|The only certainty is that nothing is certain. - Pliny the Elder|
No. 26, Part II, 06 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ BOSNIAN GOVERNMENT ARRESTS SERBIAN GENERAL FOR WAR CRIMES. International media report on 6 February that a Bosnian Serb general, a colonel, and six other high-ranking officers have been arrested in recent days by government forces. When and under what circumstances the developments took place is unclear, but the BBC said that the general took a wrong turn in a Sarajevo suburb. News agencies, however, suggested that the mainly Muslim forces grabbed the Serbs en route to a meeting with IFOR. The Bosnian Serb general staff has protested the arrests, saying they violate the Dayton treaty's provisions on freedom of movement. General Djordje Djukic was one of General Ratko Mladic's commanders who kept Sarajevo under siege. The International Herald Tribune quotes former Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic as saying that the arrest and prosecution of war criminals must be a top priority issue. -- Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINIAN COAL MINERS CONTINUE STRIKE OVER UNPAID WAGES. Union leaders have said striking coal miners in Ukraine intend to continue their protest until all their demands are met, UNIAN and Ukrainian TV reported on 5 February. Seventy-two of the country's 227 coal pits remain shut, while workers at another 105 mines have suspended coal deliveries. Union leaders said they will call a general strike if the government does not address their demand for payment of back wages over the next several days. Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Pynzenyk, speaking to Ukrainian Radio, said he supported at least one of the strikers' demands--imposing import duties on Russian coal and increasing import tariffs on Polish coal. -- Chrystyna Lapychak ESTONIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN UKRAINE. Siim Kallas arrived in Kiev on an official visit on 5 February, Ukrainian radio reported. He met with his Ukrainian counterpart, Hennadii Udovenko, to discuss bilateral cooperation within the framework of international organizations. ITAR- TASS quoted Kallas saying that although Estonian foreign policy is oriented toward the West, businessmen in Estonia are interested in "activating ties with former Soviet states." He added that Estonia wants to ratify an agreement on free trade with Ukraine. -- Ustina Markus GERMAN ENVIRONMENT MINISTER IN BELARUS. Angela Merkel, visiting health care centers in Homel on 5 February, said Belarus and Ukraine should decrease their dependence on German humanitarian aid for dealing with health problems resulting from the Chornobyl disaster, ITAR-TASS reported. Merkel added that people living in contaminated areas must undergo medical tests, otherwise the effects of the disaster will continue to plague the population for more than a decade. -- Ustina Markus DIFFERENCES WITHIN ESTONIA'S RULING COALITION OVER TAXATION PROPOSAL. Estonian Prime Minister Tiit Vahi on 5 February admitted there are sharp disagreements between his Coalition Party and the Reform Party over tax questions, BSN reported. Vahi said the RP's proposed bill not to tax income that companies use for investments or for creating new jobs is acceptable only if the RP presents a plan on how to cover the budget shortfall. RP caucus deputy chairman Heiki Kranich said the bill would not cause a budget deficit since it would go into effect only next year. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIAN PREMIER LIKELY TO BE REMOVED. Seimas chancellor Neris Germanas told Radiocentras on 5 February that he is sure the parliament will support President Algirdas Brazauskas's decree on dismissing Prime Minister Adofas Slezevicius, Radio Lithuania reported. Germanas noted that about half of the members of the ruling Democratic Labor Party caucus will join the opposition in supporting the president's decree. Brazauskas said that if Slezevicius is removed, he will nominate a current minister to take his place in order to speed up the formation of a new government. But he did not say who that minister would be. -- Saulius Girnius COAL MINERS STRIKE IN POLAND. Eight coal mines in southern Poland were idle on 5 February following strike calls by the Solidarity trade union, Polish and international media reported. Some 220,000 workers at other mines in the southern coal mining district of Silesia rallied in support of the strike. The miners are demanding bonus payments for 1995 and government guarantees that planned changes in social security policy will not affect their right to retire after 25 years' service. -- Jakub Karpinski POLISH-RUSSIAN ROUNDTABLE IN WARSAW. Several dozen Polish and Russian foreign policy experts met in Warsaw last weekend to discuss bilateral relations, Polish media reported. Polish Foreign Minister Dariusz Rosati said Poland has already decided for NATO membership, and all the Polish delegates--including the post-communists-- argued that entering NATO is in Poland's interests. The Russian participants, however, argued that NATO extension opposes Russian interests. -- Jakub Karpinski FORMER POLISH PRESIDENT'S INSTITUTE REGISTERED. The Lech Walesa Institute was registered by a Warsaw court on 2 February, Polish media reported. The foundation's aims are to preserve the national inheritance, support the decentralization of the state, and disseminate the social teachings of the Catholic Church. Aides and supporters of former President Lech Walesa, including former Defense Minister Zbigniew Okonski and former Internal Affairs Minister Andrzej Milczanowski, are members of the foundation's board. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH OFFICIALS FINALLY MEET WITH ROMANI REPRESENTATIVES. Minister without portfolio Igor Nemec and Labor Minister of Labor and head of the Council on Minorities Jindrich Vodicka met with Romani representatives in Prague on 2 February, CTK reported. Discussions focused on unemployment and job opportunities among Romani. Executive Chairman of the Romani Democratic Congress Ivan Vesely said this was the first serious meeting between Romani and government representatives since 1993. Nemec called the meeting "informative" but added that Romani issues would be better resolved at the municipal level. Anti-racist measures taken by local authorities have frequently been considered inadequate. -- Alaina Lemon SLOVAK PARTY TO TAKE ANTI-COMMUNIST LAW TO COURT. Party of the Democratic Left (SDL) spokesman Milan Istvan on 5 February said his party will lodge a complaint with the Constitutional Court against the law on the immorality and illegality of the communist regime. Istvan said the SDL "condemns all the crimes and groundless repression committed under the previous regime." But he added that the law is questionable from legal and political standpoints since it allows for retroactive prosecution, which he said is "anti-constitutional," and bans the ideology of the previous political system, Narodna obroda reported. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER ON BANKING. Vladimir Meciar told Slovak Radio on 5 February that the state does not guarantee deposits in any of the country's banks. Meciar noted that by introducing the protection of bank deposits, the government and parliament "will correct a situation that has been bad for a long time," although "no one would have said so out loud." According to Pravda, the National Bank of Slovakia approved a bill guaranteeing deposits a year ago, but the government has not yet addressed the issue. -- Sharon Fisher PROMINENT HUNGARIANS CRITICIZE DRAFT SCREENING LAW. More than 100 prominent Hungarians from Hungary and abroad on 2 February addressed an open letter to Hungarian authorities warning that the cabinet's draft screening law is lacking in various respects, Hungarian media reported. The signatories pointed out that the draft law allows citizens only to look at files kept by the internal security service, while those maintained by other intelligence services will remain inaccessible. The bill is soon to be discussed in the parliament. Among the signatories to the letter were chairman of the Slovak Coexistence movement Miklos Duray, poet Gyorgy Faludy, historian Ferenc Fejto, philosopher Agnes Heller, and Bishop Laszlo Tokes from Romania. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BIG MONEY NEEDED FOR BOSNIAN RECONSTRUCTION. Nasa Borba quotes Bosnian Prime Minster Hasan Muratovic as stressing that Bosnia needs a lot of money and soon. Muratovic estimates the bill at $3 billion per year for the next five years, and he quoted a World Bank projection of $5.1 billion in emergency aid for the infrastructure alone. Onasa on 30 January had cited the transportation minister as saying that if he gets the money, his first priority will be to rebuild the Ploce-Mostar- Zenica-Doboj-Tuzla road connection and then the railroad that links Ploce via Doboj to Hungary, Banja Luka, and Tuzla. He dismissed ideas about building a new railroad system independent of the Republika Srpska and called for the reconstruction of the prewar route. -- Patrick Moore IFOR DEPLOYS MORE TROOPS IN SARAJEVO. IFOR has deployed additional troops in the former Serb-held areas of Sarajevo to reassure the local population, international and local media reported. Those areas are due to be handed over to the Bosnian government by March 20. The decision, taken by the international community's Carl Bildt, has angered the Bosnian government. But US Dayton peace accord negotiator Richard Holbrooke dismissed Bosnian government concerns. Speaking in Davos, Switzerland, on 5 February, Holbrooke said the issue was not "critical." Meanwhile, only 215 UN policemen out of the expected 2,000 have been deployed. -- Michael Mihalka U.S.-EU DIFFERENCES CONTINUE OVER BOSNIAN RECONSTRUCTION. The EU and the U.S. still have considerable differences over the allocation of funds for Bosnian reconstruction, international media reported. Holbrooke denied on 5 February that there was a "crisis" in EU-U.S. relations but admitted that a "funding problem" exists. The World Bank wants donor countries to confirm pledges for the estimated $5.1 billion needed for Bosnian reconstruction before a scheduled conference in April. Pledges for only $520 million were made at a December meeting. Holbrooke also stressed Bosnia was the "testing ground for what we used to call the West's post-Cold War foreign policy." -- Michael Mihalka RUMP YUGOSLAV PREMIER ON SANCTIONS, WAR CRIMES. Premier Radoje Kontic has said that Belgrade will cooperate with the International UN War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Nasa Borba reported on 6 February. But he has also stressed that Belgrade cannot be held responsible for the actions of Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic, since the rump Yugoslavia has "no jurisdiction" over them. Kontic added that the issue of lifting sanctions against rump Yugoslavia must not be linked to the issues of war crimes and extradition. -- Stan Markotich KOSCHNIK ON SOLUTION TO MOSTAR REORGANIZATION. Hans Koschnik, the EU administrator of Mostar, on 4 February met with the president and vice president of the Bosnian Federation as well as an aide to the international community's Carl Bildt to inform them of his proposal to reorganize Mostar into "six municipalities and one central district," Hina reported. Koschnik has also met with the mayors of the western and eastern parts of Mostar--Mijo Brajkovic and Safet Orucevic--to discuss the issue. The full details of Koschnik's proposal are to be announced on 6 February. Brajkovic said that the Croatian side cannot accept the term "district" but would agree to the idea of joint authorities in the same building. Orucevic told Oslobodjenje that the Muslim side agrees in principal with the proposal. -- Daria Sito Sucic SUIT TO BE FILED AGAINST TUDJMAN? Editor of the magazine Erasmus Slavko Goldstajn has warned Croatian President Franjo Tudjman that he will file a suit against him if he goes ahead with his plan to turn the Jasenovac Memorial Center into a memorial center for Croatian war victims, Nasa Borba and Politika reported, citing the Croatian weekly. In an open letter to Tudjman, Goldstajn said that Tudjman's plans are strongly opposed by the Jewish community in Croatia. He noted that some 17,000 Jews were killed in Jasenovac and that the total number of victims of fascist terror there amounted to 80,000. -- Daria Sito Sucic MACEDONIAN TV DIRECTOR FIRED, MINISTER RESIGNS IN PROTEST. Macedonian Radio and TV Director-General Melpomeni Korneti on 4 February dismissed the director of the Macedonian TV station Saso Ordanoski, MIC reported the next day. Korneti argued that Ordanoski was fired for disrupting scheduled programming and for his editorial policy. He also charged Ordanoski with failing to uphold the "principle of truthful and objective information." But the editorial board of Macedonian TV said Ordanoski's dismissal was "contrary to the principles of freedom of the press and to international standards...oriented toward a democratic and free press." Meanwhile, Minister without portfolio and government spokesman Ismail Gjuner on 5 February resigned in protest at Ordanoski's dismissal, Nova Makedonija reported. Gjuner said that Ordanoski had been good not only for Macedonian journalism but also for the country's "young democracy." -- Fabian Schmidt MONTENEGRIN ALBANIANS PROTEST DISCRIMINATION OVER INFRASTRUCTURE EX- PENDITURES. Secretary of the Democratic Alliance of Albanians in Montenegro Muhamet Nikaj has said the current Montenegrin government is severely discriminating against its Albanian community, the BBC reported, citing Albanian TV on 3 February. Nikaj argued that Albanian- inhabited areas near Ulcinj, Plav, and Gusinje have been largely left out of any plans for infrastructure development. He added that the Montenegrin authorities are continuing to "ghettoize" Albanians in various ways. -- Fabian Schmidt ROMANIAN PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION SUBMITS REPORT ON 1989 REVOLT. The parliamentary commission investigating the bloody 1989 anti-communist revolt has submitted its report to the Senate, according to Romanian media on 5 February. Senator Valentin Gabrielescu of the National Peasant Party-Christian Democratic, who heads the commission, said the report was incomplete since investigators failed to locate the secret bank accounts of former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. Gabrielescu repeated accusations that Romania's current leaders and other ex-Communists had "hijacked" the December 1989 popular uprising. The government mouthpiece Vocea Romaniei on 6 February responded by decrying "fabrications by some people and publications about the Romanian revolution." -- Dan Ionescu STRIKES IN ROMANIA. Some 40,000 coal miners on 6 February staged a one- day strike to demand better social conditions and higher wages, Romanian media reported. The strike took place after representatives of miners' trade unions failed to reach an agreement with government officials. The miners have threatened an all-out strike on 12 February if their demands are not satisfied. In a separate development, some 4,500 employees at the Rodae car plant in Craiova on 5 February went on a warning strike and announced plans for an unlimited strike later this week in support of demands for higher pay. The technical staff of Romania's national air company have also threatened a warning strike if negotiations with the Labor Ministry over a collective work contract fail. -- Matyas Szabo MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT THREATENS TO DISMISS CABINET. Mircea Snegur on 5 February said cabinet ministers will be dismissed if no solution is found by 1 April to pay pension and pay arrears to the population, BASA- press and Infotag reported. Snegur did not rule out the possibility that the entire cabinet would be dismissed. He noted that the huge arrears may provoke mass protests and thus destabilize the country. Snegur's comments were made during a meeting with cabinet ministers in charge of economic and social issues. According to the president's office, pension arrears total 100 million lei ($22 million) while wage arrears amount to 200 million lei. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIAN COURT INVALIDATES KARDZHALI ELECTIONS. The Kardzhali Regional Court on 5 February invalidated the election of Mayor Rasim Musa and the city council, Bulgarian media reported. Musa, a member of the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom (DPS), was elected last November by a margin of 658 votes over the Bulgarian Socialist Party candidate. The BSP, alleging irregularities such as the casting of double votes and voting by non-residents, had demanded that the elections be declared void. The court ruled that there were 1,217 cases of illegal voting in the mayoral run-off and 827 in the city council elections. DPS Chairman Ahmet Dogan said his party will recall its mayors and councillors nationwide and stage protests in Kardzhali. -- Stefan Krause HOLBROOKE CANCELS VISIT TO GREECE, TURKEY, CYPRUS. The U.S. State Department on 5 February announced that Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke has canceled visits to Athens, Ankara, and Nicosia, AFP reported the same day. Greek Prime Minister Kostas Simitis, who was blamed by the opposition for backing down in the recent crisis with Turkey over an Aegean islet, had made it clear that Holbrooke would not be welcome in Athens. At the same time, Simitis announced that Athens will undertake a major diplomatic initiative to win support from European and NATO partners in its dispute with Turkey. Holbrooke's visits were aimed at reducing tension between Greece and Turkey and to lay the groundwork for a possible new peace initiative on Cyprus. In related news, Greece has protested to Turkey over an incident in which Turkish coast guard boats allegedly fired on two Greek fishing vessels. -- 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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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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