|We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us. - George Eliot|
No. 21, Part II, 30 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 RELEASE STILL INCOMPLETE. An International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) spokesman told OMRI on 30 January that Bosnian factions still hold 103 registered prisoners, at least 40 in defiance of the Dayton peace accords. Bosnian Serbs hold 39 prisoners, five as suspected war criminals, which they are entitled to do under the accords. All 50 prisoners held by the Croats are classified as suspected war criminals. The Bosnian government holds 14 prisoners, eight as suspected war criminals. The ICRC stresses that the situation remains fluid and the numbers may change. Over 500 prisoners were handed over in last three days in an exchange that should have been completed by 19 January. All sides claim that the others are holding many unregistered prisoners. Serbs claim the Bosnian government holds over 200 prisoners in Tuzla's prison and several dozen elsewhere with some 250 also imprisoned in Croatia. The Bosnian government wants the Bosnian Serbs to account for several thousand missing Muslim men. -- Michael Mihalka ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ORDERS PAYMENT OF MINERS WAGES ON EVE OF STRIKE. Leonid Kuchma ordered the Ukrainian Finance Ministry and National Bank to find an "uninflationary source" of funds to pay back wages to thousands of coal miners, set to begin an indefinite nationwide strike on 1 February, Interfax-Ukraine reported 29 January. The state-owned coal mines owe their workers 78 trillion karbovantsi (around $43 million) in back wages, and many miners have not been paid in six months. Union leaders have appealed to Russian and Polish coal miners' unions to support them by impeding coal imports to Ukraine. They complain that Kiev imported 20 million tons of coal for $520 million last year, but failed to pay wage arrears. ITAR-TASS reported that leaders of Ukraine's machinists' and defense workers' unions have promised to hold a one-day solidarity strike. -- Chrystyna Lapychak IMF IN UKRAINE AND BELARUS. An IMF delegation arrived in Minsk on 29 January to determine whether the next tranche of a Stand-by credit should be released, Belarusian radio reported. The credit, worth almost $300 million, was approved last February, but the release of funds was frequently delayed by Minsk's non-adherence to the reform program. On 30 January AFP reported that an IMF team arrived in Kiev to examine Ukraine's abidance to the austerity program necessary to secure the release of the fourth tranche of its Stand-by credit. Last year the IMF agreed to grant $1.5 billion credit to Ukraine, but the release of the fourth tranche was delayed this month because parliament failed to pass laws on budget revenues. -- Ustina Markus UKRAINIAN MILITARY DELEGATION IN BELARUS. A Ukrainian military delegation headed by Defense Minister Valerii Shmarov arrived in Belarus on 20 January for a two day official visit, ITAR-TASS and Belarusian radio reported. Shmarov will meet with his Belarusian counterpart Leanid Maltseu, as well as President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, Prime Minister Mikhail Chyhir, and CIS Executive Secretary Ivan Karatchenya. Documents are to be signed on cooperation between the defense ministries of the two countries, cooperation in air-defense, and exchanges between the defense ministries' research and educational institutions. The defense ministries of Ukraine and Belarus have been concluding cooperation agreements on an annual basis since independence. -- Ustina Markus LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT STILL WANTS PREMIER TO RESIGN. Algirdas Brazauskas on 29 January signed a decree asking the Seimas to vote on the removal of Adolfas Slezevicius as prime minister on 8 February, Radio Lithuania reported. Brazauskas said that he had not yet decided whom he would ask to be prime minister if Slezevicius were removed and thought that the most of the ministers in the present cabinet would retain their posts. Slezevicius, on the other hand, asserted that he thought that there was a good possibility that early parliament elections would be necessary. Brazauskas also signed a decree accepting the resignation of Romasis Vaitekunas as interior minister. -- Saulius Girnius ESTONIAN PARLIAMENTARIAN SUGGESTS CONTROL LINE AND NOT BORDER TREATY WITH RUSSIA. Eino Tamm, the chairman of the parliament foreign affairs commission, called on 29 January for a broad discussion on the necessity of concluding a border treaty with Russia, BNS reported. He said that since a Russian-Estonian border treaty could cancel the Tartu Peace Treaty of 1920 it would be wiser for Estonia, after reaching an agreement with Russia, to declare that its control line passed through such and such geographical points. He noted that there were many countries that have no bilateral agreements on borders, but boundaries recognized de facto. -- Saulius Girnius COALITION TALKS ON FUTURE PRIME MINISTER IN POLAND. After Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy's resignation was accepted on 26 January, the leaders of ruling coalition parties, the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and the Polish Peasant Party (PSL), agreed on 29 January that the government's economic policies would continue. Polish dailies on 30 January reported that the candidacy of PSL's Aleksander Luczak for prime minister was being considered seriously and the PSL no longer insisted on the candidacy of Central Planning Office head Miroslaw Pietrewicz. The dailies reported that the SLD is backing the candidacies of Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz (SLD) and Marek Borowski (SLD). -- Jakub Karpinski SLOVAK THEATERS PROTEST MINISTRY MOVE. Association of Theater Unions of Slovakia representative Jozef Horvath on 29 January announced that charges have been filed at a local court following a decision by the Culture Ministry earlier this month to join the State Theater in Kosice with the Theater of Jonas Zaborsky in Presov, creating the East Slovak Theater, Sme reported. The decision was made without any public discussion, and employees of the Kosice theater have been striking, while those of the Presov theater are also ready to strike. Despite the protests, the ministry issued a statement on 29 January refusing to change its stand. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK WORKERS CHAIRMAN ON TREATY WITH HUNGARY. Jan Luptak, chairman of the Association of Workers of Slovakia, a junior coalition partner, told TASR on 29 January that certain steps must be taken prior to ratification of the Slovak-Hungarian treaty. Luptak mentioned in particular the adoption of a law on the protection of the republic, which he said should prevent the creation of autonomous regions. Luptak also stressed that the interpretation of the treaty must be clear before ratification takes place, noting his frustration that the Council of Europe has yet to clear up its position on Article 11 of its Recommendation No. 1201, which deals with autonomy for minorities. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARY MAKES STEADY PROGRESS TOWARDS OECD MEMBERSHIP. OECD legal counselor Christian Schricke arrived in Hungary on 29 January to prepare the documentation for an eventual membership agreement with the organization, Magyar Hirlap reported. His visit follows the OECD's approval of Hungary's tax and environment policy last week. The long- pending issue of bank secrecy was also resolved when Hungary undertook to comply with OECD regulations allowing tax authorities to look into the accounts of bank clients suspected of wrongdoing. The next step in Hungary's negotiations will be in early February when OECD officials will meet a Hungarian delegation -- led by Finance Minister Lajos Bokros -- in Paris and examine Hungary's foreign exchange, privatization, and economic policies. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SREBRENICA WOMEN OCCUPY ICRC SEAT IN TUZLA. After a peaceful rally in front of the ICRC office in Tuzla on 29 January morning, angry women refugees from Srebrenica, fearing for the fate of 8,000 men missing after the fall of Srebrenica, occupied local Red Cross offices, Reuters reported. The ICRC has acknowledged 8,000 people from Srebrenica as missing, and most of them are feared dead, for several possible mass graves had been reported in the area. A delegation of 20 women demanded to know the truth about the missing, and to have an IFOR escort on their way back to Srebrenica. Meanwhile, the ICRC Sarajevo office issued a strongly-worded statement denouncing the violent protest, defending its own position, but also calling on the Sarajevo government to guarantee the security of ICRC staff, AFP reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic ON REFUGEE REPATRIATION TO CROATIA AND BOSNIA. Croatian Foreign Minister Deputy told Vjesnik daily on 29 January that 30,000 refugees are expected to repatriate to Croatia, and 900,000 to Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1996, Nasa Borba reported the next day. The Croatian government estimates 57,000 Croats are refugees abroad with some 37,000 in Germany. In Croatia itself there are 187,000 Bosnian refugees, 80,000 of whom have applied to the UNHCR to return. The issue of the return of Croatian Serbs and the problem of Vojvodina Croats will be solved when Croatia and rump Yugoslavia normalize their relations, Nasa Borba cited him as saying. -- Daria Sito Sucic BELGRADE TO RECOGNIZE MACEDONIA. Tanjug on 29 January reported that rump Yugoslavia adopted an agreement on the recognition of and normalization of relations with Macedonia. The report said the agreement will be signed by both Skopje and Belgrade at some as yet "unspecified date." Nova Makedonija on 30 January suggested that the recognition was prompted by the hopes that it could help it to gain European Union recognition of its own state. Meanwhile, Nasa Borba on 30 January reports that recognition of Macedonia under the name of "republic of Macedonia" could place a strain on Belgrade's friendly relations with Greece, which continues to oppose usage of the name "Republic of Macedonia." -- Stan Markotich SLOVAK PREMIER IN RUMP YUGOSLAVIA. Nasa Borba on 30 January reports that Slovak premier Vladimir Meciar arrived in Belgrade the previous day, where he met Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. Meciar's government delegation included members of the Slovak business community, and the purpose of the visit was to restore bilateral ties, particularly economic, in the energy, pharmaceuticals, and tourism sectors. Meciar called his visit a "symbol" of Slovakia's efforts to maintain balanced relations with all Balkan countries, stressing that Slovakia never looked for the guilty party in the conflict but was always looking for peace, TASR reported. According to AFP, Meciar said that Slovakia will support rump Yugoslavia's membership in the UN and the IMF, and its joining the World Trade Organization and CEFTA. He also announced that he had proposed negotiations for the creation of a free trade zone with Belgrade. -- Sharon Fisher and Stan Markotich SLOVENIAN MINISTERS TO RESIGN. Reuters on 29 January reported that four ministers, who are members of the United List of Social Democrats (ZLSD), will resign from their cabinet posts on 30 January, while "ten of the ZLSD's state secretaries will offer their resignation when new ministers are appointed." On 26 January the ZLSD left the three-party governing coalition, following an inter-party row precipitated by Premier Janez Drnovsek's call for the ouster of Economic Activities Minister Maks Tajnikar of the ZLSD (see OMRI Daily Digest 29 January). The two remaining coalition partners, the Christian Democrats and Liberal Democrats, hold 45 of the 90 legislature's seats, and both Drnovsek and President Milan Kucan have ruled out the need for early elections. -- Stan Markotich ROMANIAN RULING PARTY RESPONDS TO ALLY'S ATTACKS. The Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) on 29 January responded to attacks by Gheorghe Funar, the leader of the extremist Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR). In a statement read on Radio Bucharest, the PDSR press bureau expressed surprise over Funar's allegations that the PDSR had struck a "secret pact" with the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania for the upcoming local elections. The charge had been formulated in a letter addressed by Funar to President Ion Iliescu. The PDSR further accused the PUNR of trying to make political capital by artificially stirring up tension in Transylvania, where most of Romania's ethnic Hungarians live. The PUNR has several portfolios in the PDSR-dominated cabinet of Nicolae Vacaroiu. Romanian dailies wrote on 30 January that the PDSR-PUNR coalition seems doomed to end soon. -- Dan Ionescu ROMANIAN PRESIDENT HOSTS PARTY TALKS. Romanian President Ion Iliescu on 29 January invited leaders of the political parties represented in parliament to a meeting, Romanian and international media reported. The discussions focused on the upcoming elections, the law on local government, the project on the state budget, and Romania's foreign policy. Iliescu called for a civilized electoral campaign, and expressed hopes that local elections could be held in April and parliamentary and presidential ones in September. He asked the participants to support the privatization process and the country's integration in the EU. The stage of the negotiations over the bilateral basic treaties with Hungary, Ukraine, and Russia were also discussed. The press did not have access to the meeting. -- Matyas Szabo HUNGARIAN AND CROATIAN ROMA PLAN EXCHANGES. The Ministry of Education and Sport of the Croatian Republic sponsored a conference on Romani education last week in Krizevcima, HINA reported on 27 January. Among those invited were representatives from the Ghandhi high school for Roma in Pecs, who told MTI on 29 January that the Hungarian and Croatian teachers should share experiences in teaching for minorities, and would plan exchanges. The Ghandhi school representative said that many Roma in Pecs and across the border in Croatia are Beash and speak the same dialect, but have been separated since the Trianon Treaty. According to the last official census, there are 6,695 Roma in Croatia, but according to Romani organizations, there are 150,000, 80% of whom are Beash- speaking rather than Romani-speaking. -- Alaina Lemon GREEK-TURKISH DISPUTE OVER ISLAND ESCALATES . . . The dispute between Greece and Turkey over the uninhabited rock islet Imia escalated on 30 January as both sides sent warships into the southeastern Aegean, international media reported. Turkish frigates and patrol boats crossed between the Turkish coast and Imia while Greece assembled several warships near the island and put all military airfields in the Aegean on alert. Greek Defense Minister Gerasimos Arsenis said a Turkish vessel and a helicopter violated Greek territory. "Imia is Greek and it is the duty of the Greek armed forces to defend it," he added. Meanwhile, Reuters reported that Greek Prime Minister Kostas Simitis on 30 January met with four ministers, including Arsenis, and Chief of Staff, Admiral Christos Lyberis to discuss the situation. -- Stefan Krause . . . AS BOTH SIDES STICK TO THEIR POSITION. Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Ciller on 29 January said Ankara will take "all necessary measures" if Greece does not withdraw its troops from Imia "shortly." Athens denies Turkish side claims that at least 12 Greek soldiers are on the island. Turkey will not give up its "national rights," Ciller said, but noted Turkey's readiness to hold talks with Athens about the status of Imia. Also on 29 January, Simitis said Greece's response "to this and every [act of] aggressive nationalism" will be "strong, immediate, and effective." He said that Greece "has the means and will use them without hesitation" and that "we will accept absolutely no questioning of our territorial rights." -- Stefan Krause YELTSIN MEETS BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT CHAIRMAN. President Boris Yeltsin met with the Bulgarian parliament chairman Blagovest Sendov in Moscow on 29 January to discuss bilateral relations and NATO expansion, Russian agencies reported. According to the presidential press service, the two agreed that NATO expansion is unnecessary and they both called for strengthening the "traditional friendship" between Russia and Bulgaria. Also on 29 January, Yeltsin had a telephone conversation with Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev during which he underlined Russia's opposition to NATO expansion. Although they two presidents pledged to intensify Russo-Bulgarian cooperation, Zhelev, unlike Sendov, did not endorse Yeltsin's statement on NATO. Sendov was elected to the Bulgarian parliament on the Socialist Party ticket and opposes NATO expansion, while Zhelev favors Bulgarian membership in the alliance. -- Scott Parrish ALBANIAN PARLIAMENT INVESTIGATES SOCIALIST PARTY FUNDING. The Albanian parliament set up a commission to investigate the funding of the Socialists, AFP reported on 29 January. The move follows earlier allegations by Italian journalist Pietro Zannoni that the Serbian government paid about $20 million to the Socialists "to support the return of communists to power," (see OMRI Daily Digest 25 January). The report alleged that Belgrade had acted "under orders from Russian communists," and that the independent daily Koha Jone was similarly financed. Meanwhile, Zannoni in an interview to the BBC, published in Zeri I Popullit on 27 January said that he met an agent of the communist-era secret service Sigurimi in summer 1995 in the house of a high ranking Socialist Party official where he received two documents, proving the charges. Zannoni failed to mention names. -- Fabian Schmidt ALBANIAN PARTY LEADER ARRESTED FOR COMMUNIST-ERA CRIMES. Party of National Unity (UNIKOMB) leader Idajet Beqiri has been arrested after he was accused with crimes against humanity, committed as a communist prosecutor, international agencies report on 30 January. Beqiri is charged by the National Forum of Intellectuals with ordering deportations in the early 1980s. He is the 31st former communist official to face trial following the Forum's charges. UNIKOMB called the arrest part of the strategy of "tension and violence" pursued by the ruling Democratic Party against the opposition. Meanwhile, in unrelated news, the vans of the independent daily Koha Jone remain blocked by police -- Fabian Schmidt ALBANIAN PRESIDENT VISITS ISRAEL. Sali Berisha met with Israeli President Ezer Weizman and Prime Minister Shimon Peres on 29 January, AFP reported the same day. Berisha, who is on a three-day visit is also scheduled to hold talks with Foreign Minister Ehud Barak and Education and Culture Minister Amnon Rubinstein. During the stay Israel and Albania will sign a series of scientific and cultural cooperation agreements. Afterwards Berisha will spend two days on a visit to Malta. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Saulius Girnius 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 email@example.com 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.