|The absence of alternatives clears the mind marvelously. - Henry Kissinger|
No. 13, Part II, 18 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ DEADLOCK ON MOSTAR, PRISONER EXCHANGES. The EU told AFP on 17 January that plans for the reunification of Mostar have "de facto been put back." The town has been the focus of severe Croatian-Muslim tensions in recent weeks, despite efforts by the international community to ease matters in order to shore up the federation, which is an essential component of the Dayton system. Elsewhere, the U.S. State Department has urged the Bosnian government to respect the 20 January deadline for the prisoner exchange, but Sarajevo still wants the question of missing persons cleared up as part of the arrangement. Oslobodjenje on 18 January reported Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey as saying the government wants the truth about the dead and demands that all prisoners be released without exception. Sacirbey noted that more than 1,000 prisoners do not appear on the lists provided by the Serbs. -- Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINE'S NUCLEAR AUTHORITY STRAPPED FOR CASH. Officials from Ukraine's State Atomic Energy Committee have said that despite a 2.5% increase in electricity generation last year, the agency responsible for the country's five nuclear power plants is strapped for cash, Ukrainian TV and Infobank reported on 17 January. Committee officials said consumer debt totaling 98 trillion karbovantsi ($54 million) meant the agency has only half the funds needed to purchase enough nuclear fuel from Russia to keep its stations operational. The lack of money may also prevent repairs being carried out at the Rivne and Pivdennyi plants and outmoded equipment being replaced at Ukraine's five atomic energy stations. -- Chrystyna Lapychak DRAFT CRIMEAN CONSTITUTION NEEDS REVISION, LAWMAKER SAYS. Volodymyr Stretovych, chairman of the Ukrainian parliament's commission on legislative affairs, said the draft of a new Crimean Constitution, passed by the Crimean legislature on 1 November, will not be considered for approval by his body until several provisions deemed too "separatist" are removed, Ukrainian TV reported 16 January. He said the articles on property rights, citizenship, and state symbols contravene Ukrainian law and must be amended. The new Crimean constitution must be approved by the Ukrainian legislature before it can be adopted by Crimean lawmakers. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUS SETS UP CURRENCY CORRIDOR. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has created a "currency corridor" limiting the Belarusian ruble's value to 11,300-13,100 to $1, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 January. This regulation is to remain in place until 1 June. The exchange rate against the Russian ruble is regulated the same way. Also on 17 January, Interfax reported that the National Bank of Belarus has limited the amount of Russian and Belarusian rubles that individuals can take out of the country to 500 times the minimum wage, which stands at 100,000 Belarusian rubles ($8.70). -- Ustina Markus ESTONIA TO RECEIVE FOREIGN SUPPORT FOR REGISTERING NON-CITIZENS. Estonian Interior Minister Mart Rask, Deputy Director of the Citizenship and Migration Department Ulo Laanoja, and UN representative Jan Wahlberg on 17 January signed a UN Development Program project giving Estonia 8 million kroons ($686,000) to register and issue residence permits to its 300,000 non-citizens, ETA reported. Seven million kroons are to be supplied by Nordic countries. The parliament authorized the Citizenship and Migration Department, which also receives 25 million kroons from the state budget, to complete issuing passports by 12 July. -- Saulius Girnius FINNISH PRESIDENT IN LITHUANIA. Martti Ahtisaari on 17 January held talks in Vilnius with his Lithuanian counterpart, Algirdas Brazauskas, on Lithuania's banking problems and integration into the EU, BNS reported. Ahtisaari said he favored abolishing visas between the two countries, and he offered Finnish assistance in improving border control. He later met with Seimas chairman Ceslovas Jursenas. The next day Ahtisaari met with the representatives of the local Finnish community before returning home. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH PRESIDENT IN BRUSSELS. Aleksander Kwasniewski, visiting NATO headquarters in Brussels on 17 January, said he hoped Poland will be invited to join NATO by the end of the year and that it will become a member of the alliance by 2000, Polish and international media reported. He said he did not believe that Poland's membership in NATO would represent a threat to Russia "or any other country." NATO Secretary- General Javier Solana said NATO has full confidence in Poland, and he praised the Polish contribution to the NATO-led peace operations in Bosnia. Kwasniewski on 18 January is to meet with officials from the European Commission and the Belgian government. -- Jakub Karpinski FORMER POLISH PRESIDENT PROPOSES NEW ROUNDTABLE NEGOTIATIONS. Lech Walesa on 17 January called for closed-door roundtable talks in an effort to resolve the crisis over spying allegations against Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy, Polish dailies reported on 18 January. Walesa said that about 20 of the country's largest political parties should be invited to the talks. He added that the talks should be initiated by Primate Jozef Glemp and should resemble the 1989 roundtable meetings at which Poland's communist authorities negotiated the transfer of power to the "constructive opposition." Government spokesperson Aleksandra Jakubowska welcomed Walesa's proposal, while opposition deputies were less enthusiastic, favoring instead that special Sejm commission investigation into the Oleksy affair be made public. -- Jakub Karpinski SLOVAK OPPOSITION EXPRESSES CONCERN ABOUT TREATY WITH HUNGARY. Party of the Democratic Left (SDL) deputy chairman Milan Ftacnik on 17 January said that the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) has confirmed it is "in the tow of the nationalists." Ftacnik's statement comes in the wake of the HZDS's decision to meet the conditions set by its coalition partner, the Slovak National Party (SNS), for the ratification of the Slovak-Hungarian treaty. Ftacnik noted that those conditions could "devalue" the aim of the treaty, which was meant to calm and stabilize relations with Budapest. Hungarian Christian Democratic Movement deputy chairman Pal Csaky said the SNS's demand for a bill on the protection of the republic was a "dangerous step" that would remove Slovakia from "the family of democratic countries," Slovak Radio reported. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK PARLIAMENT CHAIRMAN MOST POPULAR POLITICIAN. A FOCUS agency poll conducted in December showed that Ivan Gasparovicis is the country's most popular politician, with 24.7% support, TASR reported on 17 January. Opposition SDL deputy chairwoman Brigita Schmoegnerova received (23.3%) and President Michal Kovac (22.6%). Ethnic Hungarian Coexistence chairman Miklos Duray drew the most negative responses (64.0%), followed by Slovak Information Service director Ivan Lexa (50.2%), and Association of Workers of Slovakia chairman Jan Luptak (48.7%). -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARY TO JOIN OECD BY APRIL? Istvan Major, head of the Hungarian team negotiating with the OECD, said Hungary may join the organization in April, Hungarian media reported on 18 January. Negotiations over the next few weeks will focus on questions of taxation, foreign exchange regulations, international tax agreements, and exchange of tax information. According to OECD officials, the issue of withholding banking information in Hungary has to be resolved. OECD countries expect banks of member countries to exchange information on clients suspected of fraud; access to such information in Hungary is prohibited. -- Zsofia Szilagyi HUNGARIAN CABINET DISCUSSES SURPLUS PRIVATIZATION REVENUES. Privatization Minister Tamas Suchman is urging the government to allocate some of the surplus privatization revenues to infrastructure development. The parliament in late December approved spending all surplus revenues--some 285 billion forints ($2 billion)--on repaying the foreign debt. But Hungary's coalition parties have been split over the issue since last November; Finance Minister Lajos Bokros and Alliance of Free Democrats are in favor of using the money to pay off the debt, while most socialist deputies, including Prime Minister Gyula Horn, are opposed. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SARAJEVO SERBS STRESS NEED FOR OWN ADMINISTRATION. The Bosnian Serbs are following up on their switch in tactics to accept the transfer of their suburbs to government control under certain conditions (see OMRI Daily Digest, 17 January 1996). The BBC on 18 January said that they were now willing to back the terms of the Dayton agreement and that their representatives were meeting with the international community's Michael Steiner to discuss cooperation. Reuters reported that the Serbs want a local administration that will guarantee their rights. Steiner said that he and the Serbs agreed that the agreement would be implemented without any changes but that Serbian concerns would be taken into account. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN SERB SOLDIERS DESERTING TO GOVERNMENT SIDE. Concern about the future for themselves and their families has prompted "several dozen" Bosnian Serbs to desert their units and report to government authorities. AFP said on 18 January that the men were especially concerned that their families living in the Sarajevo suburbs not join any exodus. The government authorities jokingly greeted one man with "Welcome to the Muslim fundamentalist side." The government officials said they were obliged to make sure the deserters were not wanted for war crimes but added that "those who come over have a clear conscience." -- Patrick Moore IFOR SEIZES SECRET GOVERNMENT AIR BASE. French IFOR troops seized a secret Bosnian government air base on 17 January after repeatedly being denied access to it, international agencies reported. The Visoko airstrip, about 20 kilometers from Sarajevo, was reportedly used to store weapons smuggled into the country in contravention of the UN arms embargo. IFOR was asserting its right to unrestricted freedom of movement under the Dayton peace accords. -- Michael Mihalka BILDT TALKS WITH NATO. International community representative Carl Bildt on 17 January met with the North Atlantic Council, NATO's executive body, international agencies reported. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana expressed full support for Bildt's efforts, saying "peace is reconciliation and...the main task...is in the hands of Carl Bildt." Relations between Bildt and NATO have been strained because of continuing NATO grumbling over the slow pace of the civilian peace effort. Bildt, for his part, has complained that the U.S. has prevented him from using UN facilities and that he has received funding only from the EU. Bildt said he expected a substantial contribution from the U.S. in the near future. -- Michael Mihalka SERBIA PROPOSES AMNESTY. The rump Yugoslavia's Supreme Defense Council has advocated the drafting of a law granting an amnesty to 12,455 people indicted by military authorities for failing to serve in the regions' wars over the past few years, Nasa Borba, citing Tanjug, reported on 18 January. The council is the country's highest military executive authority. Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic, and federal rump Yugoslav President Zoran Lilic are among its members. -- Stan Markotich BOSNIAN REFUGEES IN CROATIA FORCED TO MOVE AGAIN. Oslobodjenje on 18 January reported that some 900 Bosnian refugees in Zagreb collective centers are being forcibly moved to the Gasinci refugee camp. Croatia has requested that refugees not be moved before 1 March, when the Bosnian government is expected to have completed preparations for accommodating the refugees. In another development, Bosnian refugees from Srebrenica and Zepa have begun to leave the rump Yugoslavia for third countries, Nasa Borba reported on 18 January. UNHCR officials explained that the refugees were leaving because of poor living conditions and the mistreatment of refugees, who are reluctant to return to Bosnia due to the lack of safety there. -- Daria Sito Sucic CROATIAN, BULGARIAN PRESIDENTS SIGN AGREEMENT ON FRIENDSHIP. Franjo Tudjman and Zhelyu Zhelev signed an agreement on friendship and cooperation in Zagreb on 17 January, Vecernji list reported. Zhelev emphasized that Bulgaria was interested in participating in the reconstruction of Croatia and was ready to support Croatia's applications for admission to the Council of Europe and Black Sea Alliance, Hina reported. Tudjman said that the agreement "will lay a foundation for overall cooperation." -- Daria Sito Sucic INVESTIGATIONS INTO CEAUSESCU'S CHILDREN DROPPED. Prosecutors on 17 January announced that they have dropped investigations into the three children of late Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, Reuters reported. Zoe, Valentin, and Nicu Ceausescu have been cleared of "undermining the national economy" by using their privileged position to exploit the assets of the former Communist Party. The authorities also lifted a foreign travel ban on the three. -- Dan Ionescu ROMANIA SETS BROADCASTING RULES FOR ELECTIONS. The National Audiovisual Council (CNA) on 16 January released broadcasting guidelines for the April local elections, Romanian and Western media reported. Free and equal time on state media will be given to all candidates, irrespective of their political affiliation. "Audio or video material that slanders opponents" is prohibited, and no opinion polls may be published in the run-up to the elections. Private radio and TV stations can charge for air time. Similar regulations are expected to apply to the general and presidential elections, due to take place by the end of the year. The opposition has often accused the state-controlled media of favoring candidates from the ruling party in election campaigns. -- Dan Ionescu TV JOURNALIST KIDNAPPED IN MOLDOVA. Five men in police uniforms have kidnapped the deputy head of a private television company in Moldova, BASA-press reported on 17 January. Ion Frunza was beaten up and abducted in a Chisinau street on 13 January. He works for the Catalan TV company, which began broadcasting last year. Police rejected claims that the kidnappers might be members of the police force. This is the third attack on Moldovan journalists since late December. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIAN PRESIDENT ON RELATIONS WITH NATO. Zhelyu Zhelev warned the Socialist government of Prime Minister Zhan Videnov that reluctance to join NATO could have adverse effects on Bulgaria's economic and political relations with the West, international agencies reported on 17 January, citing an interview with the weekly Sega. Zhelev said Bulgarian reservations about full membership in NATO could lead NATO to look at Bulgaria "with suspicion." He also said Bulgaria has a "moral and political" right to take greater part in the reconstruction of the former Yugoslavia since it "incurred great losses...without being guilty." But he added that the government's foreign policy could affect Bulgaria's participation in reconstruction programs. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT REVIEWS GENOCIDE LAW. The Albanian Constitutional Court is reviewing the Law on Genocide and Crimes against Humanity Committed in Albania During Communist Rule Out of Political, Ideological, and Religious Motives, the Albanian-language service of Deutsche Welle reported on 17 January. Deputies from the Socialist Party, the Social Democrats, and the Democratic Alliance requested a ruling on the constitutionality of the law, which bans communist-era high ranking officials as well as members or collaborators of the security service from holding public office until December 2001. The opposition argues the law is designed to ban its politicians from running in the upcoming elections. -- Fabian Schmidt GREECE, MACEDONIA OPEN LIAISON OFFICES. Greece and Macedonia on 17 January opened liaison offices in each other's capitals, as stipulated by the interim accord signed in September 1995, Nova Makedonija reported the following day. The Greek office is headed by Alexandros Malias. Macedonia is expected to name the head of its delegation by 1 February. -- Stefan Krause RULING GREEK PARTY SETS PROCEDURES FOR PAPANDREOU SUCCESSION. The ruling Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) on 17 January issued the procedures for the succession of Andreas Papandreou as Greek prime minister, international media reported. The new prime minister will be elected by the 168 PASOK parliamentary deputies from among four candidates: former Industry Minister Kostas Simitis; Defense Minister Gerasimos Arsenis; Interior, Public Administration, and Decentralization Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos; and former Foreign and Defense Minister Jannis Charalambopoulos. The election is to take place on 18 January. -- 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
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.