|The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli|
No. 234, Part II, 4 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ FRENCH COMMANDER IN SARAJEVO RECALLED. The French minister of defense has called home General Jean-Rene Bachelet following the latter's remarks to journalists critical of the Dayton agreement (see OMRI Daily Digest, 1 December 1995). Nasa Borba on 4 December reported that the statements put the general in the same camp as "Serbian extremists" and provoked incomprehension from the Bosnian authorities. The New York Times on 3 December said that Hasan Muratovic, minister for relations with the United Nations, called for the French forces in Sarajevo to be replaced by Americans since the government now finds it difficult to trust the French. French Foreign Minister Herve de Charette tried to smooth things over and told AFP that his country "will have the means to enable the Serbs of Sarajevo to stay." Meanwhile, top U.S. officials have recently stressed that the Dayton agreement is final and that no changes can be considered. Their concern is that to discuss any one issue would permit the reopening of all others. -- Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BLACK SEA FLEET UPDATE. Segodnya on 2 December reported that the transfer of Black Sea Fleet installations in Crimea has officially begun and that by the beginning of next year, the Black Sea Russian navy will be deployed only at the Sevastopol base and the Kacha and Hvardiiske airfields in Crimea. Outside Crimea, Russia will be able to retain a weapons testing center at Feodosia and a shipyard. Segodnya said the sudden withdrawal of the Russian Black Sea Fleet from so many bases in Ukraine was a natural outcome of downsizing the Russian armed forces and navy. Since 1991, the fleet's personnel has decreased from 67,000 to 35,000, and further cuts are envisaged. -- Ustina Markus UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT APPOINTS NEW COAL INDUSTRY MINISTER. President Leonid Kuchma has appointed Serhii Polyakov as minister of the coal industry, Ukrainian TV and Eastern Economist Daily reported on 1 December. The 49-year-old Polyakov was chairman of the Torez City Council in Eastern Donetsk Oblast. He replaces Viktor Poltavets, who was recently fired from his post for failing to launch reforms in the troubled coal sector. The drastic decline in coal production has forced Ukraine to increase imports of coal from Poland and Russia to meet domestic needs. -- Chrystyna Lapychak RESTRICTIONS ON TRAVEL TO SEVASTOPOL LIFTED. Restrictions on entry to the Crimean city of Sevastopol have been lifted as of 1 December, Interfax-Ukraine and UNIAR reported on 1-2 December. Victor Semyonov, chairman of the Sevastopol city administration, ordered the city open to Ukrainian citizens and foreigners alike. The Ukrainian government voted on 21 November to overturn a May 1993 resolution extending Soviet-era travel restrictions to the port city and base of the Black Sea Fleet. Until now, travelers needed an invitation from a resident or military officer for entry. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUSIAN ELECTION UPDATE. Syarhei Naumchyk, spokesman for the nationalist opposition Belarusian Popular Front, on 1 December said there is evidence that election results were incorrect in the Smorhon constituency in Minsk, where BPF leader Zyanon Paznyak ran for office, Belapan reported. Naumchyk said that more than 2,000 ballots were invalid. He also claimed observers from political parties were not allowed into polling stations in that constituency. Paznyak received 47 percent of the vote, just failing to gain enough votes to win outright; but because it was a two-person race, he cannot run in a second round. In other news, Belapan reported that Presidium member Uladzimir Novikau has appealed to voters to take part in the 10 December runoff elections. The Presidium has proposed asking the Belarusian Television and Broadcasting Company for more air time to publicize the runoffs. Novikau cast doubt over whether President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who has so far been hostile to media coverage of elections, will allow increased air time. -- Ustina Markus BALTIC ASSEMBLY MEETING. At its seventh session in Tallinn on 1-2 December, the Baltic Assembly passed documents on increasing the effectiveness of the assembly, on socio-economic and political issues, and on refugees, Interfax reported. It also requested that the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, prior to voting on Russian membership, ask Russia to "undertake to respect the independence and sovereign rights of the Baltic states." The session urged the Baltic governments to expand cooperation in protecting aerial and maritime borders and to make joint efforts to standardize armaments and communication systems. -- Saulius Girnius ESTONIAN ARMED FORCES COMMANDER RESIGNS. President Lennart Meri on 3 December said he has reluctantly accepted the resignation of Lt.-Gen. Aleksander Einseln as commander-in-chief of the Estonian armed forces, Western agencies reported. Einseln, who served 35 years in the U.S. military, was undermined by several recent scandals in his general staff and a public dispute with Defense Minister Andrus Oovel. To show gratitude for his work in establishing the Estonian armed forces, Meri said he was promoting Einseln to the rank of full general and asking him to remain in Estonia to head the nation's military academy. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH POLITICAL PARTIES SETTLE ACCOUNTS AFTER PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. The National Council of the opposition Freedom Union (UW) on 3 December dismissed Jan Maria Rokita from the party's presidium, saying he had breached party discipline and had not given his full support to the UW's presidential candidate, former Labor Minister Jacek Kuron. UW President and former Finance Minister Leszek Balcerowicz had said earlier he would resign if Rokita were not dismissed because he did not want to be head of such an undisciplined party. Former Prime Ministers and UW members Tadeusz Mazowiecki and Hanna Suchocka criticized Rokita's dismissal. The previous day, the Labor Union (UP) dismissed Wojciech Lamentowicz from its Presidium. Lamentowicz had supported President-elect Aleksander Kwasniewski after heading the campaign staff of the UP candidate, ombudsman Tadeusz Zielinski, Polish dailies reported on 4 December. -- Jakub Karpinski SEJM OVERRIDES WALESA'S VETO OF TAX LAW. The Sejm on 1 December overrode President Lech Walesa's veto on the 1996 tax law (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 November 1995) by a narrow majority. Walesa has said he will appeal to the Constitutional Tribunal. Polish Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy said the government is prepared to implement either the old or the new law but he stressed that a decision must be reached quickly. Should the Constitutional Tribunal not reach a verdict by 22 December, the new president will be able to sign the law, Polish dailies reported on 2 December. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz POLISH WORKERS PROTEST PLAN TO BUY FOREIGN JETS. Workers at the Polish aircraft company PZL-Mielec staged a two-hour work stoppage on 1 December to protest government plans to buy second-hand Alpha-Jet trainers from Germany rather than the "Iryda" trainers built by Mielec. PAP quoted the strike committee as saying the strikers were "defending the achievements of the Polish aircraft industry and our jobs." The government has argued that the Alpha-Jets are cheaper and would therefore be better for the armed forces, given the limited defense budget. The strike committee warned it would step up the protests if the government did not reconsider the purchase. -- Doug Clarke CZECH CENTRIST PARTIES MERGE. The extra-parliamentary Free Democrats (SD) and the Liberal National Social Party (LSNS), which has five seats in parliament, formally merged on 3 December, Czech media reported. SD leader and former Czechoslovak Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier and LSNS head Vavrinec Bodenlos were elected joint chairmen of the party, to be known as the SD-LSNS. Recent opinion polls show that, even together, the SD and LSNS are unlikely to gain parliamentary representation in next year's general election. But Dienstbier said the Czech political scene has become polarized and that the new party will campaign as a centrist alternative. Deputy Prime Minister Josef Lux, leader of the Christian Democratic Union-Czech People's Party, addressed the new party's founding session and said he was willing to work with the SD-LSNS. -- Steve Kettle EASTERN EUROPE'S FIRST GAS SUPPLIER SALE. The Hungarian privatization agency (APV Rt.) on 29 November sold a majority stake in Tigaz, the country's biggest gas supplier, to an Italian consortium, Hungarian media reported. The sale is the first of its kind in Eastern Europe. Italgas bought a 50% plus one vote stake in Tigaz for almost $172 million. Tigaz supplies 2.3 billion cubic meters of gas a year to more than 800,000 consumers in northeastern Hungary and has registered capital worth $116.2 million. Italgas plans to extend service to 200,000 more consumers and wants to invest $255 million over the next five years. No sizable reduction in the number of staff is envisaged. The APV Rt. is to decide on the sale of four other gas suppliers this week. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE GENERAL MLADIC REJECTS DAYTON AGREEMENT . . . International media on 3 December reported that the Bosnian Serb military commander the previous day made his first public statements on the peace treaty. He said it was unacceptable because "some territories in which Serbs have lived for centuries have been handed over to the Croat-Muslim coalition.'' CNN showed the internationally wanted war criminal reviewing smartly dressed and well-disciplined troops whom he told that "we cannot allow our people to come under the rule of butchers." The network also interviewed U.S. Chief of Staff General John Shalikashvili, who said that NATO troops would not conduct a house-to-house search for Mladic and other Bosnian Serb war criminals but would hand them over "to the civilian authorities" if caught. -- Patrick Moore . . . BUT CLINTON EXPECTS MILOSEVIC TO BRING HIM INTO LINE. In apparent response to Mladic's implicit threats, President Bill Clinton on 3 December said that "we fully expect that [Serbian] President [Slobodan] Milosevic will take the appropriate steps to ensure that the treaty will be honored as it is written, and that we will not have undue interference with implementing it," the International Herald Tribune reported. On 2 December, the BBC said that Clinton again defended his call for U.S. forces to help enforce the Bosnian settlement. He said that the presidents of Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia "asked us to help implement their peace treaty." -- Patrick Moore NATO AGREES TO SEND FORCES TO BOSNIA. The NATO Council, at a meeting in Brussels on 1 December, agreed to send a 2,600-strong "enabling" force to Bosnia to prepare for the deployment of the 60,000 troops comprising the NATO implementation force, Western agencies reported. U.S. President Bill Clinton the next day authorized the participation of the 700-strong U.S. contingent. This is the first time that American troops will be deployed in Bosnia. The "enabling" force will prepare headquarters, communications, and transport sites in anticipation of the arrival of the main force, expected to take place after the peace treaty is signed in Paris later this month. -- Michael Mihalka POLITICAL SHOWDOWN IN ZAGREB. Croatia's seven-party opposition coalition on 2 December elected new officials to the Zagreb City Assembly after deputies from the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and the Croatian Party of Rights had walked out the previous day, international media reported on 4 December. Hina quoted President Franjo Tudjman on 1 December as saying that he "cannot allow Zagreb, whose population constitutes a quarter of the whole of Croatia's, to get a city or county authority that would oppose state policy" and that "all democratic means" will be used to prevent such a scenario. The next day, HDZ members, who hold a third of the city assembly's 50 seats, walked out in an attempt to block an opposition coalition from taking power in Zagreb. Nonetheless, Zdravko Tomac was unanimously elected speaker of the assembly and Goran Granic Zagreb mayor, Novi List reported. Meanwhile, 10,000 Posavina Croats gathered at a protest rally in Zagreb on 2 December to demand an emergency session of the Croatian Assembly over the Dayton accord, the BBC reported on 4 December. -- Daria Sito Sucic SERBIAN OPPOSITION PARTY PURGES RANKS. BETA on 2 December reported that the Democratic Party (DS) voted to dismiss two prominent members from its ranks. Dragoljub Micunovic, former party president and member of the federal legislature, and Veselin Simonovic, a deputy in the Serbian legislature. DS Vice President Miodrag Perisic explained that "the [party's] main committee considered that through their recent activities, [the two men] had caused political harm to the party." Micunovic responded that the dismissals meant that from now on, the DS is a party "without either a soul or a brain." -- Stan Markotich HUNGARIAN OFFICIAL ON ROMANIAN-HUNGARIAN RELATIONS. Following a one-week visit to Romania, Laszlo Labody, director of the office in charge of Hungarians living abroad, told a press conference in the Transylvanian city of Cluj that the Romanian education law should be modified. Labody said it was "not normal that street demonstrations by a few thousand students [in Bucharest] could lead to the amendment of the law, whereas the 500,000 signatures gathered from among members of the Hungarian community in a legislative initiative to amend that law are being ignored." Radio Bucharest on 3 December quoted him as saying that Romania and Hungary will certainly reach a historic reconciliation because the Hungarian government's program and Romanian President Ion Iliescu's proposal have the same aim. According to Duna TV Budapest, Labody said the only remaining impediment to concluding the basic treaty between the two countries is the disagreement over the paragraph on national minorities. -- Matyas Szabo YELTSIN RESPONDS TO MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT'S LETTER. Russian President Boris Yeltsin, responding to a 17 November letter from Mircea Snegur on the Russian State Duma's resolution on the Transdniester (see OMRI Daily Digest, 20 November 1995), stressed that his country's policy toward Moldova has not changed and that Moscow continues to support a political solution to the conflict with the breakaway region. He added that the Transdniester should be granted a "special status" and that "Moldova's independence and territorial integrity" should be preserved. Infotag on 1 December reported that Yeltsin reiterated his readiness to hold a summit meeting with Snegur after an agreement is reached between Chisinau and Tiraspol and that he added such an agreement would also allow for the participation in the summit of the Tiraspol leadership. -- Michael Shafir BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT BACKS GOVERNMENT BID FOR EU MEMBERSHIP. The Bulgarian National Assembly on 1 December voted to authorize the government to request full EU membership, RFE/RL reported. The motion was approved by a vote of 212 to one. The Bulgarian government the previous day had decided to formally apply for full EU membership. In an address on state-owned TV and radio, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov said EU membership is in the strategic interest of the country. Videnov will submit Bulgaria's application during the EU summit in Madrid in December. Bulgaria has been an associate EU member since February 1995. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIA PROTESTS ROMANIAN SEIZURE OF NUCLEAR FUEL. Bulgaria on 1 December protested Romania's decision to halt a cargo of nuclear fuel bound for Bulgaria's Kozloduy nuclear plant (see OMRI Daily Digest, 1 December 1995). Reuters cited Yanko Yanev, head of the Atomic Energy Committee, as saying that Romania's action contravenes an international convention. A transport of nuclear waste would have needed permission to transit Romanian waters but "such requirements do not refer to fresh fuel, which is not radioactive," he argued. According to Yanev, such fuel transports have been going on for 20 years. An official at the Romanian port of Cernavoda on 2 December said the two Bulgarian vessels are still being held there. -- Stefan Krause INVESTIGATION LAUNCHED INTO HEAD OF BALLI KOMBETAR. An investigation has been launched into Abaz Ermenji, chairman of the Balli Kombetar (National Front), Zeri i Popullit reported on 1 December. According to the Prosecutor-General's Office, the National Committee of World War II Veterans has charged Ermenji with committing crimes against humanity between 1941-1945. The former partisans claim that Ermenji was involved in the massacre of 114 innocent citizens in the southern region of Skrapari and the killing of 24 family heads. Ermenji returned to Albania on 21 October 1995 after 49 years in exile and was welcomed by friends and party members of the Balli Kombetar, which was reestablished after 1991. -- 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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