Praise yourself daringly, something always sticks. - Francis Bacon
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 41, Part II, 27 February 1996


New OMRI Analytical Brief:
-  "Iranians and Foreign Fighters Continue
to Plague Bosnian Operation", by Michael Mihalka 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ SOLANA CONFIRMS BOSNIAN SERB COMPLIANCE WITH UN CONDITIONS. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana confirmed in a letter to the UN on 26 February that the Bosnian Serbs have withdrawn from "the zones of separation" delimiting the Bosnian entities under the Dayton peace accords, international media reported. The sanctions against the Bosnian Serbs were supposed to be lifted one day after the IFOR commander confirmed compliance by the Bosnian factions. Two previous letters by Solana, dated 23 January and 6 February, were returned for clarification. This time, however, the UN Security Council is expected to lift the sanctions. Russia lifted sanctions unilaterally on 23 February, which the United States called "premature." Meanwhile, NATO has decided to postpone until mid-April talks about the withdrawal of IFOR troops after their one-year mandate expires. -- Michael Mihalka ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE RUSSIAN DELEGATION IN UKRAINE. A Russian parliamentary delegation led by State Duma speaker Gennadii Seleznyov arrived in Kiev on 26 February for a two-day visit, international agencies reported. The delegation included head of the Russian Communist Party Gennadii Zyuganov, who assured Kiev that it did not have to fear any sudden shifts in Russia's policy toward Ukraine if he is elected Russian president in the summer. The delegation met with Ukrainian parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Moroz but not with President Leonid Kuchma. Discussions focused on the treaty of friendship and cooperation between Russia and Ukraine, a draft of which is almost ready, and the settlement of the Black Sea Fleet dispute. A small group of Ukrainian nationalist demonstrated against Zyuganov at Kiev airport. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT IN RUSSIA. Alyaksandr Lukashenka arrived in Moscow on 27 February on the first leg of a four-day official visit to Russia, international agencies reported. The purpose of his visit is to increase economic ties with Russia. Lukashenka met with his Russian counterpart, Boris Yeltsin, to discuss mutual debts. Belarus owes Russia almost $800 million for energy supplies and another $470 million for outstanding loans. At the same time, Minsk says Moscow owes it $800 million in compensation for ecological damage caused by strategic missiles based in Belarus and $114 million for stationing Russian troops on its territory. Agreements on trade and economic relations have been drawn up for signing. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENTARY DECISION ON LOCAL COUNCILS. The Belarusian parliament has passed a resolution lowering the required number of deputies to legitimize local councils, Belarusian TV reported on 24 February. Despite several rounds of elections, voters have failed to elect enough deputies to allow the local councils to convene. The parliamentary resolution lowers the minimum number from two-thirds to half of the total deputies. -- Ustina Markus FARMERS' ASSEMBLY TO LEAVE ESTONIA'S RULING COALITION. The Farmers' Assembly on 26 February decided to withdraw its two parliamentary deputies, Eldur Parder and Ulo Peets, from the ruling KMU/Reform Party coalition after elections to the parliament's leadership on 14 March, ETA and BNS reported. The decision was prompted by the coalition's failing to take into account farmers' interests during the second reading of amendments to legislation on land reform. Since parliamentary regulations do not allow Parder and Peets to join other factions, they will stay on as independent deputies. Their departure will not affect the coalition's parliamentary majority, which will drop to 59 out of 100 deputies. -- Saulius Girnius LATVIA, RUSSIA SIGN BORDER AGREEMENT. Gen. Andrei Nikolaev, head of the Russian Federal Border Service, and his Latvian counterpart, Leonid Lasmanis, signed an agreement on 26 February in St. Petersburg, Western agencies reported. The agreement, which is similar to those Russia had previously signed with Estonia and Finland, provides for cooperation in controlling their joint border to prevent smuggling and illegal immigration. The border services are to exchange information and launch joint investigations. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIA'S LITIMPEKS BANK RESUMES PARTIAL OPERATIONS. The Litimpeks Bank on 26 February resumed settlement operations in litai following a two-month suspension, BNS reported. The Bank of Lithuania allowed the resumption of activities on the basis of the so-called zero variant. Funds in Litimpeks accounts continue to be frozen, but the bank is renewing agreements with its clients and carrying out money transactions. Former bank chairman Gintautas Preidys said he thought that about 70% of the clients would return to the bank. Settlement operations in hard currencies are likely to be resumed after 1 March. Preidys anticipates that the bank will be allowed to accept deposits and offer loans beginning 1 July. -- Saulius Girnius COMMITTEE REJECTS POLISH SECURITY CHIEF'S RESIGNATION. The Political Advisory Committee at the Ministry of Internal Affairs on 26 February rejected Gen. Gromoslaw Czempinski's resignation in January as chief of the Polish State Security Office. Czempinski said he was resigning because of his inability to stop classified information leaking to the press, particularly on espionage allegations against former Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy. The committee's decision is binding neither on the internal affairs minister, who must submit a motion to accept the resignation, nor on the prime minister, who must sign it. Polish dailies on 27 February reported unofficial sources as saying Internal Affairs Minister Zbigniew Siemiatkowski supports Czempinski's resignation. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH INTERIOR MINISTER TO PROPOSE BANNING COMMUNIST PARTY. Jan Ruml will propose to the government "in the next few days" that the Party of Czechoslovak Communists (SCK) be outlawed for promoting the return to a communist regime, Czech media reported on 27 February. The small SCK, headed by former leading communist functionary Miroslav Stepan, is regarded as Stalinist and shunned by even the official Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia. Ruml said the SCK at a recent congress advocated a return to the policies of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, which was in power from 1948 to 1989. Such activities violate legislation declaring the communist regime to have been illegal and criminal and making promotion of its principles a crime. -- Steve Kettle UPDATE ON EXPLOSION AT SLOVAK STEEL PLANT. State Secretary Pavol Kacic, head of a government commission investigating the VSZ explosion in October, which killed 11 people, confirmed on 26 February that none of the firm's high-level managers will be held responsible, Novy Cas reported. The commission, which is charged with investigating both the reasons for the explosion and those responsible for the deaths, is expected to present its report in late March. Kacic said that neither his commission nor the police has found anyone who can be given direct responsibility for the deaths. Only two regular employees have been charged so far. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN PREMIER NOMINATES MEDGYESSY AS FINANCE MINISTER. Gyula Horn on 26 February announced he is nominating Peter Medgyessy to replace departing Finance Minister Lajos Bokros, Hungarian dailies reported. The Socialist Party presidium and the junior coalition partner, the Alliance of Free Democrats, have both supported Medgyessy's nomination. Horn said previously that Medgyessy has laid down no conditions for accepting the nomination, except that the cabinet's economic committee be given greater decision-making powers. Opposition Democratic Forum leader Ivan Szabo said he respects Medgyessy's professional skills, but both he and other opposition parties criticized Horn for choosing someone from the Socialist elite of the 1980s. Medgyessy was finance minister in 1987 and served as deputy prime minister in charge of economic policy until 1990. The Budapest Stock Exchange Index rose by 122 points, mostly due to interest among foreign investors who felt reassured by Medgyessy's nomination, Vilaggazdasag reported. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE UN CHARGES SERBS WITH LOOTING PUBLIC PROPERTY. Serbs are continuing to pillage their Sarajevo suburbs as they leave. UNHCR spokesman Kris Jankowski told Reuters on 26 February that reports were coming in daily of, among other things, thefts of furniture from the municipal office building and the movie theater in Ilijas. He added that "Serb police were there but did nothing to stop the theft. We're going to share our concerns with NATO." The population in Ilijas has shrunk recently from about 17,000 to 2,000 as the Serbs flee with the help of the Bosnian Serb army. When federal police arrive on 29 February, Muslims and Croats who were "ethnically cleansed" in previous years are expected to return. Nasa Borba said on 27 February that federal authorities arrived in a series of suburbs the previous day only to find them deserted. AFP reported that Sarajevo Serbs are being sent to the strategic Brcko area, the future of which is to be decided by international arbitration. Bosnian Presidency member Ivo Komsic called the Serbian tactics a form of "ethnic cleansing," Onasa noted on 26 February. -- Patrick Moore EU FOREIGN MINISTERS ON BOSNIA. EU foreign ministers, meeting in Brussels on 26 February, discussed future cooperation with the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, Nasa Borba reported. Such cooperation, they said, will be conditional on the free movement of people, goods, and services. The ministers said they were "sorry to hear of EU Mostar administrator Hans Kosch-nick's resignation," but they agreed to the extension of his mandate until a replacement is found. They also said that economic support for Bosnia, Croatia, and the rump Yugoslavia will be conditional on their cooperation with The Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. -- Daria Sito Sucic BOSNIA, CROATIA SIGN ACCORDS. Prime ministers Zlatko Matesa of Croatia and Hasan Muratovic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, meeting in Split on 26 February, signed agreements on air traffic, investments and legal assistance in civil and criminal proceedings, Vecernji list reported. Reuters reported Croatian radio as saying that Bosnian citizens will no longer need visas to enter Croatia beginning in March. The two sides agreed to decide on the status of the Croatian port of Ploce, which the Bosnians consider vital to the development of their economy, within two weeks. Repatriation of refugees and the status of Mostar remain unresolved issues. The same day, a police unit made up of Croatian, Bosnian, and West European officers began guarding EU headquarters in Mostar, Hina reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic SERBIAN MINISTER SAYS REFUGEES SHOULD GO HOME. Serbian minister for Municipal Planning Branislav Ivkovic, speaking in Subotica on the weekend, said it is the aim of Serbian and rump Yugoslav authorities that refugees currently in the rump Yugoslavia return home. TV Serbia on 24 February quoted the minister as saying he expected the international community to provide guarantees for the safe return of the refugees. The minister added, however, that the government has developed a program for those who decide to stay in Serbia whereby all municipalities are to volunteer information on housing availability, abandoned dwellings, and uninhabited areas. The minister criticized local authorities in Subotica for allegedly refusing to comply with his requests. -- Stan Markotich CROATIAN UPDATE. Novi list reported on 27 February that the railway workers' strike committee held a press conference the previous day. Its chairman, Zlatko Pavletic, said that the workers were dropping their demand for a 100% pay hike and asking for only 60% instead. He also called for direct talks with President Franjo Tudjman, whom he said had been misinformed about the strike, which began on 22 February. Meanwhile, pro-government newspapers on 26 and 27 February praised the governing Croatian Democratic Com-munity's recent congress as "a blueprint for the next century." Novi list quoted opposition parties, however, as calling it "a typical party plenum from the 1950s." -- Patrick Moore ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT DEBATES ENERGY CRISIS. A motion accusing Nicolae Vacaroiu's left-wing government of failing to prevent a crisis in the energy sector provoked heated debates in the parliament on 26 February, Romanian media reported. The motion was put forward by the Democratic Convention of Romania, which said that the cabinet "has shown an irresponsible lack of interest in securing stocks of fuel for the energy sector." Vacaroiu, who attended the separate sessions of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, defended his government's policy. While failing to gather the required number of votes in the Senate, the motion passed in the Chamber of Deputies thanks to support from the government's former nationalist and neo-communist allies. -- Dan Ionescu MOLDOVAN RULING PARTY MOVES TO SET UP LEFT-WING ELECTORAL BLOC. Deputy Parliamentary Chairman Dumitru Diacov has proposed establishing a left- wing coalition centered on the ruling Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova (PDAM) to nominate a joint presidential candidate, Moldovan agencies reported on 26 February. Meanwhile, Vladimir Voronin of the Communist Party of Moldova and Valentin Krylov of the Socialist Unity told BASA-press that their parties' goal is to set up a bloc of "patriotic popular forces," which, they said, would be composed of leftist-centrist parties. Anatol Taran, chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Moldova (PSDM), did not rule out the possibility of a PSDM-PDAM coalition, although he said "the PDAM is not a left-wing party, since it does not defend working people's rights." -- Matyas Szabo BULGARIA CALLS FOR BALKAN FOREIGN MINISTERS MEETING. Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski has invited his counterparts from all Balkan countries to attend a forum in Sofia later this year, Pari reported on 27 February. The aim of the meeting is to revive the process of Balkan cooperation, which was interrupted by the wars in the former Yugoslavia. The ministers will discuss confidence-building measures, the implementation of the Dayton accords, economic cooperation, and joint infrastructure projects. Foreign Ministry spokesman Panteley Kara- simeonov said the meeting is expected to be held by the end of June. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN POLICE OFFICER ARRESTED FOR RACKETEERING. Captain Hristo Savov, a police officer in Sofia involved in fighting organized crime, on 26 February was arrested on charges of racketeering and extortion, Kontinent reported. Savov had offered to "protect" a businessman who had received life threats. The businessman turned to the police after Savov asked for $17,000 or the man's flat in return for protection over one year. Six months ago, the head of the Varna police department fighting organized crime was arrested on similar charges. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN POLICE ARREST THREE SIGURIMI AGENTS IN CONNECTION WITH BOMB ATTACK... Albanian police have arrested three communist-era secret service (Sigu-rimi) agents in connection with the explosion near a supermarket in central Tirana, Gazeta Shqiptare reported. The explosion, which killed five people and injured 25, took place on 26 February. The three are suspected of having links with the Serbian secret service. The arrests took place only a couple of hours after President Berisha visited the site and blamed Sigurimi agents for the blast. The government has issued a reward of 5 million lek ($50,000) for information leading to the conviction of the perpetrators. -- Fabian Schmidt ...AND INTERROGATE JOURNALISTS. The same day, police interrogated 33 employees of Koha Jone, which, together with the Socialist daily Zeri i Popullit, has been accused of receiving funds from the Serbian secret services. Koha Jone staff members expressed concern that the explosion may be used to exert pressure on the independent media. Albanian TV connected the blast to an article in Populli Po last November headlined: "The car bomb in Skopje could happen in Tirana," referring to the attack on Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov last October. The supermarket belongs to Vehbi Alimucaj, regarded as the richest businessman in Albania with a fortune totaling some $50 million. A spokesman for Alimucaj said he doubted the store was targeted specifically, international agencies reported on 26 February. -- Fabian Schmidt GREECE GETS LUKEWARM SUPPORT FROM EU PARTNERS. The EU foreign ministers on 26 February backed Greece in its dispute with Turkey but did not fully endorse Athens' position, Western media reported. Italian Foreign Minister Susanna Agnelli said "We appealed to [Greece and Turkey] to begin a dialogue to avoid the threat of war" and to take the question of the uninhabited island of Imia/Kardak to the International Court of Justice if necessary. French Foreign Minister Herve de Charette said the EU Commission "went a little bit beyond its competence" when it expressed its "full solidarity" with Greece on 8 February. Meanwhile, Athens said it will review its efforts to block a 375 million ECU ($485 million) EU aid package to Turkey. Voting on the package is scheduled to take place at the next foreign ministers meeting in late March. -- Stefan Krause TURKEY SEEKS SUPPORT AMONG EU ALLIES. Turkish caretaker Prime Minister Tansu Ciller left for Italy on 26 February for talks with her Italian counterpart, Lamberto Dini, to seek support among Turkey's EU allies, Turkish and Western media reported the same day. Before leaving, she said that Greek conduct over aid to Turkey was an "abuse" of its EU membership. She also said that any delay in granting the aid package would be "tantamount to a violation of the agreement." Ciller noted that Turkey "cannot be kept in Europe's waiting room" and would take its rightful place within the union. -- 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. 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 omripub@omri.cz 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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