|The salvation of mankind lies only in making everything the concern of all. - Alexander Solzhenitsyn|
No. 247, Part I, 21 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 PLEDGES MONEY FOR RECONSTRUCTION OF BOSNIA. Officials from more than 40 countries met in Brussels on 20 December to begin discussing the reconstruction of Bosnia-Herzegovina. They estimated that $1.5 billion is needed for priority projects such as transportation, water and sewage, while World Bank experts projected that the cost of reconstructing Bosnia in the first years alone will be $5.1 billion, Nasa Borba reported the next day. Only the EU was immediately ready to pledge $100 million of the $518 million needed to cover immediate needs. Bosnian Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey said that the Bosnian delegation has not come to Brussels to beg because the Bosnian government and its citizens are ready to rebuild the country themselves. But he added that he was disappointed by the poor response of the donors. -- Daria Sito Sucic ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINE, G-7 SIGN CHORNOBYL AGREEMENT. Ukraine on 20 December signed an agreement with the G-7 on the closure of the Chornobyl nuclear power station, international agencies reported. Details of how the closure will be financed have not been made available, but the agreement reportedly says only that Kiev is to contribute as much as its resources and economy allow. The issue of rebuilding the sarcophagus over the highly radioactive Reactor No. 4 is also left vague, and a deadline for the closure is omitted. Moreover the agreement is not legally binding. Ukrainian officials have said they felt pressured to sign the deal because of threats to withhold credits for economic restructuring. The agreement was signed in Ottawa by Ukrainian Economics Minister Yurii Kostenko and Canadian Deputy Prime Minister and Environment Minister Shiela Copps. Copps represented the G-7, which is currently chaired by Canada. -- Ustina Markus LUKASHENKA APPOINTS NEW KGB, INTERIOR MINISTRY CHIEFS. Reuters and Interfax on 20 December reported that Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has promoted Deputy Interior Minister Valyantsin Aholets to the post of interior minister and head of the Brest regional KGB Uladzimir Matskevich to chairman of the KGB. The former head of the KGB, Uladzimir Yahorau, resigned after being elected to the parliament. Lukashenka had dismissed former Interior Minister Yurii Zakharenka in October. -- Ustina Markus ACTING COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF ESTONIAN DEFENSE FORCES APPOINTED. President Lennart Meri on 20 December appointed chief of the General Staff Col. Vello Loemaa as acting commander-in-chief of the defense forces. Loemaa replaces Aleksander Einseln, whom the parliament had relieved of his duties the previous day, BNS reported. Although Meri had nominated Lt. Col. Johannes Kert, the head of the Defense League, to replace Einseln, he was required to follow Einseln's choice of Loemaa as his replacement to "ensure continuity in the leadership of the defense forces." -- Saulius Girnius OPERATIONS OF LITHUANIA'S LARGEST COMMERCIAL BANK HALTED. Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius and Bank of Lithuania President Kazys Ratkevicius on 20 December said the republic's largest commercial bank, the Lithuanian Akcinis-Inovacinis Bank, has halted all its operations due to lack of money, Radio Lithuania reported. Citizens have deposited some 300 million litai ($75 million) in the bank, which can count among its customers the Ignalina atomic power plant and the Mazeikiai oil refinery. The bank's problems were caused by issuing loans sometimes at rates even lower than those paid to the bank's depositors. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH PRIME MINISTER REJECTS COLLABORATION ACCUSATIONS . . . Jozef Oleksy, who has been accused of collaborating with Soviet and Russian secret services (see OMRI Daily Digest, 20 December 1995), has said on Polish TV that the accusations are false and a "dirty provocation." He commented that "people in the secret services, with the permission of the internal affairs minister and President Walesa, undertook attempts to destabilize the country three days before the changeover in Poland's Presidency. Walesa's camp knows no moral or ethical restraints in the struggle for power," Oleksy said. He also went on to reveal that, in an obvious blackmail attempt, he was told last week that if he were to quit before 19 December, the matter would be kept secret. Oleksy said, however, that he would not hide behind his parliamentary immunity and would accept any independent verdict, Polish media reported on 20-21 December. -- Jakub Karpinski . . . WHILE GAZETA WYBORCZA PUBLISHES DETAILS. The Polish daily on 21 December wrote that according to sources close to outgoing President Lech Walesa, he was told in early December by unnamed secret service agents that Oleksy had contacted KGB agents identified by Polish intelligence. Later, Walesa received documentary evidence collected by the Internal Affairs Ministry over the past eight months. The newspaper added that Oleksy had been warned last year that Polish intelligence was aware he had been meeting with Russian secret service officers. President-elect Aleksander Kwasniewski is said to have been told on 12 December about the documentary evidence, which, according to Gazeta Wyborcza was delivered on 19 December to the Sejm and Senate speakers and the heads of Poland's main courts. Kwasniewski the next day stressed that he has full confidence in Oleksy. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH PARLIAMENT REJECTS UNIVERSITY FEES. Deputies from two government parties--the Civic Democratic Alliance and Christian Democratic Union- Czechoslovak People's Party--on 20 December joined the opposition in voting down a government draft law on universities. Its most contentious provision was the introduction of tuition fees for higher education students from next year. Deputies voted 107 to 61 to return the bill to the government for further study. Education Minister Ivan Pilip said a new version will not be presented before next year's parliamentary and Senate elections; he termed the vote the start of the general election campaign. The rector of Charles University in Prague, Karel Maly, welcomed the vote. According to Maly, the present law is better than the government proposal, which was full of inadequacies, Pravo reported. -- Steve Kettle SLOVAK PARLIAMENT DELAYS RATIFICATION OF TREATY WITH HUNGARY. By a vote of 80 to 46, the Slovak parliament on 20 December postponed ratifying the Slovak-Hungarian treaty until its next session. It also asked parliamentary Foreign Committee chairman Dusan Slobodnik to draft an interpretation clause. Slobodnik said that through consultations with Budapest a compromise might be reached on the interpretation of the treaty. But Foreign Minister Juraj Schenk argued that it was unrealistic that Hungary would agree to such consultations. Critics have pointed out that, besides the sticking points over minority rights issues, the treaty does not deal with the question of succession to former Czechoslovakia and thus allows for challenging Trianon and the 1977 agreement on the Gabcikovo dam project. The parliament also voted to abolish the embargo against rump Yugoslavia and to endorse a cabinet proposal to send peacekeeping forces to eastern Slavonia, Slovak media reported. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK COURT RULES ON COUPON PRIVATIZATION. The Constitutional Court on 20 December ruled that an amendment to the large-scale privatization law is not unconstitutional, thereby rejecting claims by a group of opposition deputies. The amendment--approved by the parliament in September for a second time after being vetoed by President Michal Kovac--cancels the second wave of coupon privatization in favor of a program based on bonds. The court declared only one section of the amendment unlawful--namely, that requiring municipalities and housing associations to accept bonds when selling apartments, TASR reported. The court rejected opposition objections against the government's changing the rules of privatization in the middle of the process and against transferring control over privatization from the cabinet to the National Property Fund. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARY YIELDS CONTROL OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS GIANT. In a deal giving a German-U.S. group a majority stake in the telecommunications company Matav, Hungary has become the first country in Eastern Europe to yield control of its telecommunications industry, Reuters reported on 20 December. MagyarCom, a consortium equally owned by Deutsche Telekom AG and Ameritech Corp., will pay $852 million for an additional 37% of Matav, giving it a majority holding of 67%. Matav is one of Hungary's and Eastern Europe's largest firms and has a monopoly on national cable telephone services. This latest deal is one of the largest foreign investments in Eastern Europe to date. The MagyarCom consortium bought a 30% stake in Matav in 1993 for $875 million and received a 25-year concession for long-distance and local calls and a monopoly on long- distance calls for eight years. -- Jiri Pehe SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE WHITE HOUSE TO LIFT EMBARGO AGAINST RUMP YUGOSLAVIA? Nasa Borba on 21 December reported that President Bill Clinton is about to lift the embargo against Belgrade, including all sanctions related to trade, air, and sea transport as well as to other business contacts. In accordance with the November resolution of the UN Security Council on immediate suspension of sanctions, Clinton would thus reward the former Yugoslavia's "constructive participation" in the Dayton peace talks. But this move would not include lifting so-called "outside sanctions," meaning the country's immediate readmission to the UN, the OCSE, and international financial organizations. Meanwhile, French President Jacques Chirac told Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic that France will be among the first countries to recognize the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and to establish full diplomatic relations, Beta reported on 20 December. The same agency reported that telephone communications between rump Yugoslavia and Croatia were reestablished on 20 December. -- Daria Sito Sucic NATO HAS 17,000 TROOPS IN BOSNIA. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana, speaking at a press conference in Brussels on 20 December, said NATO already has 17,000 troops in Bosnia, Western agencies reported. But most of those troops were formerly with the UN. An IFOR press spokesman told OMRI that as of 21 December, only 1,400 NATO troops had arrived in Bosnia and some 1,000 in Croatia. Meanwhile, British troops have arrived in Krupa, 30 km south of Banja Luka, and IFOR forces have removed roadblocks to Sarajevo airport. -- Michael Mihalka SERBIAN RENEWAL MOVEMENT ANNOUNCES NEW COALITION. The Serbian Renewal Movement is to form a new coalition of opposition parties, according to Nasa Borba on 21 December. Party leader Draskovic has announced that a joint "list without Communists" will be drawn up for future elections. That list will include the Civic Union of Serbia, New Democracy, the Vojvodina Reformists, the Union of Vojvodina Hungarians, and the Party of Democratic Action of Sandzak. It may also include the political movement Democratic Center, which is expected to form a party. -- Fabian Schmidt WHAT FUTURE FOR CROATS IN VOJVODINA? Rump Yugoslavia has a Croatian population estimated at about 250,000. The largest single group of them live in Vojvodina, which had at least 160,000 Croats before the war but of whom over 45,000 have left, mainly under duress. President Bela Tonkovic of the Democratic League of Croats in Vojvodina told human rights activists that his people face constant harassment and psychological pressure. Their legal status as a "nation" or a national minority has not been clarified, and they are virtually excluded from public life but subject to rigorous military conscription and discrimination in hiring. They made a formal complaint to the Serbian government in June 1993 but have had no response to date, Nasa Borba reported on 21 December. -- Patrick Moore MACEDONIAN PARLIAMENT DISCUSSES TOUGH 1996 BUDGET. The Macedonian parliament on 20 December began discussing the 1996 budget, which is based on 6% retail price inflation, 10% growth in social product, and 2% growth in industrial production, Nova Makedonija reported the next day. Planned revenues of 42.9 billion denars ($1.1 billion), represent 23% of social product, compared with 23.8% in 1995. Wages in the budgetary sphere will be frozen at their August 1995 levels, vacation pay eliminated, and social welfare spending and agricultural subsidies reduced. The largest revenue sources will be excise taxes, the personal income tax, and the sales tax. -- Michael Wyzan ROMANIAN SENATE APPROVES SENDING BATTALION TO BOSNIA. The Senate on 20 December voted 107 to seven to approve contributing an engineer unit to the peacekeeping forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Radio Bucharest reported. The 200-strong battalion, whose mission is to last for up to 12 months, will mainly help restore roads and bridges in the region. The estimated cost of the operation--18 billion lei (some $7 million)--will be covered from the budget. The initial proposal to dispatch a unit to the former Yugoslavia was made by President Ion Iliescu in a letter to the parliament. -- Dan Ionescu ROMANIA TO STICK TO ITS PRO-WESTERN POLICY. A spokesman for Romania's Foreign Ministry on 20 December said his country's decision to seek NATO membership was "irreversible," Radio Bucharest reported. He stressed that a possible change in Russia's foreign policy following the recent elections will not affect Romania's policy of integration into Euro- Atlantic structures. -- Dan Ionescu ROMANI FOREIGN-LANGUAGE COURSE OFFERED AT BUCHAREST UNIVERSITY. Bucharest University is to offer instruction in Romani as a foreign language as part of a three-year course that will include Sanskrit and Hindi, Reuters reported, citing Evenimentul Zilei on 19 December. The reports did not stipulate which Romani dialect will be taught and whether the courses are meant for Roma or non-Roma. Romani is offered, among others, at Charles University in Prague and at the Gandhi High School in Pecs, Hungary, as part of courses about or for Roma. -- Alaina Lemon MOLDOVAN RULING PARTY ACCUSED OF "BOLSHEVISM." The Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova (PDAM) has been accused of establishing "a Bolshevik- style dictatorship in some raions in an attempt to politicize the population" and thus divert public attention from the current "economic disaster," Radio Bucharest reported on 19 December, quoting Moldpres. The accusation was made in a communique released by the Executive Committee of the Party of Revival and Conciliation in Moldova, led by President Mircea Snegur, who quit the PDAM in late June to set up his own party. Meanwhile, Infotag on 20 December quoted a presidential spokesman as saying that Snegur was not prepared to accept any compromise on the controversial issue of the designation of the country's official language. The spokesman said that according to "scientific truth," that designation could be only "Romanian." -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIA, ROMANIA SIGN MILITARY ACCORD. The chiefs of staff of the Bulgarian and Romanian militaries signed an agreement on military cooperation in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria, Bulgarian media reported on 19 December. The two sides agreed to continue their cooperation along their common border, to increase the exchange of military information, and promote more military contracts. Romanian Chief of General Staff Lt.- Gen. Dumitriu Cioflina was quoted as saying the Bulgaria was the first country with which Romania had signed such an agreement. He added that Romania intended to sign similar agreements with Ukraine and Hungary. -- Doug Clarke BULGARIAN PRESIDENT IN PORTUGAL. Zhelyu Zhelev, during a three-day official visit to Portugal on 18-20 December, stressed that Sofia will step up its efforts to join the EU and NATO but he added that it is unlikely Bulgaria will be admitted as a full EU member by 2000, Bulgarian and international media reported. Zhelev met with his Portuguese counterpart, Mario Soares, Prime Minister Antonio Guterres, Parliamentary President Antonio Santos, and caucus leaders. Zhelev noted that bilateral relations should be developed further, while Soares said Portugal considers Bulgaria's application for full EU membership to be fully justified and timely. Zhelev on 20 December met with former Bulgarian Queen Ioanna, who lives in Estoril. Zhelev said they discussed "very private matters." -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN JOURNALISTS WANT RESIGNATION OF RADIO BOSS. Hundreds of demonstrators, including many journalists from private and state media, on 20 December protested the dismissal of seven journalists from Bulgarian National Radio, Bulgarian newspapers and Western media reported. The demonstrators demanded the resignation of BNR Director- General Vecheslav Tunev, who sacked the journalists on 18 December (see OMRI Daily Digest, 19 December 1995). A declaration by journalists said the dismissals "irrefutably prove that there is political censorship in [BNR]." Opposition leaders attended the meeting but did not speak, saying they did not want to give the gathering a "partisan twist." -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT CHIEF ACCUSED OF SENTENCING PRIEST TO DEATH. Rustem Gjata has been charged with sentencing Dom Gjergj Gjoni to death in 1973, Koha Jone reported on 21 December. The catholic priest from the diocese of Shkoder had been charged with high treason for trying to flee Albania after it was declared an atheist state and after churches were closed in 1967. Gjata was reported to have pronounced the death sentence even though the prosecutor had demanded only a 15-year prison term. -- 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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