|Absence makes the heart grow fonder. -|
No. 40, Part II, 26 February 1996
New OMRI Analytical Briefs: - "Turkish Government Coalition Talks Fail Again", by Lowell Bezanis - "Primakov in Central Asia: A View from the South", by Roger Kangas Available only via the World Wide Web: http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Analytical/Index.html 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ FIVE DIE IN TIRANA SUPERMARKET EXPLOSION. A car bomb exploded outside a supermarket in central Tirana on 26 February, killing at least five people and wounding several dozens, international media reported. Two nearby kiosks were destroyed and the windows of surrounding houses were shattered. The supermarket, which opened just over a week ago, was one of two in Tirana run by the company Vesa Holding. President Sali Berisha, who visited the site of the explosion with several cabinet ministers, blamed former communist secret service agents for the blast. It has been suggested that the explosion may be related to growing concern among owners of small shops that they will be put out of business by larger stores. -- Fabian Schmidt ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINIAN CENTRISTS FORM POPULAR-DEMOCRATIC PARTY. Three centrist political groups, meeting in Kiev on 24 February, agreed to merge into a single political party, the Popular-Democratic Party of Ukraine, Radio Ukraine and UNIAN reported. The new party--composed of the Party of Democratic Rebirth of Ukraine, the Labor Congress of Ukraine, and the New Ukraine alliance--is the first serious consolidation of political forces in Ukraine's fragmented party system. Deputy Anatolii Matvienko was elected party chairman, and delegates adopted a program backing President Leonid Kuchma's political and economic reforms. Meanwhile, two other centrist parties, the Ukrainian Social-Democratic Party and the Ukrainian Solidarity and Justice Party, announced plans to form an alliance. They intend to campaign jointly in future elections and to publish a joint newspaper. -- Chrystyna Lapychak KUCHMA ON COMPENSATION FOR TACTICAL NUKES. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has said the issue of compensation for tactical nuclear weapons removed from the country's territory must be addressed, Radio Rossii reported on 23 February. The weapons were removed to Russia in 1992. Ukraine now wants Moscow to compensate it for the plutonium and other valuable materials contained in those weapons. Kuchma said he raised the issue with Russian President Boris Yeltsin during their meeting in January. Experts say the value of the materials in the tactical weapons amounts to $500-700 million. -- Ustina Markus EXTRAORDINARY CONGRESS OF LATVIA'S POPULAR FRONT. Latvia's Popular Front, at an extraordinary congress on 24 February, decided to re- register as a public organization and create a new political party, Latvian media reported. The new party will be called the Christian People's Party. The 153 delegates at the congress approved a draft declaration that mentions justice, honesty, freedom, responsibility, solidarity, and democracy as the fundamental principles of the new party. Deputy chairman Uldis Augstkalns said the party will remain center oriented and may form an alliance with the Christian Democratic Union. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT APPROVES NEW GOVERNMENT. Algirdas Brazauskas on 23 February approved Prime Minister Mindaugas Stankevicius's new government, Radio Lithuania reported. The cabinet has five new ministers: Vaidotas Abraitis (communications and information sciences), Aldona Bara-nauskiene (construction and urban planning), Algimantas Krizinauskas (finance), Virgilijus Bulovas (interior), and Petras Popovas (government reforms and local rule). The first three previously served as deputy ministers and the last two as Seimas deputies. Stankevicius did not name new economics and energy ministers but is expected to do so before 6 March, when he is to present his government program to the Seimas for approval. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH POLITICAL UPDATE. The 42-year-old historian Marian Pilka replaced Ryszard Czarnecki as leader of the Christian-National Alliance (ZChN) at the party's congress on 24-25 February, Polish media reported. Czarnecki resigned after the ZChN switched its support from National Bank President Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz to former President Lech Walesa in the November 1995 presidential elections. The National Council of the Labor Union decided not to change its leadership until the party's next congress. The council criticized the party's strategy in last year's presidential elections. Finally, the two Polish Socialist Parties merged to a form a single party; 82-year-old Jan Mulak became the new party's president. -- Jakub Karpinski POLISH TAX PAYERS ANXIOUS ABOUT DONATIONS. Deputy Prime Minister Grzegorz Kolodko's announcement on Polish TV on 23 February that donations may be checked before tax exemptions are granted has triggered concern among Polish tax payers, Gazeta Wyborcza reported the next day. Kolodko said both donors and beneficiaries may be called to financial offices to prove that a donation was made. Legal experts claim that offices have no right to summon people before launching legal proceedings. A tax payer can make donations for education, culture, sport, and health and can deduct up to 15% of annual income from tax payments. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S SON RETURNS HOME. Michal Kovac Jr. returned to Slovakia on 23 February, six months after his abduction to Austria, Slovak and international media reported. Kovac Jr. said he plans to travel to Germany soon to "clear all charges" related to his alleged involvement in the Technopol fraud case. Also on 23 February, Slovak Information Service director Ivan Lexa announced his plans to sue President Michal Kovac for statements made about the SIS during his son's hearing at a Vienna court. An SIS statement maintained that "Nobody...has the right to incriminate others without sanction, to repeatedly and falsely accuse and disinform citizens." -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK PRESIDENT VETOES INCOME TAX BILL. Michal Kovac on 23 February returned the income tax bill to the parliament for further discussion, saying it contravenes the constitution, TASR reported. The opposition had complained that the bill would give special privileges to owners of newly privatized firms. It also claimed the draft law was passed in an unconstitutional way, with fewer than the mandatory 76 deputies present for the vote. The law will now not take effect before 31 March, the deadline for submitting 1995 tax returns. -- Sharon Fisher MEDGYESSY TO REPLACE HUNGARY'S OUTGOING FINANCE MINISTER? Prime Minister Gyula Horn plans to nominate former finance minister Peter Medgyessy to replace outgoing Finance Minister Lajos Bokros, Nepszabadsag reported. The 53-year-old Medgyessy is currently president and director-general of the Hungarian Investment and Development Bank in Budapest. He served as finance minister from December 1986 to December 1987 in Hungary's communist government. Medgyessy has said he essentially agrees with Bokros's pragmatic economic policy, including the implementation of public finance reform and the transformation of the social welfare system. But he has said he will allow for broader political compromise. -- Zsofia Szilagyi HUNGARIAN PREMIER QUESTIONS BOKROS'S RIGHT TO SEVERANCE PAY. Horn on 23 February said he will not allow Bokros to collect 2 million forints in severance pay until it is certain that the move does not violate the law, Hungarian dailies reported on 26 February. The Prime Minister's Office has turned to the Supreme Court for an official position on the issue. The present law on the legal status and allowances of cabinet ministers dates back to 1973 and includes legal categories that are out of date. Horn's insistence on investigating Bokros's severance pay is reportedly related to the controversial 16 million forints payment last spring when Bokros left the Budapest Bank to become finance minister. -- Zsofia Szilagyi ROMANI MUSEUM OPENS IN HUNGARY. An exhibition featuring crafts, photographs, videos, and the works of Romani painters and authors has opened in the new Romani museum in Pecs, Hungary's Romani news agency, ORS, reported on 23 February. Two Romani museums already exist in Tarnow, Poland, and Brno, the Czech Republic. The Hungarian Ministry of Culture and Education has allotted 2 million forints to the museum. -- Alaina Lemon SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE NATO ALLOWS SARAJEVO EVACUATION. NATO is allowing the Bosnian Serb army to evacuate the remaining Serb-held areas of Sarajevo, international media reported on 25 February. Kris Janowski, spokesman for the UN. High Commissioner for Refugees, said Bosnian Serb leaders incited the local population to flee, but he also criticized the Muslim-Croatian police for "insensitivity" in handling the remaining Serb residents. IFOR commander U.S. Admiral Leighton Smith faced an angry crowd of Bosnian Serbs demanding transportation for evacuation when he toured Vogosca with Bosnian Serb leader Momcilo Krajisnik on 24 February. -- Michael Mihalka CONTACTS RESUME WITH BOSNIAN SERBS. Senior IFOR commanders met with their Bosnian Serb counterparts on 23 February, marking the end of the Bosnian Serb boycott of all contacts with the international community, international media reported. The Bosnian Serbs broke off contacts on 8 February in protest at the Bosnian government's detention of several Bosnian Serb soldiers, two of whom were subsequently sent to The Hague. British Lt.-Gen. Sir Michael Walker, commander of IFOR ground forces, met on 24 February with deputy Bosnian Serb military commander Gen. Zdarko Tolimir in Ilidza, one of the Serb-held suburbs of Sarajevo due to be returned to Bosnian government control by 19 March. They discussed the plans to evacuate Bosnian Serbs from those suburbs. -- Michael Mihalka BOSNIAN FACTIONS AGREE ON GROUND RULES FOR ELECTIONS. The Bosnian factions on 23 February agreed to the ground rules for organizing elections by September, Reuters and TANJUG reported. Robert Frowick, OSCE mission head to Bosnia, who chairs the provisional election commission, said everyone, including refugees, will be allowed to vote at the place where they lived in 1991. Lists of voters, based on the 1991 census, are expected to be drawn up by 31 March. -- Michael Mihalka MOSTAR'S EU ADMINISTRATOR TO QUIT. Hans Koschnick, told the German weekly Bild am Sonntag he would step down from his post in July and would not prolong his stay "under any circumstances," Reuters reported on 24 February. He has recommended that the EU Ministerial Council accept the Croatian and Muslim authorities' demand that the EU mandate in the city be extended for another six months. But he stressed that someone will have to replace him. Meanwhile, international agencies report free movement in Mostar, although the total number of crossings from the eastern to western part of the city is still small. A young man on 23 February was hit on the head with a stone in the Croatian part of Mostar, while vehicles with Bosnian-Croat license plates were stoned in the Muslim-populated neighborhood two days later, Hina reported on 25 February. -- Daria Sito Sucic SOROS FOUNDATION "BANNED" IN RUMP YUGOSLAVIA. The New York-based Soros Foundation has been banned in the rump Yugoslavia, international media reported on 24 February. A Serbian court ruled that the group is not properly registered and therefore has no legal right to operate. Sonja Licht, head of the foundation in Belgrade, said the organization will try to re-register. The Foundation opened its Belgrade office in 1991 and supports a number of humanitarian and democratic projects, including aiding independent media. In recent weeks the Belgrade regime has renewed its attacks against the independent media, declaring the independent broadcaster Studio B TV illegal in a bid to take over the station. -- Stan Markotich CROATIAN PRESIDENT TAKES AIM AT OPPONENTS... Franjo Tudjman addressed a congress of the governing Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) on 24-25 February. RFE/RL's South Slavic Service and news agencies noted that he struck out at the labor unions, opposition, and independent media, warning them that he would not allow anyone to turn "democracy into anarchy." He said that the HDZ had "created Croatia" and would be needed "for decades to come." Tudjman called the opposition "a coalition of communists and fascists" that provoked strikes and social unrest. A railroad strike is entering its fifth day, while Zagreb city and county governments have been without top leadership for almost four months because Tudjman refuses to recognize the opposition majority's choice for mayor. The independent daily Novi list--one of the few mass- circulation non-party periodicals--said his speech reflected "anger and panic." -- Patrick Moore ...WHILE SUSAK BLASTS BOSNIAN ARMAMENTS PROGRAM. Also speaking at the HDZ meeting, Defense Minister Gojko Susak attacked Sarajevo's current military expansion program. He warned that "it will be the Croatian army, if necessary," that will "protect Croatian strategic interests." He added that at this moment, uncontrolled rearming of the Bosnian army represents the gravest danger to the implementation of the Dayton peace agreement and stability of the [Muslim-Croat] federation." The speech comes at a time when the Bosnian Croat and Bosnian government commanders are on their way to the U.S. to discuss a weapons-and-training program and when Zagreb has been criticized for the conduct of the Croats in Mostar. Before closing, the HDZ congress sent a letter to German Chancellor Helmut Kohl protesting West German Radio's merging of its Croatian program into one for all the former Yugoslavia. The congress accused Bonn of trying to "create a Euro-Slavia." -- Patrick Moore MACEDONIAN PARLIAMENT CHAIRMAN RESIGNS. Stojan Andov on 23 February resigned as chairman of the Macedonian parliament, Reuters reported. His decision followed the parliament's approval of the new government of Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski, which excludes members of Andov's Liberal Party. Andov chaired the parliament for five years. After the attempt on President Kiro Gligorov's life in October 1995, he was acting president. The Liberals said they are now in the opposition and will support an initiative for early elections. -- Stefan Krause SLOVENIA REOPENS TRADE WITH FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. Slovenian companies are beginning to re-establish trade relations with rump Yugoslavia and Bosnia, Reuters reported on 23 February. But an official from the Slovenian Ministry of Economic Relations said restoring links with Belgrade may be difficult, if not impossible. "I expect that an economic agreement [with Belgrade] will have to wait until urgent political issues are resolved," he said. Those issues include the division of assets among the former Yugoslav republics. An agreement on trade ties with Bosnia-Herzegovina is slated to be signed later this year. -- Stan Markotich U.S. AMBASSADOR'S STATEMENTS SPARK CONTROVERSY IN ROMANIA. Alfred Moses has said that extremist parties such as the Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR), the Socialist Labor Party, and the Greater Romania Party have no place in Romania's government if the country wants to join Euro- Atlantic structures, Romanian media reported on 24-26 February. Meeting with members of opposition parties in the Transylvanian city of Cluj, Moses urged them to vote against Gheorghe Funar, the city's controversial mayor and PUNR chairman, in the upcoming local elections. The PUNR leadership reacted promptly, by accusing Moses of having "overstepped his competence" and of "breaching diplomatic practice." Adrian Nastase, executive chairman of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania, said that Moses would do better to comment on the U.S. elections. -- Matyas Szabo FORMER CEAUSESCU COURT POET TO RUN FOR PRESIDENCY. The Socialist Labor Party (PSM), Romania's reborn communist party, has nominated its first deputy chairman, Adrian Paunescu, as presidential candidate for the fall 1996 elections, Radio Bucharest reported on 25 February. A former poet laureate under late communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, Paunescu pledged to work toward establishing "democratic socialism" in Romania if elected president. Until recently, the PSM was considered a member of the ruling coalition. Its relations with the Party of Social Democracy in Romania have deteriorated. -- Dan Ionescu STRIKES IN ROMANIA. Some 100,000 railroad workers on 23 February took part in a two-hour warning strike, Romanian media reported. The strikers demanded that the minimum wage be raised from 126,000 lei ($45) to 280,000 lei ($99). The National Railroad Company management, which offered a 20% wage hike in preliminary negotiations, said the strike was "a deliberate act aimed at destabilizing national security." It also asked the pro-secutor's office to investigate. Union leaders accused the administration of trying to intimidate the strikers. Also on 23 February, 3,000 workers went on strike at two factories in the town of Megidia to protest interruptions in electricity supply. Romania is currently facing an acute energy crisis. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIAN ROUNDUP. President Zhelyu Zhelev in a TV address on 22 February called on Bulgarians to form local committees to push for the return of land to its former owners, Reuters reported. Zhelev said land restitution is still incomplete because of "narrow party interests and the political prejudices of a few people" within the Bulgarian Socialist Party. He added that only "pressure from below combined with the support of democratic institutions and political forces" can help speed up the process. Prime Minister Zhan Videnov on 23 February said the price of electricity will go up by 20% at the end of April, RFE/RL's Bulgarian service reported. Videnov was speaking at the inauguration of a new 440- kW reactor at the Maritsa Iztok power plant. -- 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. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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