|A disagreement may be the shortest cut between two minds. - Kahlil Gibran|
No. 6, Part II, 9 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ UN SECURITY COUNCIL SLAMS CROATIA. The top UN body on 8 January passed a resolution calling on Zagreb to cease human rights abuses in Krajina and work to remedy the situation, Hina reported. "The Security Council strongly condemns the violations of international humanitarian law and human rights . . . including killings of several hundreds of civilians, systematic and widespread looting and arson, and other forms of destruction of property." The resolution also accused Croatia of blocking the return of refugees, not bringing guilty parties to justice, not handing over indicted war criminals, and discriminating against remaining Serbian civilians. It called on Zagreb to restore Serbian property rights and provide humanitarian aid for stranded Serbian villagers. The Council asked the secretary-general to prepare a report on Croatia's compliance by 15 February. -- Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE NEW BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT CONVENES. The new Belarusian parliament is scheduled to meet for the first time on 9 January, Belarusian Radio reported the previous day. The top item on its agenda is the election of a new speaker. Candidates for the post include former Prime Minister Vyachelsau Kebich, who is supported by the Accord faction; Syamon Shapetsky, is backed by the Agrarian Party; and former Foreign Minister Piotr Krauchanka, who is the candidate of the Social-Democratic bloc. -- Ustina Markus DANISH DEFENSE MINISTER IN ESTONIA. Hans Haekkerup on 6 January discussed with President Lennart Meri cooperation within the framework of the Partnership for Peace program and training of Estonian personnel in Denmark. Following meetings on 8 January with Prime Minister Tiit Vahi, parliamentary chairman Toomas Savi, and Defense Minister Andrus Oovel, Haekkeup said the Estonian defense forces had developed quickly in an exemplary manner. He also stressed that Estonia must join NATO, ETA reported. Oovel noted that defense cooperation with Denmark was increasing. -- Saulius Girnius TIGHTER LATVIAN BUDGET. Finance Minister Aivars Kreituss told reporters on 8 January that the 1996 budget deficit should not exceed 60 million lati ($111 million), BNS and LETA reported. He noted that the budget will have no funds for the redemption of certificates issued by previous government as compensation for property taken over by the state. Nor will it compensate depositors in bankrupt banks or pay out 5 million lati in subsidies owed to farmers. The Finance Ministry hopes to end the special budgets of various ministries that spent 70-80 million lati last year without presenting accounts either to it or the Saeima. Kreituss on 5 January accused the previous cabinet of uncontrolled spending in the last two months of 1995, which, he said, had raised the budget deficit from 40 million lati to 92 million lati. -- Saulius Girnius BANK OF LITHUANIA CHAIRMAN RESIGNS. Kazys Ratkevicius on 8 January announced he has submitted his resignation to President Algirdas Brazauskas, Radio Lithuania reported. Ratkevicius noted that the Democratic Labor Party caucus's decision the previous day to support his ouster was a strictly political move, since no charges of irregular economic activity have been brought against him. Also on 8 January, Brazauskas said after a meeting with Foreign Minister Povilas Gylys and Defense Minister Linas Linkevicius that he would not accepting their resignations; the two ministers will remain in office. A further blow to the credibility of the government is the revelation that Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius and Interior Minister Romasis Vaitekunas were receiving more than 30% interest on savings accounts in the recently suspended Joint-Stock Innovative Bank. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH PRESIDENT LIFTS VETO ON NATIONAL DEFENSE LAW. Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski on 8 January withdrew his predecessor Lech Walesa's veto on national defense legislation, which places the chief of staff and secret service under the direct control of the civilian defense minister. Kwasniewski, following a visit to the General Staff headquarters, said he is planning to strengthen parliamentary control over the armed forces. He was accompanied on his visit by newly appointed Defense Minister Stanislaw Dobrzanski, Polish dailies reported on 9 January. -- Jakub Karpinski WALESA TO RESUME WORK AT GDANSK SHIPYARD? The former president is considering taking up his old job at the Gdansk shipyard, Polish media reported on 8-9 January. His wife has confirmed the reports. Walesa had worked at the shipyard as an electrician since 1966 before becoming involved in politics full-time in April 1989. Rzeczpospolita on 9 January noted that former presidents have no particular rights, except to be accompanied by bodyguards and to accept medical treatment in the government hospital. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH REPUBLIC, KUWAIT SIGN INVESTMENT PROTECTION ACCORD. The Czech Republic and Kuwait on 8 January signed a mutual investment protection treaty during a two-day visit to the Gulf state by Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, Czech and international media reported. Klaus told a press conference that Kuwait is also preparing to provide finance for the planned reconstruction of a railway corridor across the Czech Republic from its border with Poland to Austria. No further details were released. Klaus, who was accompanied by 25 Czech industrialists, also met with Kuwait's ruler, Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmed al-Sabah, and other officials for talks on potential Kuwaiti investment in the Czech Republic. -- Steve Kettle SLOVAKIA'S RULING COALITION TO EXPAND? There is growing speculation among Slovak media that the anticipated leadership change at the April congress of the opposition Party of the Democratic Left (SDL) may mean the party will join the coalition government. SDL chairman Peter Weiss, who is opposed to the coalition's political line, has said he will not run again. Head of the SDL shadow government Juraj Hrasko, in an interview with Narodna obroda on 9 January, noted that the party's republican council in November 1994 rejected joining the coalition because of the latter's "confrontational style of governing," including attempts to dismiss the president and massive purges. According to Hrasko, the decision on whether the coalition will be expanded is in the hands of the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, rather than the SDL. "A correct political and program agreement" approved by both parties would be required for the SDL's entry into the coalition, Hrasko noted. -- Sharon Fisher OSCE OFFICIAL IN SLOVAKIA. OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel began a three-day visit to Slovakia on 8 January to examine the situation of the country's Hungarian minority, Praca reported. Topics of discussion include the ratification of the Slovak- Hungarian treaty; Slovakia's state language law, passed in November; preparations for a law on minority languages; "alternative" (bilingual) education; state subsidies for minority culture, and Slovakia's plans for territorial administration. With regard to territorial autonomy for minorities, Deputy Premier Katarina Tothova told Van der Stoel that Slovakia will follow the guidelines of the Framework agreement, which does not guarantee such rights. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN LOCALS COMPLAIN ABOUT IFOR TROOPS. Several members of the town council of the southern Hungarian town of Kaposvar have complained about traffic jams caused by IFOR units, increasing air pollution, and damage to local roads, Nepszabadsag reported on 9 January. At the same time, the daily noted, the arrival of IFOR troops has boosted the economy of both Kaposvar and nearby Taszar, where the main air base is located. The paper also said that numerous IFOR soldiers have been taken ill and are now in quarantine. Both U.S. and Hungarian health experts denied that the troops have contracted measles, saying the soldiers picked up some kind of influenza virus on their way to Hungary. Hospital sources say that laboratory results in the second half of the week will reveal the nature of the ailment. -- Zsofia Szilagyi FORMER HUNGARIAN PREMIER DIES. Karoly Grosz, a former prime minister and the last secretary-general of the Hungarian Communist Party, died on 7 January after a long illness, Hungarian media reported on 9 January. A government statement described Grosz, who was 65, as an "ambivalent but major political personality in the era of transformation" who strove to launch reforms. Magyar Nemzet, assessing his role in the reform process, remarked that Grosz only went so far as to give a cautious "yes" to the reform of the system. Grosz was prime minister from June 1987 to November 1988. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE IS UN RESOLUTION AIMED AT EASTERN SLAVONIA? The BBC on 9 January called the UN resolution on Croatia (see "Top Story") the organization's toughest condemnation of that country to date. The broadcast suggested that the council is under no illusions about any early or massive return of Krajina Serbs but is seeking rather to reassure the Serbs of eastern Slavonia, who are slated under a 12 November agreement to return to Croatian control within two years. AFP reported that Russia may be asked to help beef up the international military contingent in eastern Slavonia from fewer than 1,700 to some 5,000 troops as part of a general upgrading of the UN force in the region. There appears to be general concern in the international community that any problems in eastern Slavonia could adversely affect implementation of the Dayton agreement in Bosnia. Croatia has repeatedly warned that it reserves the right to retake the territory by force if the Serbs do not respect the current agreement. -- Patrick Moore SUSAK BACKS DAYTON DEADLINES. EU administrator Hans Koschnick said in Mostar on 8 January that Croatian and Muslim officials now seem anxious to implement the Dayton agreement. "Both sides, importantly, have managed to calm the situation down. As far as I'm concerned things seem to be getting better," he told Reuters. U.S. trouble-shooter Robert Gallucci said in Zagreb, however, that he was unhappy with current progress on the implementation of the peace treaty. But Croatian Defense Minister Gojko Susak, who is probably the most powerful of the Herzegovinian Croats, weighed in solidly on behalf of the Muslim- Croatian federation: "We have to go on with the federation. If we want the federation, if we want to stick with the Dayton agreement which has certain deadlines, then we have to have a much more active approach." AFP reported on 9 January that EU police officials in Mostar are nonetheless doubtful that a joint force can be set up by the 20 January deadline. -- Patrick Moore MITTERRAND GETS COLD SHOULDER FROM BOSNIAN GOVERNMENT. Many ordinary Sarajevans may fondly recall late French President Francois Mitterrand, who died in Paris on 8 January aged 79, for his daring if brief visit to their besieged city; but those sentiments are not necessarily shared by the mainly Muslim authorities. The BBC on 9 January quoted Vice President Ejup Ganic as saying that Bosnia has no reason to remember him. This presumably reflects the view widely held in Bosnia and Croatia that Mitterrand was pro-Serbian and sought to restore a united Yugoslavia as his ultimate goal. President Alija Izetbegovic told OMRI in Prague in October that he found little sympathy or understanding in Paris during the Mitterrand presidency but that things improved dramatically following the election of Jacques Chirac. -- Patrick Moore MILOSEVIC SENDS "BEST WISHES" TO BOSNIAN SERBS. Nasa Borba, citing Tanjug, on 9 January reported that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic sent the Bosnian Serbs his official greetings on the occasion of the "national day" of the Republika Srpska. Milosevic observed that this was the first such holiday commemorated "in peace," and he added that it is his hope that the Bosnian Serbs can look forward "to a successful economic and cultural recovery." -- Stan Markotich HOLBROOKE ASKS MILOSEVIC TO ALLOW U.S. REPRESENTATION IN KOSOVO. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke told VOA on 8 January that he has held talks with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and that the U.S. is seeking permission to establish an official presence in Pristina. The representation will probably be a United States Information Agency office, Holbrooke said. He added that it might open "in the very near future" and will help reduce tensions in the region. Holbrooke stressed that the U.S. was not supporting the Kosovar Albanians' demand for independence. But he pointed out that "the oppression of the people there by the Serbs has been extremely bad." -- Fabian Schmidt SLOVENIA TO OPEN NEW EMBASSIES? Nasa Borba on 9 January reported that the Slovenian Foreign Ministry has announced it will open new embassies in Turkey, South Africa, Portugal, India, Slovakia, Denmark, and the rump Yugoslavia. But Ljubljana noted that these plans will have to take into account budgetary and other constraints. Slovenia currently has embassies in 28 nations. It was the first republic of the former Yugoslavia to recognize Belgrade (see OMRI Daily Digest, 1 December 1995). -- Stan Markotich ROMANIAN ROM TO RUN IN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS. Ion Cioaba on 7 January announced he will run in the 1996 Romanian parliamentary elections, Reuters reported. The international and domestic media treat Cioaba, who declared himself "king of all Gypsies" in 1992, as something of a joke and typically focus on his Cadillac motorcades and other signs of opulence. Reuters writes that "he is not generally recognized by anyone beyond his family or people keen to do business with him." However, the agency noted that "his critics, including rival Gypsy leaders, say the ruling left-wing Party of Social Democracy in Romania uses him as a puppet in order to garner the substantial Gypsy vote." There are an estimated 2 million Roma in Romania. -- Alaina Lemon UNIDENTIFIED VIRUS KILLS BABIES IN ROMANIA. Six newborn babies died and 12 others were in critical condition owing to a unidentified virus at a maternity clinic in eastern Romania, Romanian and international media reported on 8 January. Rompres quoted doctors as saying the infants died from vomiting, irregular heartbeat, and asphyxiation. The Health Ministry has set up a special panel to investigate the mysterious deaths, sent expectant mothers to other hospitals, and shut down the clinic. Romania's infant mortality rate of 21.2 per 1,000 births in 1995 was one of the highest in Europe. -- Matyas Szabo ASSOCIATION FOR FREEDOM OF SPEECH FORMED IN BULGARIA. Svobodno Slovo (Free Speech) officially constituted itself in Sofia on 8 January, Pari reported the following day. Around 100 journalists, translators, and sociologists adopted the forum's statutes and elected its administrative bodies. Former Bulgarian National Radio journalist Yasen Boyadzhiev was elected chairman of the organization. Svobodno Slovo defines itself as politically independent and committed to the defense of freedom of speech. The founding of Svobodno Slovo comes in the wake of ongoing quarrels within BNR. Dissenting journalists accused BNR's management of political censorship, while BNR Director-General Vecheslav Tunev responded by dismissing seven of the journalists who made the accusations (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 November and 19 December 1995). -- Stefan Krause DID BULGARIAN DEPUTY PREMIER RESIGN? Pari on 9 January cited unnamed sources within the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party as saying that Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade Kiril Tsochev handed in his resignation and has been on leave since New Year. The resignation will be announced during a cabinet reshuffle in February, the sources said. Pari adds that Tsochev will take the blame for the ongoing grain shortage and leave the cabinet along with Interior Minister Lyubomir Nachev. While 24 chasa carried a similar report, both dailies noted that other ministers denied any knowledge of Tsochev's resignation. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN COURT ORDERS ARREST OF FORMER COMMUNIST OFFICIALS. The Tirana Municipal Court, following a request by the Prosecutor-General's Office, has ordered the arrest of former Deputy Interior Minister Hysen Shahu and former Deputy Director of the state security Sigurimi Sulejman Abazi. Both officials held office from 1980-1990 and are accused of mass imprisonments in violation of communist-era laws and the constitution, ATSH reported on 8 January. The two officials are included on a list of 36 people accused by the Forum of Albanian Intellectuals of crimes against humanity. -- Fabian Schmidt GREEK OPPOSITION FILES NO CONFIDENCE MOTION. The conservative New Democracy party on 8 January submitted a no confidence motion against the government of ailing Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou, Reuters reported the same day. Leading ND members said the move was necessary because Greece has been "a rudderless ship" since Papandreou was admitted to the hospital on 20 November 1995. They urged the ruling Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) to nominate a new premier and accused Papandreou of plunging Greece into political uncertainty by not resigning. The ND is supported by the small Political Spring party, but together they hold only 119 mandates in the 300-seat parliament. -- 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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