|A man seldom thinks with more earnestness of anything than he does of his dinner. - Samuel Johnson|
No. 249, Part II, 27 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ BOSNIAN SERBS ASK FOR DELAY OVER SARAJEVO SUBURBS. International media reported on 26 December that NATO's commander in Bosnia, Admiral Leighton Smith, met a Bosnian Serb delegation in Pale. In keeping with IFOR guidelines, he refused to talk to indicted war criminals Radovan Karadzic or General Ratko Mladic, so the Serbian team was headed by parliamentary speaker Momcilo Krajisnik. The Serbs pledged to continue to cooperate with NATO, but asked for an extension of the deadline by which they must hand over some parts of Sarajevo to a transitional authority and ultimately to the Bosnian government. Smith said that he "did not say yes or no. I am not in a position to negotiate the details [of the Dayton peace agreement] but I do have the authority to make extensions on time lines," adding that he will seek the "wise guidance" of his senior commanders, AFP added. -- Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE MORE UKRAINIAN ELECTIONS. Parliamentary run-off elections took place on 24 December, Ukrainian radio reported the next day. Five new deputies were elected, bringing the total number of legislators to 418. Two of the deputies, Ihor Sharov and Anatolii Drobotov, were from Crimea and belong to the Communist Party. Yaroslav Fedoryn was elected to a Kiev district seat and belongs to the Rukh party. The other two deputies, Anatolii Kovalenko and Serhii Buryak, were also elected to Kiev seats and are independents. -- Ustina Markus UKRAINIAN APPOINTMENTS. President Leonid Kuchma appointed Deputy Prime Minister Roman Shpek to head the National Council on Statistical Issues, Ukrainian radio reported on 25 December. Kuchma also created a Commission to Reform Professional-Technical Education and named Deputy Prime Minister Ivan Kyras as its head. The dean of the law school of Kiev University, Vladlen Honcharenko, was appointed to the commission working on legal reforms. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULING. The Belarusian Constitutional Court ruled on 26 December that a presidential decree revoking privileges from some sectors of the population was unconstitutional. The court found that the president did not have the right to issue, abolish or suspend laws. This was the right of the legislature and the decree was an "attempt by the president to assume certain functions of the legislature." -- Ustina Markus KWASNIEWSKI SWORN IN AS PRESIDENT; WALESA DOESN'T PARTICIPATE. Aleksander Kwasniewski, the 41-year-old former leader of the Democratic Left Alliance, was sworn in on 23 December as President of Poland, replacing Lech Walesa, whose term expired the day before. Kwasniewski said he was open to dialogue with his political opponents and the Catholic Church and that he will continue the work for Poland's entry into European structures and NATO. Kwasniewski made no mention of the alleged espionage activities of Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy (See OMRI Daily Digest, 20 December 1995). Walesa stayed at his home in Gdansk and did not participate in the inauguration ceremonies, nor did deputies from the pro-Walesa Confederation of Independent Poland. Only a few deputies from other opposition parties were present. Outside the parliament building around 1,500 anti-communist demonstrators protested against the investiture, Polish dailies reported on 27 December. -- Jakub Karpinski FOLLOW-UP TO OLEKSY AFFAIR. Polish Chief Military Prosecutor General Ryszard Michalowski said on 22 December that the materials received from the Internal Affairs Ministry on 19 December, regarding the alleged espionage activities of Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy, have gaps and inadequacies. Michalowski demanded additional clarifications from the ministry, before he decides whether to launch a probe. The Sejm nominated on the same day a 12-person extraordinary commission to investigate the Oleksy affair. The commission summoned Michalowski, former Internal Affairs Minister Andrzej Milczanowski, and the chief of the State Protection Office, General Gromoslaw Czempinski, to testify on 3 and 4 January, Polish dailies reported on 23 and 27 December. -- Jakub Karpinski NEW ACTING MINISTERS IN POLAND. Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy nominated three acting ministers on 22 December to replace those who resigned at the end of President Lech Walesa's term. Foreign Affairs Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski was replaced by undersecretary Eugeniusz Wyzner, a career diplomat who was a deputy UN Secretary-General from 1982 to 1992. Zbigniew Sobotka, undersecretary in the Internal Affairs Ministry and a deputy of the Democratic Left Alliance, replaced Internal Affairs Minister Andrzej Milczanowski. Defense Minister Zbigniew Okonski was replaced by the state secretary in the Defense Ministry, Andrzej Karkoszka. The nomination of new full-fledged ministers is expected in a few days. Oleksy also dismissed on 22 December Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Henryk Jasik, who was recently promoted to general by Walesa. Jasik was involved in collecting material evidence against Oleksy, the Polish press reported on 23 and 27 December. -- Jakub Karpinski RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN LATVIA'S BANKA BALTIJA. The union of creditors of the Banka Baltija appealed on 22 December the bankruptcy verdict passed on 11 December by the Economic Court, BNS reported. The appeal noted that the court had acted on the request for bankruptcy by the bank's administrator and not by either the Bank of Latvia or two creditors, as the law requires. The same day, the General Public Prosecutor's Office brought additional charges of embezzlement and malicious causing of bankruptcy against Aleksandrs Lavent, the former chairman of the bank's supervision council. Lavent, who was arrested in June and charged with sabotage against the Latvian state, was to have been released on 28 December. -- Saulius Girnius ESTONIA LAUNCHES FIRST LOCALLY BUILT WARSHIP. In the presence of President Lennart Meri, Prime Minister Tiit Vahi, and Interior Minister Mart Rask, the first warship built in Estonia after World War II was launched on 22 December, ETA reported. It is a 30-meter long coast guard vessel christened Pikker (Thunder) which cost nearly 15 million kroon ($1.3 million). -- Saulius Girnius DATES FOR CZECH ELECTIONS FORMALLY SET. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus on 22 December countersigned a presidential-decree calling parliamentary elections for 31 May and 1 June 1996, Czech media reported. The first elections to the upper house of parliament, the Senate, will be held on 15 and 16 November. Klaus wanted the two sets of elections to be held together but finally agreed to Havel's proposal that they take place separately (See OMRI Daily Digest, 19 December 1995). The June polls will be the first parliamentary elections since the Czech Republic became an independent state on 1 January 1993. -- Steve Kettle SLOVAK PREMIER AWARDED HONORARY DEGREE IN MOSCOW. Moscow State University on 22 December awarded Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar an honorary doctorate for his role in developing Russian-Slovak relations, Slovak media reported. At the ceremony in Moscow, Meciar described relations between the Russian Federation and Slovakia as exemplary and said they would not be jeopardized, even if Slovakia becomes a member of NATO. -- Steve Kettle HUNGARY EASES CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS. The Hungarian government has relaxed the rules restricting the amount of currency that travellers can take abroad, international media reported on 22 December. The previous annual limit of $800 was raised to 200,000 forints ($1,430), according to reports. The decision followed parliamentary approval in November of a new currency law, the latest step towards making the forint fully convertible. -- Steve Kettle SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE RUSSIAN GENERAL MEETS INDICTED WAR CRIMINAL. In contrast to Admiral Smith, Russian Major-General Nikolai Staskov met General Mladic while on a mission of "national reconnaissance," as explained by a NATO spokesman in Sarajevo, Reuters and Nasa Borba reported on 24 and 25 December. An IFOR spokesman said that this meeting happened without the prior knowledge of or approval by NATO, demonstrating that the Russians are not willing to coordinate their activities completely with NATO at a time when the rules for Russian participation are still being clarified. According to the IFOR spokesman, Staskov's role in the meeting with Mladic was not clear, although international media suggested that the Brcko corridor was on the agenda because the Serbs had unsuccessfully tried to have the Russians stationed there instead of the Americans. -- Daria Sito Sucic U.S. SETS UP CHECKPOINT IN BRCKO CORRIDOR. CNN reported on 26 December that heavy rains and floods had slowed U.S. engineers trying to construct a bridge from Zupanja, Croatia, across the Sava River into northern Bosnia. The Americans nonetheless opened their first checkpoint in the Brcko corridor, 7.5 km south of the Sava, on the Tuzla road. AFP added that U.S. vehicles were "testing their freedom of movement" in the sensitive corridor and proceded unhindered by government or Serbian soldiers. In Banja Luka, Reuters said that the region is "one big refugee camp," as aid workers deal with 280,000 Serbian refugees, over half of whom arrived this year. Since the summer, the Serbian authorities accelerated their expulsion of the region's few remaining Croats and Muslims, but housing for Serb refugees remains a problem. On 27 December, AFP reported that British troops found 12 bodies near Sanski Most, where fleeing Serbian soldiers killed Muslim and Croat civilians in October. The bodies have yet to be identified. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN SERB AND GOVERNMENT FORCES EXCHANGE PRISONERS. Serbian and government forces on 24 December exchanged 245 prisoners in no man's land in northeastern Bosnia, Reuters reported. According to local officials, 114 Serbs and 131 troops of the government forces, most of whom were captured in Srebrenica earlier this year, were freed in the "first big exchange of prisoners in the last two years." Swedish soldiers within IFOR supervised the exchange which, according to the Dayton agreement, should be completed by 28 February, Nasa Borba reported on 25 December. -- Daria Sito Sucic CROATIAN CARDINAL SAYS SERBS SHOULD RETURN. The primate of Croatia, Cardinal Franjo Kuharic, said that Croatian Serbs who fled their homes should be allowed to come back if they agree to be loyal citizens of Croatia. Kuharic pointed out that the Roman Catholic Church has repeatedly called for all victims of "ethnic cleansing" to be allowed to return to their homes and property, Nasa Borba reported on 25 December. He added that the Catholic and Orthodox churches should make a serious inquiry into the origins of the conflict and show that "there is a way out from the war and the hatred." The cardinal has been a voice for reconciliation throughout the conflict and played a notable role in opposing the Croat-Muslim war of 1993. -- Patrick Moore SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH SPLIT OVER DAYTON AGREEMENT. A special bishop's conference of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) was called in Belgrade on 21 December to discuss an internal split among bishops over the Dayton agreement and loss of territories in Republika Srpska, Beta reported the same day. Dozens of SPC bishops called on Patriarch Pavle to resign because he failed to oppose the Dayton peace agreement, while he himself earlier announced his possible resignation from the post. The church leadership has long backed Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's "Greater Serbian" policy although they distrust him because of his communist background. They prefer the non-communist Karadzic, whom they backed in his feud with Milosevic, and seconded his complaints about the peace treaty. -- Daria Sito Sucic SERBIAN OPPOSITION UNITY DEVELOPMENTS. Delegates from five opposition parties--the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), the Serbian Radical Party (SRS), the Democratic Party (DS), the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), and the Democratic Community of Hungarians in Vojvodina -- met on 26 December for the first sitting of what has been dubbed "the parallel parliament" for Serbia, Nasa Borba reported on 27 December. This appears to be the latest in a series of moves aimed at opposition cooperation. On 26 December Nasa Borba reported that on the previous day the republic's legislature passed its budget for 1996, with only the governing Socialist Party of Serbia delegates, their opposition New Democracy allies and several breakaway members of the SRS (now the Radical Party 'Nikola Pasic') supporting and debating the legislation. Members of the five aforementioned opposition parties boycotted, objecting to a government ban on television coverage of the legislature, and to government business being conducted "on the day of the great Christian holiday--Catholic Christmas." -- Stan Markotich A BIG DEAL FOR SERBIAN OPPOSITION? Meanwhile, participants in the "alternative legislature" say the institution is an important vehicle in opposing the government's power monopoly, Nasa Borba reports on 27 December. The SRS leader in the institution, Tomislav Nikolic, said, "if anyone thinks he can defeat the socialists on his own, he's welcome to try. I don't think that can be done, and I'll try to show that through this institution." SPO leader Vuk Draskovic added that in the absence of parliamentary television coverage, the parallel parliament may communicate directly with citizens, providing information and soliciting input on legislation. On a separate but related topic, Nasa Borba on 26 December reported that "after over a month of negotiations," the DS, DSS and two other minor parties finally agreed on forming an electoral bloc, the Democratic Alliance. Whether these developments are being perceived as a threat by the SPS is highly debatable, given that all previous opposition efforts to oust or impede the socialists have floundered over parties' inability to sustain working relations. -- Stan Markotich ROMANIAN COMMERCE MINISTER RESIGNS. Domestic and Western media reported on 22 December that Minister of Commerce Petru Crisan had resigned. According to a government press release carried by Romanian television, a successor would be appointed next month. The daily Adevarul has alleged that in addition to his portfolio, Crisan was at the same time a manager and shareholder of private and state-owned companies, which was a conflict of interests. Other media indicated that he may have used his influence to favor private business interests. Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu told Radio Bucharest on 23 December that a government inquiry showed no wrongdoing on Crisan's part, but that the minister chose to submit his resignation in order to avoid damaging the executive's image. -- Michael Shafir ILIE NASTASE TO RUN FOR MAYOR OF BUCHAREST. Former tennis star Ilie Nastase will run for mayor of Bucharest in the local elections scheduled for spring 1996, the daily Evenimentul zilei reported on 23 December. Nastase, who has recently joined the largest coalition party, the Party of Social Democracy in Romania, said his entrance into politics has been received well abroad and that he intended to use his influence to help his native city overcome its rapid deterioration. -- Michael Shafir TRANSDNIESTRIAN ELECTIONS AND REFERENDUM. Moldovan and Western press agencies reported on 24-25 December that preliminary results of the voting held in the 24 December elections and referendum in the breakaway Transdniestrian region indicate that 54 out of the 67 seats in the parliament were filled as a result of the votes cast. There will be runoffs in the remaining districts, all affecting the second chamber of the legislature. It is not clear yet which party emerged as victorious, but reports indicated that most voters favored the Bloc of Patriotic Forces, which stands for closer links with Russia and a revival of the Soviet Union. In the referendum held concomitantly with the elections, 81.8% approved the region's separatist constitution, which proclaims the Transdniester an independent state, and 90.6% voted in favor of its joining the CIS and its related structures. Moldovan leaders denounced the elections and the referendum as illegitimate. Official Russia distanced itself from the poll. ITAR-TASS quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying that the region was "part of the Republic of Moldova" and what happened there was "an internal affair of that independent and sovereign state." -- Michael Shafir RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES RECEIVE PROPERTY BACK. Albanian President Sali Berisha decreed the return of all former properties to the religious communities in speeches at orthodox and catholic churches in Tirana on 25 December. The property affected by the law is estimated to include about 35,000 hectares of agricultural land, Republika reported on 26 December. All properties of the Muslim community and the orthodox and catholic churches were nationalized in 1967. -- Fabian Schmidt PAPANDREOU'S CONDITION IMPROVES. Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou has left intensive care, AFP reported on 26 December. The move was earlier delayed when the 76-year-old leader suffered an intestinal infection, but the infection seems to be "under control." The ailing premier has been in hospital since 20 November, when he was taken ill with pneumonia, which was later complicated by breathing and kidney problems. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Pete Baumgartner 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 email@example.com 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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