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No. 245, Part II, 19 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ BALKANS ARMS CONTROL PROCESS BEGINS. A one-day international conference on arms control in the former Yugoslavia took place in Bonn on 18 December, with both Croatia and Serbia threatening to pull out of the process, Western agencies reported. The Bonn talks met the Dayton peace accord requirement that signatories begin negotiations on arms control within seven days of signing the treaty. Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic warned that Croatia will withdraw from the process unless Serbia recognizes Croatian sovereignty over eastern Slavonia. Serbian Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic made a similar threat unless the former Yugoslavia was readmitted to the OSCE, which is to oversee the arms control negotiations, Tanjug reported. Many delegates at the conference expressed skepticism that the parties will take the arms control process seriously. -- Michael Mihalka ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT'S ADVISERS RESIGN. UNIAN on 18 December reported that three of Leonid Kuchma's top advisers have resigned as a result of infighting within the president's administration. Presidential chief adviser Oleksandr Razumkov, macro-economic adviser Anatolii Halchinsky, and domestic policy adviser Dmytro Vydrin said their resignations were in protest against the influence of certain staff members. Two days earlier, Ukrainian Radio broadcast a statement by the parliament's press service criticizing the head of Kuchma's administration, Dmytro Tabachnyk, who has recently given interviews expounding his views on the constitutional process and relations between the legislature and executive. The statement said Tabachnyk did not have the experience, expertise, or authority to make "tactless definitions on the course of debates in the parliament." Tabachnyk is considered one of Kuchma's closest advisors and has often been criticized for wielding undue influence over the president. -- Ustina Markus IMF CRITICAL OF BELARUSIAN REFORMS. Belapan on 15 December reported that IMF head Michel Camdessus has sent a letter to Belarusian Prime Minister Mikhail Chyhir expressing dissatisfaction with the country's economic reforms. The letter referred to exchange rate problems, government intervention in propping up the Belarusian ruble, the National Bank of Belarus's lack of authority over exchange rate and credit policy, the discrepancy between budget revenues predicted for 1996 and reality in the republic, the lack of progress in privatization and reforming enterprises; and the failure of the government to make foreign payments. The letter said the government was not following the IMF-approved program on economic policy and that this could threaten the release of a second tranche of a standby loan. Deputy Prime Minister Leanid Sinitsyn said the letter was merely a statement of temporary problems between Belarus and the IMF and that Belarus intends to continue the reforms it had agreed on with the IMF. -- Ustina Markus SWEDISH TOBACCO FIRM TO STOP INVESTING IN ESTONIA. Svenska Tobaks, the owner of two-thirds of the Estonian tobacco manufacturer Eesti Tubakas, has decided to stop further investment in Estonia and is considering continuing production in some other country, BNS reported on 18 December. Eesti Tubakas currently has about 70% of the Estonian tobacco market. As of 1996, the excise tax on locally produced cigarettes will be the same as on imported cigarettes, forcing a steep rise in prices. The price hike is expected to result in lower consumption and increased smuggling of cigarettes. Svenska Tobaks may then decide to end cigarette manufacturing in Estonia. -- Saulius Girnius LATVIAN UNITY PARTY TO JOIN NEW GOVERNMENT. Prime minister-designate Andris Skele announced on 18 December that the Latvian Unity Party has decided to join the government he is forming, BNS reported. Skele said its leader, Alberts Kauls, would be given the post of agriculture minister. The Saeima is scheduled to vote on the new government on 21 December. Chairman of the Popular Movement for Latvia Joachim Siegerist announced he will be "in an unmasking and fierce opposition" to the Skele government, which, however, is expected to be approved because it has the support of the right-of-center National Bloc and the left-of- center Democratic Party Saimnieks. -- Saulius Girnius UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER IN POLAND. Yevhen Marchuk, heading a senior economic delegation, visited Poland on 17 December and met, among others, with his Polish counterpart, Jozef Oleksy. Polish and Ukrainian ministers of industry, transport, communications, farming, and finance signed agreements determining timetables for various projects. The communications ministers agreed to extend the existing telecommunication highway between Lviv and Rzeszow to Kiev and Krakow. The Polish side expressed interest in buying shares in privatized Ukrainian iron mines and steelworks, Polish dailies reported on 19 December. -- Jakub Karpinski TWO PROSECUTORS FIRED IN POLAND. A spokesman for the Polish Justice Ministry on 18 December confirmed that Justice Minister and Prosecutor- General Jerzy Jaskiernia has fired two prosecutors involved in investigations into the finances and education history of President- elect Aleksander Kwasniewski. The spokesman denied the dismissals had political motives. Warsaw chief prosecutor Jerzy Labuda resigned in protest, Polish dailies reported on 19 December. -- Jakub Karpinski KLAUS LOSES DISPUTE OVER ELECTION DATES. President Vaclav Havel, trying to cut short a lingering dispute within the governing coalition, on 18 December formally proposed that the Czech Republic's parliamentary elections be held on 31 May and 1 June next year, while the first elections to the Senate should take place on 15 and 16 November 1996. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party (ODS) last week confirmed that it wanted the elections to be held simultaneously, while two of its coalition partners --the Civic Democratic Alliance and Christian Democratic Union-Czechoslovak People's Party--insisted on them being separated. After meeting with Havel, Klaus reluctantly accepted the president's proposal and said the ODS would support it to prevent a constitutional crisis, Czech media reported. Under the constitution, the president calls elections but the dates must be confirmed by the prime minister. -- Steve Kettle SLOVAK CEREMONIES MARK RETURN OF BOJNICE ALTARPIECE. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar and other Slovak officials on 18 December attended lavish ceremonies at Bojnice Castle marking the return of its altarpiece from the Czech Republic. Bishop Dominik Hrusovsky consecrated the altarpiece and held a mass in the castle's chapel, which was broadcast on Slovak TV. After 62 years, the 14th century Florentine altarpiece was returned to Slovakia on 15 December, following an agreement between Czech Culture Minister Pavel Tigrid and Slovak Ambassador to the Czech Republic Ivan Mjartan whereby the altar was exchanged for 10 Gothic wood paintings of Slovak origin. The altar had been a subject of Czech-Slovak dispute since the split of Czechoslovakia. Meciar called its return a Christmas present to the Slovak nation. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK TRADE UNIONS REFUSE TO SIGN GENERAL AGREEMENT. The assembly of the Confederation of Trade Unions (KOZ) on 18 December discussed the 1996 General Agreement between the government, unions, and employers, Slovak media reported. KOZ officials said they will not sign the agreement until promises included in the 1995 agreement are fulfilled and demands made by the unions in the 23 September protest rally are met. KOZ President Alojz Englis announced his union was recently accepted into the European Trade Union Confederation. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS NATO REFERENDUM INITIATIVE. The parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee has rejected a Workers' Party initiative to call a referendum on Hungary's accession to NATO, Hungarian media reported on 19 December (see OMRI Daily Digest, 14 December 1995). Committee Chairman Matyas Eorsi explained that deputies believe it makes no sense to stage a referendum until Hungary's terms of admission have been clarified. Meanwhile, the Socialist Party caucus said it does not back a referendum on accession since the country is not in a position to make a decision on the matter. However, it said that if Hungary receives a request for admission, and negotiations on accession conclude successfully, then the country should decide on NATO membership by means of a referendum. -- Zsofia Szilagyi NO FOUL PLAY IN HUNGARY'S OILGATE AFFAIR. A governmental commission has concluded that no illegal acts were committed in the recent "oilgate" affair (see OMRI Daily Digest, 8 December 1995), Hungarian media reported on 19 December. But the commission called for clearing up issues related to the settlement of the Hungarian-Russian debt, which the cabinet is to debate this week. All parliamentary caucuses have endorsed setting up a parliamentary commission to investigate the affair, in which it is alleged that there were links between oil dealers and Socialist Party figures in Russian oil shipments in partial payment of Russia's debt to Hungary. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE A FEDERAL MODEL FOR SARAJEVO? Boza Kljajic of the Serbian Civic Council has suggested that Sarajevo be set up as s special federal district on the model of Brussels, Mexico City, or Washington. The Council represents the anti-nationalist Serbs who have spent the entire war in the part of Sarajevo controlled by the Bosnian government. Nasa Borba on 19 December quoted him as saying that the city should remain a united and undivided one in which all citizens and peoples would enjoy total equality. Reuters said the previous day, however, that the Serbian nationalist leadership in Pale has other ideas. It met with Belgrade architects to plan a new city consisting of Serbian refugees from Sarajevo who refuse to live under government rule. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic said that rump Yugoslavia will foot the bill. -- Patrick Moore SUSPECTED WAR CRIMINAL ARRESTED. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 19 December reported that an unnamed man was arrested in Dusseldorf on the suspicion of having assisted in genocide. The 48-year-old Serb was supposedly the leader of a chetnik gang that committed atrocities in Bosnia in the spring and summer of 1992. The paper added that a sniper in Sarajevo fired on a tram and wounded a woman. -- Patrick Moore WORLD BANK REQUESTS FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR BOSNIA. The World Bank is asking Western countries to finance a $100 million assistance initiative for Bosnia, Hina reported on 16 December. The money would go for establishing state institutions, financing small and medium-sized enterprises, and funding social welfare. The bank estimates that reconstructing Bosnia will cost $5.1 billion. -- Michael Wyzan BELGRADE BLAMES BOSNIAN MUSLIMS FOR SREBRENICA MASSACRE. Reuters on 18 December reported that official Belgrade has defended the Bosnian Serbs against charges of massacring Bosnian Muslims and forcing some 5,500 people to go "missing" when Bosnian Serbs overran the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica in July. In a letter to the UN Security Council, Belgrade's representative to the UN and former Foreign Minister Vladislav Jovanovic charges that the Bosnian Muslims were themselves responsible for the atrocities. He asserted that as the Bosnian Serbs approached Srebrenica, "those [Bosnian Muslim] units which wanted to continue fighting were mercilessly killing those who wanted to surrender and were in favour of a ceasefire." Reuters suggests Jovanovic's remarks may be an effort to "head off" an expected UN resolution condemning the Bosnian Serbs for the atrocities. -- Stan Markotich TETOVO UNIVERSITY CELEBRATES FIRST ANNIVERSARY. The illegal Albanian- language university in Tetovo celebrated its first anniversary on 16 December, MIC reported two days later. At a ceremony attended by Culture Minister Eshtref Aliu and ethnic Albanian legislators, university dean Fadil Sulejmani called 17 December, the day the university was founded, a "day of Albanian liberation in Macedonia." Police earlier this year destroyed parts of the self-proclaimed university's premises and prevented students from entering the building. Nonetheless, according to Sulejmani, the university has underground faculties of math, natural sciences, law, economy, philology, philosophy, and the arts. The university claims to have 1,300 students and 150 professors. -- Fabian Schmidt ROMANIAN REVOLUTION ANNIVERSARY SPARKS CONTROVERSY. Valentin Gabrielescu, head of the Romanian Senate's Commission of Inquiry into the Events of December 1989, has accused President Ion Iliescu of being responsible for the bloodshed that followed the fall and execution of communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, Romanian and international media reported on 18 December. Iliescu was also accused of having used the revolt to stage a coup and of ordering Ceausescu's killing to prevent him from revealing what he knew about the country's new leaders. Some participants in the December 1989 events have decided to stage a posthumous retrial of Ceausescu because, they maintain, none of the charges against him holds water. President Iliescu told Mediafax that he may sue Gabrielescu. -- Matyas Szabo ROMANIA TO TIGHTEN CONTROL ON CIVIL AVIATION. Romanian Transport Minister Aurel Novac, speaking on Radio Bucharest on 18 December, announced plans to tighten control on the country's civil aviation following two fatal crashes involving Romanian airliners this year. Novac said that aviation officials would conduct stricter controls to determine pilot errors or technical deficiencies. He expressed the hope that the new measures "will prevent accidents in the future." An Antonov-24 charter plane belonging to the Banat Air company crashed near Verona, in Italy, last week, killing all 49 people aboard. -- Dan Ionescu MOLDOVAN REACTIONS TO RUSSIAN ELECTIONS. The outcome of the Russian parliamentary elections will not influence Moldovan foreign policy, an adviser to President Mircea Snegur told Infotag on 18 December. He described Russian Communist Party Chairman Gennadii Zyuganov's statement that the restoration of the USSR was inevitable as "irresponsible" and out of touch with reality. Another presidential adviser was quoted as saying that Moldova hoped that the new Russian State Duma would adopt a more realistic stance on both the ratification of the Russian-Moldovan Army Withdrawal Agreement and the settlement of the Dniester conflict. In a related development, leader of the Moldovan Communist Party Vladimir Voronin hailed the Communists' strong showing in the Russian elections. According to BASA-press, Voronin plans to discuss the Dniester conflict with the communist Duma deputies soon. -- Dan Ionescu SEVEN BULGARIAN JOURNALISTS FIRED. Seven of the Bulgarian National Radio journalists who signed a declaration on 21 November accusing BNR's management of censorship were dismissed on 18 December, Bulgarian newspapers reported the following day. The dismissals occurred despite assurances from BNR Director-General Vecheslav Tunev that none of the protesters would be fired. Tunev said their actions would lead to a split within the radio. According to Trud, he accused them of "complete disloyalty." Among those dismissed are two deputy directors of BNR's Radio Horizont. Duma reports that the director and the editor-in-chief of BNR's [international] Radio Bulgaria were also replaced. -- Stefan Krause KOZLODUY COULD AFFECT BULGARIAN TIES WITH EU. French European Affairs Minister Michel Barnier on 18 December said Bulgaria's Kozloduy nuclear plant could be a major obstacle in Sofia's efforts to join the EU, Reuters reported the same day. Speaking to a news conference in Sofia after talks with Bulgarian officials, Barnier said that "without wishing to point the finger at anyone . . . , [the nuclear issue] is an important one . . . and could be a determining factor in the process of EU enlargement." The decision to restart Kozloduy's Reactor No. 1 in October 1995 led to sharp reactions from Western countries that question the reactor's safety. Barnier said that Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade Kiril Tsochev told him the reactor will be shut down in April for further checks. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN PRESIDENT IN GERMANY. Sali Berisha, on an official visit to Bonn, met with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel on 18 December, the Albanian-language service of Deutsche Welle reported. Berisha discussed economic cooperation between the two countries and urged Albania's integration into the European Union and NATO. Berisha will also meet with German President Roman Herzog, Finance Minister Theo Waigel, and Economic Cooperation and Development Minister Carl-Dieter Spranger as well as representatives of the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Berisha urged international support for a resolution of the Kosovo crisis that respects internationally recognized borders. -- Fabian Schmidt FIRST GREEK-MACEDONIAN TALKS ON NAME ISSUE. Greek Ambassador to the UN Christos Zacharakis and his Macedonian counterpart, Ivan Toshevski, met in New York on 16 December for first talks about the disputed name issue, Nova Makedonija reported on 18 December, citing Greek media reports. According to those reports, the talks took place in a positive and "very encouraging" atmosphere and lasted more than four hours. Both sides said the problem should be solved as soon as possible and both made suggestions for a possible solution. Further progress is expected after both sides report to their governments. UN mediator Cyrus Vance called the meeting "extremely interesting" and said similar meetings are expected to take place after the Christmas holidays. -- Stefan Krause [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. 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