|A host is like general: calamities often reveal his genius. - Horace|
No. 42, Part II, 28 February 1996
New OMRI Analytical Briefs: - "Turkey's War of Words with Syria and Iraq over Water", by Lowell Bezanis 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ BELGRADE LIFTS BLOCKADE AGAINST BOSNIAN SERBS... The federal government of rump Yugoslavia on 27 February voted to lift its blockade against the Republika Srpska, Nasa Borba reported. The blockade, which was implemented on 4 August 1994 and sealed the Drina River border between Repu-blika Srpska and rump Yugoslavia, was lifted officially at midnight, local time, on 28 February. -- Stan Markotich ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE ZYUGANOV ENDS UKRAINIAN VISIT. Russian Communist Party leader and presidential candidate Gennadii Zyuganov on 27 February ended a two-day visit to Kiev, international agencies reported. Small groups of Ukrainian nationalists staged protests during his visit. Zyuganov said regardless of who won Russia's presidential election, Moscow would continue to base its foreign policy on the principle of non- interference. He added that Ukraine remained a top priority. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma did not meet with Zyuganov because he had only heard of the visit last week and was out of the country at the time. -- Ustina Markus UKRAINE MAY SHUT DOWN UP TO 70 LOSS-MAKING COAL MINES. Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk says his government may close down up to 70 unprofitable coal mines in the next few years, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 February. Kiev had announced earlier it would shut down 28 pits in an effort to restructure the ailing coal industry. Marchuk said he believes the coal sector still has a bright future because the country has enough coal deposits to allow mining for another 600 years. However, his government intends to support only profitable and efficient mines, he added. -- Chrystyna Lapychak CENTER-RIGHT POLITICAL PARTIES UNITE IN BELARUS. The Bela-rusian Christian-Democratic Party on 26 February joined the union of center- right parties called Civic Action, Belarusian TV reported. The union, which was formed in September 1995, describes itself as "liberal- conservative" and upholds market reforms and private ownership of land. The Christian Democrats have been cooperating with the union since last year's election campaign. Civic Action is led by deputy Stanislau Bahdankevich, the former head of the National Bank of Belarus. -- Ustina Markus PROTESTS BY HEAD OF RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH IN ESTONIA. Archbishop Kornilii on 26 February sent a letter to Constantinople Patriarch Bartholemew I protesting his decision to reclaim jurisdiction over the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church, BNS reported the next day. Kornilii expressed his total support for the Moscow patriarch's decision to suspend relations with Constantinople and accused Bar-tholemew of forming a political alliance with the Estonian authorities against the non-native population. Kornilii also sent a letter to Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari accusing Archbishop Johannes of Finland of interfering in the affairs of the Estonian Orthodox Church. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT MAKES SUGGESTIONS FOR NEW GOVERN-MENT'S FINANCIAL POLICY. Algir-das Brazauskas, in his weekly interview with Radio Lithuania on 26 February, said Mindaugas Stanke-vicius's new government should present a program for dealing with the republic's financial problems. He said the law on free economic zones was problematic since it did not grant privileges offered in other countries to attract foreign capital. Brazauskas suggested the law on foreign investments should be amended to reduce the investment needed to gain a two-year tax exemption from $2 million to $500,000 or even less. He also said that to end the fears of the possible devaluation of the litas, the law on litas stability should be amended to state that the government guarantees its stability at least until 1 January 1999. -- Saulius Girnius UPDATE ON PROPOSED KALININ-GRAD HIGHWAY. Russian President Boris Yeltsin, speaking during Bela-rusian President Alyaksandr Luka-shenka's visit to Moscow, said on 27 February that Russia will seek Poland's consent to build a road link between Belarus and Kaliningrad. "We are planning to reach an accord with the Poles to build a stretch of road across their territory," Yeltsin said. Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman Pawel Dobro-wolski said that Poland has not been officially notified about the plan but added that the subject may come up during Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov's visit to Warsaw on 14 March. Polish Transportation Minister Boguslaw Li-beradzki said Poland can neither agree to building an "extraterritorial" highway nor sign special transit agreements because such matters are regulated by all-European agreements, Polish dailies reported on 28 February. -- Jakub Karpinski ROMA SENTENCED IN CZECH REPUBLIC. The 24 Vlax Roma, mostly women, accused of organized pick-pocketing in downtown Prague (see OMRI Daily Digest, 21 February 1996) have been convicted to up to four years in prison by a Czech court, CTK reported on 27 February. In addition, three of the women were barred from Prague for four years and one is to be deported. Vlax Roma are a minority among Roma in the Czech Republic and are newer to the region and less well assimilated. Some Roma blame them for the minority's criminal image. Around 50 Romani protesters gathered outside the courthouse. The verdict raises questions about collective trials, especially assumptions related to minority "gangs" or "clans" in court proceedings. -- Alaina Lemon TROUBLED SLOVAK-EU RELATIONS. EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Hans van den Broek, attending the Slovak-EU Association Council session in Brussels on 27 February, called on Slovakia "to further develop and strengthen democratic institutions and to respect ethnic minority rights and freedom of speech." Van den Broek expressed the hope that Slovakia will soon ratify the Slovak-Hungarian treaty and pass a law on minority languages. He also asked that Slovakia cancel its 10% import surcharge by 30 June, show more openness toward foreign investment, close unsafe nuclear reactors, and harmonize its legislation with that of the EU. Foreign Minister Juraj Schenk, who led the Slovak delegation, called the meeting "a breakthrough" in bilateral relations, stressing that no one questioned Slovakia's domestic political path or discussed its internal instability, TASR reported. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK SECRET SERVICE CHIEF SUES PRESIDENT. Slovak Information Service director Ivan Lexa on 27 February filed a libel suit with a Bratislava court against Michal Kovac over assertions at a Vienna court hearing about the involvement of the SIS and Lexa in his son's kidnapping, Narodna obroda reported. According to Slovak law, the president is required within 30 days to submit evidence backing his statements. Slovak opposition media pointed out that this will not be difficult, since Kovac can present the police investigation reports and testimony by former SIS agent Oskar Fegyveres. -- Sharon Fisher FORMER HUNGARIAN FINANCE MINISTER WILL NOT RECEIVE SEVERANCE PAY. The Supreme Court has ruled that outgoing Finance Minister Lajos Bokros is entitled to six months' salary--over 1 million forints ($7,000)--but no severance pay, Hungarian dailies reported on 28 February. The Prime Minister's Office had asked the Supreme Court to clarify which rules should apply to the legal status of ministers, since the relevant law dates back to 1973. None of the six ministers who quit in 1995 received severance pay, because they all stayed on as deputies. Reports that Bokros was about to get 2 million forints in severance drew heated debates in the parliament earlier this week. -- Zsofia Szilagyi HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT ELECTS MEDIA ORGANS. The Hungarian parliament on 27 February elected Socialist Party member Mihaly Tamas Revesz as chairman of the National Radio and Television Board (NRTB), Hungarian media reported. Deputies also elected chairmen of the Board of Trustees of the Hungarian Radio Foundation, Hungarian Television (MTV), and Hungaria Television. The most controversial member elected to the NRTB was Gabor Nahlik, the candidate of the opposition Smallholders, who was appointed acting chairman of MTV in 1993 by Jozsef Antall's government and who played a prominent role in the so-called media war. In other news, the parliament amended the banking law to allow tax customs and social insurance authorities to gain access to bank data under certain circumstances. This was a prerequisite for OECD membership. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE ...BUT U.S. WARNS THAT SANCTIONS AGAINST SERBIA MAY NOT BE LIFTED. The U.S. government has warned Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic that international sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia will stay in place if the Belgrade regime continues its crackdown on independent media and humanitarian organizations, international media reported on 27 February. U.S. government spokesman Glyn Davies said that "Milosevic has to understand that he's not operating in a vacuum.... The Dayton Accord calls for certain standards in human rights and we're going to hold [Belgrade] to it." -- Stan Markotich MOST EE FOREIGN MINISTERS BACK EU ARMS EMBARGO. East European foreign ministers, meeting with their EU counterparts in Brussels on 27 February, discussed the EU arms embargo on Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia, international media reported. Estonia, Latvia, Hungary, Lithuania, Romania, and Slovakia immediately endorsed the embargo. Poland, the Czech Republic, Albania, and Bulgaria weclomed the idea but said they needed to consult with their governments before adopting the measure. They cited a "lack of precision" in the requirement that countries "show restraint" in selling arms to Slovenia and Macedonia, Rzeczpospolita reported. -- Michael Mihalka THREE BOSNIAN PRIME MINISTERS MEET. Republican Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic, his federal counterpart Izudin Kapetanovic, and the Republika Srpska's Rajko Kasagic met with the international com-munity's Carl Bildt in Banja Luka on 27 February. Their agenda centered on restoring infrastructure across the boundaries between the Serbian and Muslim- Croat entities. International and regional media said that water will be piped to Gorazde and power lines rebuilt from Visegrad and Sarajevo via Gorazde to Foca. Rail transport will be resumed from Serb-held Zvornik to Banja Luka via federal Tuzla. Kasagic told reporters that there will be a common customs policy based on the German mark as a reference currency. -- Patrick Moore WAR CRIMES UPDATE. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia based in The Hague on 27 February concluded its hearings against Krajina Serb leader Milan Martic in just one day. Martic is in Banja Luka, and the VOA on 28 February quoted him as saying that any attempt to arrest and extradite him would be "a terrorist act." He is wanted for an indiscriminate rocket attack on civilians in Zagreb in 1995. The hearings were wound up because of the need to address a request by the lawyer of Bosnian Serb General Djordje Djukic that his client be freed immediately, Nasa Borba noted. Oslobodjenje reported that the Bosnian Serb authorities have drawn up a list of 2,388 people suspected of committing attrocities against Serbs, including 11 Serbs "who betrayed their own people." * Patrick Moore SARAJEVO SERB EXODUS NEARLY OVER. The evacuation of the Serb-held suburb of Ilijas is almost complete on the eve of the arrival of government police. Bosnian Serb refugees blamed their leaders for ordering them out on short notice and withdrawing essential services at the same time. AFP on 28 February quoted one man as saying that the Serbian "leaders could have let us known of their intentions earlier, instead of shunting us out like cattle at the last minute." The Guardian reported the previous day that the Serb-held suburbs are in the hands of drunken armed bands that terrorize the remaining inhabitants, most of whom are sick and old, and loot what property is left. -- Patrick Moore INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE GRANTS $14 MILLION TO SARAJEVO. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said it will allocate $14 million for the reconstruction of the destroyed Olympic arenas in Sarajevo, Nasa Borba reported on 28 February, citing Deutsche Welle. Meanwhile, AFP on 27 February reported that international aid agencies are shunning the Bosnian Serbs and concentrating their efforts on the Muslim-Croat Federation. Aid workers said donor governments are reluctant to support the Serbian side because they see no guarantee of long-term stability. An unidentified source told AFP that development aid would target exclusively government-controlled territory, while humanitarian aid projects would remain universal. -- Daria Sito Sucic CROATIA SAYS COOPERATION WITH THE HAGUE TRIBUNAL IS CONDITIONAL. The Croatian parliamentary legislative committee has supported in principle the proposal on Croatia's cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. But it said Croatia's support is conditional on changes being made to the tribunal statutes in accordance with the legislative systems of Croatia and other successor states of the former Yugoslavia, Novi List reported on 28 February. Croatian law prohibits the extradition of a citizen who has already been tried in Croatia. -- Daria Sito Sucic CROATIAN LABOR UNREST ENTERS DRAMATIC PHASE. The railroad strike that began on 22 February has succeeded in shutting down 90% of the trains, AFP reported on 28 February. The main union grouping, the SSSH, planned to launch a general strike last week but postponed it without giving a reason. President Franjo Tudjman has said that the labor unrest is "not democratic," but the unions have asked to negotiate with him personally over pay and the high cost of living. -- Patrick Moore ROMANIA-EU ASSOCIATION COUNCIL CONVENES. Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu, presiding over a meeting of the Romanian-EU Association Council in Brussels on 27 February, presented his country's strategy for joining the EU, which includes bringing its legislation in line with EU standards and speeding up economic reforms. Radio Bucharest reported that he also renewed Romania's request that EU member states abolish visa requirements for Romanian citizens. The meeting was attended by EU Council President Susanna Agnelli and by Hans van den Broek, EU commissioner for relations with Eastern Europe and the CIS. Van den Broek said he was satisfied with Romania's "considerable efforts to pave the way for full EU membership." -- Dan Ionescu U.S. DEFENSE OFFICIAL IN ROMANIA. U.S. Undersecretary of Defense Paul Kaminski paid a four-day visit to Romania to discuss bilateral military cooperation, Romanian and international media reported on 26-28 February. Kaminski and his Romanian counterpart, Gen. Florentin Popa, signed an agreement on the exchange of information in military research and development. Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu told Kaminski that Romania continues to aim for NATO integration. The two sides discussed the possibility of U.S. support in modernizing the Romanian army and defense industry. Kaminski also met with President Ion Iliescu, Defense Minister Gheorghe Tinca, and other senior officials. -- Matyas Szabo RUSSIAN TANKS TO BULGARIA. Russia is to provide Bulgaria with 100 T-72 tanks and other armored "fighting vehicles," Kontinent reported on 27 February. The daily noted that relations between Russia and Bulgaria have always been close, observing "Bulgaria is one of those few countries in Eastern Europe that is not pressing for NATO membership." Meanwhile, Demo-kratsiya reported that Gen. Mikho Mikhov last week refused Moscow's "gift" of 12 Mi-24 helicopters because of their low technical grade and the high cost need to repair and maintain them. The arms transfer was agreed to in 1995. -- Stan Markotich ALBANIAN POLICE ARRESTS MEDIA EMPLOYEES IN CONNECTION WITH BOMB ATTACK. Albanian police on 27 February arrested the two bodyguards of Koha Jone editor in chief Nikolla Lesi in connection with the bomb explosion in Tirana the previous day, Albanian media reported. This move came after police had interrogated 33 Koha Jone staff members on the day of the blast. State radio said the bodyguards resembled police sketches of the alleged perpetrators. Police also raided Lesi's apartment and confiscated a hunting rifle and a safe box containing tapes of a 1994 trial in which two journalists were convicted of slander and revealing state secrets. Meanwhile, the Association of Professional Journalists has protested the police raid on Koha Jone. President Sali Berisha said "the government is com-mitted...to iden-tifing the perpetrators, and I believe Albanian justice will give them the punishment they deserve -- capital punishment." The Socialist Party has rejected claims it was involved in the attack and has called on all political parties to "unite in the fight against terrorism." -- Fabian Schmidt GREECE, MACEDONIA FAIL AGAIN TO REACH AGREEMENT ON NAME ISSUE. Greece and Macedonia, meeting at UN headquarters in New York on 27 February, failed again to reach agreement on the issue of a permanent official name for Macedonia. Both parties agreed, however, to continue the dialogue in April. Macedonia was admitted to the UN in April 1993 under the name Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Greece continues to object to the use of "Macedonia" in its name, arguing it implies territorial claims against the northern Greek province bearing the same name. -- Lowell Bezanis and Stan Markotich [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
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