|No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear. - Edmund Burke|
No. 22, Part I, 31 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ BOSNIA GETS ITS FIRST POSTWAR GOVERNMENT. Oslobodjenje on 31 January reported that the republican parliament elected a new government the previous day. Hasan Muratovic is prime minister and heads a cabinet of six ministries, down from the previous 12. Portfolios and deputy ministerial posts were carefully assigned to achieve a balance between Muslims and Croats in a manner reminiscent of the old Tito-era system of dividing power on the basis of nationality. Croat Jadranko Prlic is foreign minister, replacing the outspoken Muslim Muhamed Sacirbey. The sole Serb in the cabinet is a minister without portfolio, Dragoljub Stojanov. AFP called the cabinet an "almost powerless transition republic." Notably missing is outgoing Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic, who has also left the ruling Muslim Party of Democratic Action and is expected to found a new party. The opposition Union of Bosnian Social Democrats said the new government reflected a power deal between the leading Muslim and Croat parties. -- Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINE EXPELS CHINESE SPYING ON MISSILE PLANT. Three Chinese citizens accused of trying to obtain missile technology from the giant Yushmash missile plant in Dnipropetrovsk are to be expelled, Reuters reported on 30 January. The agency quoted the Ukrainian Security Service as charging that they had "obtained documents for the production of rocket engines for intercontinental ballistic missiles." Yushmash produced a number of strategic missiles for the Soviet Union, including the SS-18. The security service spokesman said the Chinese would be barred from entering Ukraine for five years. He added that the Ukrainians who had helped the men obtain information would be prosecuted. -- Doug Clarke UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT RESTRICTS CHILD ADOPTIONS BY FOREIGNERS. Ukrainian lawmakers on 30 January voted to limit the adoption of Ukrainian children by foreigners in response to alleged incidents of baby-selling over the last several years, Ukrainian and international agencies reported 30 January. Their decision provides for the establishment of a centralized adoption monitoring agency and gives Ukrainian citizens priority in adoptions. Lawmakers also banned intermediaries, including non-profit organizations. -- Chrystyna Lapychak RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN MINSK. Yevgenii Primakov arrived in Minsk on 30 January to meet with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, his Belarusian counterpart Uladzimir Syanko, and Prime Minister Mikhail Chyhir, Russian and Belarusian media reported. The leaders focused on Russian-Belarusian integration. Syanko noted that the pace of economic integration has fallen behind that of military and political integration. Lukashenka said 90% of the Belarusian population supports unification and that Belarus has made a number of moves to unify with Russia. It is Russia's turn to take the next step, he commented. Primakov said that integration among former Soviet republics did not threaten any country's sovereignty and that the process was irreversible. -- Ustina Markus $178 MILLION INVESTMENT FOR VIA BALTICA PROJECT. The Via Baltica project work group, meeting in Stockholm on 30 January, discussed a $178 million investment over the next five years to improve links between Helsinki and Warsaw, BNS reported. Some $49 million are to be spent in Estonia, $27 million in Latvia, $38 million in Lithuania, and $65 million in Poland. The projects in Estonia include upgrading city street networks in Tallinn and Tartu, constructing new highways, and repairing roads and border checkpoints, ETA reported. The respective governments will supply most of the funds, although aid will also be obtained from the EU and international development banks. -- Saulius Girnius FORMER LATVIAN KGB MINISTER APPEALS LIFE SENTENCE. 87-year old Alfons Noviks has appealed the life sentence for genocide handed down to him by a Riga court on 13 December, BNS reported on 30 January. Noviks was found guilty of being one of the chief organizers of mass deportations, persecutions, and murders of thousands of Latvians from 1941 to 1949. His defense lawyer insists he did not commit any criminal offense but was simply fulfilling his duties. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH PRESIDENT, DEFENSE MINISTER MET WITH MILITARY LEADERS. Aleksander Kwasniewski and Stanislaw Dobrzanski on 30 January met with Polish military leaders, including Chief of General Staff Tadeusz Wilecki. Last week, the defense minister had transferred jurisdiction over the General Staff's finances to the ministry. Kwasniewski reportedly supported both this and other changes aimed at limiting Wilecki's powers. Wilecki was a close associate of former President Lech Walesa. He is to go on leave next week but Dobrzanski denied rumors of his dismissal, Polish dailies reported. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH PRIVATIZATION CHIEF'S SENTENCE REDUCED. A Prague appeals court on 30 January reduced Jaroslav Lizner's jail sentence for corruption from seven to six years. Lizner, former head of the Center for Coupon Privatization, was arrested on 31 October 1994 after meeting with businessmen interested in buying shares in a dairy firm. He was carrying more than 8 million koruny ($300,000) in a briefcase. Like the original court verdict handed down last October, the appeals court rejected Lizner's claims that the money was a deposit on the sale of the shares, ruling that it was a bribe he had solicited for mediating the deal. The court also confirmed a 1 million koruny ($37,500) fine imposed on Lizner, the highest state official to be convicted of corruption in the Czech Republic. There is no further appeal. -- Steve Kettle GERMAN CONDUCTOR QUITS IN PRAGUE AMID ALLEGATIONS OF CZECH NATIONALISM. Gerd Albrecht on 30 January announced his resignation "with immediate effect" as chief conductor of the Czech Philharmonic, Czech and international media reported. He told Culture Minister Pavel Tigrid that he was leaving for political reasons, not artistic ones. Earlier this month, Tigrid stripped Albrecht of his duties as artistic director of the Czech Philharmonic, following articles in the German press portraying the German-born conductor as a victim of Czech nationalism. The controversy over Albrecht has inflamed Czech-German relations, currently bogged down over such unresolved issues as the expulsion of Sudeten Germans and compensation for victims of Nazism. -- Jan Cleave SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER ON COUNCIL OF EUROPE. Juraj Schenk on 30 January told reporters that the CE should not apply double standards when judging the situation of ethnic minorities in a new or established member country. Discussing parliamentary chairman Ivan Gasparovic's recent proposal that the CE Parliamentary Assembly compile a "White Book" on standard ethnic rights, Schenk noted that all CE members could then be monitored by the same objective criteria. Schenk expressed support for Russia's recent admission to the CE, noting that non- acceptance of the country would have meant support for anti-democratic forces. Meanwhile, Arpad Duka-Zolyomi of the ethnic Hungarian Coexistence movement said the CE was "naive" to think it will force Russia to implement democratic changes by this move, TASR reported. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK-HUNGARIAN TREATY TO BE RATIFIED IN MARCH? Slovak parliamentary chairman Gasparovic on 30 January announced that ratification of the Slovak-Hungarian treaty will be postponed until March, after the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee has drawn up an interpretation clause on CE Recommendation No. 1201, which deals with autonomy for minorities. Although Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar has promised that the treaty will be ratified in March, some Slovak officials would prefer to wait until CE experts provide an official interpretation of the recommendation, Slovak media reported. -- Sharon Fisher UPDATE ON "OILGATE" SCANDAL. The Hungarian parliamentary commission probing the "oilgate" affair has turned to Premier Gyula Horn and the secret services for further information, Hungarian dailies reported on 31 January. Commission chairman Ervin Demeter said the cabinet's earlier investigation did not provide sufficient information. The government last fall investigated whether some high-ranking Socialists had been involved in suspicious deals related to Russian-Hungarian oil shipments and repayment of the Russian state debt. The cabinet concluded that no violation of law had been committed but suggested that Andras Dunai, son of the current industry minister, and Otto Hujber, chairman of the Socialist Party's entrepreneurial section, might have been involved. The parliamentary commission investigating "Oilgate," composed of four opposition and four coalition party members, was set up at the initiative of the opposition. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE NEW BOSNIAN PRIME MINISTER FACES DAUNTING TASKS. After being named prime minister on 30 January, Hasan Muratovic outlined the social and other issues facing his administration, saying they would "frighten any government in the world." Oslobodjenje on 31 January said he mentioned huge social obligations to war refugees, the injured, and the families of dead soldiers and missing persons. Pensioners, demobilized soldiers, the police, the army, and the education system pose additional problems. Muratovic noted that Bosnia wants to join both the EU and NATO, adding that "as for . . . Croatia, we'll do our best to make that relationship an example for good cooperation between countries in this region." Regarding Serbia-Montenegro, the new prime minister said "we must develop and normalize that relationship step by step." Earlier, Fifth Corps commander General Atif Dudakovic said that the Bosnian army will be reorganized along NATO lines. -- Patrick Moore SREBRENICA WOMEN TEMPORARILY STOP DEMONSTRATIONS. Women refugees from Srebrenica, who have staged demonstrations in Tuzla on 29-30 January, have agreed to stop their protest until a 1 February meeting between the Bosnian and Tuzla-Podrinje governments and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Oslobodjenje reported on 31 January. Some 1,000 women and children have been demonstrating against the ICRC's "passivity" over 8,000 missing men from Srebrenica. They have promised to step up their action if more information on their relatives is not provided by 1 February. -- Daria Sito Sucic ELECTION COMMISSION SET UP IN BOSNIA. A commission responsible for overseeing Bosnian elections under OSCE auspices was named on 30 January in Sarajevo, international and local media reported. The seven-member panel is composed of representatives from the United States, Canada, Britain, Germany, and the three Bosnian factions. Under the Dayton peace accords, elections must take place before September. Meanwhile, the current, past, and future OSCE Chairmen-in-Office--Foreign Ministers Flavio Cotti (Switzerland), Lazlo Kovacs (Hungary), and Niels Helveg Petersen (Denmark)--met in Sarajevo on 30 January with Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic, vice president of the Moslem-Croatian Federation Ejup Ganic, and vice president of the self-declared Republika Srpska Nikola Koljevic. Cotti said the meeting was "extremely positive," but Koljevic stressed that the issues of refugees, control over the media, and Serbian control over Sarajevo may prove obstacles to holding elections by September. -- Michael Mihalka RUMP YUGOSLAVIA ASKS FOR ASSETS TO BE UNFROZEN. Nasa Borba on 31 January reports that rump Yugoslav Premier Radoje Kontic has sent a letter to his French, British, Swiss, and Danish counterparts, as well as to U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher, asking that overseas assets of Belgrade's national bank be unfrozen. Those assets were frozen in 1992, following the introduction of sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia for its role in supporting and fomenting the Bosnian Serb war effort. Kontic reportedly wrote that "since sanctions have been suspended there is no further need to block [rump Yugoslav] assets. . . . Continuation of the embargo would call into question the principle of equal treatment of all parties . . . of the former Yugoslavia." -- Stan Markotich SLOVENIAN MINISTERS TENDER RESIGNATIONS. Four Slovenian ministers, all members of the United List of Social Democrats (ZLSD), handed in their resignations on 30 January. This move follows in the wake of the ZLSD's split with the governing coalition. The outgoing ministers held the economics, labor, science, and culture portfolios, Reuters reported. ZLSD secretary Dusan Kumer said both the resignations and the party's split with the governing coalition were prompted by the ZLSD's disapproval of government policy, which, he said, does not offer enough help to underprivileged people and troubled companies. -- Stan Markotich ROMANIAN TELECOMMUNICATION MINISTER SUSPENDED. Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu on 30 January suspended Adrian Turicu as telecommunications minister, Romanian media reported. Turicu is one four ministers appointed in August 1994 by the chauvinistic Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR) to the cabinet, which is dominated by the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR). He was accused of having illegally replaced the director of the Romtelecom company, a member of the PDSR, last autumn. A PDSR official said the PUNR will continue to have the portfolio. But PUNR Deputy Chairman Ioan Gavra was quoted by Jurnalul national as saying that Turicu's dismissal may mean the end of the current cabinet. Friction between the PDSR and PUNR has increased since PUNR Chairman Gheorghe Funar attacked the ruling party in two letters to President Ion Iliescu. -- Dan Ionescu FRENCH MILITARY DELEGATION VISITS ROMANIA. A military delegation from the French Defense Ministry's Strategic Affairs Department, led by General Alain Faupin, has met in Bucharest with members of the bicameral parliament's defense commissions, Romanian media reported on 30 January. Faupin said Romania's integration into NATO will probably not take place in the near future, since this move needed to be carefully prepared. -- Matyas Szabo MOLDOVAN-DNIESTER SUMMIT POSTPONED. A meeting scheduled for 31 January between Moldovan President Mircea Snegur and president of the self- proclaimed Dniester republic Igor Smirnov has been postponed, BASA-press and Infotag reported. According to Moldovan officials, the chief reason for the postponement was Tiraspol's insistence that Chisinau allow the delivery of Dniester bank notes printed in Germany through Moldovan territory. At a 30 January meeting with the head of the OSCE mission in Moldova, Snegur deplored the fact that the Dniester leadership was setting pre-conditions for the dialogue with Chisinau. He also described the idea of the Dniester's own currency as "inadmissible" and contrary to the Moldovan constitution. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIAN OPPOSITION WANTS PARLIAMENTARY CHAIRMAN TO RESIGN. The Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) on 30 January demanded that Blagovest Sendov resign as chairman of the parliament, Pari reported. Sendov, meeting with Russian President Boris Yeltsin in Moscow the previous day, had said "there is no necessity for NATO expansion." The SDS issued a declaration saying Sendov had violated the constitution by expressing a position not approved by the parliament. On returning to Sofia, Sendov did not deny having made the statement, but parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee Chairman Nikolay Kamov said Sendov had told him in a telephone conversation that he had not made it. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN OPPOSITION ON PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. The SDS National Coordinating Council (NKS) on 30 January proposed that preliminary elections be held in order to find a joint opposition candidate for the presidential elections scheduled for late 1996. The SDS candidate is to be nominated by secret ballot at a national conference in March. Standart reported that the NKS adopted another proposal stating that anyone who has opposed SDS interests or has left the union cannot be nominated as SDS candidate. This provision is directed against incumbent President Zhelyu Zhelev. SDS Chairman Ivan Kostov will not be a candidate, Standart added. Vasil Mihaylov, chairman of the New Social Democratic Party and a member of the SDS leadership, told Trud it would be "high treason" if the opposition did not nominate a joint candidate. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN ELECTION LAW OPPOSED BY TWELVE PARTIES. Twelve opposition parties in Albania have opposed a new election law scheduled to reach the parliament on 1 February, Reuters reported on 30 January. The opposition argues that the law would favor the ruling Democratic Party by increasing the number of direct candidates to the parliament from 100 to 115 and decreasing the number elected by proportional representation to 25. Under this provision, smaller parties would have only a limited chance to gain parliamentary representation, the opposition claims. Elections are expected to take place in June. -- Fabian Schmidt ALBANIA, ISRAEL SIGN ECONOMIC AGREEMENTS. Albanian President Sali Berisha has signed two economic cooperation agreements with Israeli Premier Shimon Peres, international agencies reported on 30 January. The agreements establish "favored-nation-status" between the two countries and provide for Albanians to be trained in Israel. Berisha urged Israeli businessmen to invest in Albania. -- Fabian Schmidt GREECE, TURKEY WITHDRAW FORCES IN ISLET DISPUTE. The crisis over the uninhabited islet of Imia eased on 31 January, as Greece and Turkey started pulling back their naval forces following mediation by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke, Reuters reported the same day. U.S. President Bill Clinton and UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali urged the two sides to seek a peaceful solution. Greece agreed to take down its flag from the disputed islet and withdraw its soldiers, while Turkish troops will leave a nearby islet they landed on last night. Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said a bilateral agreement was reached and "the biggest units have already been disengaged." But his Turkish counterpart, Deniz Baykal, denied the existence of such an agreement, saying the withdrawal simply means a return to the status quo ante. -- 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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