|We have to understand the world can only be grasped by action, not by comtemplation. The hand is more important than the eye....The hand is the cutting edge of the mind. - J. Bronowski|
No. 7, Part II, 10 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ BAZOOKA ATTACK ON SARAJEVO TRAM. International media on 10 January reported that one person was killed and 19 civilians injured the previous day when a 64 mm antitank rocket hit a tram on the main thoroughfare, known as Snipers' Alley. Part of the projectile also hit a U.S. vehicle nearby. IFOR returned fire on Serb-held Grbavica, and French troops stormed a building there but the attackers had escaped. Tanks and five 90 mm cannons aimed at Grbavica are now in place around the Holiday Inn, near the site of the incident. Tram service has meanwhile resumed. The Serbian general staff in Banja Luka said nobody was injured when IFOR fired on the Serb-held suburb. -- Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINIAN-RUSSIAN OIL NEGOTIATIONS. Russian oil supplies to the Czech Republic and Slovakia are still suspended pending negotiations between Russia and Ukraine over transit fees through Ukraine, Interfax reported on 9 January. Oil supplies were halted at the beginning of the year after Ukraine announced it was increasing the price for pumping one ton of oil through 100 kilometers of its territory by 10% to $5.20. Ukraine's State Committee for Oil and Gas said that 39 Russian enterprises and joint ventures have concluded agreements with Ukraine to pump 7 million tons of oil through the Druzhba pipeline at the new rate. But under an agreement on fuel and energy signed in October 1994, transit tariffs can be changed only by agreement reached at government level. Ukraine's State Committee for Oil and Gas has sent a letter to its Russian counterpart expressing its willing to negotiate the issue. -- Ustina Markus CRIMEAN DELEGATION IN KIEV. A Crimean parliamentary delegation headed by its speaker, Yevhen Suprunyuk, is in Kiev for talks with Ukraine's legislature, ITAR-TASS reported on 10 January. Suprunyuk met with Ukraine's parliamentary speaker, Oleksandr Moroz, to discuss articles in the Crimean constitution that Kiev says contravene the Ukrainian constitution. These include the issues of citizenship, state symbols, and territorial signs. A Ukrainian parliamentary commission has been examining the Crimean constitution since the end of last year. Moroz told the Crimean delegation that if the problematic articles were amended, Ukraine's parliament would confirm the constitution already approved by the Crimean legislature. -- Ustina Markus ESTONIA'S POPULATION DECLINE IN 1995. The State Statistics Department on 9 January released preliminary figures showing that the population of Estonia declined by some 17,000 in 1995 to 1.475 million, ETA reported. The number of births dropped from 14,178 in 1994 to 13,700 in 1995 and the number of deaths from 22,150 to 21,100. The percentage of ethnic Estonians in the republic was 64.2%, with Russians accounting for 28.7%. -- Saulius Girnius UPDATE ON LITHUANIAN BANK PROBLEMS. Bank of Lithuania Chairman Kazys Ratkevicius on 9 January told the Seimas that there was no general banking crisis in Lithuania, but only difficulties in the Joint-Stock Innovative (LAIB) and Litimpeks Banks, Radio Lithuania reported. He said recent investigations by independent experts estimated Litimpeks' bad debts at 87-142 million litai ($21.75-35.5 million) and LAIB's at 207- 420 million litai. President Algirdas Brazauskas has so far declined to submit Ratkevicius's resignation to the Seimas for confirmation. This suggests he agrees with the IMF that changes in personnel should be made only after the current bank problems are resolved -- Saulius Girnius POLISH PRESIDENT VISITS GERMANY. Aleksander Kwasniewski, accompanied by Foreign Minister Dariusz Rosati, arrived in Germany on 9 January for his first visit abroad as president. He met with Chancellor Helmut Kohl in Bonn and President Roman Herzog in Berlin. Kwasniewski, who flies to Paris on 10 January, stressed the importance of France and Germany in Poland's aspirations for membership in NATO and the EU, Polish and international media reported. -- Jakub Karpinski SEJM ON DEPUTIES' DECLARATIONS OF ASSETS The Sejm's By-Laws and Legislative Commissions have finished drafting the bill on the mandates of deputies and senators. Declarations by deputies and senators of their personal assets will remain a state secret, Rzeczpospolita reported on 10 January. Their spouses' assets are also to be mentioned in the declaration, even if they are separate from their own. Deputies are to submit declarations both at the beginning and at the end of their term in office. Penalties will be enforced for false information. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz FOREIGN MINISTERS TAKE OVER CZECH-GERMAN NEGOTIATIONS. Czech Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec and his German counterpart, Klaus Kinkel, have decided to take personal control of negotiations designed to remove blocks in their countries' bilateral relations, Czech dailies reported on 10 January. The negotiations, aimed at producing a joint declaration to be adopted by the Czech and German parliaments, have been conducted for almost one year at the level of deputy foreign minister and are progressing slowly, if at all. The major issue is the consequences of the expulsion of 3 million Sudeten Germans from Czechoslovakia at the end of World War II. During a visit to Helsinki on 9 January, Zieleniec said he hoped to meet Kinkel soon; he added that it was important to finalize the proposed declaration or know the reasons why it could not be concluded. Kinkel on 6 January said he hoped a "final reconciliation" with the Czech Republic can be drawn up quickly. -- Steve Kettle SLOVAKS THINK OPPOSITION SHOULD HELP CONTROL SECRET SERVICE. An opinion poll conducted by the FOCUS agency in December shows that 68.9% of Slovaks believe the opposition should be represented in the parliamentary Separate Control Organ (OKO), which oversees the Slovak Information Service. Only 10.7% said the OKO's current composition is correct, while 22.4% were undecided, Sme reported on 10 January. Even supporters of the three ruling parties do not think the opposition should be excluded from OKO; the majority is either opposed to its exclusion or undecided. The same FOCUS poll showed that only 14.7% of Slovaks trust the SIS, while 49.9% suspect that the agency took part in the abduction of President Michal Kovac's son in August, Narodna obroda reported on 8-9 January. Repeated attempts by the opposition to expand OKO have been rejected by the parliamentary majority. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN POLICE TO SERVE IN BOSNIA. A senior Interior Ministry official on 9 January said the government has accepted a UN Security Council request to send a 50-member unarmed police contingent to Bosnia- Herzegovina, Hungarian media reported. At present talks are under way to clarify details, primarily on how the project will be financed. Foreign Ministry spokesman Gabor Szentivanyi told reporters that the Hungarian police team may leave for Bosnia in February or March, primarily to act as advisers and provide security for escort teams. He also confirmed that Russia has officially applied for and received permission to use Hungarian air space to fly its IFOR contingent to Bosnia. -- Zsofia Szilagyi PLAN TO COMBAT BLACK MARKET EMPLOYMENT IN HUNGARY. The Interest Coordination Council, which is composed of government, trade union, and employer representatives, have drawn up a plan to create a central registry on labor data to combat black market employment, Magyar Hirlap reported on 10 January. Unions and employers agreed on the need for increased controls on employees and proposed that related legislation be passed later this year. Employers will soon have to keep a so-called employment diary on their employees. Fines of up to 50,000 forints can be imposed on companies that fail to provide the required documents. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE ARE SERBS TESTING IFOR? The Czech daily Mlada fronta Dnes, reporting on the 9 January tram attack in Sarajevo, suggested that the Serbs are testing the limits of IFOR's patience. The Bosnian Serb command denied that their side was responsible, and Tanjug claimed that the Bosnian government forces have shelled Serbian positions elsewhere in the republic. Hina quoted Bosnian Vice President Ejup Ganic as warning IFOR that it stands to find itself in the same hapless role as UNPROFOR if it does not make a quick and strong response to Serbian provocations. He stressed that the indicted war criminals Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic were personally responsible for the attack and that they are trying to rekindle the fighting in order to scuttle the Dayton peace agreement. Reuters reported that average Sarajevans were scorning NATO and saying it is no better than UNPROFOR. -- Patrick Moore SERBS KEEP UP CAMPAIGN OVER SARAJEVO. Bosnian Serb leaders are continuing their efforts to force a change in the Dayton agreement, which specifies an early return of Serb-held parts of Sarajevo to government control. Nasa Borba on 10 January reported that Karadzic held a meeting with Sarajevo Serbian intellectuals who said that they wanted to remain in the town but under Serbian authority. Pale's parliamentary speaker Momcilo Krajisnik wrote to the international community's Carl Bildt to ask for a postponement of the transfer until 15 September. He claimed that his government had so far prevented Serbs from starting "a mass exodus or burning [their] houses." Rumors have been rife for some time that the Serbs plan to torch their suburbs rather than hand them over intact. Reuters reported that the Serbs are preparing to transfer Odzak in northern Bosnia to the government but have stripped it bare and are leaving "a ghost town." -- Patrick Moore FIREFIGHTS IN MOSTAR. The situation remains tense in Mostar as well as in Sarajevo. Reuters reported on 10 January that the Croats the previous night fired two rifle-propelled grenades into a Muslim army camp, ending a three-day lull in the fighting. Mutual shelling followed that incident. The situation was quiet but tense on 10 January, and EU officials were pleased that the Croats called off a demonstration slated for that day. The U.S. is particularly worried that the situation in Mostar could thwart its efforts to shore up the Croatian-Muslim state. Slobodna Dalmacija and Vecernji list in recent days have suggested that the Muslims are making life difficult for the Croats in central Bosnia and preventing refugees from returning. Die Welt reported that the military, crime, and smuggling are heavily intertwined on both sides of the divide in Mostar. -- Patrick Moore NATO TO AID UN IN CROATIA. NATO will aid the UN force expected to be deployed in eastern Slavonia, The New York Times reported on 10 January. The relationship will resemble the much-criticized one between NATO and the UN in Bosnia before IFOR took over the mandate there. The U.S. had long resisted any role for NATO in Croatia. A former US diplomat, Jacques Klein, who is also a major general in the U.S. Air Force reserve, will head the UN mission in Croatia. The 5,000-strong force reflects a compromise between UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali, who wanted 9,000 troops, and the U.S., which was in favor of a much smaller contingent. -- Michael Mihalka UPDATE ON IFOR DEPLOYMENT. Almost 60% of IFOR has arrived in the former Yugoslavia, international agencies reported on 9 January. Of the expected total of 60,000, about 31,000 troops are in place in Bosnia and another 4,000 are in Croatia and Hungary providing logistic support. About 5,000 of the expected 20,000 U.S. troops have arrived. Abut 11,000 of the planned 13,000 British troops and 7,500 of the 10,000 French troops are in position, although many of the these were previously assigned to the UN force. IFOR is tasked to begin patrolling the line separating the Bosnian Serbs and the Muslim-Croatian federation by 19 January. -- Michael Mihalka SERBIAN CHURCH LEADER WRITES TO U.S. PRESIDENT. Nasa Borba on 10 January reported that Patriarch Pavle has written to Bill Clinton to express dissatisfaction over the "redrawing" of the map of Bosnia-Herzegovina. According to Pavle, a large number of monasteries and territories belonging to the Serbs of Herzegovina are to fall under the jurisdiction of the Muslim-Croatian Confederation. "It is entirely unacceptable that after Dayton, in a secretive manner and to the detriment of the Serbs, the Dayton map is changing so as to take away from the Serbian people a significant portion of territory in Herzegovina," he commented. -- Stan Markotich BBC LAUNCHES MACEDONIAN SERVICE. The BBC World Service on 9 January launched a news service in Macedonian under the direction of Southeast European specialist Stephen Ashley, Reuters reported the same day. News bulletins, features, and English lessons will be broadcast on state-run Macedonian Radio and on local radio stations. BBC World Service Managing Director Sam Younger said the service has around 2 million potential listeners in Macedonia and neighboring districts in Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, and Serbia. -- Stefan Krause HEAD OF ROMANIAN SECRET SERVICE ADDRESSES PARLIAMENTARY PANEL. The joint parliamentary commission supervising the activity of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) on 9 January began hearings on the recent publication of the Securitate file of SRI head Virgil Magureanu, Romanian media reported. Corneliu Vadim Tudor, leader of the extremist Greater Romania Party, reiterated earlier accusations against the SRI chief and asked the parliament to dismiss, or at least temporarily suspend, Magureanu for alleged serious failings. A former SRI deputy director, Gen. Victor Marcu, told the commission that Magureanu's publication of the file infringed legislation stipulating that personal files of the former communist secret police are to remain classified for 40 years. Magureanu described his action as a defensive step aimed at preempting Tudor, who was planning to publish the same file in his weekly Romania mare. -- Dan Ionescu YELTSIN APPOINTS NEW SPECIAL ENVOY TO MOLDOVA. Russian President Boris Yeltsin has appointed Yurii Karlov as his new special envoy to the negotiations on settling the Dniester conflict, BASA-press and Infotag reported on 9 January. The 59-year-old Karlov is a career diplomat who worked at the Soviet embassy in Bucharest and in the Soviet Foreign Ministry. In a recent interview, Karlov pleaded for "maintaining Moldova's territorial integrity while granting the Dniester region as broad authority as possible." Together with the head of the OSCE Mission in Moldova and an Ukrainian special envoy, Karlov will act as a mediator in the talks between the authorities in Chisinau and Tiraspol. Those talks are currently frozen following an unsuccessful Moldovan-Dniester summit in September. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT DEBATES NO CONFIDENCE MOTION. The Bulgarian National Assembly on 9 January discussed a no confidence motion in the government of Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, Bulgarian newspapers reported the following day. The motion was submitted by the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) because of the ongoing grain crisis, for which it holds the cabinet as a whole responsible. Opposition deputies said the government was "hostage to economic groups" and accused it of irresponsible policies. They argue that the shortage was caused by excessive grain exports. Some Socialist deputies argued that the grain crisis can be solved but concrete measures have to be taken, including possible personnel changes. Trud reported that 18 Socialist deputies have demanded the government's resignation. The parliament is to vote on the motion on 10 January. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN DEPUTY PREMIER DENIES RESIGNATION REPORTS. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade Kiril Tsochev on 9 January denied reports that he had handed in his resignation to Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, Bulgarian media reported. Government Parliamentary Secretary Plamen Valkanov said neither the government nor the BSP caucus is in possession of any documents confirming the rumors. -- Stefan Krause ANOTHER FIVE ALBANIAN COMMUNIST OFFICIALS TO BE ARRESTED. Tirana's Municipal court has ordered the arrest of another five former communist officials, bringing the number of those to be arrested for alleged crimes against humanity to 21. The Forum of Albanian Intellectuals has accused a total of 36 people of violating communist-era law. Among those whose arrests were most recently ordered are former communist party Central Committee member Sulejman Bushati and former Deputy Interior Minister Zylyftar Ramizi, ATSH reported on 9 January. -- Fabian Schmidt GREEK PARLIAMENT DEBATES NO CONFIDENCE MOTION. The Greek parliament on 8 and 9 January debated a no confidence motion filed by the conservative New Democracy (ND) party, Greek and Western media reported. ND Chairman Miltiadis Evert called the motion an "initiative of institutional responsibility" with the goal of giving "the nation once again...a government." Interior Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos accused Evert of seeking "petty party benefits" instead of helping solve Greece's problems. The small nationalist Political Spring party support the ND, while the Communists say they "refuse to be an accomplice" to the motion. The parliament is expected to vote on the motion on 10 January. -- Stefan Krause TURKISH ISLAMIST LEADER MANDATED TO FORM GOVERNMENT. President Suleyman Demirel on 9 January mandated Islamist Welfare Party Chairman Necmettin Erbakan to form a new government, Reuters reported the same day. Following the December 1995 elections, his party's caucus is the largest in the parliament, with 158 seats out of 550. Erbakan says there is a "100% chance" that his party be included in a coalition, but the four secular parties represented in the parliament have ruled out such a possibility. Erbakan is Turkey's first Islamist prime minister- designate. -- 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. 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For Transition subscription information send an e-mail to TRANSITION@OMRI.CZ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
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