|Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead|
No. 15, Part II, 22 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ SILAJDZIC TO QUIT AS BOSNIAN PRIME MINISTER. Haris Silajdzic has said he will give up his office after objecting to new regulations that will greatly curb the role of the central government, Oslobodjenje reported on 22 January. His replacement will reportedly be Hasan Muratovic, who has been handling the government's relations with NATO. Silajdzic's announcement that he will resign comes in the wake of a long-standing dispute with the religious hard-liners in the mainly Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA). It also reflects the current shadow-boxing going on in the SDA and in other Bosnian parties over new divisions of offices and authority. Silajdzic's statement that he will not stay on may prove to be only a phase in the internal SDA power struggle or it may be part of a possible new realignment of political forces in postwar Bosnia as the three ethnically-based parties finally face up to their own internal divisions. -- Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE CONFUSION OVER BLACK SEA FLEET COMMAND. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma says Black Sea Fleet commander Admiral Eduard Baltin, has been fired (see OMRI Daily Digest, 18 January 1996), but Baltin says this is news to him. Kuchma at an 18 January press conference said he and Russian President Boris Yeltsin dismissed Baltin. Radio Ukraine on 19 January quoted Baltin as saying that the only word he had heard about his status was from the Ukrainian mass media. ITAR-TASS reported that neither the Russian Defense Ministry, the main navy headquarters, nor the Black Sea Fleet headquarters has received any official documents on the subject. -- Doug Clarke UKRAINIAN LEFTISTS PREPARE ALTERNATIVE DRAFT CONSTITUTION. Members of Ukraine's socialist and communist parties have begun collecting signatures in support of an alternative draft constitution drawn up by their leaderships, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 19 January. They say their goal is to have the special commission currently debating a final draft of the new Ukrainian constitution change provisions they are most opposed to. The leftist forces said they strongly oppose a provision in the current draft calling for a bicameral legislature. They added that the selection of a Senate made up of local government representatives would encourage regionalism. They also said they favor a strictly parliamentary system in contrast to the presidential-parliamentary rule outlined in the latest draft. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT CRITICIZED OVER STATEMENT ON NUCLEAR WEAPONS. Several Belarusian deputies have criticized Alyaksandr Lukashenka's statement that Belarus may be forced to redeploy nuclear weapons on its territory if NATO expands, NTV and Reuters reported on 20 January. Deputy parliamentary speaker Henadz Karpenka said he was at a loss for words, and other senior deputies expressed concern that such declarations would antagonize the West. In other news, ITAR-TASS reported that Lukashenka said he did not support the latest CIS agreement on imposing economic sanctions against Abkhazia. He maintained Belarus's traditional position that the country will not send troops to serve on foreign soil. -- Ustina Markus LATVIA TO OPEN NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE. Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs and head of the UN Development Program in Latvia John Hendra on 19 January signed an international project to fund a Latvian National Human Rights Office, BNS reported. Finland, Holland, and Sweden have joined the UN in allocating a total of $1.7 million to set up for the office over the next four years. The office will help inform society about human rights and will deal with complaints about violations of those rights. It will also cooperate with international organizations and experts. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIAN INTERIOR MINISTER RESIGNS. Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius on 20 January announced he had received a letter of resignation from Interior Minister Romasis Vaitekunas, Radio Lithuania reported the next day. President Algirdas Brazauskas had asked Vaitekunas to resign because he closed his savings account in the LAIB bank shortly before the government suspended its activities. Vaitekunas, however, had delayed doing so after the Democratic Labor Party caucus voted that he should remain in office. If accepted, the resignation will put pressure on Slezevicius to resign because he also withdrew savings from the same bank as Vaitekunas. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH PRESIDENT IN FAVOR OF PUBLISHING DOCUMENTS ON OLEKSY. Aleksander Kwasniewski has said he is in favor of publishing documents related to the spy allegations against Premier Jozef Oleksy. An official at the president's office said Kwasniewski will submit to the Sejm draft legislation providing for the publication of files from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Office for State Protection. A special commission, headed by Deputy Sejm Speaker Aleksander Malachowski, will determine which documents are to be published. It will also deal with complaints from those people who consider they have been falsely documented as collaborating with the secret services, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 22 January. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz CZECH PREMIER SAYS RELATIONS WITH GERMANY HAVE CALMED DOWN. Vaclav Klaus, after meeting with German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel in Bonn on 20 January, said that relations between their two countries are calm and undramatic, Czech media reported. Kinkel last week said Czech-German negotiations on a joint parliamentary declaration are "disastrously bogged down" (see OMRI Daily Digest, 19 January 1996), but Klaus said the talks could proceed without delay. -- Steve Kettle CZECH OPPOSITION WANTS REFERENDUM ON NATO MEMBERSHIP. Delegates to a conference of the Czech Social Democratic Party over the weekend overwhelmingly voted in favor of the question of NATO membership being put to a referendum, Czech media reported. The government of Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus has accepted the possibility of a referendum on joining the EU but says a plebiscite on NATO is unnecessary because membership in the alliance does not involve relinquishing any sovereignty. Social Democrat leader Milos Zeman said that if a referendum on NATO is held, his party will recommend membership. -- Steve Kettle SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER BACKS DOWN ON GERMAN NAME ISSUE. Vladimir Meciar, visiting Bonn on 19-20 January to attend a Bertelsmann Foundation conference, told German Foreign Minister Kinkel that Germany can decide for itself what its official name is to be in Slovak, thus settling a dispute that has blocked the signing of several bilateral treaties. Meciar's government previously insisted on the Cold War name--the German Federal Republic--rather than Germany's preferred name: the Federal Republic of Germany. In other news, Meciar on 20 January said that the Slovak-Hungarian treaty will be signed by the end of March. Slovak parliament chairman Ivan Gasparovic announced the previous day that the treaty's ratification will not be included in the parliament session beginning on 31 January. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARY DIVIDES UP SURPLUS PRIVATIZATION REVENUE. The cabinet on 18 January reached a compromise over how to spend 240.3 billion forints ($1.7 billion) in surplus privatization revenues, Hungarian dailies reported the next day. Some 100 billion forints will be allocated to the State Treasury, 92 billion forints will be used to repay state debts, and the remaining 48.3 billion forints will stay with the State Privatization and Holding Co. The country's Finance Minister Lajos Bokros and Privatization Minister Tamas Suchman had been at odds over the issue in recent weeks, with Bokros in favor of using all extra revenues to repay the foreign debt and Suchman advocating spending the money on infrastructure development. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE TROOPS IN BOSNIA MEET DEADLINE FOR WITHDRAWAL . . . The withdrawal of government, Serbian, and Croatian forces from the zones of separation took place in Bosnia by midnight on 19 January, the deadline set in the Dayton peace accords, international and local media reported. IFOR commander Admiral Leighton Smith said there was "substantial compliance on the military issues of the peace agreement by all parties." However, although the some 1,400 minefields along the 1,000 km-long zones have been identified, not all mines have been removed, as called for by the agreement. Speaking in Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana praised progress to date but expressed concern about the continuing conflict in Mostar, which, he said, was the "key for the whole peace process." -- Michael Mihalka . . . BUT PRISONER EXCHANGE NOT YET COMPLETED. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, only 217 prisoners were released by the midnight 19 January deadline laid down in the Dayton accords. IFOR commander Admiral Leighton Smith, citing ICRC sources, said that 318 prisoners remain in Bosnia, 151 in Serbia, and 177 in Croatia. The Bosnian government is refusing to release more prisoners until the Bosnian Serbs account for some 1,000 Bosnian Muslims who are thought to be in Bosnian Serb labor camps and thousands more believed to have been killed. -- Michael Mihalka NEW REVELATIONS ABOUT MASS KILLINGS. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights John Shattuck on 21 January spoke of what the BBC the next day called "mass killings and crimes against humanity" committed by the Bosnian Serbs. He referred to a warehouse at Kravice, near Srebrenica, where up to 2,000 people were shelled to death or shot as they fled. The VOA's Croatian Service quoted him as saying that he even saw blood on the ceiling and that he would pass on evidence to the war crimes tribunal in The Hague. Shattuck feared that up to 7,000 Muslims could have been massacred in the wake of the Serbian seizure of Srebrenica last July. He noted that what he found in the area confirmed reports he had heard from witnesses and survivors. -- Patrick Moore KASAGIC ON MASS GRAVES. Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Rajko Kasagic told Radio Kragujevac that his government has no information on what happened in a Ljubija mine where 8,000 Muslims and Croats were allegedly disposed of by Serbs in 1992 (see OMRI Daily Digest, 12 January 1995), Nasa Borba reported on 22 January. He rejected claims about mass killings in the Srebrenica and Prijedor areas, saying that there was a lack of evidence and that "these accusations are old as war itself." He also said that Bosnian Serb authorities will allow UN Special Envoy for Human Rights Elizabeth Rehn to visit the sites of alleged mass graves from 4-8 February in order "to stop disinformation." -- Daria Sito Sucic WHAT WILL IFOR DO? Central to the discussion about investigating possible sites of atrocities in Bosnia is the role of the NATO troops there in carrying out or assisting in the investigations. IFOR's position is that it will not carry out such missions on its own but will provide protection for international investigators who request it. IFOR spokesmen have been quick to add that they have received no such request. Shattuck noted, however, that the Serbs are trying to hide or destroy evidence near Srebrenica and at the Ljubija mine. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said that IFOR will prevent the destruction of evidence, but he would not say how, AFP reported on 22 January. -- Patrick Moore SERBIAN INFORMATION MINISTER CRITICAL OF INDEPENDENT MEDIA. Ratomir Vico, in an interview with Deutsche Welle cited by BETA on 19 January, said independent broadcasters in Serbia will not be granted frequencies because their reporting is anti-government, inaccurate, and patently "one-sided." Vico went on to lambaste the German press, which he said continued to be biased in its reporting of the Balkan conflicts. He said the German media had inaccurately portrayed the Serbs as "the sole aggressors." -- Stan Markotich MONTENEGRIN UPDATE. Montena-fax on 19 January reported that an official Montengrin delegation completed a visit to Hong Kong and was traveling to neighboring Macao for a one-day stay. The purpose of the visits was to promote Asia-Pacific investment and Montenegrin economic cooperation with Asian communities. -- Stan Markotich MINOR CABINET RESHUFFLE IN ROMANIA. Nicolae Vacaroiu on 19 January made some changes in his government, Romanian and international media reported the same day. Dan Ioan Popescu, formerly deputy minister of trade, replaced Petru Crisan, who resigned last month amid allegations of corruption, as trade minister. Alexandru Stanescu, a deputy minister of industry, has taken over the portfolio following the resignation of Dumitru Popescu, criticized for the slow pace of rebuilding this sector. Vacaroiu also said Research and Technology Minister Doru Dumitru Palade has resigned but that his replacement will be announced later this month. This is the fifth cabinet reshuffle since Vacaroiu became premier in autumn 1992. -- Michael Shafir ROMANIAN OPPOSITION PARTY CHOOSES NEW LEADER. Ion Diaconescu on 19 January was re-elected chairman of the National Peasant Party-Christian Democratic. Romanian and international media reported that the 78-year- old Diaconescu, defeated party deputy chairman Ion Ratiu. He replaces Corneliu Coposu, who died last year. The ballot took place on the first day of the party's congress. -- Michael Shafir NATO WILL NOT KEEP PEACE IN MOLDOVA. A NATO official on 19 January told a group of Moldovan journalists attending a seminar in Brussels that he "cannot imagine even for a second" that the mission of peacekeeping in Moldova would be taken over by a NATO multinational force. He said the Transdniester dispute should be settled politically with the assistance of international organizations, including the UN and the OSCE. With regard to the Russian proposal to give peacekeeping status to the military contingent now deployed in the breakaway region, the official said any decision should take into consideration "Russia's interests and the situation there and only with the approval of the OSCE," Infotag reported. -- Michael Shafir NEW BULGARIAN MINISTERS NOMINATED. The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and its coalition partners--the Bulgarian Agrarian National Union "Aleksandar Stamboliyski" and the Political Club Ekoglasnost--on 21 January nominated new trade and agriculture ministers, Duma reported. If approved by the parliament, Atanas Paparizov (BSP) will replace Kiril Tsochev as trade minister, while Agrarian Chairman and Deputy Prime Minister Svetoslav Shivarov will take over the Agriculture Ministry from Vasil Chichibaba. Tsochev and Chichibaba resigned over the ongoing grain crisis. Paparizov and Shivarov were the only candidates, and their nomiations were unanimously approved by the ruling parties. Also on 21 January, the BSP nominated Lyubomir Filipov as governor of the Bulgarian National Bank. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES CHANGES TO PERSONAL INCOME TAX. The Bulgarian cabinet on 18 January approved changes to the tax code, including raising the minimum annual tax-exempt income from 30,000 leva ($412) to 36,000 leva ($494), Bulgarian media reported. Traders will have to make advance tax payments. According to Pari, the progressivity of the tax in all but the lowest brackets has been increased. In other news, the parliament's legal commission approved laws on the collection of state loans, tax administration, and tax procedures. The opposition criticized the proposed creation of a Service for Prevention and Discovery of Tax Violations, which would have access to information on bank accounts and conduct on-site inspections, as a violation of privacy. -- Michael Wyzan MORE COMMUNIST-ERA OFFICIALS ARRESTED IN ALBANIA . . . Nine Albanian former communist officials have been arrested on charges of authorizing deportations and other political actions violating communist legislation, Reuters reported on 21 January. Among those arrested were former Interior Ministers Hekuran Isai and Simon Stefani, former Supreme Court Chief Judge Aranit Cela, and former Prosecutor-General Rrapi Mino. The group also included high-ranking officials of the Sigurimi and former politburo members. These latest arrests bring the number of communist-era officials detained over the past five weeks to 30. -- Fabian Schmidt . . . AND RAMIZ ALIA TO BE NEXT? Former Albanian President Ramiz Alia may also face arrest soon, Albania reported on 21 January. Tirana prosecutors said about 70 charges have been brought against Alia by individual citizens and the National Forum of Intellectuals. Among other things, he is accused of involvement in authorizing the killing of Albanians trying to flee the country as well as the killing by the police of three opposition activists during demonstrations on 2 April 1991. Alia has already served a prison sentence for abuse of power. He was released in June 1994 following the introduction of a new penal code and a various amnesties by President Sali Berisha. -- Fabian Schmidt NEW "REFORMIST" GOVERNMENT IN GREECE. The government of newly appointed Greek Prime Minister Kostas Simitis was sworn in on 22 January, Western media reported. Simitis has appointed a number of so-called reformists to replace ministers loyal to former Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou and downsized the cabinet from 51 to 41 members. Theodoros Pangalos replaces Karolos Papoulias as foreign minister. Former EU Commissioner Vaso Papandreou will head the newly formed Development Ministry, which includes the industry, commerce, trade, and tourism portfolios. Both ministers are regarded as strongly pro-EU. Simitis retained Defense Minister Gerasimos Arsenis and Interior Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos, both Papandreou loyalists, as well as Education Minister Georgios Papandreou, the former premier's son. Finance Minister Alekos Papadopoulos and Economy Minister Jannos Papantoniou also keep their posts, suggesting that austerity measures will continue. -- 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.