|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
No. 20, Part II, 29 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ PRISONER EXCHANGE CONTINUES IN BOSNIA. International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) spokesman Pierre Gauthier said on 28 January that a total of 460 prisoners have been released since the exchange began the previous day. Under the Dayton peace accords, all prisoners held by the warring factions in Bosnia were to have been released by 19 January. The EU and the United States have threatened to withhold aid if the prisoner exchange is not completed. Gauthier said the Bosnian government has handed over 241 prisoners and the Croats 127. The Bosnian Serbs set 82 prisoners free, but the release of another 70 in northern Bosnia was unconfirmed. The ICRC expects the release of all registered prisoners to be completed on 29 January but acknowledges that many unregistered prisoners remain in the hands of the Bosnian factions. -- Michael Mihalka ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE NEW ACTING CRIMEAN PREMIER APPOINTED. Arkadii Demydenko, Crimean deputy prime minister for industry, has been appointed acting premier by the speaker of the regional parliament, Yevhen Supruniuk, UNIAN reported on 27 January. Demydenko will serve until a new prime minister is approved by both the Ukrainian government and Crimean legislature. Crimean deputies dismissed former Premier Anatolii Franchuk in December. Supruniuk was instructed by lawmakers to make a temporary appointment and propose candidates for the post. Demydenko is among the four candidates so far named. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUSIAN COAL MINISTER DISMISSED. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has fired Uladzimir Kudenkau because of the continued decline in the country's coal sector, Radio Rossii reported on 28 January. Enterprise output fell an average of 11% in 1995, but that of the coal industry declined by 21%. Lukashenka said Kudenkau's poor performance practically bankrupted Minsk's autoworks and tractor and television plants. Lukashenka sought to encourage visiting German businessmen to invest in Belarus, but the Germans expressed concern over the lack of legislation guaranteeing investments and private property in the country. After the U.S., Germany is Belarus's second largest foreign investor, with $120 million invested in 1995. -- Ustina Markus NO PROGRESS IN ESTONIAN-RUSSIAN BORDER TALKS. Talks on the Estonian- Russian border ended in Tallinn on 26 January without any concrete results, ETA and Interfax reported. The two sides were unable to resolve the issue of the validity of the 1920 Tartu Peace Treaty, which has hindered the signing of a border treaty. Meanwhile, progress was made on resolving the sea border issue, although Finland has still to be consulted about the exact location where the three countries' territorial waters converge. The next round of meetings will take place in Moscow on 28-29 February. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIAN PREMIER RECEIVES PARTY BACKING. The council of the Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party (LDDP) on 28 January voted by 89 to three with 11 abstentions in favor of LDDP Chairman Adolfas Slezevicius not accepting President Algirdas Brazauskas's recommendation to resign as prime minister, Radio Lithuania reported. It argued that a change in government would not serve the interests of the state. LDDP deputy chairman Justinas Karosas said the party did not want to fight with Brazauskas, its former chairman, and hoped to reach a compromise. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIA, WORLD BANK SIGN AGREEMENT ON MERGING PROBLEM BANKS. Head of the World Bank mission to Lithuania Marcelo Giugale and Lithuanian officials on 26 January signed an agreement on merging the Joint-Stock Innovative (LAIB), Litimpeks, and Vakaru banks into a United Bank by 1 July, Radio Lithuania reported. The new bank will initially be state- owned but is to be privatized by the end of 1997. Aurabankas, the fourth bank whose activities have been suspended, is to be declared bankrupt. Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius on 28 January said that the LAIB and Litimpeks would begin in February to pay all their depositors up to 1,000 litai ($250) in compensation. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH PRESIDENT ACCEPTS PRIME MINISTER'S RESIGNATION. Jozef Oleksy informed the government on 26 January that his resignation has been accepted by President Aleksander Kwasniewski. The president asked Oleksy to stay on as interim prime minister until a new government is formed. The president has 14 days to appoint a new prime minister, who must be approved by the Sejm. Meanwhile, the Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland (SdRP) has elected Oleksy as its leader. Oleksy replaces Kwasniewski, who resigned in November following his election as president. The SdRP issued a statement saying Oleksy "ceased to be prime minister not because his party lost the electorate's support. He resigned as a result of unprecedented accusations by the internal affairs minister and because of the campaign launched against him." -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH PRESIDENT'S WIFE DIES. Olga Havlova died of cancer on 27 January, aged 62. She met Vaclav Havel while working as an usherette at the Prague theater where he began his career as a dramatist, and the couple married in 1964. Havlova shunned the limelight but became publicly known through Havel's "Letters to Olga," musings on philosophy and other subjects written while he was in jail for dissident activities. When her husband became Czechoslovak president at the end of 1989, Havlova founded the Goodwill Committee, a charity she worked actively for until her illness and which has distributed around 450 million koruny ($16.5 million), much of it to benefit handicapped children. -- Steve Kettle SLOVAK ROUNDUP. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar told Slovak Radio on 26 January that the Slovak-Hungarian treaty will be ratified by the parliament in March, but he warned that ratification "does not mean that Hungarian nationalism will disappear from the scene." With regard to the decision to move the central post office and bank to Banska Bystrica, Meciar told Slovenska Republika on 27 January that "we all like [having] Bratislava as our capital" but that cooperation with the opposition city authorities has been unsuccessful. In other news, parliamentary Foreign Committee chairman Dusan Slobodnik praised Russia's admission to the Council of Europe, saying "only Russia respects freedom of the press as much as Slovakia does," TASR reported on 26 January. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARY WELCOMES RUSSIA TO COUNCIL OF EUROPE. Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs told Magyar Hirlap on 27 January that Hungary welcomes the admission of Russia to the Council of Europe, since the key precondition to European security and stability are the strongest possible ties between Moscow and European institutions. He added that Council of Europe deputies believe that in order to neutralize Russia's fear of isolation, it is better to have the country admitted than excluded. -- Zsofia Szilagyi HUNGARY GRANTS FREQUENCIES TO U.S. FORCES. The Hungarian cabinet has issued a decree granting two radio and one television frequencies to U.S. forces temporarily stationed in Hungary, Magyar Nemzet reported on 27 January. The American Armed Forces Radio and Television Service submitted an application to the Ministry of Culture last December. The frequencies are to be granted by the end of the year. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN FACTIONS AGREE TO CONFIDENCE-BUILDING MEASURES. The Bosnian factions on 26 January agreed on confidence-building measures by the deadline stipulated in the Dayton peace accords, international media reported. Measures include prior notice of large troop movements and verification of troop and heavy weapons strength. AFP reported that the Serbs objected to the fact that the OSCE has named half the inspectors on teams that are to consist of four members from the Bosnian factions and four from the international community. Meanwhile, separate talks on arms control continue under OSCE auspices in Vienna. -- Michael Mihalka IFOR CASUALTIES INCREASE, AMERICAN WOUNDED. Three British soldiers belonging to IFOR forces were killed on 28 January when their armored vehicle hit a mine in central Bosnia, and a Swedish soldier died when the vehicle in which he was riding ran off the road, international media reported. The same day, an American soldier was wounded by suspected sniper fire in Sarajevo. He received first aid treatment. -- Michael Mihalka U.S. ARMY RELUCTANT TO HELP INVESTIGATE MASS GRAVE SITES? IFOR continues in its reluctant agreement to protect war crimes investigators if asked but still does not seem eager to look for evidence of atrocities. This was what Reuters suggested on 28 January in reference to U.S. troops in the area of Vlasenica in eastern Bosnia. Reporters followed up on the testimony of survivors of a massacre of Muslim civilians by Serbs in 1992. Up to 8,000 Muslims had been held earlier at a nearby Serbian camp, where they were grossly mistreated. The Serbian commander is wanted for war crimes as a result. Reuters described witness accounts of the now familiar sequence of butchery, the stacking of corpses, and the digging of mass graves. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN SERB OFFICER TO GIVE EVIDENCE ON MASS GRAVES? A Bosnian Serb colonel, reported to have been a close associate of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, is ready to confirm the existence of mass graves in Bosnia and to indicate where Serbs carried out massacres, AFP reported on 27 January, citing Der Spiegel. The German weekly quoted an anonymous source as saying that the officer was from the Bosnian Serb stronghold of Banja Luka and that thousands of Croat and Muslim victims had been buried in mass graves near the city. The officer is reportedly in The Hague, where he will testify before the international war crimes tribunal. -- Daria Sito Sucic FEDERATION OFFICIALS VISIT PALE. Kresimir Zubak and Izudin Kapetanovic, leaders of Bosnian Muslim-Croatian Federation, on 26 January visited the Bosnian Serb stronghold of Pale for the first time since the outbreak of the war, AFP reported the same day. Bosnian Serb parliament speaker Momcilo Krajisnik said that the two sides agreed that all prisoners must be released, while Zubak called on the governments of Croatia and rump Yugoslavia to immediately release all prisoners from Bosnia-Herzegovina. The two sides also discussed Serbian-held Sarajevo. Meanwhile, representatives of associations of independent intellectuals from Sarajevo and Tuzla are expected to visit rump Yugoslavia early next month to meet with Serbian and Montenegrin counterparts as well as non- governmental organizations, Nasa Borba reported on 29 January. -- Daria Sito Sucic SLOVENIAN LEFT LEAVES GOVERNMENT COALITION. The United List of Social Democrats (ZLSD) on 26 January quit Slovenia's governing coalition, following a dispute with Premier Janez Drnovsek, international media reported. The ZLSD objected to the fact that Drnovsek had called for the resignation of Economic Minister Maks Tajnikar of the ZLSD without consulting the party. According to the premier, Tajnikar violated his authority by pledging the TAM bus company that the government would guarantee its debts. The social democrats also vowed to leave the coalition. Drnovsek responded by saying there was no need for early elections as the Christian Democrats and Liberal Democrats could continue to govern until the end of the year. -- Stan Markotich WORLD BANK CONFERENCE OUTLINES MACEDONIA'S PRIORITIES. At a conference in Ohrid from 26-28 January sponsored by the World Bank and Switzerland, Macedonia's economic priorities for 2010 were established, Nova Makedonija reported. Macedonian Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski was present at the meeting. Goals include a per capita GDP of $3,000 (as opposed to the current $690), export-oriented industry, a fully privatized and efficient economy, high-quality public services, a lower technological gap relative to developed countries, agriculture dominated by private farmers, a strong banking system capable of financing investment, an inflow of direct or portfolio investment of $80-100 million annually, and at least 5.5% annual growth of social product. A World Bank official noted that a good start has been made in achieving macroeconomic stability and cited the importance of deregulation, especially in labor relations. -- Michael Wyzan ROMANIAN EXTREMIST LEADER ATTACKS PRESIDENT AGAIN. Gheorghe Funar, leader of the chauvinistic Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR), has renewed his attacks against Ion Iliescu. Cronica romana on 29 January published a letter in which Funar complains that Iliescu has not given a satisfactory answer to an earlier message dealing with the prospects for a "historic reconciliation" with neighboring Hungary. Funar accused Iliescu of trying to "hide" from political parties and public opinion in Romania following Budapest's official reaction to his August reconciliation proposal. He urged the president to enter a dialogue only with his Hungarian counterpart and not with the Hungarian premier. -- Dan Ionescu MOLDOVA URGES CE TO HAVE RUSSIA RATIFY TROOP WITHDRAWAL AGREEMENT. Moldova has asked the Council of Europe to include Moscow's ratification of the troop withdrawal agreement with Chisinau as one of the conditions for Russia's admission to the council, Infotag reported on 26 January. Dumitru Diacov, head of the Moldovan delegation at the current session of the council's Parliamentary Assembly, said the proposal found broad support among delegates. The amendment urges Russia to ratify the October 1994 agreement within six months. Diacov also revealed that two members of the Moldovan delegation voted against Russia's admission to the CE. -- Dan Ionescu RUSSIAN MILITARY TRANSPORT LEAVES MOLDOVA. BASA-press on 26 January reported that a train carrying military equipment belonging to Russian troops based in eastern Moldova left Tiraspol for Russia. The transport is the first of 20 to be carried out by 1 June. Mainly antiquated engineering equipment, including pontoon bridges, was included in the transport. Gen. Stefan Kitsak, head of the armed forces of the self- proclaimed Dniester republic, said no combat weapons were withdrawn. Kitsak stressed that the Dniester authorities resolutely oppose the evacuation of any combat technique from the region. He noted that part of the equipment to be withdrawn will be handed over to the Dniester army. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIAN INDUSTRY CONTINUED TO STRENGTHEN IN 1995. Bulgarian real industrial production grew by a robust 7% in 1995, up from 4.5% in 1994, Bulgarian newspapers reported on 26 January, citing the National Statistical Institute. Private sector industrial production experienced 25% growth, with private producers now accounting for 12% of industrial production (up from 8% in 1994). Dynamic branches included chemicals and petrochemicals, which grew by 16.1%, and paper (14.7%). The only three branches suffering production declines were printing, non-ferrous metals, and light industry. -- Michael Wyzan ALBANIAN POLICE BLOCKS DELIVERY OF INDEPENDENT DAILY. Armed police on 26 January blocked and searched six vans carrying 37,000 copies of Koha Jone, international agencies reported. The vans also contained 33,000 copies of another 11 newspapers, which were being delivered by Koha Jone's transport agency. Police said they would impound the vans for at least five days, thus preventing the distribution of opposition media outside Tirana. Koha Jone Chief Editor Nikolla Lesi called the incident "yet another attack against the free press in Albania." He added that the police action followed his refusal to back the Democratic Party during the election campaign. The Interior Ministry denied political motivation, saying that four of the six vans either lacked papers or had technical defects. Meanwhile, the Association of Independent Journalists has protested the police actions as a deliberate attack before the elections. -- Fabian Schmidt ALBANIAN PRESIDENT IS POOR. Sali Berisha has declared assets of 360,000 lek (less than $ 4,000) and a small three-room apartment in central Tirana as his only property, international agencies reported on 27 January. The declaration followed the passage earlier this month of an anti-corruption law ordering all state officials to declare property exceeding 1 million lek ($ 10,000) and its origin. After becoming president, Berisha remained in his 72 square meter apartment in Tirana. He is the first person to declare his assets under the new law, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 27 January. -- Fabian Schmidt GREEK, RUMP YUGOSLAV FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET. Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and his rump Yugoslav counterpart, Milan Milutinovic, met in Athens on 28 January to discuss Belgrade's imminent recognition of Macedonia (see OMRI Daily Digest, 26 January 1996), AFP reported the following day. Greek newspapers say that Belgrade is prepared to recognize the former Yugoslav republic under the name Macedonia, which Greece continues to oppose. Meanwhile, Greek Interior Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos has urged the international recognition of rump Yugoslavia, Beta reported on 28 January. He said "the peace process in Bosnia-Herzegovina could be seriously crippled if all sides do not recognize [rump Yugoslavia] as a state." -- Stefan Krause GREECE, TURKEY DISPUTE DESERTED ISLAND. Tension has risen between Greece and Turkey over sovereignty of the uninhabited island of Imia, Western agencies reported on 28 January. Athens claims it was given the island when Italy ceded the Dodecannese to Greece in 1947, while Ankara claims it is Turkish. The mayor of the Greek island of Kalymnos raised the Greek flag on Imia last week when a Turkish captain refused Greek assistance after his vessel ran aground, saying the island is Turkish. A group of Turkish journalists responded by traveling to Imia, taking down the Greek flag, and raising the Turkish one. The next day, a Greek navy vessel rehoisted the Greek flag. Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos has protested the incident to the Turkish ambassador. -- 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. 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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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