|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
No. 244, Part II, 18 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ EU AIMS TO START MEMBERSHIP TALKS WITH EASTERN EUROPE IN 1997. EU member countries, meeting in Madrid on 16 December, said they expected to start membership talks with East European countries (as well as with Cyprus and Malta) within six months after the EU's intergovernmental conference, scheduled to end in mid-1997, Western agencies reported. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel called the summit "a breakthrough. . . . All applicants will have the same starting conditions." The summit asked the EU Commission to conclude reports on the countries seeking membership. Meanwhile, Bulgaria has become the eighth East European country to formally apply for membership. -- Michael Mihalka ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINIAN FOREIGN AFFAIRS UPDATE. Ukrainian Prime Minister Yevhan Marchuk and his Belarusian counterpart, Mikhail Chyhir, on 14 December signed four agreements on protection of investments; pensions and civil guarantees to citizens' working and living in the other country; border controls; and cooperation with youth groups, Belarusian Radio reported. Radio Rossii on 17 December reported that Russian President Boris Yeltsin has reiterated he will visit Ukraine only once the treaty on friendship and cooperation is fully drafted. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said in London on 15 December that he did not expect any changes in Russian policy toward Ukraine, despite parliamentary elections, as long as Yeltsin remained in power. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT IMPEDES WORK OF NEW PARLIAMENT. Belarusian parliamentary speaker Mechyslau Hryb has accused President Alyaksandr Lukashenka of setting up obstacles before the new parliament, Reuters reported on 15 December. According to Hryb, Lukashenka has not provided any funds for the new parliament's operations, has taken away Hryb's official car and bodyguard, has made no proposals for new laws, and has not had identification badges issued to new deputies. A statement released by the parliamentary press office said there were "attempts by certain forces to disrupt the work of the first session and to force parliament to submit to their will." Meanwhile, Belarusian Radio on 15 December reported that the Constitutional Court found 14 of the 118 laws on the parliament in either full or partial contravention of the constitution. Lukashenka had asked the court to review the laws on the parliament to determine if they conform with the constitution. The court will release all its findings in some 10 days. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN TRADE UNIONS WARN OF STRIKE. Belapan on 15 December reported that workers meeting in Minsk two days earlier unanimously decided to begin organizing an all-out strike if their demands are not met. These include payment of all unpaid wages by the end of the year and guarantees that wage increases will be in line with inflation. The Association of Independent Industrial Unions said it is trying to organize the strike within the law, but under labor legislation it is obliged to conduct all negotiations with management rather than the government. -- Ustina Markus GERMANY PLEDGES SUPPORT TO ESTONIA. German Ambassador Berndt Mutzelburg told Estonian President Lennart Meri on 15 December that Germany will support Estonia's rapid integration into the European Union, ETA and BNS reported. He said an article in the previous day's Financial Times asserting that Germany wanted only the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary to be included in the first round of EU expansion was inaccurate. Mutzelburg noted that the German government has already given its approval to the associate membership agreements for the Baltic States and that the parliament is expected to ratify them soon. -- Saulius Girnius GAZPROM RAISES GAS PRICES TO LITHUANIA, LATVIA. Representatives of the Lithuanian state gas company Lietuvos Dujos signed an agreement with Gazprom on 14 December to purchase 3.2 billion cubic meters of natural gas in 1996 at $78 per 1,000 cubic meters, BNS reported the next day. The company's director-general said Lithuania succeeded in limiting the price increase for this year to some $3 per 1,000 cubic meters because gas to Kaliningrad is shipped via its territory. Meanwhile, the Latvian state gas company Latvijas Gaze signed an agreement with Gazprom at an even more favorable price of $77.5 per 1,000 cubic meters. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH FORMER PREMIER LOSES PARTY CONFIDENCE. The leadership of the Polish Peasant Party (PSL) on 16 December failed by one vote to pass a motion of confidence in former Prime Minister and PSL leader Waldemar Pawlak, Polish dailies reported on 18 December. Pawlak received 4.3% of the vote in the November presidential elections, far below the PSL's 15.4% in the 1993 parliamentary ballot, The vote has no immediate consequences but may augur Pawlak's removal as PSL head at the party leadership's next meeting. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH EXTREME RIGHT-WING LEADER SENTENCED. A Prague court on 15 December sentenced Republican Party leader Miroslav Sladek in absentia to 10 months in jail, suspended for 18 months, for a breach of the peace and assaulting a policeman. Sladek was also fined 6,000 koruny ($230) for failing to attend any part of his trial, Czech media reported. On 28 October 1994, the Republican Party held a rally in central Prague to celebrate the Czech national day. Sladek climbed up the statue of St. Wenceslas in Wenceslas Square to address his supporters and refused police orders to come down. Scuffles broke out and video evidence showed Sladek punching a policeman three times in the stomach. The sentence will not prevent Sladek from standing in next year's parliamentary elections. -- Steve Kettle SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER ON TREATY WITH HUNGARY. Vladimir Meciar, speaking on Slovak Radio on 15 December, asserted that the Slovak-Hungarian treaty will be ratified during the current parliamentary session. "If I did not believe in the position of the government coalition, I would strive for support from the opposition, but I am not doing that," Meciar stressed. Participants in a Slovak TV debate two days later agreed that the main problem with the treaty is the possibility of multiple interpretations, particularly with regard to collective versus individual rights and territorial autonomy. Pravda on 18 December reported that most parties will make their final opinions on the treaty known only during parliamentary discussions on 20 December. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK POLITICAL UPDATE. Slovak National Party deputy Vitazoslav Moric has said that "dictates from Brussels" are beginning to be worse than those from Moscow. Moric made this remark during the 15 December parliamentary debate on enlarging Slovakia's permanent delegation to the Council of Europe to include the ethnic Hungarian deputy Edit Bauer. Moric said Bauer was an unacceptable choice because she considers Slovakia "not a homeland but a shelter for the homeless," Sme reported. The same day, the cabinet forwarded a request by Meciar asking the Constitutional Court to clarify the president's powers vis-a-vis the government. The government is seeking confirmation that the president is not empowered to assign tasks to members of the government or to stipulate a deadline for a task to be carried out. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN TECHNICAL UNIT TO BOSNIA CUT BY 20%. Defense Minister Gyorgy Keleti told MTI that the Hungarian technical team bound for Bosnia will have only 400 members, 100 fewer than the figure endorsed by the parliament, Hungarian newspapers reported on 18 December. He said the contingent was cut due to financial considerations and in order to reduce risk factors. But several newspapers reported last week that there were only 160 soldiers in Hungary who have been trained in peacekeeping operations and can speak English. The technical team is expected to move to the Balkan region in the second half of January and will be replaced by another unit after six months. Meanwhile, U.S. President Bill Clinton has thanked Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn for Hungary's contribution to bringing about peace in the Balkans, a spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Ministry told MTI on 15 December. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE UN, NATO APPROVE NATO-LED DEPLOYMENT. The UN Security Council on 15 December authorized the deployment of the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia, Western agencies reported. Shortly thereafter, NATO commander- in-chief George Joulwan issued the order to begin deploying troops, saying "the mission is clear: limited in time and scope and with robust rules of engagement." The UN resolution authorizes deployment for approximately one year and allows the troops to use "all necessary force" to implement the Dayton peace accord. Acting NATO Secretary- General Sergio Balanzino noted "this is a historic moment for the (NATO) alliance. It is the first ground operation, the first operation out of area." Meanwhile, bad weather slowed deployment of troops into the region. -- Michael Mihalka BOSNIAN SERB PARLIAMENT REJECTS DAYTON MAPS. The Bosnian Serb legislature met in Jahorina on 17 December and "took note" of the Dayton treaty while rejecting the maps and territorial settlement, Nasa Borba and news agencies reported. It singled out the return of Sarajevo suburbs to Bosnian government control and the setting up of a corridor to Gorazde as particularly unacceptable. The parliament set down its views in ten points that included limiting opposition to the agreement to peaceful means and urging the population to stay put, the BBC said. Civilian leader Radovan Karadzic called the pact "a general defeat for the Serbs" because of the territorial provisions. The assembly demanded that the Serbs get an outlet to the sea at Neum, as well as Croatia's Prevlaka peninsula that controls access to Montenegro's Bay of Kotor. -- Patrick Moore KARADZIC CLINGS TO POWER. The legislators meeting in Jahorina on 17 December called for the right to unite with rump Yugoslavia in a single state, even though several speakers implied that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic had betrayed the Serbs of Bosnia and Croatia. The assembly also authorized its leaders to negotiate a deployment agreement with NATO, news agencies reported. The Dayton agreement bans the Bosnian Serb civilian leader and his military counterpart, General Ratko Mladic, from public office as indicted war criminals. Karadzic nonetheless showed no sign of preparing to abandon power willingly, and reshuffled his cabinet to strengthen the position of his hard-line loyalists. New appointees include Velibor Ostojic, who has been linked to "ethnic cleansing," as deputy prime minister, and security chief Dragan Kijac as interior minister. -- Patrick Moore SERBIAN HELSINKI COMMITTEE ACCUSES BELGRADE OF OPPRESSING MINORITIES. The Serbian Helsinki Committee, in its annual report released on 15 December, concludes that minorities in Serbia are subject to repression, discrimination, and "ethnic cleansing," according to AFP on 18 December. The report charges Serbian authorities with maltreatment, torture, and hostage-taking. It also accuse them of staging political trials in Kosovo, while noting that residents are also subject to pressure from the Kosovar shadow state. With regard to Vojvodina, the report concludes that the ethnic Hungarian community may eventually disappear due to discrimination. Some 30,000 young Hungarians have fled the country to avoid the military draft, while dozens of families have been turned out of their homes to make room for Croatian Serb refugees. Of the 250,000 Croats living in Vojvodina, 45,000 have been expelled since 1991. The report adds that Croatian Serb refugees have not been treated in accordance with international conventions. -- Fabian Schmidt RUMP-YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT IN CHINA. Zoran Lilic arrived in China for a six-day visit on 17 December, AFP reported the next day. Lilic is quoted as saying that he hoped the visit will "mark the opening of doors to Yugoslavia." He met with Chinese President Jiang Zemin to discuss "bilateral ties and issues of common interest." Lilic will also meet with Prime Minister Li Peng. -- Fabian Schmidt CROATIAN OPPOSITION FILES SUIT AGAINST GOVERNMENT. Some 45 members of Croatia's seven opposition parties have sent a request to the Constitutional Court to determine if decisions taken by government on the constituent session of the Zagreb city and county assemblies were in accordance with the constitution. They have also filed a suit asking the court to annul those decisions, Hina reported on 16 December. The government earlier this month declared that the opposition-dominated assemblies had not been properly constituted; and it claimed the measures they passed were illegal because there was no quorum following the boycott by deputies from the ruling party. President Franjo Tudjman at a 16 December press conference said the state authorities could not allow the Zagreb government to fall into the hands of enemies of state policy. The opposition leaders rejected his accusations and signed a joint statement on what they called the political crisis in Zagreb. -- Daria Sito Sucic ROMANIA, HUNGARY TO RECONCILE IN SPRING? Romanian President Ion Iliescu and Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn, attending the EU summit in Madrid on 16 December, said the two sides want to finalize negotiations on Iliescu's proposal for a historic reconciliation with Hungary by March 1996, Romanian media reported. Romanian Ambassador to Budapest Ioan Donca said Hungary's official response to the proposal, which was supposed to be given on 15 December, has yet to be discussed with the six parliamentary parties. Its response is thus likely to be delayed until after Christmas, he said. -- Matyas Szabo ACUTE FOOD SHORTAGES IN MOLDOVA'S BREAKAWAY DNIESTER REGION. Igor Smirnov, president of the self-proclaimed Dniester republic, and Grigorii Marakutsa, chairman of the region's Supreme Soviet, left for Moscow to ask for urgent economic assistance, BASA-press reported on 16 December. According to an official at the Agriculture Ministry in Tiraspol, the region has run out of food and cash, and its cereals reserves are enough for only ten days. Local bakeries are reportedly short of flour supplies and operating at reduced capacity. Daily bread rations were recently cut by half but had to be restored to their full level of 500 grams following protests from the population. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIAN OPPOSITION TO ASK FOR NO CONFIDENCE VOTE. The Union of Democratic Forces, the People's Union, and the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom on 15 December agreed to request a vote of no confidence in the government, Demokratsiya reported the following day. The three leaderships have decided to form a working group to draft a joint motion. The reason for the no confidence vote is the ongoing grain shortage (see OMRI Daily Digest, 28 November 1995). Flour and bread are either unavailable in the shops or have been pushed up in price. The opposition blames the crisis on the government, which controls some 40% of the grain supplies. The opposition will meet on 20 December with the trade unions to discuss joint action. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIA TO RESTITUTE JEWISH PROPERTY. President Zhelyu Zhelev on 15 December said "the Jews will receive everything that was taken away from them," 24 chasa reported the following day. Their property will be returned to the organization Shalom, which is the successor to the Jewish community in Bulgaria and defends the interests of some 50,000 Jews who were forced to leave Bulgaria. According to Shalom, the property in question is worth about 1 billion leva ($14.2 million). The organization has waived its claims on a building in Varna that is the navy's headquarters but insists that other property be returned. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN BANK CHIEF ON IMF LOAN. Bulgarian National Bank governor Todor Valchev on 15 December said that the IMF will probably accept the projected 1996 budget deficit of 4.8% of GDP if progress is made on structural reform, Pari reported the next day. He asserted that a lower deficit will hurt health, education, and the legal system. Agreement with the IMF on a new stand-by loan is crucial because Bulgaria's foreign reserves stand at $1.4 billion while debt payments in 1996 will be $1.25 billion. Meanwhile, Pari on 18 December reported that the ruling Socialists are considering four candidates to replace Valchev early next year. They include Atanas Paparizov, a former deputy minister in the last communist government; Lyubomir Filipov, head of the BNB's lev operations; and Chavdar Kanchev, head of the state bank for foreign economic relations and a former negotiator with the London Club. -- Michael Wyzan ALBANIAN COMMUNIST OFFICIALS CHARGED WITH CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY. An Albanian court has ordered the arrest of 14 communist-era officials on charges of sending dissidents into internal exile for political reasons, Reuters reported on 16 December. Those accused include Haxhi Lleshi, president of the parliament from 1953 until 1982; former first party secretary in Tirana Pirro Kondi; and former Defense Minister Prokop Murra. Lleshi, who is 82 years old, has been confined to house arrest. Four suspects, including former Prosecutor-General Qemal Lame, have fled abroad. Prosecutors launched investigations after the National Forum of Intellectuals filed a lawsuit charging the officials with violating communist-era legislation. About 100,000 people were sent into internal exile; of these, some 5,100 are estimated to have been executed. -- 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. 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