|Fear of life in one form or another is the great thing to exorcise. - William James|
No. 232, Part II, 30 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ MORE THAN 5,000 STILL "MISSING" FROM SREBRENICA. UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali has written in a report that as many as 5,500 people remain unaccounted for in the wake of the Serbian conquest of Srebrenica and Zepa in July, international media reported on 30 November. Investigations by the Christian Science Monitor's David Rohde and other journalists suggest that thousands of Muslim male civilians were massacred by indicted war criminal General Ratko Mladic's troops. Boutros Ghali wrote that his own latest study "and other reports provide undeniable evidence of a consistent pattern of summary executions, rape, mass expulsions, arbitrary detentions, forced labor and large scale disappearances." German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel told the Bundestag that the top Bosnian Serb leaders must be tried as war criminals. Meanwhile in Sarajevo, the UN warned the Serbs that they face action by the Rapid Reaction Force if they do not stop blocking relief convoys bound for Gorazde. -- Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BELARUSIANS FAIL TO ELECT NEW PARLIAMENT. Belarusian Central Election Commission Head Alyaksandr Abramovich on 30 November announced that 20 new deputies were elected to the parliament the previous day, Western agencies reported. This raises the number of deputies to 139--35 short of the two-thirds needed for the 260-member parliament to be valid. Over 60% of eligible voters cast ballots for 865 candidates in 141 districts where deputies were not elected in May. Runoff elections will be held on 10 December. -- Saulius Girnius UKRAINE SEEKS COMPENSATION FOR TRADE LOSSES DUE TO SANCTIONS AGAINST SERBIA. Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk told visiting Bulgarian parliament speaker Blagovest Sendor that Ukraine, like Bulgaria, hopes to win major contracts for Ukrainian enterprises to participate in the rebuilding of Bosnia as compensation for the $4 billion trade losses incurred as a result of the UN sanctions against rump Yugoslavia, Eastern Economist Daily reported on 29 November. Marchuk said his government is seeking international recognition that Ukraine was one of the countries that financially suffered the most from lost trade along the Danube River. Otherwise, he said, it will be difficult for Ukrainian enterprises to compete with large Western companies for Bosnian contracts. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BALTIC MILITARY LEADERS SUPPORT DEFENSE UNION. Following two days of talks in Jurmala, the heads of the Baltic armed forces on 29 November said they supported establishing a defense union to support one other if attacked, Reuters reported. It is unclear, however, whether the governments are ready to sign such an agreement. The commanders issued a joint statement saying that the meeting had "mirrored steadily improving relations." They agreed that soldiers should receive part of their training in Western countries and that joint maneuvers would be held next year, some of which would take place within the framework of NATO's Partnership for Peace program. -- Saulius Girnius CEVERS IS NEW CANDIDATE FOR LATVIAN PREMIER. President Guntis Ulmanis on 29 November asked Democratic Party Saimnieks Chairman Ziedonis Cevers to try to form a new government, Reuters reported. Cevers, born in 1960, is the prime minister candidate of the National Conciliation Bloc--a coalition of three leftist parties and the Popular Movement for Latvia, led by right extremist Joachim Siegerist. Even though the NCB has a majority in the Saeima, Ulmanis did not nominate Cevers earlier since Siegerist was the economics minister candidate. Cevers said he dropped Siegerist for health reasons, but Latvian newspapers said reports of the latter's injury in a car accident in Italy were but a ruse to explain his withdrawal. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH FINANCE MINISTER IN PARIS. Grzegorz Kolodko on 29 November headed a visiting Polish delegation to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris, international media reported. Kolodko noted that OECD membership is crucial if Poland wants to enter the EU by the year 2000. OECD Secretary-General Jean-Claude Paye said he expected Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and South Korea to join the organization by the end of 1996. -- Jakub Karpinski DEBATE ON POLISH ARMY BUDGET. Deputies from the Democratic Left Alliance and the Freedom Union have criticized the draft of the Ministry of National Defense's 1996 budget. They argue that the salaries of senior officers are too high and that the personnel structure has not changed since the demise of the Warsaw Treaty. They also point out that the large number of senior officers (34,100) is one of the reasons why 64.7% of the budget is destined for salaries in the army, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 30 November. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz CZECH TRADE UNIONS SELL DAILY. Controversial businessman Vladimir Stehlik has bought control of the Czech trade unions' daily newspaper Prace, Czech media reported on 29 November. It was not until 28 November that union leaders became aware of the sale, which took place last week and was negotiated by the company that administers union property, according to Prace. The daily, which was founded 51 years ago, has been losing money and circulation but is still among the 10 best-selling Czech national dailies. Lidove noviny reported that Stehlik has paid a 10 million koruny ($385,000) deposit on the purchase of 51% of Prace, which he intends to rename Ceska prace. Stehlik is head of a steelworks that has debts totaling hundreds of millions of koruny. -- Steve Kettle SLOVAK COURT DISSOLVES TWO COMMISSIONS. The Constitutional Court on 29 November ruled that the parliament's creation of investigative commissions is unconstitutional, Sme and Pravda reported. Christian Democratic Movement Deputy Chairman Ivan Simko, who represents the 42 opposition deputies who appealed to the court over the issue, said at least two commissions will have to stop working immediately--the one investigating the March 1994 "constitutional crisis," which marked the fall of Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's previous government, and the one investigating the death of Prague Spring leader Alexander Dubcek. The former is especially controversial since its purpose is to gather evidence to dismiss President Michal Kovac from office. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAKIA TO ACQUIRE MORE MIGS FROM RUSSIA. As part of Russia's repayment of its debt, Slovakia will acquire seven Russian MiG 29 fighter planes and one MiG 29 UB, which is designed for training, Pravda reported on 29 November. According to Slovak Defense Ministry State Secretary Jozef Gajdos, the total value of the eight jets is $200 million. Slovakia received six MiG-29s worth $180 million from Russia in 1993. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARY RESPONDS TO SIGNING OF SLOVAK LANGUAGE LAW. Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs has described Slovak President Kovac's signing of the language law as "regrettable," saying the goal of the Hungarian government remains ensuring that minorities have unrestricted use of their native language. Matyas Eorsi, chairman of the parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, expressed his disappointment and said the signing would sour relations between the two countries. Meanwhile, Victor Orban, chairman of the parliamentary committee on European integration consulted EU Commissioner for External Affairs Hans van den Broek. Orban said he thinks that the European Commission sees no problem with the language law, adding that Brussels' position testifies to an "erroneous assessment" of the situation. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE CHIRAC CALLS FOR CHANGES IN DAYTON AGREEMENT. International media on 28 November reported that French President Jacques Chirac has called for greater security guarantees for Sarajevo's Serbs. The U.S., however, said that the agreement initialed in Dayton is the one that will be signed in Paris on 14 December. Washington fears that tampering with any one part of the patiently assembled package could cause the whole thing to come undone. It is unclear what prompted Chirac's statements. Elsewhere, Hina reported on 29 November that Franjo Komarica, the Croatian bishop of Banja Luka, has called on Croatian troops to respect Serbs and their property in the areas of western Bosnia to be returned to Serbian control. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 27 November reported that uniformed Croats were looting and burning Serbian property. -- Patrick Moore FINAL DETAILS OF NATO DEPLOYMENT PLAN HAMMERED OUT. NATO defense ministers, meeting on 29 November in Brussels, resolved the remaining questions about the alliance's deployment plan for Bosnia, Western agencies reported. The "enabling" force, which will to clear airfields and set up headquarters, is expected to begin arriving in Bosnia on 1 December. Most of the 60,000 troops should be deployed within 30 days of the signing of the peace treaty, expected to take place in Paris on 14 December. However, questions remain about disarmament and reconstruction. U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry said the U.S. will arm the Bosnian army within six months if talks prove unsuccessful on arms reduction. Austria on 28 November made a formal offer of 300 troops for Bosnia. The Czech government followed suit the next day by announcing it would send up to 1,000 men. -- Michael Mihalka UPDATE ON PURGE OF SERBIAN SOCIALISTS. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 30 November reports on the continuing purge of nationalist hardliners in Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia. In addition to prominent national figures such as Mihailo Markovic, chief party ideologist, several lesser-known personalities have also been removed, including Radovan Pankov, a party leader in Vojvodina, and Tanjug chief Slobodan Jovanovic. There is speculation among the Western media that Milosevic is trying to distance himself from the nationalists in the wake of the Dayton peace talks. Meanwhile, RFE/RL on 29 November reported that one of the ousted, Borisav Jovic, who is a long-time Milosevic ally and among the party founders, recently published a manuscript implicating Milosevic in instigating and waging war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. -- Stan Markotich UN SPECIAL ENVOY FOR HUMAN RIGHTS CONCERNED ABOUT KOSOVO. Elizabeth Rehn, following a two-day visit to Kosovo, has expressed concern about the effects of ethnic tensions in Kosovo, AFP reported on 28 November. She said that "quite obvious very serious...incidents have happened." She added that she was "very concerned about the terribly big difference in opinion and views between Serb authorities and Albanians, especially regarding the very important questions of education and health care." Shadow state President Ibrahim Rugova, meanwhile, repeated demands for an international conference on Kosovo and the southern Balkans. According to AFP, "tens of thousands of police are deployed in the region to cool interethnic tension." -- Fabian Schmidt BIG SHAKEUP DUE IN CROATIAN MILITARY? Nedjeljna Dalmacija on 29 November wrote that it has an unconfirmed scoop on an impending complete overhaul of the army, navy, and air force to bring them into line with NATO standards. Once the arms embargo is lifted, equipment will be modernized and improved, but there will be big problems in replacing large numbers of trucks and other Warsaw Pact materiel "of dubious quality." There will be a wholesale retirement of officers with a background in the former Yugoslav army, because their outlook is too rooted in its doctrine and thinking. Two generals who might succeed Zvonimir Cervenko as chief of staff are Ante Gotovina or Ante Roso, both of whom received their training in the French Foreign Legion. -- Patrick Moore CROATIA, IRAN DISCUSS COOPERATION. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman met with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati in Zagreb on 29 November to discuss "trilateral cooperation between Bosnia, Croatia, and Iran," AFP reported. Valayati pledged Iran would help Bosnia and Croatia reconstruct their countries, while Croatian Defense Minister Gojko Susak said Croatia and Iran are expected to sign a military cooperation agreement before Christmas, HINA reported the same day. Valayati said that once the arms embargo against Croatia is lifted, Iran has no reservations about military cooperation. This view was also expressed by representatives at a two-day meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Tehran, which ended on 29 November. The delegates pledged "military, economic, humanitarian, and judicial aid" to Bosnia and stressed the need for a military balance between Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia. -- Daria Sito Sucic SLOVENIAN, CROATIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET. Slovenian Foreign Minister Zoran Thaler met with his Croatian counterpart, Mate Granic, at Bezanec Castle, just north of Zagreb, on 29 November, Hina reported. Both ministers agreed the meeting was "successful and useful," noting they had discussed plans for talks between the Slovenian and Croatian prime ministers for January 1996. Thaler said Ljubljana supported Croatia's efforts to achieve EU membership. For his part, Granic reportedly briefed Thaler on developments at the recently concluded Dayton peace talks. Both ministers indicated that bilateral cooperation was a priority and raised the issue of Belgrade's attempts to seize control over overseas hard currency assets of the former Yugoslavia. -- Stan Markotich SLOVENIAN GOVERNMENT RESISTS CALLS FOR EARLY ELECTIONS. STA on 28 November reported that the cabinet of Janez Drnovsek will not agree to holding elections in the spring of 1996, some six months before they are slated. The announcement came in the wake of recent pressure by Christian Democratic Party (SKD) members who had proposed early polling as means of reactivating foreign policy and domestic economic reform. The governing coalition is made up of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDS), the United List of Social Democrats (ZLSD), and the SKD. -- Stan Markotich ROMANIAN OPPOSITION ATTACKS CABINET OVER ECONOMIC POLICIES. Romania's main opposition bloc on 28 November threatened to initiate a vote of no confidence in the government over its economic and social policies, Reuters reported. A spokeswoman for the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR) was quoted as saying the motion was necessary because of "the government's poor economic performance." The CDR blamed Nicolae Vacaroiu's left-wing cabinet for the depreciation of the national currency and for plunging living standards. It added that it would table a no-confidence motion if the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania supported the government's austerity draft budget for 1996. The CDR recently issued a political program pledging to radically improve the country's economic situation within 200 days if it won the 1996 elections. -- Dan Ionescu ROMANIAN SECRET SERVICE WORRIED ABOUT COMPUTER USERS. A report on the Romanian Intelligence Service's activities from October 1994 to September 1995, published earlier this month, has provoked heated parliamentary debates, Radio Bucharest reported on 28 November. The report claims, among other things, that foreign secret services are increasingly using computer techniques to collect data on Romania's economic, social, and political situation. Niculae Ionescu-Galbeni, a deputy for the opposition National Peasant Party-Christian Democratic, warned against extending the concept of "threats to national security" to the economic and social sectors. -- Dan Ionescu HEALTH CARE WORKERS DEMONSTRATE IN BUCHAREST. Trade unions from the Romanian health care sector on 29 November protested in downtown Bucharest over low pay and budget cuts in the sector, Romanian media reported. Union representatives from 40 regional branches took part in the meeting. The demonstrators were joined by other professional groups, including teachers and workers from the timber industry. Marius Petcu, leader of the health care workers' trade union, said if the government does not meet the protesters' demands, they will appeal to international organizations. -- Matyas Szabo BULGARIAN AIRLINES IN DIRE STRAITS. State-owned Balkan Bulgarian Airlines on 29 November announced that it risks losing its three leased Airbus planes if the government does not offer financial assistance, Western agencies reported. Balkan owes $8.5 million in leasing fees to the Dublin-based Japanese company Orix. Two planes are impounded in Amsterdam and London, and the third is grounded in Sofia. Balkan is facing severe financial problems which forced it to suspend a number of international flights in October (see OMRI Daily Digest, 20 October 1995). So far, there has been a marked lack of interest in Balkan's privatization. -- Stefan Krause TWO BULGARIAN JOURNALISTS FIRED FOR SUPPORTING DISSENTING COLLEAGUES. Bulgarian National Radio Director-General Vecheslav Tunev on 29 November dismissed two journalists working on BNR's "Hristo Botev" program, Kontinent reported the following day. Georgi Vasilksi and Petar Kolev on 28 November broadcast a statement supporting journalists from Radio Horizont (BNR's other channel) who had recently issued a declaration accusing BNR's management of censorship (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 November 1995). According to other Bulgarian media, journalists from the private Radio Darik also came out in support of their colleagues at Radio Horizont. -- Stefan Krause AMERICAN MARINES START TRAINING IN ALBANIA. Some 350 U.S. marines from the Sixth Fleet Expeditionary Force on 29 November began a six-day cold weather training in the northern Albanian Lure Mountain region, Koha Jone reported. Reuters the previous day quoted Albanian Defense Ministry sources as saying the training was likely to have been organized to accustom U.S. troops to Bosnia's climate and terrain for later deployment there. U.S. military attache Lt.-Col. Steven Bucci did not confirm future deployment in Bosnia but said the troops would "train to use equipment they do not usually use." Albanian President Sali Berisha has repeatedly offered air and port facilities to the United States and to NATO troops. -- 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. 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