|It is easier to love humanity than to love one's neighbor. - Eric Hoffer|
No. 25, Part I, 05 February 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ SERBS ADMIT THAT SREBRENICA MALES ARE DEAD. Nasa Borba on 5 February reports that Bosnian Serb officials in Srebrenica told UN human rights envoy Elisabeth Rehn that the missing men from Srebrenica were killed in battle. The BBC the previous day noted that few people are willing to believe that the deaths involved mainly combat casualties and will conclude that up to 8,000 people were indeed massacred. AFP reports on 5 February that still more mass graves are believed to exist in the Srebrenica area. The BBC said that the chief UN officer dealing with missing persons, Manfred Nowak, stated that there will be no lasting peace until the question of missing persons is cleared up. He added that the three sides have agreed to form a joint commission to deal with the matter. The broadcast noted that relatives of the missing, like the women who protested in Tuzla last week, are "at the end of their tether." -- Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT MAKES PERSONNEL CHANGES. Leonid Kuchma formally dismissed Anatolii Halchynsky, his advisor on macroeconomic issues, UNIAN reported 2 February. Halchynsky announced his intention to resign in December along with another Kuchma aide, Oleksandr Razumkov, to protest what they viewed as the growing and politically destructive influence of the president's chief of staff, Dmytro Tabachnyk. Kuchma named Petro Petrashko as his chief economic advisor in December. Halchynsky has agreed to head the Ukrainian Stock Market Association, made up of 20 companies so far, and cooperate with the Ukrainian Center for Economic and Political Research, headed by Razumkov. In other news, Kuchma dismissed Justice Minister Serhii Holovaty, Deputy Prosecutor Olha Kolinko and Hryhorii Omelchenko, chairman of parliament's anti- crime committee, from his presidential committee against crime and corruption. Deputy Prime Minister Vasyl Durdynets will keep his post as the committee's chairman, while the president appointed two new deputy chairmen, Prosecutor-General Hryhorii Vorsinov and his predecessor, Vladyslav Datsiuk. -- Chrystyna Lapychak SLOVAK PARLIAMENT APPROVES ANTI-COMMUNIST LAW. The parliament on 2 February adopted a law on the immorality and illegality of the former Communist regime by a vote of 63 to 22, with 24 abstentions, Slovak media reported. Some aspects of the original bill were modified; the Communist Party was labeled "a party which did not prevent its members from committing crimes," rather than "a criminal organization responsible for violating human rights and spreading terror," as in the original version. Peter Brnak of the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) expressed appreciation that "the parliament, in which there are 92 former communists, found the strength to approve [the bill]." The Party of the Democratic Left, the successor to the Communist Party, said it may bring the law before the Constitutional Court. The law was supported mainly by the HZDS and the opposition Christian Democratic Movement (KDH). -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN PREMIER IN CROATIA. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and visiting Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn agreed at a meeting in Zagreb on 3 February to further intensify cooperation between the two countries, Hungarian dailies reported. Horn and Tudjman told a news conference that cooperation would focus especially on trade and transport, including the improvement of road and rail links between the two countries. Horn also stressed that the Balkan peace settlement would not be complete if the Eastern Slavonia problem is not solved. In other news, Horn and Hungarian Defense Minister Gyorgy Keleti attended a ceremony at Okucani, Croatia the same day, during which Hungary's IFOR technical contingent was transferred to NATO command. -- Zsofia Szilagyi RATIFICATION LETTERS OF ESTONIA-RUSSIA AGREEMENTS EXCHANGED. Estonian Foreign Minister Siim Kallas and Russian ambassador Aleksandr Trofimov on 2 February exchanged the letters of ratification for the agreements signed by presidents Lennart Meri and Boris Yeltsin in July 1994, BNS reported. The agreements dealing with the withdrawal of Russian troops and social guarantees for Russian military retirees were ratified by the Russian Duma in the summer and by the Estonian parliament in December. Meri regretted that border talks between the two countries had been unsuccessful for so long even though a border agreement is "essential, necessary, and unavoidable." -- Saulius Girnius TWO LATVIAN TV COMPANIES ANNOUNCE MERGER. Andrejs Ekis, the director of Picca TV, told reporters on 2 February that the company would merge with NTV-5 to form Latvian Independent Television, BNS reported the following day. The decision to merge was due to financial reasons and the new station would begin broadcasts at the beginning of April. Ekis forecast that the number of television companies in Latvia would drop from the current 46 to five in two or three years. -- Saulius Girnius SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SERBIAN POLICE TO STAY ON IN SARAJEVO UNTIL 19 MARCH. CNN reported on 3 February that the international community's chief representative in Sarajevo, Carl Bildt, said that the Bosnian Serb police could remain 45 days more in the Serb-held Sarajevo suburbs slated for return to government control. He said this was necessary to avoid a vacuum in authority and to reassure the Serbian population. BBC reported the next day that the Bosnian civilian authorities had tried to thwart Bildt's moves, but that the Bosnian military had complied. The Serbian police have, however, announced a 9 pm to 5 am curfew in those suburbs, and it is not clear how the Bosnian authorities will respond. Oslobodjenje noted on 5 February that those suburbs will be under government control alone after 19 March. The paper added that the government meanwhile says that only IFOR and the international police should be armed there. Bildt's arrangement calls for the Serbian police to wear sidearms. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN SHORTS. Some 100 Croatian police will help the force in Mostar starting 10 February, Oslobodjenje reported on the 5th. The Czech paper Mlada fronta Dnes said that Bosnian Serb parliamentary speaker Momcilo Krajisnik stated that Pale does not recognize the new Bosnian republican government announced last week, since Pale was not party to the arrangement. Nasa Borba noted that Serbian refugees have begun returning to the Mrkonjic Grad area, which is passing from Bosnian Croat to Bosnian Serb control in keeping with the Dayton agreements. Most of the homes there were so badly damaged that the refugees will not be able to return permanently for some time. Vecernji list reported that a Serbian radio station in Eastern Slavonia continues to urge Serbian refugees uprooted in last year's allied offensive to move into Croatian homes there. Western press reports last week said there are several signs that the East Slavonian Serbs have no intention of letting the region return to Croatian control as it is supposed to do. -- Patrick Moore WITHDRAWAL DEADLINE MET. The Bosnian factions have withdrawn from territory adjacent to the zones of separation or set to change hands under the Dayton peace accords by the 3 February midnight deadline, international and local media reported. Five Serb-held suburbs of Sarajevo were being handed over are to the Muslim-Croat federation, as were areas around the city of Mostar and an access corridor from federation territory to the eastern enclave of Gorazde. The Serb republic assumed control of the area around Mrkonjic Grad in northwest Bosnia. Bosnian Federation Defense Minister Vlado Soljic said on Croatian TV on 3 February that the Bosnian government and Croat forces had fully complied with the deadline and that he didn't "think that any side will run the risk of forcing IFOR to implement this part of the agreement by force." Meanwhile, Major-General Mike Willcocks, chief of staff of NATO ground forces in Bosnia, reported in Sarajevo on 3 February that the netural zones around the country had been violated some 40 times but that all of these had been the result of "misunderstandings, bad map reading or no map reading." -- Michael Mihalka ICRC FINDS 88 SERB PRISONERS IN TUZLA. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) found 88 unregistered Serb prisoners on 2 February when it was finally allowed access to the Bosnian government run prison in Tuzla, international media reported. The ICRC gave no details on when the prisoners might be released. The government had denied the ICRC access to the prison since September 1995. The ICRC said on 1 February that the Bosnian Serbs still hold some 20 prisoners in defiance of the Dayton peace accords which mandated all prisoners be released by 19 January. -- Michael Mihalka IZETBEGOVIC MEETS CHRISTOPHER. On 3 January U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher met Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic and other government officials in Sarajevo to discuss civilian problems in implementing the Bosnia peace accords, Onasa reported the same day. Izetbegovic said while the military part of the Dayton peace agreement was being successfully implemented, the civilian part that includes the reunification of Sarajevo and Mostar and establishment of the federation was going slower. He expressed his dissatisfaction to Christopher over High Representative Carl Bildt's consent to Serb police staying in Sarajevo for another 45 days, and over Serb destruction of factories and buildings that are to revert to government control. Izetbegovic informed Christopher there was little political freedom in the Republika Srpska in regards to media and political activity, which are conditions affecting elections, and discussed the release of prisoners. On prospects for the country's reconstruction, Christopher said: "Bosnia has a chance, it has a future with the U.S. and strong partners from Europe." -- Daria Sito Sucic MILOSEVIC, CHRISTOPHER DISCUSS WAR CRIMES, TRIBUNAL. Nasa Borba on 5 February reports that during his visit to Belgrade the previous day, US Secretary of State Warren Christopher held extensive talks with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic on the question of Belgrade's cooperation with the UN War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Milosevic said he would allow an international war crimes investigator to establish an office in Belgrade, but resisted pressure to say that his authorities would extradite suspected war criminals, notably Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic, to face trial in the Hague. Milosevic described the talks as "frank and open." For his part, Christopher noted that US relations with rump Yugoslavia were improving "step by step," but also observed that Washington was not yet prepared to post an ambassador to Belgrade or to approve financial aid to the rump Yugoslavia. -- Stan Markotich MILOSEVIC AGREES TO USIA OFFICE IN KOSOVO. Following the talks, U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher said that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic agreed to the opening of an United States Information Agency office in Kosovo, international agencies reported on 4 February. During the talks, Christopher raised the issue of human rights violations in Kosovo urging Milosevic to "ensure the status for Kosovo that would ensure respect of political and human rights" for the Kosovar Albanians. The International Herald Tribune on 5 February quoted Christopher as saying that rump Yugoslavia "will never achieve full acceptance into the international community, will never achieve full approbation by the United States until it reconciles the status of Kosovo." Albanian President Sali Berisha praised the planed USIA office and the preconditions Christopher set for the admission of rump- Yugoslavia into international institutions, Reuters reports on 5 February. -- Fabian Schmidt GOLDSTONE SAYS PROMINENT SERB SUSPECTS MAY FACE JUSTICE. Nasa Borba on 5 February reports that in an interview on a BBC program the previous day, Chief Prosecutor on the UN War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Richard Goldstone, said that the chances of Bosnian Serb leaders Karadzic and Mladic facing trial in the Hague are increasing. According to the Nasa Borba, Goldstone appears to be of the opinion that "Karadzic and Mladic are moving ever closer to the Hague," and said that chances for their extradition seem greater now than ever before. He did temper his comments by observing that he did not have a crystal ball, and could not predict exactly how developments would unfold. -- Stan Markotich FORMER ROMANIAN PREMIER TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT. The Democratic Party on 3 February nominated its leader, Petre Roman, as a candidate for presidential elections to be held in the fall of 1996, Romanian and Western media reported. Speaking to a crowd of some 1,000 supporters, Roman pledged to put an end to the "misery, indifference and influence peddling which have become characteristic of the present authorities." Roman also vowed to be a president "for the future not for the past," as well as Romania's first social-democratic president. The 49-year-old Roman, who was the country's first post-communist premier, was forced out of government by street protests against his economic reforms in September 1991. -- Dan Ionescu ROMANIAN EXTREMIST PARTY STICKS TO RULING COALITION. The National Council of the chauvinistic Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR) on 3 February decided to remain in the governmental coalition, Romanian media reported. Despite the recent conflict that emerged around the dismissal of Telecommunications Minister Adrian Turicu, a PUNR member (see OMRI Daily Digest, 31 January), party Chairman Gheorghe Funar said "we did not join the governmental coalition in order to quit it." Another PUNR minister, Valeriu Tabara, said however, that practically all of the ministers who are members of the PUNR have been suspended, due to systematic obstruction by the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR). Turicu was dismissed on the ground of having appointed one of his proteges as director of the Romtelecom company. -- Matyas Szabo CIS REJECTS DNIESTER MEMBERSHIP APPLICATION. The Executive Secretariat of the Commonwealth of Independent State in Minsk rejected an application for membership from the self-proclaimed Dniester republic, BASA-press and Moldpres reported on 2 and 3 February. In reply to an application submitted by Dniester President Igor Smirnov on 5 January, the secretariat stressed that "Moldova, which includes the Dniester region, is a CIS member since 27 June 1994, when the Moldovan parliament ratified the CIS statutes." Cooperation within the CIS, the letter added, is based on respect for the territorial integrity of its member states and on refraining from any action which may encourage territorial dismemberment. Over 80% of the participants in a Dniester referendum held on 24 December voted in favor of the region's adherence to CIS as a separate entity. -- Dan Ionescu GREECE, MACEDONIA CUT VISA FEES. Delegations from Macedonia and Greece on 2 February in Skopje ended two-day talks on normalizing relations, AFP reported the same day. They signed an agreement aimed at making traveling between the two countries easier. Visa fees will be cut by about 80% and will cost no more that around $5. Both sides said this agreement will "stimulate the exchange of people and goods [and] speed up economic cooperation." The Macedonian and Greek governments have agreed that delegations meet at least twice a year to discuss bilateral relations. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIA TO INTENSIFY TALKS WITH NATO. The Bulgarian government on 2 February decided to intensify its talks with NATO, including on possible membership in the alliance, Standart reported the following day. An expert group from the foreign and defense ministries is scheduled to prepare a document on Bulgaria's position on NATO enlargement by the end of March. The decision comes after NATO Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Gebhardt von Moltke on 29 January called for an "intensified dialogue" and asked Sofia to respond to that offer by the end of March. So far, the Socialist government has said Bulgaria will join NATO only if it becomes a system of collective security and takes Russian objections into account. -- Stefan Krause FORMER ALBANIAN PRESIDENT BACK IN JAIL. The last communist president of Albania, Ramiz Alia, was arrested on 2 February, AFP and Reuters reported. Alia is charged with political persecution, deportations and ordering the use of firearms against civilians, including border killings and ordering police to fire on protesters in 1990-1991. A Tirana court rejected an appeal by his lawyer Kleanthi Koci to put him under house arrest. Koci submitted a medical report saying that Alia suffered from a serious heart problems. However, the court ruled that Alia was "a danger to society". Alia was first arrested in 1992 and sentenced to nine years in prison for abuse of power and human rights violations. He was released in July 1995 following a series of amnesties and the introduction of a new penal code. Investigations are continuing into another 31 communist officials arrested and charged with crimes against humanity. -- Fabian Schmidt ALBANIAN JOURNALIST FREED. Altin Hazizaj, a journalist of Koha Jone who was arrested on 31 January while reporting on the eviction of a squat in Tirana, was released on 2 February. The release followed several protests by international human rights groups who claimed that Hazizaj was obstructed in fulfilling his journalistic duty to report on the eviction of former political prisoners from an unfinished building they had occupied. An investigation against Hazizaj for allegedly assaulting two policemen will continue and he has to report to authorities twice a week, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 3 February. -- Fabian Schmidt [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. 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