|Words that open our eyes to the world are always the easiest to remember. - Ryszard Kapuscinski|
No. 5, Part II, 8 January 1996
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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ KOSCHNICK SAYS MOSTAR WILL NOT BE ANOTHER DIVIDED BERLIN. EU administrator of Mostar Hans Koschnick has rejected a demand by the Croatian mayor to divide the town, following a series of incidents between Croats and Muslims, Nasa Borba reported on 8 January. Tensions grew with the killing of a Muslim teenager on New Year's Day by Croatian police and continued through the fatal shooting from Muslim lines of a Croatian policeman on 6 January. Meanwhile, sniper fire and rocket- propelled grenades were exchanged over the city's division line. Koschnick told Reuters on 7 January that the division of Mostar would mean the failure of the Muslim-Croat federation in Bosnia, and he again threatened both communities that he would leave unless they showed greater readiness to cooperate. Meanwhile, the Muslim mayor of Mostar asked NATO for help amid the current tensions, Reuters said. -- Daria Sito Sucic and Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINE TO SUBMIT DRAFT AGREEMENT ON BORDERS. Interfax and Radio Mayak on 6 January reported that Ukraine plans to submit a draft agreement on its borders at the 12 January meeting of CIS foreign ministers. Deputy Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Hryshchenko said Ukraine finds it "inadmissible" to divide its borders into "internal" and "external" ones. He rejected arguments that this stance would impede integration within the CIS. Russia and the Council of Commanders of CIS Border Guards reportedly oppose Ukraine's position, but Hryshchenko said a number of other CIS states support it. -- Ustina Markus BANKING PROBLEMS IN BELARUS. Belarusian Radio on 5 January reported that the Prosecutor-General's Office will begin criminal proceedings against executives at the Belarusian Savings Bank following an investigation that found widespread irregularities in their financial dealings. The Ministry of Finance reportedly loaned the Savings Bank $25 million to be used to index people's savings to inflation. Instead, the money was deposited in bank accounts abroad and used to offer credit to commercial establishments. Meanwhile, Interfax and Radio Mayak on 6 January reported that President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has ordered an investigation into gold coins minted in the U.S. for the Savings Bank. The coins were found to be faulty; and the National Bank of Belarus has refused to recognize the coins as legal tender. -- Ustina Markus ESTONIA TO PURCHASE RADARS FROM FRANCE. The Estonian government on 4 January announced it will take out a 108 million kroon ($9.4 million) loan to buy early-warning radar systems from Thomson CSF of France, ETA reported the next day. The radars will be located on the Russian border and will be capable of tracking ground, airborne, and sea targets. Most of the loan will come from the French Banque Paribas, with the remainder being supplied by the Japanese financial corporation Marubein. -- Saulius Girnius EBRD TO INVEST IN LATVIA'S UNIBANKA. Latvian Privatization Agency Director-General Janis Naglis has said the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development on 5 January agreed to invest 4.5 million lati ($8.1 million) in Unibanka in late March or early April, BNS reported. The investment will raise the bank's capital to 16 million lati. Sweden's Swedfund and Estonia's Tallinna Pank are also likely to purchase shares in Unibanka. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIAN FOREIGN, DEFENSE MINISTERS RESIGN. Foreign Minister Povilas Gylys and Defense Minister Linas Linkevicius on 5 January handed in letters of resignation to President Algirdas Brazauskas saying they could not continue to work in the administration of Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius, Radio Lithuania reported. They were evidently displeased with Slezevicius's decision to remain in office even after he had admitted to removing his savings from the Lithuanian Joint-Stock Innovative Bank two days before its activities were suspended. Linkevicius said he would remain in the Democratic Labor Party (of which Slezevicius is chairman) because there were "many people in the party who were genuinely decent." Brazauskas said he would announce shortly whether he would accept the resignations. -- Saulius Girnius NEW POLISH DEFENSE MINISTER APPOINTED. Stanislaw Dobrzanski, a 46-year- old historian from the Polish Peasant Party, on 5 January was appointed defense minister, Polish dailies reported. Dobrzanski was a member of the former communist-allied Peasant Youth Association. More recently, he was secretary of the Defense Committee in Jozef Oleksy's government. Following his appointment, Dobrzanski said "the key to NATO lies in Poland" but added that Poland's legal system "needs to be adjusted, beginning with the constitution." He also stressed the need to adjust defense legislation to ensure full civilian control over the military, a condition for NATO membership. -- Jakub Karpinski UPDATE ON OLEKSY AFFAIR. Sejm Speaker Jozef Zych on 5 January appealed to politicians and the media to stop "passing judgment" on Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy's alleged spy activities. Zych met the same day with Internal Affairs Minister Jerzy Konieczny, chief military prosecutor Gen. Ryszard Michalowski, head of the Sejm commission investigating the Oleksy affair Lucyna Pietrzyk, and head of the Sejm Administration and Internal Affairs Commission Zbigniew Bujak. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH PREMIER ON GULF TOUR. Vaclav Klaus began a tour of Gulf states on 6 January to promote Czech trade in the area and seek investment, Czech and international media reported. In Abu Dhabi, Klaus met with the deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, Sheik Sultan ibn Zayed al-Nahayan. Klaus said the Czech Republic could take advantage of the UAE's position as a re-export center to further contacts with countries such as Pakistan and India, Pravo reported on 8 January. He also discussed with Sheikh Sultan the possibility of the Czech Republic buying oil from the UAE and told local businessmen it was time to invest in the Czech Republic. Trade between the two countries amounted to only $15.5 million in the first 10 months of 1995. Klaus is also scheduled to visit Dubai and Kuwait. -- Steve Kettle SLOVAK COALITION PARTY REVEALS PRIORITIES FOR 1996. Slovak National Party (SNS) deputy Vitazoslav Moric told a press conference on 5 January that the party will continue to block Slovakia's entry into NATO, TASR and Slovak Radio reported. Responding to recent statements by representatives of the ethnic Hungarian Coexistence movement on establishing territorial autonomy in Slovakia, Moric said he would not be opposed "if that territory included Jager, Miskovec, half of Budapest, and Balaton [all located in Hungary], as Slovak territories." SNS deputy chairperson Anna Malikova, noting that the SNS wants to intensify contacts with parties abroad with a similar orientation, said a meeting will be prepared between SNS chairman Jan Slota and Austrian Freedom Party chairman Jorg Haider. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARY CONCERNED ABOUT PROTECTION OF BOSNIAN TECHNICAL CONTINGENT. Following a five-hour debate, the parliament's Defense Committee on 7 January approved reports by Defense Minister Gyorgy Keleti and Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs on preparations for the 400-strong Hungarian technical contingent's deployment and on IFOR's guarantees for the contingent's protection, Hungarian media reported. Some opposition deputies claimed that Keleti misled the parliament when he said NATO guarantees were accomplished facts; they pointed out that he had no written agreement to that effect. Kovacs said the British Embassy last week confirmed on behalf of its government that British armed forces will provide protection for the Hungarian contingent in the British zone. He added that the Hungarian unit will undertake its mission in Bosnia only if IFOR signs an agreement guaranteeing its protection. The opposition want a special parliamentary session to be convened to debate the issue further. -- Zsofia Szilagyi LEFTISTS DEMAND DISMISSAL OF HUNGARIAN FINANCE MINISTER. The leftist caucus of the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) on 6 January demanded that Finance Minister Lajos Bokros and MSZP Vice President Laszlo Mate be dismissed from both the party and the government, Hungarian media reported. Some leftists argued that unless significant personnel changes are made at the MSZP's March congress, the party will lose the 1998 general elections. Csaba Hamori, a former secretary-general of the Communist Youth League, was elected to the leadership of the caucus. Divisions within the senior coalition party have been growing since the announcement of radical austerity measures last March. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE IFOR UNDER CONSTANT ATTACK IN BOSNIA. Reuters on 8 January reported that NATO officials have become increasingly worried about the security of their troops after a series of firing incidents. An Italian soldier was shot near Sarajevo last week. British troops on 5 January were attacked by Bosnian Serbs near Sanski Most. A French plane on 7 January was hit by bullets near Sarajevo airport; and British troops were attacked again in central Bosnia next day. An IFOR spokesman in Sarajevo said the attacks did not cause serious damage or injury and that fire had been returned in most cases, Hina reported on 7 January. In another development, Lt.-Gen. Michael Walker, who is in charge of IFOR land forces, warned that NATO troops in Bosnia lack the manpower to ensure the free movement of civilians across ethnic front lines, Reuters said. He was responding to charges by the Bosnian government that NATO has not fulfilled its duty to ensure the safe passage of civilians under the Dayton peace accord. -- Daria Sito Sucic BOSNIAN SERBS LAUNCH PUBLICITY CAMPAIGN. Bosnian Serb Vice President Nikola Koljevic appeared on Greek TV on 7 January to launch a new publicity drive, the BBC reported. It appears to be part of the campaign to promote Serbian interests by political means, which Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic first announced after the Dayton agreement was signed. The latest installment involves a fundraising effort to transport 15,000 Serbian schoolchildren from the Sarajevo suburbs to stay with relatives in Bosnian Serb territory, in Serbia, or in Greece. Koljevic said the Bosnian Serb authorities wanted the children to spend the rest of the school year away from Sarajevo because of the current "period of uncertainty." Meanwhile in Kragujevac, Bosnian Serb Prime Minister, Rajko Kasagic, told a radio audience that he is "determined" to apply the Dayton accords. He suggested that the treaty was necessary in order to free Serbia from the sanctions. -- Patrick Moore WILL INTERNATIONAL POLICE DEAL WITH ISLAMIC FIGHTERS? The slowness in setting up the international police force for Bosnia is having repercussions in Podbrijezje, near Zenica, AFP noted on 5 January. The area witnessed sharp fighting during the Croatian-Muslim war of 1993, and now Turkish peacekeepers keep a sometimes difficult truce. One problem is the presence of the Islamic fighters, who must leave under the terms of the Dayton agreement. In departing the Croatian village, they are now carting off everything they can. Local Croats fear that many will come back, since they are not foreigners who are obliged to leave but rather Bosnian young men who became Islamic warriors in the course of the conflict. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN FACTIONS AGREE ON SETTING UP MILITARY LIAISONS. The parties to the OSCE-sponsored talks on confidence-building measures in Vienna agreed on 5 January to set up military liaisons at each other's military headquarters within 10 days, international agencies reported. The Muslim-Croatian federation and the Bosnian Serbs also provided preliminary military data on the number and location of certain weapons and factory sites but failed to agree on the type of weapons and military units that would be subject to inspection. Meanwhile, at the talks on arms control in Vienna, the parties agreed to provide complete data on their armed forces and weapons when they reconvene on 16 January. -- Michael Mihalka GERMAN INTERIOR MINISTERS DECIDE TO RETURN BOSNIAN REFUGEES. The Conference of German Interior Ministers on 6 January decided to return refugees from Bosnia by mid-1996, AFP reported the following day. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel is expected to discuss the issue in talks with Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic, Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic, and Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey in Sarajevo on 8 January. Some 320,000 refugees would be affected by the decision, which has been strongly protested by the German opposition and refugee organizations. -- Fabian Schmidt SERBIA'S DEMOCRATIC PARTY SUPPORTS SARAJEVO'S SERBIAN COMMUNITY. Serbia's nationalist opposition Democratic Party on 7 January issued an appeal to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and federal rump Yugoslav authorities to press diplomatically for demands made by the Serbian community in Sarajevo's suburbs, BETA reported. The appeal said that if the president and federal authorities do not [help] create the conditions for the Serbs of Sarajevo to safeguard their local autonomy and safety, more than 100,000 people will flee Sarajevo. Last week, BETA reported that the DS plans to establish a branch in the Republic of Srpska. A convention is slated for the end of January, when a party leadership and platform are to be approved. -- Stan Markotich KOSOVAR CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATS REJECT AUTONOMY COMPROMISE. Mark Krasniqi, head of the Kosovar Christian Democratic Party, has rejected the idea of autonomy for Kosovo, Nasa Borba reported on 8 January. Krasniqi pointed out that "the Albanian people will not accept autonomy since they called for an independent and neutral Kosovo" in the recent referendum. Krasniqi also demanded that Kosovo be demilitarized and made a UN protectorate. The Christian Democrats received 3.1% of the vote in 1992 illegal shadow-state parliamentary elections and seven mandates in the 125-seat parliament. Albanian President Sali Berisha recently called for a compromise solution to the issue of Kosovar independence. -- Fabian Schmidt MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT MAKES FIRST PUBLIC APPEARANCE SINCE ATTACK. Kiro Gligorov on 7 January made his first public appearance since the attempt on his life on 3 October 1995, Nova Makedonija reported the next day. He attended an Orthodox Christmas mass in Skopje. In an interview with Nova Makedonija on 22 December 1995, Gligorov announced he would resume his duties at the beginning of 1996. -- Stefan Krause PROTESTS OVER MISTREATMENT OF MOLDOVAN JOURNALISTS. International journalists' organizations, including the Paris-based Reporteres sans Frontieres and the Committee for Freedom of the Press, have protested the alleged mistreatment of two Moldovan journalists by local policemen, BASA-press reported on 4 and 6 January. The two reporters, a married couple, were tortured for two hours by four men wearing police uniforms and were told they would be killed if they continued to write about police officers involved in a racketeering ring. The couple works for Mesagerul, a publication of the opposition Party of Democratic Forces in Moldova. Moldovan Interior Minister Constantin Antoci launched an inquiry into the incident, which reportedly took place at the end of December. -- Dan Ionescu MOLDOVAN, RUSSIAN EXPERTS DISCUSS WITHDRAWAL SCHEDULE. Russian and Moldovan military experts have met in Chisinau to discuss the implementation of the 1994 withdrawal treaty, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 January. Lt. Gen. Valerii Yevnevich, commander of the Russian troops stationed in the Transdniestr region, said the Russian and Moldovan delegations agreed that some military equipment would begin to be withdrawn in late January. He added that the question of the full withdrawal of Russian troops could be resolved only by the Russian government. -- Constantine Dmitriev NEW WAVE OF MASS PRIVATIZATION STARTS IN BULGARIA. The latest Bulgarian mass privatization program is scheduled to get under way on 8 January, AFP reported. Vouchers for the sale of shares in 1,063 companies with a total official value of 80.47 billion leva ($1.12 billion) will be sold at post offices throughout the country. Bulgaria's 6.7 million adult citizens can each buy vouchers totaling 25,000 leva ($348) for a registration fee of 500 leva ($7). The vouchers can be used at auctions starting in June 1996. Bulgarians living abroad cannot participate, but foreigners can take part through investment funds provided they are registered as a financial institution and have engaged in similar activities at home for at least five years. Another wave of mass privatization has been announced for 1997. -- Stefan Krause SEVEN DIE AS BRIDGE COLLAPSES IN BULGARIA. The collapse of a pedestrian bridge in the southeastern Bulgarian town of Elhovo on 6 January claimed at least seven lives, Reuters reported. Around 80 people--mostly women and children--were watching the traditional Saint Jordan celebrations from the bridge when it gave way, hurling them into a river. Two persons were still missing when the search for survivors was called off late on 7 January; nine people were receiving hospital treatment. President Zhelyu Zhelev, parliamentary chairman Blagovest Sendov, and Interior Minister Lyubomir Nachev visited Elhovo the same day the accident occurred. Nachev said Sofia had asked Turkey to help in the search for survivors. -- Stefan Krause U.S. SPECIALISTS COMPLETE ALBANIAN RADAR STATION. U.S. army specialists have completed the construction of a radar station in Dobrinje, in the northern Albanian district of Tropoja, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 6 January. The Albanian army will be given control over the station, which can monitor air traffic over most of Europe. Meanwhile, Tirana airport is concerned about safety because of the large number of daily flights and the poor state of the runway. A Transportation Ministry official noted that the German company Siemens won the contract to reconstruct the airport in 1993 but the Berliner Bank has not yet approved a loan because it is waiting for further guarantees from the Albanian company Albtransport or the Albanian government, Koha Jone reported the same day. -- 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. 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