismet Sezgin reproached Russia for hosting a session of the Kurdish parliament-in-exile, while Gennadii Seleznev, deputy chairman of the State Duma Committee on Information Policy and Communication, said the event was in keeping with pluralism and democracy in Russia, Yeni Yuzyil reported on 29 November. -- 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. 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