|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
No. 11, Part II, 16 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ BOSNIAN PRISONER EXCHANGE BREAKS DOWN. Red Cross spokesman Jacques De Maio told AFP on 15 January that a planned swap of some 900 prisoners has collapsed. "The parties are not complying. Nobody abided by our plan. Only nine people have been released," he said. A central issue has been the demand of the Bosnian government that the Serbs first clarify the status of thousands of missing persons, arguing that it is impossible to prepare accurate lists for the exchange of prisoners until the fate of the missing is clear. A Serbian civilian group of relatives of missing persons has raised similar demands. Bosnian Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey said that the Serbs are holding nearly 1,000 persons in slave labor camps, and he fears they might be killed. The 19 January deadline for exchanging prisoners as set down in the Dayton agreement is approaching, and to let it lapse without the swap taking place would not augur well for implementing other parts of the timetable. -- Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE OPINION POLL ON DIVIDING BLACK SEA FLEET. An opinion poll carried out by the education department of the Black Sea Fleet showed that 47% of officers are disillusioned over the division of the fleet, ITAR-TASS reported on 16 January. Another 33% said they were dissatisfied with what was happening around them. The report said the majority of those responding negatively in the poll were servicemen living in garrisons which have been handed over to Ukraine, or are slated to be transferred to Ukraine. The Black Sea Fleet command recommended that the issue of citizenship be decided, and a program worked out to move Russian servicemen out of Ukrainian garrisons to Russia. -- Ustina Markus ORTHODOX CHURCH IN ESTONIA LIKELY TO SPLIT. Bishop Ambrosius of the Orthodox Church of Finland and the Rev. Heikki Huttunen, a representative of the Constantinople patriarchate, held talks on 15 January with Prime Minister Tiit Vahi and Interior Minister Mart Rask, BNS and ETA reported. Huttunen said that a recent meeting in Turkey of representatives of the Constantinople and Moscow patriarchates had agreed that orthodox believers in Estonia would have two churches. The Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church, established in 1923, would retain its name while the Orthodox Church with an allegiance to Moscow would choose a new name. The final agreement between the patriarchates is to signed in February in Helsinki. -- Saulius Girnius PENTAGON TO GIVE MORE AID TO LITHUANIAN ARMED FORCES. National Defense Deputy Minister Valdas Serapinas told a news conference on 15 January that the Pentagon increased the aid it is giving to the Lithuanian armed forces this year, BNS reported. The amount for training Lithuanian troops was increased from $200,000 in 1995 to $350,000 this year. Two joint Lithuanian-American war exercises in the framework of the Partnership for Peace program will be held on Lithuanian territory and also involve Danish and Polish troops. -- Saulius Girnius PLATINUM TRIAL IN BELARUS. The Belarusian military prosecutor is trying a case over the theft of 7.8 kilos of platinum worth 15 billion Belarusian rubles ($13 million) from the former 25th arsenal of the strategic rocket forces, Belarusian radio reported on 15 January. The commander of the unit, Uladzimir Zhykharau, the head of the laboratory, Henadz Davodovich, and his deputy Dzmitrii Muryn, have all gone missing. The military prosecutor is bringing charges of desertion against the three as well as theft. The investigation into the case has uncovered the fact that the thefts had been going on for five years. -- Ustina Markus KWASNIEWSKI MEETS DIPLOMATS IN WARSAW . . . Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski met foreign diplomats on 15 January and underlined continuity in Polish foreign policy, Polish media reported. He said that NATO enlargement does not threaten anyone, in particular Poland's biggest neighbors, Russia and Ukraine. Kwasniewski, accompanied by Foreign Minister Dariusz Rosati, is to visit EU and NATO headquarters in Brussels during his second foreign trip starting on 16 January. Andrzej Styrczula, a former graduate philosophy student at a Jesuit college in Krakow and Radio Free Europe journalist, became Kwasniewski's spokesman, Polish media reported on 16 January. -- Jakub Karpinski . . . WHILE WALESA ADVISES SOLIDARITY IN GDANSK. Former Polish President Lech Walesa began work on 15 January as a Solidarity consultant in Gdansk. He does not receive any income for the consultancy and has confirmed his intention to work in the Gdansk shipyard as an electrician, unless some new legal arrangements establish a particular status for him as a former president. Walesa said that he would "sometimes agree and sometimes disagree" with Solidarity leader Marian Krzaklewski, Polish dailies reported on 16 January. -- Jakub Karpinski POLISH PUBLIC OPINION ON OLEKSY AFFAIR. According to a poll conducted by the Public Opinion Research Center (OBOP) on 8-9 January, Poles are divided over the espionage allegations against Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy. 40% of respondents said that former Internal Affairs Minister Andrzej Milczanowski was right when he formally notified the prosecutors' office about the allegations, 32% said it was irresponsible behavior; 32% of respondents said Oleksy should continue at his post, 31% that he should take leave of absence, and 19% that he should resign. Oleksy, who was on holiday last week, resumed his duties on 15 January. -- Jakub Karpinski HUNGARY PLEASED BY SLOVAK PARTY'S CHANGE OF HEART ON TREATY. A statement by Slovak National Party (SNS) Chairman Jan Slota indicating that his party is no longer opposed to the Slovak-Hungarian treaty was called "an unquestionably good sign" by a Hungarian Foreign Ministry spokesman, CTK reported on 15 January. The spokesman noted that Hungary "has high expectations in connection with the ratification of the treaty," not only concerning relations with Slovakia, but also regarding regional stability. Slota announced on 13 January that the SNS would support the treaty if certain compromises are made, including the approval of laws on the protection of the republic, the state of emergency, local elections, and education, Narodna obroda reported on 15 January. The SNS, a junior coalition member, had previously been strongly opposed to ratifying the treaty, which was signed last March. -- Sharon Fisher "EUROROMA" HOLDS ORGANIZATIONAL CONFERENCE IN BUDAPEST. An international meeting of Roma was organized in Budapest on 12 and 13 January by the Autonomy Foundation, ORS (Romani National News Service) reported on 15 January. Its goal was to establish a program called "Euroroma," supported by 350,000 ECU. Four countries -- Bulgaria, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania -- will participate in Euroroma. Besides setting up educational courses and Romani media in Romania and Slovakia, Euroroma will establish legal offices for Roma, which already function in the other two countries. -- Alaina Lemon VAN DER STOEL CRITICIZES SLOVAK LANGUAGE LAW? OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel reportedly criticized the Slovak language law in a document that has not been made public. In an item citing "reliable sources," the Hungarian daily Magyar Hirlap reports on 16 January that van der Stoel's most serious objection to the law is that it terminates the act which had regulated the use of minority languages in offices in Slovakia. He also noted that less money was spent on minority printing press products and institutions in 1995 than in 1994 although the Slovak Ministry of Culture was granted more funds from the budget. Van der Stoel recommended that the ministry give the responsibility of allocating funds to the minorities. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE CONFERENCE ON BOSNIAN REFUGEES OPENS. UNHCR chief Sadaka Ogata addressed a meeting in Geneva on 16 January to discuss the resettlement of up to 2.5 million Bosnian refugees. She stressed that the difficulties will be enormous. The BBC said that plans are to relocate first the one million displaced persons within the republic itself; then those 670,000 living elsewhere in the former Yugoslavia; and finally those abroad, of whom 700,000 are in Germany or elsewhere in Europe. The Bosnian government had asked that those settled in distant countries be brought home first. Problems include how to resettle people whose homes and property have been destroyed, and what to do with those victims of "ethnic cleansing" who cannot or will not return to their former places of residence. The costs will be up to $400 million in the first year alone. The UNHCR has asked European countries not to complicate things further by sending refugees home soon. -- Patrick Moore EARLY AUTUMN ELECTIONS IN BOSNIA POSSIBLE? The international community's High Representative in Sarajevo, Carl Bildt, said on 15 January that the September deadline for holding elections in Bosnia will be extremely difficult to meet, Reuters reported the same day. Elections are due to be held in five to eight months from now, which is not realistic according to Bildt. Speaking at the Stockholm conference on planning the elections, he also stressed that the international community would have to meet the deadline, set out in the Dayton peace agreement, in order not to jeopardize the reconciliation process. Bildt added that the biggest obstacle to the election process was election registers, which were destroyed during the war, as well as huge migrations. Bosnian Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey said that the elections should be postponed rather than simulated, Nasa Borba reported on 16 January. "The key issue is not only to hold elections, but to hold free, fair and democratic elections," AFP on 16 January quoted him as saying. -- Daria Sito Sucic UN NAMES HEAD OF INTERNATIONAL POLICE FORCE IN BOSNIA. UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali on 15 January named an Irish assistant police commissioner, Thomas Peter Fitzgerald, to head the UN international police force in Bosnia. Fitzgerald has served in UN police missions to Namibia, El Salvador and Cambodia. The UN wants some 1,700 officers deployed and most of these have been pledged although only about 150 have so far arrived. A UN spokesman acknowledged that full deployment will probably not occur by the 31 January date set in the Dayton peace accords. The UN force is expected to train, assist and supervise the Bosnian police but not to undertake actual police work. -- Michael Mihalka TUDJMAN'S STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman on 15 January addressed a joint session of both chambers of the Parliament on the state of the nation in 1995, Hina reported the same day. He defined 1995 as a year in which "the establishment of independent Croatia was completed and in which Croatia gained full international recognition," while 1996 is expected to be a year of peace when "the occupied Danubian area" will be finally integrated into the Croatian constitutional and legal system. His two-and-a-half hour speech focused on the war with the Serbs and the liberation of occupied areas, foreign policy, government administration and democratic order, the economy, social issues, and state policy targets for 1996. Tudjman said that Croatia has become a strategic partner of the U.S. and an irreplaceable factor in the establishment of a new international order in the region. -- Daria Sito Sucic UN AGREES ON FORCE FOR E. SLAVONIA. The UN Security Council authorized on 15 January a 5,000-strong force and a civilian transitional authority for Eastern Slavonia, international agencies reported. An American diplomat, Jacques Klein, is expected to head both missions which have a mandate of one year with an option for a second. An agreement concluded on 12 November on the sidelines of the Dayton negotiation on Bosnia stipulated that Eastern Slavonia would be reintegrated into Croatia within two years. The UN mission is expected to serve as an interim political authority, oversee the return of refugees, organize elections, train a provisional police force, collect weapons and restart utilities. -- Michael Mihalka "AMBASSADORS ARE RETURNING TO BELGRADE". This is how Politika on 16 January headlines a report, which says that in the near future a number of western countries are expected to reestablish contacts with the rump Yugoslavia at ambassadorial level. According to the article, French authorities, in a move that may pave the way for others, have said they will restore their ambassador. Most western nations withdrew their ambassadors, leaving charges in authority, in May 1992 with the imposition of strict sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia. -- Stan Markotich SLOVENIAN PRESIDENT VISITS MACEDONIA. Milan Kucan paid a one-day visit to Macedonia on 15 January, Nova Makedonija reported the next day. Kucan met with President Kiro Gligorov and Foreign Minister Stevo Crvenkovski and discussed political and economic cooperation. Macedonia is currently the seventh largest foreign trade partner of Slovenia. Both presidents concluded that the Balkan crisis can only be solved with a European perspective and expressed their desire for membership of the European Union. They also stressed that "all former Yugoslav republics have equal status in their succession to former Yugoslavia," thus rejecting Belgrade's claims to be the sole legal successor, Politika reported. -- Fabian Schmidt DIPLOMATIC ACTIVITY IN BUCHAREST. President Ion Iliescu on 15 January received French European Affairs Minister Michel Barnier, who is paying an official visit to Romania, Radio Bucharest reported. Barnier also met with Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu, Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu, Senate Chairman Oliviu Gherman, Chamber of Deputies Chairman Adrian Nastase, and with leaders of various political parties. The talks focused on Romania's efforts of integration into European structures. The same topic figured high in Iliescu's speech delivered on the same day at a traditional new year reception for the diplomatic corps. In a separate development, Romanian media reported on a visit to Bucharest by OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel. He discussed with Gherman, Nastase, and Education Minister Liviu Maior issues related to the treatment of ethnic minorities in Romania, including a controversial education law, adopted in 1995. -- Dan Ionescu MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT PREPARED TO RESUME DNIESTER TALKS. Mircea Snegur on 15 January called for the resumption of the monthly meeting of all parties involved in the settlement of the Dniester conflict, BASA-press and Infotag reported. Snegur made the remark in a conversation with Russia's newly-appointed special envoy to the negotiations, Yurii Karlov. Talks between Chisinau and Tiraspol were suspended following an unsuccessful summit meeting in mid-September between Snegur and the president of the self-proclaimed Dniester republic, Igor Smirnov. -- Dan Ionescu RAPPROCHEMENT BETWEEN BULGARIAN PRESIDENT AND OPPOSITION? A newly formed group of intellectuals called "Concord in Bulgaria" is considering supporting the candidacy of President Zhelyu Zhelev for another term in office and is trying to reach a rapprochement between Zhelev and the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS), 24 chasa reported on 16 January. Some 50 writers, artists and scholars will meet Zhelev on 16 January to "build a bridge" between Zhelev and the SDS and to assess the president's five years in office. Meanwhile, Zhelev invited SDS leader Ivan Kostov to talk about domestic political questions next week. Kostov has not replied so far and is waiting for the SDS's ruling bodies to decide. -- Stefan Krause PAPANDREOU RESIGNS . . . After almost two months in hospital, Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou on 15 January submitted his resignation, Greek radio reported the same day. Papandreou said his illness "should not become an obstacle for the country" and called on the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) to proceed immediately with the election of a new premier. PASOK Secretary-General Kostas Skandalidis called the resignation "a historic moment for our party and . . . a courageous act" by Papandreou. Parliament Chairman Apostolos Kaklamanis said the PASOK deputies will probably convene on 18 January and elect a new premier by 20 January at the latest. Papandreou did not resign as PASOK chairman. The Athens stock market rose by 1.79% on 15 January when it became apparent that Papandreou would resign, Reuters reported. -- Stefan Krause . . . AND SIMITIS ANNOUNCES HIS CANDIDACY. Former Industry Minister Kostas Simitis on 16 January officially announced his candidacy to succeed Papandreou, Reuters reported. The contest is likely to be decided between Simitis and Defense Minister Gerasimos Arsenis, who is regarded as a Papandreou loyalist who would probably continue his predecessor's policies. Simitis would likely try to reform both the party and the state apparatus. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN PRESIDENT VISITS CHINA. Sali Berisha arrived in Beijing on 16 January, international agencies reported. Berisha met with President Jiang Zemin, and the two sides signed agreements to cooperate in science and technology, and radio and television. Albania has debts to China amounting to $35 million. It is the first visit by an Albanian president since communist Albania broke relations with China in 1978 over ideological disagreements. Albania and China have increased bilateral trade since 1992, amounting to about $20 million in 1995.-- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Steve Kettle 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. 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