|Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith. - Christopher Fry|
No. 239, Part II, 11 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ LONDON CONFERENCE DISCUSSES BOSNIA. Some 52 countries and international organizations took part in the meeting on 8-10 December to plan the reconstruction of the war-torn republic. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported on 11 December that the session approved a 47-point document setting down the broad guidelines that will have to be fleshed out. A steering committee has been set up and chief EU negotiator Carl Bildt will serve as its head. Bildt's first task centers on Sarajevo. He told Nasa Borba that "the civilian [reconstruction] aspect is the real key to a lasting peace." -- Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE CRIMEAN PRIME MINISTER VOTED OUT OF OFFICE. The Crimean parliament on 8 December voted by 73 to 8 to remove Anatolii Franchuk from the post of prime minister, international agencies reported. The reason given for his dismissal was the failure to improve the economic situation on the peninsula. Crimean deputy Volodymyr Klychnikov said electricity was being cut off throughout the region, salaries had not been paid in months, and Crimea was not at all prepared for the winter. In March, the Crimean parliament voted to remove Franchuk, but the decision was reversed by a presidential decree from Kiev placing Crimea's government under Ukrainian control. Franchuk favored improving relations with Ukraine and was considered to have influence with President Leonid Kuchma. Nonetheless, he was viewed with suspicion by Crimean politicians who expressed reservations about his business links. -- Ustina Markus UKRAINIAN ELECTIONS ARE UNSUCCESSFUL . . . Another round of by-elections took place in 45 constituencies in Ukraine on 10 December to complete the country's 450-member parliament, international agencies reported. Preliminary results indicate the elections were valid in only 16 districts, with turnout in the remainder below the required 50%. But a second round may be necessary in most of the 16 districts where elections were deemed valid, because the winning candidate has to win over 50% of the votes cast. The strict provisions of Ukraine's election law made it necessary to hold a series of repeat elections after the first round of parliamentary elections in March 1994. In May 1995, a six-month moratorium was placed on elections because of the cost and because voter apathy continued to be in evidence. -- Ustina Markus . . . WHILE BELARUS FINALLY ELECTS PARLIAMENT. Preliminary results indicate that Belarus has succeeded in electing a parliament in the 10 December by-elections, international agencies reported. Since May, when voters elected only 119 deputies to the 260-seat legislature (55 short of the two-thirds necessary for the new legislature to convene), President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the old parliament and has sought to impede by-elections in the apparent hope that he could impose direct presidential rule. Voter turnout was put at 52.4% in the December runoffs, and a further 59 deputies were elected, bringing the total number of deputies to 198. -- Ustina Markus UN SUPPORTS LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENTARY INSPECTORS. Seimas Chairman Ceslovas Jursenas and Cornelius Klein, a representative of the UN Development Program in Lithuania, signed an agreement on 8 December providing $270,000 for the parliamentary institute of ombudsmen, established in Lithuania in 1994, BNS reported. Algirdas Taminskas, who is head of the institute, said that although the official document providing assistance has just been signed, the UN has been financing their projects for more than a year. The ombudsmen have used the UN . -- Saulius Girnius POLISH SUPREME COURT VALIDATES PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. The Polish Supreme Court on 9 December announced that the November presidential elections were valid and that Aleksander Kwasniewski is therefore Poland's legally elected president for the next five years, Polish media reported. The decision was not unanimous, however, and was based on rulings by three panels of judges. The panels were unanimous that Kwasniewski violated the elections law by giving false information about his education, but they were divided over the effect that the misinformation had on the election result. The Supreme Court's ruling that it had no decisive influence cannot be appealed. Kwasniewski will be sworn in on 23 December. -- Jakub Karpinski WALESA SENDS TAX BILL TO CONSTITUTIONAL TRIBUNAL. President Lech Walesa sent the tax bill to the Constitutional Tribunal on 8 December, saying it "infringes on the principles of a democratic law-based state," Rzeczpospolita reported the next day. The bill introduces six tax brackets, abolishes indexation, cancels deductions for those who give money or goods to family members, and limits deductions for private health care. If the Constitutional Tribunal rules that the bill is constitutional, the president has to sign it immediately. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz CZECHS APPROVE TROOPS FOR BOSNIA, NATO TRANSIT. The Czech parliament on 8 December agreed to send a Czech military unit to join the NATO peace implementation force (IFOR) in Bosnia, as well as approving the transit of NATO and other foreign troops across the Czech Republic, Czech media reported. Government and opposition deputies voted for the proposals, which were opposed only by the extreme left and extreme right. The Czechs intend to send an 850-man mechanized battalion that will be part of the Canadian brigade in the British sector in Bosnia. More than 1,000 Czech soldiers have already volunteered to serve in the battalion. By 10 December, four NATO trains from Germany had crossed the Czech Republic and Slovakia and entered Hungary, where troops and equipment will gather before going to Bosnia. The Slovak parliament approved the transit on 7 December. -- Doug Clarke and Steve Kettle ROMA DEMONSTRATE AGAINST RACISM IN CZECH CAPITAL. Between 200 and 400 people, mostly Roma, on 10 December gathered in Prague to demonstrate against racism and to commemorate the 28 Roma killed in racially motivated attacks in the Czech Republic over the last three years. Romani leaders and a Prague rabbi addressed the crowd. Placards bore messages recalling Auschwitz and Lety concentration camps, pictures of Martin Luther King and Vaclav Havel, and phrases such as: "Nazism is alive in this country." -- Alaina Lemon SLOVAK POLITICAL UPDATE. Prior to the opening of the parliamentary session on 11 December, which will deal with the ratification of the Slovak-Hungarian treaty, Robert Fico of the opposition Party of the Democratic Left (SDL) on 9 December challenged the coalition to start talks with the opposition if it lacks sufficient support for the treaty. Fico stressed that his party will not publicize its position on the treaty until the document is presented in the parliament. Meanwhile, the SDL has said the draft budget, which is to be discussed at the same session, is "unacceptable." The Democratic Party has also rejected the draft, criticizing in particular increased funds for the government office and the Slovak Information Service. In other news, the Slovak Cultural Ministry on 8 December announced that it has created a working group to draw up a bill on the protection of minority languages, TASR reported. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARY SIGNS ELECTRICITY, GAS PRIVATIZATION CONTRACTS. The State Privatization and Holding Company (APV Rt.) on 8 December signed contracts with the new owners of minority stakes in Hungarian electricity companies and majority stakes in the country's gas companies, Hungarian media reported. The sales brought the APV Rt.'s total revenues for 1995 to an estimated 233 billion forint. The major investors include the German consortium RWE-Energie-Versorgung Schwaben, Bayernwerk, and Isar Amperwerk; the French Electricite de France and Gaz de France; and the Belgian concern Powerfin S.A. -- Zsofia Szilagyi FIRST U.S. TRANSPORT PLANES LAND IN HUNGARY. The first Hercules C-130 transport planes, carrying 115 U.S. soldiers, landed in southwestern Hungary's Taszar air base on 9 December, Hungarian media reported. Meanwhile, Col. Jozsef Ronkovics, a department head at Budapest's Lajos Kossuth Military College, has been appointed commander of Hungary's 500- strong technical contingent that will be part of the Bosnian peacekeeping forces. Defense Minister Gyorgy Keleti said the Hungarian contingent will be under British command and will help build and maintain roads and bridges, carrying weapons to be used in self-defense only, Magyar Nemzet reported. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE FRANCE'S ULTIMATUM ON PILOTS RUNS OUT. The London meeting on the reconstruction of Bosnia was overshadowed by a French demand that the Bosnian Serbs free the two downed airmen by 10 December or face unspecified consequences. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung the next day said that his colleagues were supportive of the French foreign minister, and Germany's Klaus Kinkel pointed out that 50 of the 200 foreign casualties in the conflict have been French. The French have used tough but vague language to describe what they would do if the Serbs did not comply. CNN said that the Serbs remained silent as the deadline went past, and AFP noted that the usually loquacious Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic refused to give an interview. -- Patrick Moore OSCE APPROVES BOSNIAN MISSION. The OSCE, at a two-day meeting of its foreign ministers in Budapest on 7-8 December, has taken on its greatest challenge in its 20-year history by agreeing to oversee elections, arms control, and human rights in Bosnia, Western agencies reported. But it failed to agree on an individual to head its mission, with France opposing the U.S candidate. Many delegates expressed doubts as to whether the OSCE, which has few resources of its own, is up to the job. "Even if the military operation succeeds to the extent that you can establish security on the ground, it will not succeed if you don't manage to get elections going, to get the reconstruction of civil society," OSCE Secretary-General Wilhelm Hoynck said. -- Michael Mihalka BOSNIAN SERB LEADERSHIP WANTS KARADZIC IN PARIS. Speaker of the Bosnian Serb legislature Momcilo Krajisnik said in Banja Luka on 9 December that the leadership of the Republika Srpska insists that its head, Radovan Karadzic, attend the peace conference in Paris on 14 December and sign the final peace agreement, AFP and Nasa Borba reported on 11 December. He said that his government's delegation has not been consulted about the final version of the Dayton treaty and has not signed it. He also said that "no integral Bosnia" will exist after Dayton, claiming that the "full political independence" of the Republika Srpska has been agreed to. Meanwhile, Karadzic again warned the international community that having Sarajevo's Serbs under Moslem authorities would create "a Beirut," the BBC reported on 11 December. -- Daria Sito Sucic IZETBEGOVIC REASSURES SARAJEVO'S SERBS. Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic promised that all foreign Islamic fighters in his country will be sent home within 30 days, the International Herald Tribune reported on 11 December. He added that his government will work to reassure the 60,000-70,000 Sarajevo Serbs who will pass from Pale's to government control under the Dayton agreement. He added that the anxious population "is not fully informed of the provisions" of the treaty. Nasa Borba noted that the Croats and Muslims under Pale's rule have not asked for special guarantees, and that General Ratko Mladic offered none for the 70,000 Bosnian Serbs who remained loyal to the Bosnian government when Mladic's men shelled the city. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung pointed out that traditionally Sarajevo has not had ethnic ghettos, which are a concept of the nationalists. Elsewhere, Hina said on 10 December that the Bosnian Croat parliament approved the Dayton treaty, albeit with misgivings over northern Bosnia. -- Patrick Moore BELGRADE MINISTER INTENSIFIES INTEGRATION EFFORTS. BETA on 9 December quoted Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic as saying at the London Conference on Bosnia-Herzegovina that Belgarde has given "a big boost to the [Balkan] peace process" and for that reason should have "the right to suitable relations with the EU, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and other institutions." Milutinovic also used the opportunity to aruge once again that Belgrade was a victim of circumstances and not involved in instigating and supporting the war. "I would say that [the rump] Yugoslavia, because of the war in its neighborhood and because of the sanctions it was subjected to, has endured serious economic hardships," he added. -- Stan Markotich ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON UKRAINE, BOSNIA. Returning from London, where he participated in the international conference on the Dayton agreement, Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu told Radio Bucharest on 9 December that he and his Ukrainian counterpart have decided to prepare a summit meeting between the two countries' prime ministers to discuss "steps that may be conducive to the conclusion of the bilateral treaty" between the two countries. Melescanu added that Romania has expressed its readiness to contribute to the NATO peacekeeping force with non- combat units. NATO's secretary-general approved his proposal and details are to be worked out soon, he said. Melescanu also noted that Romania wanted to contribute to the group of experts that will oversee the implementation of the human rights provisions of the Dayton agreements. -- Michael Shafir HUNGARIANS PROTEST ROMANIAN EDUCATION LAW. Thousands of ethnic Hungarian high-school students protested Romania's controversial education law, which, they say, discriminates against their language, Romanian and international media reported on 8 December. An estimated 3,000 pupils from the Transylvanian town of Sfantu Gheorghe demanded equal rights, equal chances, and education in [their] mother tongue." The protesters also demanded the return of Church property seized by the communists. Meanwhile, the Hungarian minority announced it will suspend its protest actions, started at the beginning of the school year, until after the winter holidays. -- Matyas Szabo MOLDOVA ABOLISHES CAPITAL PUNISHMENT. The Moldovan parliament on 8 December voted unanimously to abolish the death penalty, Moldovan and international agencies reported. Sentences ranging from 25 years to life will be meted out for such crimes as high treason, murder, terrorism, desertion during war, and rape of minors. "This is an important step toward bringing Moldovan legislation in line with that of other European countries," Deputy Parliamentary Speaker Dumitru Diacov said. Since 1991, 21 death penalties have been handed out. None has been carried out in Moldova, but an unknown number of people have been sent to Russia and Ukraine for execution. -- Matyas Szabo BULGARIAN JOURNALISTS FORM UNION. Some 64 journalists working for Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) on 7 December formed a trade union called Svobodno Slovo (Free Word), Demokratsiya reported. Most belong to the group of journalists who have accused BNR's management of censorship (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 November 1995). Representatives of the new union met with BNR Director-General Vecheslav Tunev to talk about procedural rules under which they will hold talks with the BNR management. Tunev on 8 December declared on BNR that the dissenting journalists have no desire for a constructive dialogue and that they have served the interests of all systems--from the communist era to the present day--"with the same servility." -- Stefan Krause SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER IN BULGARIA. Vladimir Meciar, on a visit to Sofia from 7-8 December, met with his Bulgarian counterpart, Zhan Videnov, and parliamentary chairman Blagovest Sendov, RFE/RL reported. The two premiers signed five bilateral agreements, including one calling for the elimination of tariffs between the two countries within three years. Videnov and Meciar told the press that they have agreed on coordinated efforts toward European integration. During a visit to Slovenia earlier last week, Meciar won Slovenian support for Bulgarian membership in the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA). On returning to Bratislava, Meciar said that as a result to his visit to Ljubljana and Sofia, his country now has "an open road to three seas"--the Baltic, the Adriatic, and the Black Sea. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN BUDGET DEFICIT EXCEEDS PROJECTION. By the end of November, Bulgaria's budget deficit had reached 54 billion leva ($766 million), as compared with the projected deficit of 48 billion leva ($681 million), Leff Information Service quoted Finance Minister Dimitar Kostov as saying on 7 December. This puts the deficit at close to 7.5% of GDP. Kostov also predicted that December-to-December consumer price inflation for 1995 would be 35%. In a commentary in 24 chasa on 11 December, the opposition deputy Ventsislav Dimitrov pointed out that the increase in the deficit is due to the government's decision in April to help improve the balance sheets of two ailing state commercial banks. -- Michael Wyzan BERISHA PARDONS JOURNALIST IN SLANDER CASE. Albanian President Sali Berisha has pardoned Aleanca chief editor Blendi Fevziu, who was found guilty of slander, Koha Jone reported on 9 December. Fevziu was fined $2,000 for publishing an article that suggested that the head of the State Control Commission was involved in corruption (see OMRI Daily Digest, 6 December 1995). Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court has ruled that the protocols of Supreme Court Chief Judge Zef Brozi's trial will be made available to the parliament. Deputies from the Democratic Alliance and the Socialist Party had demanded to see the documents. -- 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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