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No. 17, Part II, 24 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ HAGUE TRIBUNAL "LAUNCHES OFFENSIVE." AFP on 23 January reported that British Prime Minister John Major told a questioner in the parliament that British troops would conduct foot patrols and air surveys to prevent the destruction of evidence of atrocities. In The Hague, a spokesman for the war crimes tribunal said that investigations of mass grave sites near Srebrenica would begin soon. The Czech daily Mlada fronta Dnes on 24 January noted that the court is "launching an offensive" against war criminals. Nasa Borba added that hearings will soon be held in the case of several persons previously indicted, including the major figures: Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic, and the Croats Dario Kordic and General Tihomir Blaskic. The court will also report to the UN Security Council the names of countries that are not cooperating in prosecuting war criminals. -- Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE CRIMEAN NEWS. The OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel arrived in Ukraine on 24 January to examine issues related to Crimean autonomy, ITAR-TASS reported. Van der Stoel will look into problems surrounding the Tatar minority on the peninsula and its draft constitution. In other news, ITAR-TASS on 23 January reported that Crimea has the highest organized crime rate in Ukraine, and the lowest success rate for apprehending criminals. According to Crimean Prosecutor-General Hryhorii Vorsinov, no one has been arrested for any of the 75 contract killings carried out last year;only 32 of the 170 most serious criminal cases were brought to court. Vorsinov said he would take a tough stand against the peninsula's security organs. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT ON RE-ELECTION, OTHER PLANS. Alyaksandr Lukashenka has said he plans to run for re-election in 1999, Interfax reported on 23 January. He noted that he intends to give the country's six regional executive councils the right to liquidate commercial structures deemed detrimental to the state's interests. Lukashenka added that there would be "serious talks" about the 71,000 commercial enterprises registered in the republic. The Economic News Agency on 22 January reported that Lukashenka signed a decree earlier this month introducing a 10% duty on all foreign currency purchases at the country's Interbank Currency Exchange. Revenues are to be used for the newly established State Support Fund for Exporters. Those buying foreign currency to purchase vital goods will be exempt from the tax, as will those exchanging one currency for another. -- Ustina Markus BALTIC DEFENSE MINISTERS CONCLUDE 1996 COOPERATION PLAN. Andrus Oovel (Estonia), Andres Krastins (Latvia), and Linas Linkevicius (Lithuania), following two days of talks in Tallinn, have signed a cooperation plan for 1996, ETA reported on 23 January. Oovel told a press conference that top priorities are preparing the Baltic peacekeeping battalion Baltbat, creating a joint air space surveillance system, and improving the cooperation among the navies. He noted that there were no plans to create a Baltic military union. The three ministers confirmed their desire for closer cooperation with NATO by sending peacekeepers to Bosnia and participating in Partnership for Peace programs. -- Saulius Girnius NEW HEAD OF ESTONIAN DEFENSE FORCES APPROVED. The Estonian parliament on 23 January voted by 48 to 24 with seven abstentions to appoint Lt. Col. Johannes Kert as commander-in-chief of the defense forces, ETA reported. The 36-year-old Kert was the head of the volunteer Defense League. He has little formal military education but attended courses on strategic planning at the Marshall Center in Germany. President Lennart Meri promoted him to the rank of colonel later that day. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIAN REFERENDUM CAMPAIGN FAILS. Seimas deputy Kazimieras Antanavicius on 23 January announced that the campaign to collect 300,000 signatures in two months in support of a referendum has been unsuccessful, Radio Lithuania reported. The effort got under way in mid- November 1995. No major political party supported the referendum, which contained such populist measures as reducing the number of parliamentary deputies, administrative officials, and ministries as well as revising tax laws. The referendum organizers initially said some 270,000 signatures had been collected but later revised that figure to 206,000. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH PRIME MINISTER READY TO RESIGN? Gazeta Wyborcza on 24 January writes that Jozef Oleksy is expected to resign tomorrow, when the inquiry into spy allegations against him is due to be launched by the Warsaw Military Prosecutor's Office. In the event of the premier's resignation, President Aleksander Kwasniewski has 14 days to appoint a new prime minister and government. Heads of the regional Polish Peasant Party (PSL) organizations, meeting on 23 January in Lublin, were in favor of Oleksy's resignation and changes in some ministerial posts. Head of the Central Planning Office Miroslaw Pietrewicz said he has been asked by the PSL to lead a new government and that he has agreed "in principle," Polish dailies reported on 24 January. -- Jakub Karpinski FORMER POLISH PRESIDENT INITIATES POLITICAL TALKS. Lech Walesa, after meeting on 23 January with Freedom Union leaders Leszek Balcerowicz and Bronislaw Geremek, says he sees two possibilities with regard to the future of the opposition: the creation of either a unified bloc or two blocs--one center-left, the other center-right. Walesa wants to meet with the leaders of 15 political groupings on 1 February, Polish dailies reported on 24 January. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH REPUBLIC SUBMITS EU APPLICATION. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus on 23 January submitted the Czech Republic's formal application to join the European Union. He handed it to Italian Prime Minister Lamberto Dini, the current EU chairman, during a two-day visit to Rome. In a memorandum accompanying the application, the Czech government said that it welcomed the process of European integration and that the Czech Republic has traditionally been a part of Western European civilization, Czech media reported. The Czech Republic is the ninth postcommunist country to apply for EU membership; Hungary and Poland submitted their applications in 1994, while Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania followed suit last year. -- Steve Kettle SLOVAK-UKRAINIAN AGREEMENTS SIGNED. Slovak and Ukrainian cabinet officials, meeting in the High Tatras on 23 January, signed agreements on double taxation, tax evasion, and cultural cooperation. The two governments discussed cooperation in the armaments industry and conversion as well as construction of a highway linking the two countries, which Slovakia wants to complete by the year 2005. Ukrainian Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk said he and his Slovak counterpart, Vladimir Meciar, discussed in detail the creation of a free trade zone. Marchuk, who expressed discontent over the 1995 volume of bilateral trade of $290 million, said the talks have paved the way to increase this amount to up to $1 billion in 1996, Narodna obroda reported. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN DEFENSE MINISTER IN BOSNIA, CROATIA. Gyorgy Keleti met with IFOR commander in chief Admiral Leighton Smith and Bosnian Defense Minister Jadranko Prlic in Sarajevo on 23 January to discuss Hungarian participation in the Bosnian peacekeeping effort, Hungarian media reported. Prlic said Bosnia welcomes the presence of the Hungarian technical battalion and thanked Hungary for receiving Bosnian refugees during the war. During his three-day visit, Keleti met with Serbian military officials in Belgrade and Croatian Defense Minister Gojko Susak in Zagreb. He announced that a Hungarian-Croatian military agreement will be signed in Budapest in early February. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE NATO CERTIFIES BOSNIAN SERB COMPLIANCE BUT SANCTIONS REMAIN. NATO has sent a letter to the UN certifying that the parties to the Bosnian conflict have "complied with the requirement to withdraw their forces from the zones of separation," international agencies reported on 23 January. Under the terms of a November 1995 UN Security Council resolution on the Dayton peace accords, this should have led to the automatic suspension of sanctions against the Bosnian Serbs. But European members of the council are apparently unwilling to agree to a lifting of the sanctions without more detailed information. Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Rajko Kasagic told Radio Bijeljina that he did not understand why sanctions had not been lifted yet. He underscored that the Republic Srpska has sought to cooperate not only with rump Yugoslavia but also with Croatia. -- Michael Mihalka and Daria Sito Sucic DATA EXCHANGE AT OSCE ARMS CONTROL TALKS. The exchange of data on major weapons took place at the OSCE arms control talks on 23 January, after a delay of 10 days, international agencies reported. Belgrade had cited "technical reasons" for its failure to hand in its list. Croatia and the Bosnian warring factions are also participating in the talks. Norwegian General Vigleik Eide, who is chairing the talks, called the exchange of data, "a very important step" but said that a "lot of work" would be necessary to convince all sides that the data are reliable. -- Michael Mihalka IFOR TIGHTENS SECURITY FOLLOWING EXTREMIST THREAT. IFOR has tightened security following reports that Muslim extremist groups may attack US targets in Bosnia. The New York Times on 24 January reported that attacks would be in retaliation for the sentencing of Sheik Omar Abdel- Rahman this month in New York. U.S. intelligence has reported a recent increase in activities of Islamic volunteer groups who have been seen observing U.S. installations. "Foreign fighters" were supposed to have left Bosnia by 19 January, but many have reportedly remained, including 150-200 Iranian Revolutionary Guards. -- Michael Mihalka SANDZAK MUSLIMS URGED NOT TO HELP "ETHNIC CLEANSING." Sarajevo's Vecernje novine on 24 January reported that Bosnia's governing Muslim party, the Party of Democratic Action (SDA), has appealed to Muslims in Sandzak not to exchange their homes and other real estate with Bosnian Serbs. This practice is followed by some Bosnian Muslims and helps solidify "ethnic cleansing" by creating ethnically homogenous areas, which is contrary to the concept of Bosnia as a multiethnic state, set down in the Dayton agreement and endorsed especially by the Sarajevo government. Sandzak is divided between Serbia and Montenegro, but its Muslim majority feels close to the Bosnian Muslims and is led by the SDA. Sarajevo is apparently anxious lest the Muslim position in Sandzak be weakened. -- Patrick Moore MILOSEVIC ALLIES HIT BOSNIAN CAMPAIGN TRAIL. Since the signing of the Dayton peace accords, open challenges to the virtual monopoly held by Bosnia's three main ethnically-based parties have gradually emerged. One threat to Radovan Karadzic's Serbian Democratic Party comes from the Socialist Party of the Republika Srpska (SPRS), which appears to be a clone of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialists. Nasa Borba on 24 January reported that a delegation from the SPRS and its ally the United Left called on their mentor in Belgrade to discuss the situation in Bosnia and to urge closer links between the Republika Srpska and Serbia. AFP reported from Brcko that SPRS leader Dragutin Ilic told voters that their key to the future is to "put in place a social system resembling that of [rump] Yugoslavia" and that his party is the one to bring close ties with Belgrade about. Ilic, like so many of the politicians in postcommunist ex-Yugoslavia, is a medical doctor by profession. -- Patrick Moore SERBIAN RADICAL SAYS HE WILL TESTIFY AGAINST MILOSEVIC. Vojislav Seselj, leader of the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party and an accused war criminal, has said he wants to go the Hague to testify against Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, international media reported on 23 January. Seselj maintained he can prove that Milosevic is responsible for war crimes throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina and that Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and his military counterpart, Ratko Mladic, were only indirectly, if at all, responsible for commanding forces in Bosnia. Seselj noted that key members of the Bosnian Serb military command structure remain on Belgrade's payroll. Earlier this month, Seselj complained bitterly about difficulties he had encountered in obtaining a passport, prompting speculation that Milosevic wants to keep Seselj in Serbia so that he cannot testify. -- Stan Markotich CROATIA TO ACCEPT EU ARBITRATION IN MOSTAR. Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic has told the Council of Europe in Strasbourg that Croatia will accept EU arbitration in Mostar if Croats and Muslims cannot solve their dispute by themselves, Nasa Borba reported on 24 January. Granic also informed the council that more than 2O suspected war criminals in Croatia would go on trial. He added that over 1,000 suspected war criminals were currently being investigated. The Croatian parliament is expected to pass a bill next month on cooperation with the Hague-based International War Crimes Tribunal. -- Daria Sito Sucic MONTENEGRIN-BRITISH SOCIETY FOUNDED. Montena-fax on 23 January reported that a Montenegrin-British Society has opened in Cetinje. Its function is to foster bilateral ties, specifically in areas such as science, culture, and sports. British government official Ivor Roberts noted that ties between Britain and Montenegro have historically been close and mutually beneficial. -- Stan Markotich IS BELGRADE BLOCKING USIA OFFICE IN KOSOVO? Margit Savovic, rump Yugoslav Minister without portfolio in charge of civil liberties and minority rights, on 22 January said "Kosovo and Metohija are an integral part of Serbia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia," adding that Serbia will not allow this issue to be internationalized, MILS reported on 23 January. Savovic was referring to plans, announced earlier this month by U.S. negotiator Richard Holbrooke, to open a U.S. representation in the province--probably a USIA office. She pointed out that the U.S. would have to consult with Belgrade before opening the office. Turkey is also reportedly considering opening a consular office in Pristina. -- Fabian Schmidt NEW MACEDONIAN CHIEF OF GENERAL STAFF TAKES OVER. President Kiro Gligorov on 23 January appointed Col. Gen. Trajche Krstevski as chief of general staff. He replaces Col. Gen. Dragoljub Bocinov, who recently retired. Krstevski was a career officer in the former Yugoslav army for 30 years. He left his last post in Croatia in 1991 to return to Macedonia and was appointed deputy chief of general staff in April 1992. -- Stefan Krause ROMANIAN-MOLDOVAN DIPLOMATIC NEWS. Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu on 23 January received a Moldovan delegation headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Aurelian Danila. Romanian media reported that the two sides discussed organizing an inter-ministerial meeting in Chisinau and decided to restart negotiations on a bilateral basic treaty. The same day, a Romanian group seeking the liberation of Ilie Ilascu, who is currently detained in Tiraspol for alleged terrorist acts against the self-proclaimed Dniester authorities, announced they were seeking the reunification of Moldova with Romania. They also proposed the formation of a "unification group" in the Romanian parliament, saying that "the signing of treaties with Ukraine and Moldova is too sensitive a matter to be left in the hands of the Foreign Ministry." -- Matyas Szabo MOLDOVAN, DNIESTER LEADERS MEET. Leaders of the Republic of Moldova and the self-proclaimed "Dniester republic" met in Chisinau on 23 January, Infotag reported. The Moldovan team included President Mircea Snegur, Parliamentary Chairman Petru Lucinschi, and Finance Minister Valeriu Chitan. President Igor Smirnov and Supreme Soviet Chairman Grigorii Marakutsa headed the Dniester side. The meeting focused on economic issues, especially how to implement a July 1995 agreement on monetary and credit arrangements. The Dniester leaders asked Chisinau not to hinder the transportation of Dniester bank notes, printed in Munich, through Moldovan territory. Infotag reported that the meeting was brokered by the OSCE mission in Moldova and by the special envoys of the Russian and Ukrainian presidents to the Moldovan-Dniester negotiations. -- Dan Ionescu WAS BULGARIAN MINISTERS' ELECTION ILLEGAL? The Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) has issued a statement saying the 23 January election of Atanas Paparizov and Svetoslav Shivarov as trade and agriculture ministers violated parliamentary procedures, Demokratsiya reported. The opposition objects to the fact that the old ministers were dismissed and the new ones appointed without debate. The opposition boycotted the vote, and both the SDS and the People's Union are reportedly considering taking the matter to the Constitutional Court. Meanwhile, former Deputy Prime Minister and Trade Minister Kiril Tsochev told Standart that he already had decided to quit in October 1995 because he was under constant criticism from the Socialists. -- Stefan Krause TURKEY TO TRAIN BOSNIAN GOVERNMENT ARMY. Turkey will provide military training to the Bosnian government army under an agreement signed in Sarajevo on 22 January, Reuters reported. Further details on the agreement were unavailable. Bosnian General Rasim Delic, who signed the protocol for the Bosnian side, noted that the agreement "is only a beginning" and that "we expect huge aid from Turkey." -- Lowell Bezanis [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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