|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
No. 233, Part II, 1 December 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/Index.html ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^TODAY'S TOP STORY^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ U.S. REJECTS FRENCH CALL FOR REVISING BOSNIAN PEACE PLAN. International media on 1 December reported that top American officials have again stated that the Dayton agreement cannot be changed. Their fear is clearly that tampering with any one aspect of the accord would open a Pandora's box of additional demands for revisions. The French UN commander in Sarajevo, General Jean-Rene Bachelet, told a French daily that the peace plan is flawed because it offers the Serbs of Sarajevo little choice but to flee. He suggested that the Serbs would destroy what they could not take along with them and that the Americans had rushed the treaty through for domestic political reasons. Other French officials warned that France wants its downed pilots returned before the agreement is signed. The International Herald Tribune quoted EU mediator Carl Bildt as saying that the agreement should not be revised but that the Bosnian government should give special guarantees of safety to the Serbs. -- Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINE FORGES TIES WITH SOUTH KOREA. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko, during his first official visit to Seoul, has promised that his country will not sell arms to North Korea if closer diplomatic and economic ties are forged with South Korea, international agencies reported on 30 November. Udovenko made his pledge in response to a personal request by South Korean Foreign Minister Kong Nomyong that Kiev refrain from exporting weapons to rival North Korea. Kong also asked for Kiev to provide favorable conditions for Koreans living in Ukraine. In return, the South Koreans agreed to step up trade and investment. The foreign minister signed several agreements on forging diplomatic and economic ties and air links between Kiev and Seoul. Ukraine plans to set up a permanent mission in the South Korean capital. -- Chrystyna Lapychak UPDATE ON CHORNOBYL SHUTDOWN. International agencies on 30 November reported that Ukrainian and G-7 representatives have reached an agreement in Vienna on a memorandum outlining steps toward a final shutdown in the year 2000 of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant. No details were offered about the key issue of financing the closure. Meanwhile, an international conference in Salvutych, where Chornobyl personnel live, revealed that radiation above the entombed reactor still measures up to 46 roentgen per hour-- the same levels recorded during construction of the sarcophagus immediately after the April 1986 nuclear explosion. A prominent British medical expert says as many as 40% of children in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia who were exposed to radiation from Chornobyl nine years ago are expected to develop thyroid cancer over the next 30 years, AFP reported. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUS ELECTION WRAP-UP. Foreign observers said the parliamentary elections on 29 November were generally free and fair, but they criticized restrictions on the media, Western agencies reported the next day. Opposition leaders said the fact that turnout was below the required 50% in only two of the 141 election districts indicated that the public was protesting President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's threats to impose presidential rule if a new parliament were not elected. The parliament now has 139 deputies: 33 Communists, 39 from the Agrarian Party, 5 from democratic parties, and 62 independents. It is unclear whether voters on 10 December will elect 35 new deputies to achieve the two-thirds quota necessary for the parliament to be valid. -- Saulius Girnius CONSULTATIONS ON NEW LATVIAN GOVERNMENT. Prime minister candidate Ziedonis Cevers on 30 November held talks with representatives of the Latvian National Independence Party and Latvia's Way on possible support for his government, BNS reported. In an effort to make his government more stable, Cevers seems willing to offer cabinet posts to members of parties that do not belong to his National Conciliation Bloc. Latvia's Way Chairman Valdis Birkavs, however, said his party will support Cevers only if another right of center party agrees to support him. This, however, is unlikely. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIA'S DRAFT BUDGET FOR 1996 APPROVED. The Seimas on 30 November approved the draft budget for 1996, BNS reported. Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius said it will be about 30% larger than that for 1995 and will be focused more on social needs. Expenditures for social welfare, health care, education, and culture are to be increased by 79%, 42%, 37%, and 34%, respectively. The salaries of doctors will be raised by 24% and teachers by 28%. The budget deficit will be larger than this year but will remain about 2% of GDP, as agreed to with the International Monetary Fund. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH SUPREME COURT ON VALIDITY OF PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. The Polish Supreme Court has rejected some 200 filed complaints about minor irregularities during the Polish presidential elections. But the court is currently swamped with the 598,000 complaints lodged by Solidarity and outgoing President Lech Walesa's election committees about President-elect Aleksander Kwasniewski's claim he had received a master's degree. Kwasniewski later admitted that he had not submitted his master's thesis. The court is to ask sociologists whether this misinformation could have influenced the election results, Polish dailies reported on 1 December. The court has to reach a decision by 9 December. -- Jakub Karpinski FEWER POLISH TROOPS TO BOSNIA? Poland may send a smaller contingent to the Bosnian peacekeeping forces owing to a lack of funds, Defense Minister Zbigniew Okonski said on 30 November. Experts estimate that sending a Polish battalion will cost at least 54-72 million zloty ($2.16-$2.88 million). The U.S. has said it will cover some transportation expenses, while the Germans will provide armored transporters, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 1 December. Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Aleksander Luczak, at his meeting on 30 November with the rectors of Polish universities, said those employed in higher education will receive nominal wage hikes of 50% (36% in real terms). He added that in 1996, the government wants to increase spending on higher education by 13% over this year's levels. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz SLOVAK PRESIDENT PARDONS KIDNAPPER. Michal Kovac has pardoned a former agent of the Slovak Information Service (SIS) who confessed to participating in the abduction of Kovac's son, Slovak media reported on 1 December. The 26 year-old former agent, known as Oskar F., has given a series of interviews to Sme detailing the abduction and alleging that SIS director Ivan Lexa ran the entire action by radio. Oskar F., who is now in hiding and fears for his life, also spoke with investigator Peter Vacok, who was later removed from the case. President Kovac said the testimony of other witnesses has also pointed to Oskar F.'s guilt, and he noted that Oskar F. could face prosecution. According to presidential spokesman Vladimir Stefko, Kovac made the decision based on Oskar F.'s "spontaneous and full confession," which, he said, can be seen as an effort to clear up the matter and ensure that justice is done. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK COURT CONTRADICTS MINISTRY DECISION. The Supreme Court on 30 November reversed the Finance Ministry's decision to revoke the license of the investment firm PSIS, Sme and Narodna obroda reported. The ministry took the decision on 31 March, transferring control of the PSIS's investment funds to Harvard Investment. In an interview with Sme, PSIS director Igor Duric said the decision shows that the Slovakia's courts are functioning. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARY TO SEND MILITARY TROOPS TO BOSNIA? The Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ), the junior coalition partner, is backing Hungary's decision to let NATO troops transit the country and to use Hungarian airspace and bases. It also approves of its offer to send technical or health teams to Bosnia but is against sending armed units. Two opposition parties--the Smallholders and the Democratic Forum--are also opposed to that offer. The parliament last week approved letting NATO troops be stationed on Hungarian territory and is still debating NATO's request to dispatch Hungarian troops for non-combat missions (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29 November 1995) Defense Minister Gyorgy Keleti said Hungarian troops would carry out military tasks and would carry weapons. -- Zsofia Szilagyi NO AGREEMENT STILL ON HUNGARIAN INCOME TAX. Following weeks of debate, the parliamentary caucuses of the two governing coalition parties are still at odds over income tax brackets, Hungarian media reported. Finance Minister Lajos Bokros insists that a 48% tax rate be levied on annual gross earnings over 900,000 forints. He wants the government to collect revenues totaling 480 billion forints. The SZDSZ has rejected his proposal, saying such a high rate would encourage people to participate in the black economy and would adversely affect large families supported by one person with a high income. It is in favor of 44% as the highest rate. The Socialist argue that a greater burden should be shouldered by those earning higher incomes. The parliament is due to vote next week on the 1996 budget and new tax legislation. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE STILL NEARLY 3,000 CROATS "MISSING." As part of its normalization of relations with Serbia, Croatia is expecting cooperation in clarifying the fate of those Croats who have disappeared, mainly during Serbia's war against Croatia in 1991. Some 1,400 persons are unaccounted for from Vukovar and another 500 from the Banija region, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported on 1 December. Croatian authorities said the missing people seem to have been moved around throughout various Serb- held parts of the former Yugoslavia to hide traces of their whereabouts and to mask responsibility for their fate. The Croatian authorities continue to find mass graves in the areas they retook in their lightning offensives this year; they fear that more exist as far away as Sremska Mitrovica and Belgrade. Some Croats who have been freed said they were subjected to torture and dangerous forced labor. -- Patrick Moore UN EXTENDS MANDATE IN FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. The UN Security Council on 30 November extended the mandates of its missions in the former Yugoslavia, Western agencies reported. Those mandates were due to expire the same day. The UN peacekeepers will remain in Croatia for another 45 days, in Bosnia two months, and in Macedonia six months. NATO troops are expected to be deployed in the region by mid-January. Discussions continue over the composition of the multinational force to be deployed in eastern Slavonia. According to the UN resolution on Croatia, UN Secretary- General Boutros Boutros Ghali has to report to the council by 14 December on a "transitional peacekeeping force" in that country. -- Michael Mihalka SILAJDZIC DISMISSES CHIRAC'S CALLS FOR SERBIAN GUARANTEES. Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic has dismissed the French president's calls for more guarantees for Serbs living in Sarajevo suburbs (see OMRI Daily Digest, 30 November 1995), saying that they enjoy the same rights as other citizens, Reuters reported on 30 November. The BBC quoted Bosnian Radio on 1 December as reporting that President Alija Izetbegovic has told the parliament that the full safety of civilians will be guaranteed, just as there will be punishment for those who have been killing the residents of Sarajevo for 44 months. Meanwhile, AFP on 30 November reported that a rocket fired from the Serb-held Nedarici area of Sarajevo crashed into a building in a government-controlled area but caused no casualties. In another development, the pro-government Serbian Civic Council called on the international community to open offices in Serb-held districts of Sarajevo and to appoint a mediator to oversee the implementation of the peace agreement there. -- Daria Sito Sucic BOSNIA, GREECE ESTABLISH DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS. Muhamed Sacirbey and Karolos Papoulias, the foreign ministers of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Greece, on 30 November initialed a document establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries, AFP reported. The agreement was initialed in Sarajevo in the presence of Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati. Greece was one of the most outspoken supporters of Serbia during the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. -- Stefan Krause SLOVENIA-RUMP YUGOSLAVIA NORMALIZE RELATIONS? Nasa Borba on 1 December reported that on the previous day Slovenia became the first republic of the former Yugoslavia to recognize the rump Yugoslavia. The announcement was made by Slovenian Foreign Minister Zoran Thaler and was described as "unexpected" by the Belgrade state-controlled media. Ljubljana has also resolved to lift the trade embargo imposed on Belgrade, AFP reported. The Slovenian government's decision is to be submitted on 1 December to the parliament for discussion and ratification. -- Stan Markotich ROMANIA STOPS NUCLEAR CARGO FOR BULGARIA. Romanian authorities have intercepted a barge and a tug carrying 106 containers with nuclear fuel for Bulgaria's controversial Kozloduy power plant, Romanian and international media reported on 30 November. The two ships were docked at Cernavoda, a port on the River Danube, and were on their way from the Ukrainian port of Reni. They were intercepted because they did not have permission from the Romanian authorities to transit the country. The authorities launched an investigation into the incident , while the Romanian Environment Ministry asked the Foreign Ministry to hand over a formal protest to the ambassadors of Bulgaria, Ukraine, and Russia. -- Matyas Szabo ROMANIAN PRIVATE TV STATION LAUNCHES NEW PROGRAMS. The Bucharest-based PRO-TV station, which started operating in May 1993, has announced that it will start broadcasting new programs beginning 1 December, Western media and Radio Bucharest reported. The programs, including foreign series and movies, are expected to reach up to 3 million households via satellite. The $20 million project is backed by ex-tennis champion Ion Tiriac and the businessman Ronald Lauder. According to Radio Bucharest, the revamped private TV station will promote competition in the sector, which is still dominated by state-run stations. The same source added that another TV station, Romanian TV-International, will start broadcasting programs to viewers throughout the world the same day. -- Dan Ionescu SNEGUR HINTS AT SECOND PRESIDENTIAL MANDATE. In an interview with Handelsblatt and Neue Zurcher Zeitung, Moldovan President Mircea Snegur suggested that he was interested in a second presidential mandate for the sake of continuing with reforms over the next five years. Infotag quoted Snegur as saying that he was "dreaming of forming, as soon as possible, a team of like-minded allies to conduct the second stage of the reform process" in his country. Snegur stressed that Moldova is not planning to join NATO and expressed the hope that the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Russia will not signal a victory of left-wing forces, which, he said, "have nothing on their minds other than restoring the former USSR." -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES 1996 BUDGET DRAFT. The Bulgarian cabinet on 30 November approved the final version of the 1996 budget draft, Pari reported the following day. The draft envisages revenues totaling 419 billion leva ($5.99 billion) and expenditures 474 billion leva ($6.78 billion). The budget deficit is estimated at 4.7% of GDP and the yearly inflation rate at 20%. The draft envisages a 3% growth in GDP for 1996. Government spokesman Nikola Baltov said the draft will be submitted to parliament at the earliest possible date. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN NATIONAL RADIO UPDATE. The parliamentary Commission for Radio, TV, and the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency on 30 November discussed a statement by journalists from Bulgarian National Radio's Horizont station accusing the BNR of censorship (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 November 1995). The Socialist-dominated commission approved a report saying there is no censorship on BNR and that the questions raised by the dissenting journalists are of a strictly professional nature, Demokratsiya reported. Meanwhile, the opposition adopted a declaration accusing the BNR's management of censorship and of violating the constitution. Representatives of the protesting journalists and BNR Director-General Vecheslav Tunev were present at the meeting. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN PRESIDENT WANTS GOVERNOR PUNISHED. Zhelyu Zhelev on 30 November said he wants Prime Minister Zhan Videnov to punish the Haskovo Province Governor Angel Naydenov, Standart reported. Zhelev is outraged by Naydenov's failure to convene the Kardzhali City Council, which was elected more than one month ago and to recognize the election of Kardzhali Mayor Rasim Musa. Both the Municipal and the Central Electoral Commission confirmed that the elections in Kardzhali were legal, but Naydenov has said he will not call a City Council meeting until a court rules on a complaint filed by the Bulgarian Socialist Party about the elections in Kardzhali. Zhelev issued his statement after meeting with leaders of the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom, and with Musa, who is a member of that party. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIA PASSES LAW ON SIGURIMI FILES. The Albanian parliament has passed a law on opening the communist-era secret service (Sigurimi) files of public figures, international agencies reported on 1 December. A seven- member state committee will check the files for all persons who run for parliamentary positions, who are appointed to leading local and central government posts, or who are employed by the courts. The law will also apply to people working in the state media and at newspapers with a daily circulation of more than 3,000. Anyone convicted of collaborating with the Sigurimi will be banned from working in his field until 2002. The files for all other citizens will be closed for 30 years. Deputy Socialist Party leader Namik Dokle criticized the law saying "it smells of apartheid." -- 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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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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