|There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in. - Graham Greene|
No. 235, Part II, 5 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CROATIAN GOVERNMENT, OPPOSITION BATTLE FOR CONTROL OVER ZAGREB ASSEMBLY. The Croatian government on 4 December overruled decisions taken by the opposition coalition in the Zagreb City Assembly and Zagreb County Assembly two days earlier (see OMRI Daily Digest, 4 December 1995). The government said these two bodies had not been legally established because they lacked a two-thirds quorum and thus the documents they adopted were invalid, Hina reported the same day. The first full sessions of the two assemblies are scheduled for 2 January 1996. Meanwhile, the Bosnian Croat military organization has a new chief. General Zivko Budimir replaces indicted war criminal Tihomir Blaskic, whom Croatian President Tudjman recently promoted, the BBC reported on 5 December. -- Daria Sito Sucic ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT IN CHINA. Leonid Kuchma, in China on an official four-day visit, signed several agreements with his counterpart, Jiang Zemin, on 4 December, international agencies reported. Included were accords on the peaceful use of outer space and the prevention of double taxation. The same day, the Ukrainian National Bank and the People's Bank of China also signed an agreement. Kuchma told reporters that China is Ukraine's second-largest trading partner and that bilateral trade this year will exceed $900 million. According to official figures, trade between China and Ukraine in first nine months of the year reached only $310 million. Ukrainian officials claim this figure is distorted since most trade is conducted through intermediaries in Russia. It is hoped that the banking agreement will accurately reflect the volume of trade by eliminating middlemen and the use of third currencies. Kuchma said he hoped bilateral trade will reach at least $2 billion annually by the end of the decade. So far, there are 56 Sino-Ukrainian joint-ventures, but Kuchma said these were insufficient to realize the real trade potential between the two countries. -- Ustina Markus NEW BELARUSIAN AIR DEFENSE SYSTEM. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 4 December told Interfax that a unique air defense system has been developed by the Belarusian military-industrial complex. His announcement comes some three months after a U.S. air balloon was shot down in Belarusian air space, killing both pilots. The new system is to be marketed abroad, and Defense Minister Leanid Maltseu is to submit a proposal on the subject in the near future. Lukashenka said China has shown a special interest in the system. -- Ustina Markus TWO ESTONIAN PARTIES MERGE. The right-of-center Pro Patria and the Estonian National Independence Party, meeting in Tallinn on 2 December, completed their merger to form a new party called the Fatherland Union, BNS reported. Former Economics Minister Toivo Jurgenson was elected party chairman. -- Saulius Girnius BIRKAVS REELECTED HEAD OF LATVIA'S WAY. At a congress in Riga on 2 December, Latvia's Way reelected Valdis Birkavs as party chairman, BNS reported on 4 December. The congress also adopted a resolution noting that the current division of the Saeima into two equal blocs was unfavorable for the formation of a stable government and that a broad coalition would be in the best interests of Latvia. It also decided to forge ties with democratic and reformist forces in Russia such as Yabloko and Our Home Is Russia. The party has 435 members, of whom 150 are involved in private business, 67 are politicians, and 93 work in other government offices. -- Saulius Girnius CLOSE SUBORDINATES DEFEND POLISH CHIEF OF STAFF. Four Polish generals on 4 December published an article in the military daily Polska Zbrojna in defense of chief of the General Staff General Tadeusz Wilecki, who is currently hospitalized. Colonel Zbigniew Czekierda, spokesman for the General Staff, said the article was a clear signal that there is unity among the General Staff's leadership, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 5 December. The daily added that the ruling coalition of the Democratic Left Alliance and Polish Peasant Party has been looking for a new chief of General Staff among Wilecki's deputies. Wilecki is considered a strong supporter of outgoing President Lech Walesa. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH MILITARY WANTS MORE NCOS. Defense Minister Vilem Holan on 4 December announced that by the year 2005, there will be more non- commissioned and warrant officers than commissioned officers. CTK quoted Holan as saying there are currently 20,000 commissioned officers in the Czech armed forces and only 10,000 NCOs and warrant officers. "Over the next 10 years we are going to have to turn this pyramid around by 10% each year," he said, adding that in 1996 the military would dismiss 1,400 officers and only recruit 400. About 100 NCOs would be retired while 1,100 would be recruited. -- Doug Clarke SLOVAK RULING PARTY REJECTS CONSTITUTIONAL COURT DECISION. Leaders of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) on 4 December criticized a ruling by the Constitutional Court that the creation of parliamentary investigative commissions is illegal, Slovak dailies reported the following day. In particular, the ruling (see OMRI Daily Digest, 30 November 1995) affects the bodies set up to examine the events surrounding the fall of Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's previous government in March 1994 and the circumstances of the death of Alexander Dubcek in 1992. After a meeting in Bratislava, the HZDS leadership said it could not accept that the court's ruling was "non-partisan." It added that the constitution authorized the parliament to create committees within which such commissions could operate. -- Steve Kettle U.S. ADVANCE FORCE FAILS TO SHOW UP AT HUNGARIAN AIR BASE. Some 100 domestic and foreign journalists waited in vain for the arrival of a U.S. advance force at Hungary's Taszar air base on 4 December, Nepszabadsag reported. The arrival date was apparently changed because of U.S. President Bill Clinton's visit to Germany last weekend. The newspaper also reports that U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry has signed an order to send 3,000 U.S. soldiers to Hungary, of whom 2,000 will be in charge of logistics, and 1,000 will serve in technical teams. -- Zsofia Szilagyi HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT TO FUND PROGRAMS FOR ROMA. Csaba Tabajdi, political state secretary at the Hungarian Prime Minister's Office, has announced that the government will develop a program to improve living standards for Roma, MTK reported last week. The program is intended to promote initiatives in several areas, including education, agriculture, social welfare, and affirmative action. The cabinet also announced the establishment of a Coordination Council for Gypsy Affairs and a Public Foundation for Gypsies in Hungary; the 1996 national budget allocates 150 million forints ($1.15 million) to funding these new bodies. Tabajdi stressed that Romani citizens in Hungary have been more adversely affected by the market changes than any other group. -- Alaina Lemon SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE "FORGOTTEN SERBS" HAVE IDEAS ON SARAJEVO. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 5 December pointed out that many Bosnian Serbs reject the nationalism of Radovan Karadzic. They have chosen to remain in government-held areas under the leadership of Mirko Pejanovic's Serbian Civic Council (SGV) and deny Karadzic's claim to speak for all Serbs. The newspaper suggested that as many Sarajevo Serbs live in government- held areas as those run by Pale and that Serbs in the Bosnian capital have experienced the shelling and siege just like their Muslim and Croat neighbors. Pejanovic told the daily that international bodies should begin soon to send mediators to calm the fears of Serbs in Sarajevo suburbs that are about to pass from Pale's to government control. He also called for restoring telephone links between the divided halves of the city and for amnesty for Serbian militia members who have not committed war crimes. -- Patrick Moore SOME PROBLEMS FROM WAR WILL TAKE TIME TO SOLVE. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata has said that Bosnian refugees should be allowed to go home gradually. Hina reported on 4 December that this means that those who do not wish to return immediately should not be forced to leave their countries of refuge. She called for the UNHCR to prepare a plan for resettlement and for those refugees living in Serbia and Croatia to come back first. The Bosnian authorities, however, want refugees "in remote countries" to return first before they adapt to their new surroundings. In another development, the Croatian news agency said that some 3 million mines were laid in that country after 1991 and that 100,000 unexploded shells also remain. Croatia's top defense council met to discuss the big problem of these dangerous devices in the "newly liberated areas" and to deal with the transition to a peacetime military. -- Patrick Moore EU DELAYS CONFERENCE ON BOSNIA RECONSTRUCTION. EU foreign ministers, meeting in Brussels on 4 December, decided to postpone a conference on funding the reconstruction of Bosnia until 1996 because of uncertainties over how much funding individual countries will commit, Western agencies reported. The EU had scheduled a conference for 18-19 December in the expectation that EU, the U.S., and Japan and the rest of the world would each pay one-third of the estimated $6 billion required. But the Clinton administration has said it cannot contribute more than $600 million. -- Michael Mihalka TURKISH DIPLOMATS IN BELGRADE. A Turkish diplomatic mission arrived in the Serbian capital on 4 November as part of a move to normalize relations between Ankara and the rump Yugoslavia, AFP reported. This is the first time high-level diplomats have held talks in one of the two capitals since ties were reduced to the level of charge d'affaires in 1993. Relations began to thaw after Turkey sent Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic a note last month expressing appreciation for his role in the peace process. In other news, the Turkish Foreign Ministry has announced that Turkey is prepared to contribute 1,300 troops to the NATO force that will oversee the enforcement of the peace accord signed in Dayton, AFP reported. -- Lowell Bezanis SLOVENIA'S RECOGNITION OF RUMP YUGOSLAVIA STIRS ACRIMONY IN BELGRADE. Tanjug on 3 December carried a vitriolic commentary on Ljubljana's 30 November decision to recognize the rump Yugoslavia. Serbia's state-run news agency suggested that Slovenia's move was prompted by self-interest and that the Slovenian government has retained its "hard-core anti-Serb and anti-Yugoslav position." The report goes on to maintain that economics played a determining role in Slovenia's move, since prior to the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, Slovenia's exports to Serbia and Montenegro amounted to some $3 billion. Total exports to the rump Yugoslav now hover around $7 million. -- Stan Markotich WAS SARIN USED IN KOSOVO IN 1990? The Kosovo Information Center has linked mysterious poisonings in Kosovo in April 1990 to reports about Sarin nerve gas production in rump Yugoslavia and Serb-held territory in Bosnia (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 November 1995). Some 7,000 Kosovar youngsters were hospitalized five years ago with symptoms of nerve poisoning. ATSH says that UN toxicologists have come to the conclusion that some unspecified kind of nerve gas was used in 1990, probably Sarin or Tabun. -- Fabian Schmidt POLICE RAID SKOPJE SUBURB IN CONNECTION WITH ATTEMPT ON PRESIDENT'S LIFE. Macedonian police on 2 December conducted large-scale raids in the Skopje suburb of Kisela Voda in connection with the assassination attempt on President Kiro Gligorov, MIC reported on 4 December. Some 3,000 houses, garages, basements, and shacks as well as a couple of thousand cars were searched. Passers-by were also searched. According to Vecher, the police were interested in scissors for cutting wire, anyone involved in the sale of spare car parts, and legal and unregistered car services. The police also handed out a photograph of a man believed to be linked to the attempt. -- Stefan Krause ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON TERRITORIAL DISPUTE WITH UKRAINE. Teodor Melescanu on 4 December told the Senate that Romania has a "well- prepared file" on the territorial dispute with Ukraine over the Serpent Island in the Black Sea, Radio Bucharest reported the next day. He said Romania is ready to settle the dispute in parleys with Ukraine but added that if necessary, it is prepared to take the case to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. He said that the Serpent Island is not an economic asset at the moment but may become one due to "important oil and natural gas reserves" found there. The island is also important for the purpose of drawing marine boundaries between Romania and Ukraine, Melescanu added. -- Michael Shafir ROMANIA RELEASES BULGARIAN NUCLEAR BARGE. Romania has released a barge carrying nuclear fuel to Bulgaria's controversial Kozloduy power plant , Reuters reported on 4 December. The barge was stopped last week because it lacked transit documents (see OMRI Daily Digest, 1 December 1995). "The barge and the tug have left after the Transport Ministry and nuclear authorities granted permission to cross our territorial waters", the deputy commander of Romania's Danube port of Cernavoda was quoted as saying. -- Matyas Szabo ROMANIAN CDR LEADER JOINS OPPOSITION PARTY. Emil Constantinescu, chairman of the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR), has joined the National Peasant Party-Christian Democratic and will run on its lists in the 1996 elections to the Senate, Radio Bucharest reported on 4 December. Constantinescu is also the chosen CDR candidate for the 1996 presidential elections. Radio Bucharest also carried a CDR press release saying the selection of CDR candidates running in the 1996 local and general elections will be made on the basis of evaluating the candidates' "morality, correctness, professional skill, and organizational capability." -- Michael Shafir MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON NATO EXPANSION. Mircea Snegur has said he sees no danger for Moldova if NATO expands eastward, Radio Bucharest on 4 December reported, citing ITAR-TASS. But he added that NATO would be well advised to consider all consequences deriving from such a step. Snegur reiterated that, as a neutral state, his country is constitutionally prevented from joining NATO or any other military pact, including the CIS Collective Security Pact. -- Michael Shafir PRO-SNEGUR PARTY TO SEEK ALLIES AGAINST "ANTI-REFORMISTS." President Snegur, in a veiled allusion to the Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova, has said his Party of Revival and Conciliation of Moldova (PRCM) will "start consultations with other parties and political movements" with an eye to devising "common tactics to counter-balance the anti-reformist and anti-democratic actions of some political formations," BASA-press reported on 4 December. Snegur told the PRCM Edinet branch, which held its first gathering, that the party has 27 local branches and that more branches are "to be set up throughout Moldova by the end of this year." -- Michael Shafir BULGARIA STRIKES OIL DEAL WITH IRAN. During Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade Kiril Tsochev's visit to Tehran, Bulgaria and Iran on 4 December signed an agreement on broad economic cooperation, AFP reported the same day. Most notably, Iran will sell more than 2 million tons of crude oil to Bulgaria annually. The two countries also agreed to raise the level of bilateral trade to $500 million and to establish a regular airline connection between the two capitals. The agreement was signed at the end of a three-day session of the two countries' joint economic commission. -- Stefan Krause DISBURSEMENTS ON BULGARIAN TELECOMMUNICATIONS LOAN HALTED. The World Bank, the EBRD, and the EIB all confirmed on 3 December that there have been no disbursements in 1995 on a joint 1993 loan to Bulgaria's telecommunications sector, Demokratsiya reported the next day. The heads of the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company (BTK) and the Committee for Posts and Telecommunications denied that this is the case, however. Bulgaria received $4.24 million and 92.26 million DM during 1993 and 1994 under this agreement. Resumption of disbursements depends on BTK's substantially raising prices and paying off debts to foreign telecommunications companies. -- Michael Wyzan ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS TO ITALY DIE IN BOAT ACCIDENTS. A boat carrying 23 illegal immigrants from Albania to Italy has sunk and another with 16 Albanians on board has been missing for 10 days, Koha Jone reported. Two bodies from the first boat were found near the Puglian coast on 1 December, and five survivors were rescued by the German military vessel Koln; the remaining 16 illegal immigrants are missing. -- Fabian Schmidt ALBANIAN CHIEF EDITOR'S TRIAL DROPPED. Human Rights Watch officials have announced that the trial of Blendi Fevziu, the chief editor of Aleanca, was dropped on 4 December. Head of the State Control Commission Blerim Cela had charged Fevziu with slander. Fevziu in August published a list of allegedly corrupt officials; that list had previously been read out in the parliament by Democratic Alliance deputy Perikli Teta. Cela's name was included on the list. International human rights groups had protested the trial. Fevziu, a Democratic Alliance candidate, could have been barred from running for the parliament in May if convicted. -- 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. To receive the OMRI Daily Digest by mail or fax, please direct inquiries to OMRI Publications, Na Strzi 63, 140 62 Prague 4, Czech Republic; or electronically to OMRIPUB@OMRI.CZ Tel.: (42-2) 6114 2114; fax: (42-2) 426 396 Please note that there is a new procedure for obtaining permission to reprint or redistribute the OMRI Daily Digest. Before reprinting or redistributing this publication, please write firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy of the new policy or look at this URL: http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Digests/DigestReprint.html OMRI also publishes the biweekly journal Transition, which contains expanded analysis of many of the topics in the Daily Digest. 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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