|When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years. - Mark Twain|
No. 10, Part II, 15 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CLINTON VISITS BOSNIA, CROATIA. U.S. President Bill Clinton paid a whirlwind visit to Tuzla on 13 January to speak to American IFOR troops. He told them they were sent there to help the Bosnians build peace, which was in keeping with key U.S. interests. He later said to CBS that IFOR should help UN war crimes investigators reach mass grave sites, provided it does not interfere with the soldiers' primary job. Clinton used his trip to Zagreb to reiterate to President Franjo Tudjman Washington's support for the troubled federation linking the Croats and the Muslims, which is a cornerstone of the Dayton agreement. He had earlier made the same point in Tuzla when speaking to Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic. News agencies added that Clinton phoned Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, and that the two men expressed satisfaction with the implementation of the treaty. -- Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE TROUBLE IN UKRAINE'S COAL MINES. Management evacuated a coal mine in the Donbas after receiving a bomb threat from a caller demanding that the Ukrainian government pay wage arrears owed to thousands of miners since October, Ukrainian TV and Interfax-Ukraine reported on 11 January. Bomb disposal units found no explosives in the pit, but the threat highlights the predicament of the country's coal miners, who have held numerous strikes and rallies to pressure the government to pay 38 trillion karbovantsi ($21 million) in back wages. Currently, workers at seven mines are on strike. Meanwhile, the government raised wages for government employees, members of the armed forces, and Interior Ministry personnel by 12%, Ukrainian TV reported the same day. It also hiked pensions by 190% and monthly aid to low income disabled people to 887,000 karbovantsi. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT ATTACKS PARLIAMENTARY OPPONENTS. Alyaksandr Lukashenka, in a four-hour address to a closed parliamentary session on 12 January, attacked several deputies who oppose his policies, including former Interior Minister Yurii Zakharenka, former parliamentary speaker Mechyslau Hryb, and head of the Constitutional Court Valerii Tikhinya. Russian Television reported. Almost two-thirds of the report was devoted to criticizing former head of the National Bank of Belarus Stanislau Bahdankevich. Almost all caucuses in the parliament interpreted the report as a move to prevent Bahdankevich from being elected deputy speaker of the parliament. In other news, Interfax on 11 January quoted newly appointed parliamentary speaker Syamyon Sharetski as saying the parliament will use two languages: Russian for discussing economic issues, the budget, and taxes; and Belarusian for discussing cultural issues. -- Ustina Markus FINLAND SETS UP COMMISSION FOR VISA TALKS WITH ESTONIA. Finnish President Martti Artisaari on 12 January ordered the establishment of a commission to holding talks with Estonia on visa free travel between the two countries, ETA reported. The commission will be composed of officials from the Interior Ministry, Foreign Ministry, and Finnish Embassy in Tallinn. Estonia has complied with Finnish requests to sign treaties on returning illegal immigrants and closer cooperation between law enforcement agencies. Finland would also like to be able to electronically check passports of Estonians entering the country. The talks are expected to be concluded this year, but it is unclear when travel without visas would begin. -- Saulius Girnius CAMPAIGN GETS UNDER WAY TO COLLECT SIGNATURES FOR ALTERNATIVE LATVIAN CITIZENSHIP LAW. The drive to collect 131,000 signatures--or one-tenth of the republic's eligible voters--in support of an alternative citizenship law proposed by the For the Fatherland and Freedom union will be held from 15 January to 13 February, BNS reported on 12 January. Election Committee Chairman Atis Kramins said 625 signing places will be opened. If the required number is gathered, the bill will be submitted to the president and parliament. The alternative law provides for a larger number of restrictions on naturalization and would in effect deny citizenship to people who arrived in Latvia after 1940. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER IN LITHUANIA. Josef Zych, during his two- day official visit to Vilnius, on 12 January met with his Lithuanian counterpart, Ceslovas Jursenas, and other deputies, Radio Lithuania reported. His visit was timed so that he could address the special Seimas session commemorating the fifth anniversary of the Soviet attack on the crowd at the Vilnius television tower. At that time, Lithuania's foreign minister traveled to Poland with the authority to form a government in exile if necessary. Zych and President Algirdas Brazauskas, following their meeting the next day, decided that the two countries will jointly honor the memory of Poles murdered by Lithuanians in Glitiskes and Lithuanians murdered by Poles in Dubingiai during World War II. -- Saulius Girnius RUSSIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER IN POLAND. Sergei Krylov, visiting Warsaw on 12 January, handed Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski an invitation from his Russian counterpart, Boris Yeltsin, to visit Moscow. The visit will most likely take place in April, Polish media reported on 13 January. Yeltsin was apparently the first foreign leader to invite Kwasniewski for a state visit, but the Polish leader opted to travel first to Germany and France, stressing the importance of Poland's Western ties. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH, GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTERS FAIL TO RESOLVE PROBLEMS. Josef Zieleniec and Klaus Kinkel met in Bonn on 12 January but failed to agree on a joint declaration designed to improve Czech-German relations, Czech and international media reported. Talks on the proposed declaration are stalled over the issue of claims by Sudeten Germans whose families were expelled from Czechoslovakia at the end of World War II (see OMRI Daily Digest, 10 January 1996). "The burdens of the past are so great that today no breakthrough could be achieved," Kinkel told reporters. Zieleniec said talks will continue, and he was optimistic that agreement will be reached. Deputy Chairwoman of the Bundestag Antje Vollmer called on Chancellor Helmut Kohl to intervene personally to break the deadlock before the Czech Republic holds parliamentary elections at the end of May, Czech dailies reported on 15 January. -- Steve Kettle BRATISLAVA BRANCH OF SLOVAK COALITION PARTY TO BE CLOSED. Association of Workers of Slovakia (ZRS) Chairman Jan Luptak, following a ZRS Central Council meeting on 13 January, told Slovak Radio that the ZRS's Bratislava branch will be closed. Several members of the branch authored an article, published in December in Praca, criticizing Luptak for yielding to the influence of Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar. According to Luptak, "all the workers had left [the branch] and only intellectuals remained." A ZRS deputy chairman was asked to participate in forming new "clubs" in Bratislava that could come under the ZRS's control. Luptak said the party also discussed the government's proposal for a new territorial arrangement. Although he expressed reservations about the cabinet's plan, Luptak noted that, as a coalition partner, the ZRS will support the cabinet's proposal, Narodna obroda reported on 15 January. -- Sharon Fisher U.S. PRESIDENT PAYS WHIRLWIND VISIT TO HUNGARY. Bill Clinton expressed his thanks to the people, government, and military of Hungary during a brief visit to Hungary's Taszar air base on 13 January, Hungarian media reported the next day. Clinton also met with President Arpad Goncz, Prime Minister Gyula Horn, Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs, and Defense Minister Gyorgy Keleti. He told Hungarian leaders that NATO's enlargement is inevitable and that Russia cannot have a veto on the matter. -- Zsofia Szilagyi CEFTA FINANCE MINISTERS MEET IN BUDAPEST. Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) finance ministers, meeting in Budapest on 13 January, discussed the pitfalls of economic liberalization, Hungarian media reported. The meeting was called primarily to allow CEFTA finance ministers to coordinate their stands on economic integration into Western Europe. It was agreed that although economic liberalization is realizable, strict monetary policies must be upheld. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SERBS WITHDRAW ARMOR, BUT GOVERNMENT UNHAPPY. AFP reported on 14 January that Bosnian Serb forces are pulling big guns and armor out of Sarajevo suburbs slated to pass to government control. The Bosnian government, however, argued that the materiel had been in the heavy weapons exclusion zone and should have been destroyed. An IFOR spokesman admitted that the British had even supplied the Serbs with fuel. It also seems clear that the Serbs are not removing thousands of land mines as the Dayton agreement obliges them to do and that this task will probably fall to the French. The Serbs have been trying in a variety of ways to test how far they can violate or bend provisions of the treaty. Elsewhere, IFOR troops defused tensions on 13 January between Croatian and government forces near Doboj. -- Patrick Moore SARAJEVO SERBS REJECT MILOSEVIC'S PLEA. Milosevic on 12 January appealed to Serbs in the Sarajevo suburbs to stay put, but one of them told AFP that Milosevic's plea "was the best reason to leave." Many Serbs from Bosnia and Croatia are bitter at the Belgrade leader, whom they feel sold them out. Some have already transferred their most valuable property to Serb-held areas. Persistent but unconfirmed reports from Sarajevo suggest that tough police units have been moved in from Bijeljina and elsewhere to intimidate those Serbs taking a wait-and-see attitude. People are reportedly being pressured into joining a mass exodus that would wind up in Brcko to consolidate the Serbian hold on the disputed supply corridor there. -- Patrick Moore THREE MORE PRISONERS FREED. As moves proceed toward a major exchange this week of prisoners between the Bosnian government and Serb sides, the Serbs freed three civilians on 14 January. Two civilians remain in their custody in a continuing violation of the guarantee of freedom of movement set down in the Dayton agreement. Reuters said that the two Serbs and one Muslim were freed after pressure from international representatives, including the UN civil affairs chief Antonio Pedauye. One of the two Serbs chose to remain on Bosnian Serb territory. Pedauye had been speaking to Bosnian Serb parliamentary speaker Momcilo Krajisnik about the incident on 9 January in which a Serb bazooka hit a tram. Oslobodjenje said two days later that the Bosnian Serb leadership must not be allowed to evade responsibility for the act by blaming it on rogue units. -- Patrick Moore BELGRADE TO LIFT EMBARGO AGAINST BOSNIAN SERBS? Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and a Bosnian Serb delegation met in Belgrade on 11 January to discuss lifting Belgrade sanctions against the Bosnian Serbs and to begin the process of re-establishing bilateral economic ties, Nasa Borba reported on 15 January. The report notes that it is unclear when the Drina border will be re-opened but suggests it may take place in the near future. In the past, the Bosnian Serbs have demanded political, economic, and cultural ties with Belgrade that mirror Croatia's relations with the Muslim-Croatian federation in Bosnia- Herzegovina. -- Stan Markotich INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY INCREASES PRESSURE ON MOSTAR. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel on 14 January was promised by his Croatian counterpart, Mate Granic, that Croatia will try to restrain Croatian extremists. Bosnian Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey also attended the meeting in Mostar, Western and local media reported. Granic said after the meeting that "overall relations between Bosnians and Croats are good, and there are difficulties only in the field." Meanwhile, Mijo Brajkovic, mayor of the Croatian sector of Mostar said he will continue to resist efforts to unify the city, which, under the terms of the Dayton accords, must take place by 20 January. Brajkovic said Croats want to remain in "ethnically pure" neighborhoods. -- Michael Mihalka KOSOVAR SHADOW-STATE PRESIDENT ASKS FOR HOLBROOKE'S MEDIATION. Ibrahim Rugova said he expects and wishes U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke to mediate in solving the Kosovo problem, international agencies reported. Rugova also welcomed the planned opening of a Kosovar shadow-state office in Washington by the end of January. Holbrooke has asked Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic for permission to open a U.S mission in the Kosovar capital, Pristina. -- Fabian Schmidt UNPREDEP MISSION IN MACEDONIA TO BECOME INDEPENDENT. As of 1 February, the UN Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) mission in Macedonia will be independent of the UN command in the other parts of former Yugoslavia and will report directly to the UN headquarters in New York, MIC reported on 12 January. The decision was announced by UN special envoy Kofi Annan before he ended a two-day visit to Macedonia. Annan emphasized that the UNPREDEP mission was a success for the UN. He said that UNPREDEP's mandate has been extended for another six months and will most likely be extended after that. -- Fabian Schmidt NEW EVIDENCE ON CEAUSESCU'S MISSING FORTUNE. Valentin Gabrielescu, head of a parliamentary inquiry into the December 1989 uprising against Nicolae Ceausescu, was quoted by the Romanian media on 12 January as saying that there is new evidence supporting old allegations that the dictator frittered away more than $1 billion. According to Gabrielescu, former Premier Theodor Stolojan, who is currently working at the World Bank, has provided evidence that the money was held at the Romanian Bank for Foreign Trade in two accounts used in the past mainly by Dunarea, a company controlled by the former Securitate. During the Ceausescu era, Stolojan, who could not be reached for comment, headed a government department in charge of hard currency transactions. -- Dan Ionescu DNIESTER REGION IMPOSES STATE OF "ECONOMIC EMERGENCY." Igor Smirnov, president of the self-styled Dniester republic, on 12 January issued a decree declaring a state of "economic emergency" in the region for six months, Infotag reported. But the measures are primarily administrative and may be intended as an excuse for political repression. Smirnov's decree provides for stricter control over public order; a special regime for entry and exit from the region; traffic restrictions and more checks on local roads; immediate expulsion of foreigners who disturb public order; strict control over copy machines and radio transmitters; and censorship of the media. The administration is also empowered to suspend the activities of political parties and public organizations that "hinder the normalization" of public life. -- Dan Ionescu ANOTHER MOLDOVAN JOURNALIST BEATEN UP. A reporter for Mesagerul, the mouthpiece of the opposition Party of Democratic Forces, has been beaten up by four unidentified men in a Chisinau street, BASA-press and Infotag reported on 12 January. Ilie Lupan is the third Mesagerul journalist to fall victim to such an attack over the past two weeks (see OMRI Daily Digest, 8 January 1996). The assailants took only his brief case, which contained a file. Lupan said the police were slow to react to his call and, in a protest addressed to the authorities, has accused the Ministry of Security of involvement in the attack. -- Dan Ionescu ANOTHER BULGARIAN MINISTER RESIGNS. Agriculture Minister Vasil Chichibaba on 12 January handed in his resignation to Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, Bulgarian and Western media reported. He is the second member of the Socialist cabinet to resign in two days. Videnov said he will accept the resignation of both Chichibaba and Deputy Prime Minister and Trade Minister Kiril Tsochev, who resigned last week. Both ministers have been blamed for the ongoing grain crisis. Videnov admitted that they "had not received a sufficient amount of trust and assistance from within the governing party." -- Stefan Krause GREEK-MACEDONIAN TALKS "FRUITFUL." Greece and Macedonia on 12 January began a second round of UN-sponsored talks in New York under the mediation of UN negotiator Cyrus Vance, AFP reported the same day. The talks are aimed at finding a permanent solution to the disputed issue over the name of the former Yugoslav republic. A statement issued on 12 January said the talks were "fruitful" and were conducted in a "cordial atmosphere." No other details were given. In related news, Nova Makedonija on 12 January reported that the head of the Greek liaison office in Skopje handed his credentials to the Macedonian foreign minister. Under the September 1995 interim accord, both sides are to set up liaison offices in each other's capital by the end of January. -- Stefan Krause GREECE DECLINES TO EXTRADITE SERBIAN MURDER SUSPECT TO BELGIUM. Greek Justice Minister Jannis Pottakis decided that a Serbian man accused of killing a Kosovo Albanian leader will be extradited to rump Yugoslavia and not to Belgium, AFP reported on 13 January. Darko Asanin is accused of taking part in the murder of Enver Hadri in Brussels in 1990 and of murdering one of his suspected accomplices in Germany a year later. A Greek court ordered Asanin's extradition to Belgium, but Pottakis overruled the decision. -- 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. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
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