|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
No. 28, Part II, 07 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ MLADIC THREATENS TO BREAK CONTACT WITH NATO. Bosnian Serb civilian authorities have made good on their threat to end contacts with the international community and the Bosnian government in Sarajevo over the arrest of suspected Serbian war criminals. The International Herald Tribune on 8 February said that indicted war criminal General Ratko Mladic has broken two months of silence and threatened to end contacts with NATO as well. IFOR commander Admiral Leighton Smith spoke to Pale's legislative speaker Momcilo Krajisnik to urge calm and restraint and met with Bosnian Serb commanders. He told them he could not force the government to release the detained officers because it is the business of the war crimes tribunal in The Hague and he is "out of it," AFP reported on 7 February. The news agency also quoted an IFOR spokesman as saying that the peacekeepers are avoiding arresting indicted war criminals since this would cause "political problems." -- Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ISSUES DECREE ON REFORMS IN COAL INDUSTRY. Leonid Kuchma on 7 February issued a decree launching reforms in the country's troubled coal industry, Ukrainian TV reported. The decree calls for all enterprises under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Coal Industry, including the country's 227 coal mines, to be restructured into majority state-owned, joint-stock companies by 1 September. The firms will be able to conduct business dealings without government interference. Meanwhile, the government allocated six trillion karbovantsi ($32 million) to cover a portion of unpaid wages to striking coal miners. It also promised to allot another 15 trillion karbovantsi within 20 days. Union officials said 72 mines were still on strike and the shortage of coal was already affecting the coal regions' power supply. -- Chrystyna Lapychak UKRAINIAN ROUNDUP. Ukraine on 7 February formally took possession of Britain's Faraday research station in the Antarctic, Reuters reported. Agreement on the transfer of the station to Ukraine was reached in July after Russia had refused to hand over any stations to Kiev. ITAR-TASS reported that Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Ivan Kuras met with Israeli religious leader Rabin Adin in Kiev. The visit came at the same time when Israeli-Ukrainian relations are strained over the case of former Acting Prime Minister Yukhim Zvyahilsky, who was accused of embezzling $25 million. Zvyahilsky sought refuge in Israel, where he was granted the right to permanent residency under a law granting all Jews that right. Intelnews on 6 February reported that Ukraine's Foreign Ministry has denied that the three Chinese deported to Beijing last week were spies. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER ON PEACEKEEPING. Leanid Maltseu said he was opposed to the participation of Belarusian troops in any peacekeeping missions, including those under UN auspices, Belarusian TV reported on 6 February. Maltseu added that without a Supreme Soviet resolution, the Defense Ministry has no intention of even considering such a possibility. Belarus has consistently rejected participating in any military operations beyond its borders, even within the context of the CIS Collective Security Pact. Meanwhile, the IMF is postponing issuing the second tranche of a $250 million standby credit because of concerns over the pace of economic reform in the country, Reuters reported on 6 February. The first $70 million tranche was released in September. -- Ustina Markus BALTIC FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET IN VILNIUS. Povilas Gylys (Lithuania), Valdis Birkavs (Latvia), and Siim Kallas (Estonia) met in the Lithuanian capital on 7 February to discuss cooperation, Baltic media reported. The ministers pledged to continue their common efforts to integrate more fully into European structures. Noting the importance of Russia as a powerful neighbor, they expressed an interest in meeting with Russia's new foreign minister, Yevgenii Primakov. Birkavs agreed with the Lithuanian position that talks on the Latvian-Lithuanian sea border demarcation should begin by renouncing all previous agreements. Gylys said the talks could start next month if Latvia did not insist on waiting until Lithuania formed a new government. -- Saulius Girnius VOTE ON LITHUANIAN PREMIER'S DISMISSAL. The Democratic Labor Party on 7 February failed to reach agreement on how to vote the next day on the dismissal of its chairman Adolfas Slezevicius as prime minister, Radio Lithuania reported. Caucus deputy chairman Justinas Karosas said that the party's deputies could vote independently but that he would probably ask that the voting be secret. Slezevicius said that although he was likely to be dismissed, he would not resign as that would be an indirect admission that the charges against him were valid. -- Saulius Girnius NEW GOVERNMENT IN POLAND. Poland's new government was sworn in on 7 February by President Aleksander Kwasniewski. Like its two predecessors, it is a coalition of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and the Polish Peasant Party (PSL). The government is headed by Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, a 45-year-old lawyer from the SLD, who resigned his post as deputy Sejm speaker. There are six new ministers: Internal Affairs Minister Zbigniew Siemiatkowski (SLD), Justice Minister Leszek Kubicki (no party), Education Minister Jerzy Wiatr (SLD), Culture Minister Zdzislaw Podkanski (PSL), Labor Minister Andrzej Baczkowski (no party), and Leszek Miller (SLD), who is chief of the Office of the Council of Ministers. Cimoszewicz said he will maintain "continuity in foreign, economic, and social policy," Polish and international media reported. -- Jakub Karpinski U.S. ENVOY IN POLAND. Richard Holbrooke, U.S. assistant secretary of state for European and Canadian Affairs, visited Poland on 7 February for talks with President Aleksander Kwasniewski, Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, and former President Lech Walesa. Holbrooke said he assured his Polish hosts that the Clinton administration is fully aware of Poland's wishes to join NATO. He added that Poland's participation in the NATO mission in Bosnia "is going to make a very favorable impression on the United States and on other NATO allies," Polish and international agencies reported. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH GOVERNMENT EASES CITIZENSHIP RESTRICTIONS. The Czech government on 7 February approved amendments to the citizenship law, removing the controversial requirement that applicants must have had a clean criminal record for five years, Mlada fronta Dnes reported. The Council of Europe and U.S. senators, among others, have strongly criticized the law as being restrictive. They say it discriminates in particular against Roma who have lived in the Czech Republic for a long time but are technically Slovak citizens. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus told reporters that the amendments were primarily intended to ease the way for Slovaks to gain Czech citizenship. -- Steve Kettle CZECH PREMIER SAYS NUCLEAR BILL IS NOT ABOUT WEAPONS. Vaclav Klaus on 7 February said the government's "nuclear bill," which is due to go before the parliament soon, does not concern nuclear weapons but is "exclusively a bill about Temelin [the Czech Republic's second nuclear power station] and related matters," Czech media reported. Czech newspapers have claimed the proposed law would prohibit NATO nuclear weapons being deployed in the country. They have also published a paragraph that would ban the "export, production, import, operation, ownership, storing and any other handling of nuclear weapons." Klaus has called for the issue not to become part of the upcoming parliamentary election campaign, saying the Czech Republic must accept the possibility of nuclear weapons on its territory if it wants to join NATO. The main opposition wants the country to be a nuclear-free zone. -- Doug Clarke and Steve Kettle SLOVAK PARLIAMENT APPROVES PRIVATIZATION AMENDMENT. The Slovak parliament on 7 February passed an amendment to the law on large-scale privatization under which company owners may be freed from the obligation to provide for employee participation in the privatization process. Sme on 7 February writes that the legislative initiative "strengthens the influence of today's buyers of direct-sale properties to the detriment of employees." The parliament also approved a law on the protection of state secrets, which replaces communist-era legislation. An opposition proposal that former members of the communist secret police be denied access to classified information was rejected. Meanwhile, a Czech-Slovak border agreement was approved, providing for a swap of 452 hectares of territory, Slovak media reported. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK LANGUAGE LAW TO GO TO HIGH COURT. The opposition Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) and Hungarian Christian Democratic Movement (MKDH) agreed on 7 February to take the state language law to the Constitutional Court, Pravda reported. The Hungarian coalition--which has argued that the law infringes on minority rights--wants to lodge the complaint as "urgent" so it will be addressed as quickly as possible. The KDH was the only Slovak party that did not vote in favor of the law. MKDH Chairman Bela Bugar announced he intends to ask Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar for a meeting to discuss minority language usage and the new territorial administration bill. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARY READY FOR OECD MEMBERSHIP. The last obstacle to Hungarian membership in the OECD was removed on 7 February, when an OECD committee on foreign investment gave its approval, Reuters and Hungarian media reported. One day earlier, the committee had met in Paris with a delegation led by Finance Minister Lajos Bokros. Hungary can now join the organization as early as March, which would make it the second post- communist country, after the Czech Republic, to do so. Membership is conditional on parliamentary approval of amendments to the bank secrecy act. -- Sharon Fisher SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE MIXED REACTIONS TO DETENTION OF SUSPECTED WAR CRIMINALS. The BBC on 7 February quoted top officials of the tribunal as saying that the Bosnian government's actions were "quite proper" and that all sides "are duty bound" by the Dayton agreement to cooperate with the court and arrest war criminals. Onasa cited court officials as adding that they had asked the Bosnians to arrest General Djordje Djukic and Colonel Aleksa Krsmanovic. The tribunal is considering asking the Bosnian authorities to arrest on its behalf other suspects held in Sarajevo. The BBC quoted President Bill Clinton's special envoy Robert Galucci as saying that the government had a point in arresting suspected war criminals, but he also expressed sympathy for the Serbian view that the detentions contravene the principle of freedom of movement. -- Patrick Moore RED CROSS ON FATE OF BOSNIAN MUSLIMS IN SREBRENICA. An official from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on 7 February that he believed the 3,000 Bosnian Muslims detained by Bosnian Serbs in July 1995 after Srebrenica's fall were killed, international media reported. He added that the fate of another 5,000 Bosnian Muslims who tried to flee the area needed to be "urgently settled." This is the first time the ICRC, which is known for its caution, has suggested that the 3,000 Srebrenica Muslims may be dead. Several thousand Muslim men reportedly crossed over into government territory last July after Srebrenica's fall, but the ICRC was unable to register them. The ICRC says it is finding new prisoners each day but the Bosnian factions are violating the Dayton peace accords by denying it access to them. -- Michael Mihalka RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER IN BOSNIA. Pavel Grachev arrived in Bosnia on 7 February to review the deployment of Russian peacekeepers, international media reported. He met with NATO commander U.S. General George Joulwan, who commented that "cooperation between U.S. and Russian troops [in Bosnia] can create a new relationship between NATO and Russia." Grachev noted that the deployment of Russian troops had occurred without incident. -- Michael Mihalka CROATIAN PROTESTERS RANSACK EU OFFICE IN MOSTAR. Following EU administrator Hans Koschnick's 7 February announcement of adminstrative reorganization of Mostar, a large group of Croats ransacked EU offices in the city, international and local media reported. Demonstrators trapped Koschnick for an hour in his car to protest his plan to unify the city. Mostar Mayor Mijo Brajkovic, who has rejected Koschnick's plans, joined the demonstrators, Hina reported. He told Reuters to expect Koschnick "to change his decision now." Meanwhile, NATO called on the Mostar Croats to halt all attacks on the EU administration and announced that NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana will visit the town. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel asked Croatia to support and protect the EU mission and its staff in Mostar. -- Daria Sito Sucic SLOVENIAN GOVERNMENT RESHUFFLE. The Slovenian parliament on 7 February elected three new ministers to portfolios that were vacated in late January when the coalition partner United List of Social Democrats (ZLSD) broke away, Reuters reported. The coalition is now composed of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDS) and the Christian Democratic Party (SKD).Tone Rop, an LDS member, has been appointed labor minister; Andrej Umek of the Christian Democrats science minister; and Janez Dular, an independent and one-time deputy editor of the daily Slovenec, culture minister. The LDS now has seven portfolios, the SKD five, and independents three. -- Stan Markotich GEN. SHALIKASHVILI IN ROMANIA. General John Shalikashvili, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, on 7 February began a two-day visit to Romania, Romanian and Western media reported. Shalikashvili met with Romanian President Ion Iliescu and Chief-of-Staff Gen. Dumitru Cioflina to discuss Romania's ambitions to join NATO and its participation in the Partnership for Peace Program. They also discussed U.S.-Romanian military relations, which Shalikashvili described as "very, very close." Shalikashvili is scheduled to meet with Defense Minister Gheorghe Tinca and to visit an army non-combat battalion that Romania has offered to send to Bosnia as part of the peacekeeping forces there. Romania was the first country to enroll in NATO's PfP program. -- Dan Ionescu MORE STRIKES IN ROMANIA. Following a warning strike earlier this week, some 4,000 employees at the Rodae car plant in Craiova began an indefinite walkout on 7 February, Romanian and international media reported. Workers at the plant, which is majority-owned by South Korean industrial giant Daewoo, are demanding cost-of-living wage increases, the dismissal of two Romanian directors at the plant, and expenses for Romanian workers who receive training in South Korea. The plant's management said it will go to court to have the strike called off. Meanwhile, metro workers in Bucharest staged a two-hour warning strike in support of higher wages and better working conditions. They are threatening an indefinite strike early next week. -- Matyas Szabo MOLDOVAN, DNIESTER LEADERS MEET. Mircea Snegur and Igor Smirnov met in Tiraspol on 7 February, Moldovan and western media reported. The two sides discussed financial and monetary issues, with Tiraspol insisting that Moldova allow the transit of Dniester bank notes printed in Germany. The disputed status of the Dniester region within the Moldovan state was not discussed, Infotag said. The only document the two sides signed was a protocol on cooperation on customs issues. The summit was scheduled for 31 January but was postponed by the Dniester leaders. -- Dan Ionescu FORMER BULGARIAN MONARCH TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT? Former Tsar Simeon II, in an interview with the French royalist weekly Action Francaise Hebdo, has said he may run in the Bulgarian presidential elections later this year since he sees no reason "to limit his options to scenarios from the past," AFP reported on 8 February. With regard the constitutional provision that the president must have lived in Bulgaria for the past five years, Simeon said in his case"this condition is invalid because I am living abroad not out of choice but by force." One question that remains open is whether running for president means implicit recognition of the 1946 referendum abolishing the monarchy, which Simeon claims was invalid. -- Stefan Krause RUMP YUGOSLAV DEFENSE MINISTER IN SOFIA. Pavle Bulatovic on 7 February concluded a two-day official visit to Bulgaria, Bulgarian and international media reported. Bulatovic and his Bulgarian counterpart, Dimitar Pavlov, signed a bilateral agreement on restoring military ties disrupted by UN sanctions against rump Yugoslavia. Bulgarian Prime Minister Zhan Videnov said the agreement is part of the peace process in the Balkans and a good basis for the restoration of economic cooperation between the two countries. On the arrest of two high-level Bosnian Serb officers by the Bosnian government, Bulatovic said this "may have an adverse effect on the implementation of the Dayton and Paris accords." He called it "unacceptable" that state representatives on an official mission should be arrested, and he accused IFOR of indifference. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN, GREEK OFFICIALS HOLD TALKS IN TIRANA. Greek Foreign Ministry legal and economic experts concluded two-day talks in Tirana with their Albanian counterparts on Albanian immigrants in Greece and the possible legalization of their status, ATSH reported on 7 February. Agreements on seasonal work and property regulations were discussed, as was the opening of Greek-language schools for ethnic Greeks in Gjirokastra, Delvina, and Saranda. Albanian Foreign Minister Alfred Serreqi promised to introduce "the most advanced standards of education" for the Greek minority, while the Greek delegation promised to support Albania's efforts to join the EU. -- 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. 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.