|Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most times he will pick himself up and carry on. - Winston Churchill|
No. 43, Part II, 29 February 1996
New OMRI Analytical Briefs: - "Tirana Bomb Blast Leads to Crackdown on Independent Media", by Fabian Schmidt - "Serbian President's Crackdown Includes Humanitarian Group", by Stan Markotich - "Czechs Free Up Crown's Exchange Rate", by Steve Kettle 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ BOSNIAN FEDERAL POLICE ENTER ILIJAS. The multi-ethnic police force of the Bosnian Federation has taken up posts in the second of the formerly Serb-held suburbs of Sarajevo to pass to federal control under the terms of the Dayton agreement. The 90-strong contingent included 25 Serbs and 15 Croats. As before, most local Serbs were driven out by their own authorities, which withdrew essential services and utilities and contributed to a climate of panic and fear but did not always provide transportation. Armed gangs then looted and intimidated local residents, so that only the old and infirm remained. This will help consolidate "ethnic cleansing" and is in keeping with the view of the Bosnian Serb leadership that people of different nationalities cannot live together, but it is not the concept of the Dayton accords. -- Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE CRIMEAN LAWMAKERS ELECT PRIME MINISTER. Crimean deputies have elected Arkadii Demydenko as the region's prime minister, interna-tional and Ukrainian agencies reported on 28 February. The 46-year-old engineer is considered a moderate and served as deputy prime minister in the government of Anatolii Franchuk, who was dismissed in December for his alleged pro-Kiev sympathies. Demydenko promised to pursue greater economic independence for the peninsula, particularly through developing offshore oil and gas deposits and alternative energy sources. UNIAN on 26 February reported that Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma expressed satisfaction with Demy-denko's nomination for the post. -- Chrystyna Lapychak EUROPEAN COMMISSION URGES TRADE ACCORD WITH BELARUS. The European Commission has proposed that EU countries sign a temporary trade agreement with Belarus, Reuters reported on 28 February. The accord will apply until a comprehensive agreement on partnership and cooperation comes into force. The comprehensive accord was signed last March but has not been ratified because the EU has been waiting for confirmation that Belarus is sincere in its commitment to economic and political reform. -- Ustina Markus DENMARK TO HELP ESTONIA PREPARE FOR EU MEMBERSHIP. Estonian Foreign Minister Siim Kallas and Danish Ambassador to Estonia Sven Roed Nielsen on 28 February signed an agreement on Danish technical and expert assistance to help Estonia join the EU, BNS reported. The accord allows Estonian ministries and other institutions to receive advice on how to amend legislation to bring it into line with EU requirements. The implementation of the agreement will be controlled by a committee of Estonian senior officials set up to coordinate EU-related questions. -- Saulius Girnius ENERGY PRICES IN LITHUANIA MAY INCREASE. Prime Minister Mindaugas Stankevicius, speaking on Radio Lithuania on 28 February, said the government will probably have to raise energy costs for consumers since the budget deficit is growing. He noted that while Lietuvos Dujos owed $36 million to Russian natural gas suppliers, Lithuania's consumers owed the energy system more than $75 million. He regretted that the government used a large part of foreign loans to pay energy debts rather than for investments to increase production. He also said he expected to announce the appointment of a new energy minister by the end of the week. -- Saulius Girnius NEW CHIEF OF POLISH STATE SECURITY OFFICE. Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz on 28 February accepted the resignation of Gromoslaw Czempinski, head of the Polish State Security Office (UOP). Czempinski stepped down in connection with the leaks to the press about spy allegations against former Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy. Cimo-szewicz the same day named Andrzej Kapkowski as the new UOP chief. Kapkowski has worked in counter-intelligence since 1968, Polish dailies reported on 29 February. -- Jakub Karpinski POLISH TELEVISION PRESIDENT TENDERS RESIGNATION. Wieslaw Walendziak has tendered his resignation, Rzeczpospolita reported on 29 February. Walendziak gave no reasons for his decision. He had supported extending the contract of Maciej Pawlicki, former director of Polish TV's First Channel, but three deputy presidents had opposed such a move. Rzeczpospolita said that Walendziak may have resigned on finding out that he had limited influence over the day-to-day running of the company. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz POLAND, UKRAINE TO FORM JOINT PEACEKEEPING BATTALION. Poland and Ukraine have agreed to form a joint peacekeeping battalion, Interfax reported on 28 February. The unit will be financed by both countries and will consist of Ukrainian units based in Lviv and Polish units in Przemysl. The first joint military exercise are to be held in April on the outskirts of Lviv. English will be the battalion's official language. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECHS RELAX MONETARY PO-LICY, CUT TAXES. The Czech National Bank (CNB) on 28 February widened the band in which the koruna can fluctuate from plus or minus 0.5% of the basket of currencies to which it is fixed (the German mark and U.S. dollar) to plus or minus 7.5%, Czech media reported. CNB Governor Josef Tosovsky said the move would aid anti- inflation policy and keeping the currency stable. The Czech (and previously, Czechoslovak) koruna had been kept under tight control for more than five years. IMF officials had recommended easing monetary policy to help stem a large inflow of foreign speculative capital into the Czech Republic. Meanwhile, the government approved cuts in income tax and VAT that will remove 9.4 billion koruny ($348 million) from the 1997 state budget. -- Steve Kettle CZECH DEPUTIES DESERT PARTY. The caucus leader of the centrist Free Democrats-Liberal National Social Party (SD-LSNS) on 28 February announced that at least five of its six deputies have formed a new group called the Civic National Movement, Czech media reported. The deputies, who previously represented the LSNS, have been in conflict with the new party leadership since last fall when the LSNS merged with the SD, headed by former Czechoslovak Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier. Caucus leader Tomas Sterba has been threatened with expulsion from the party for contravening official policy. He has accused the SD of highjacking the LSNS. The split comes exactly three months before parliamentary elections are due to be held. -- Steve Kettle SLOVAK OPPOSITION PARTY TO JOIN COALITION? Party of the Democratic Left (SDL) chairman Peter Weiss on 28 February told reporters that his party will not join the current government. Weiss called it "unacceptable" for the SDL to work with the Slovak National Party, which "is in the cabinet only to profit from privatization" and which has "repeatedly tried to rehabilitate the quasi-Fascist war-time state." Weiss said the SDL is considering joining a restructured cabinet because of increasing social tension and Slovakia's weak international position at a time when expansion of the EU and NATO is being decided. Criticizing the cabinet's plans to privatize Slovakia's biggest banks by selling them to the country's largest firms (which are also the banks' debtors), Weiss stressed the need to restructure the banks' portfolios, to weaken their monopoly, and to pass legislation on state supervision and protection of deposits. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN FINANCE MINISTER OUTLINES REFORM PROGRAM. Peter Medgyessy has said he wants to continue with the stabilization program of his predecessor, Lajos Bokros, and will aim for larger economic growth, Hungarian media reported on 29 February. Medgyessy was addressing the parliamentary Economic Committee, which backed his ideas. Medgyessy said there is a realistic chance of increasing economic growth from 1.5% of GDP in 1995 to 4-5% in 1997. He added that reducing inflation from the current 29% to 20%, as stipulated by the government, is his top priority. Medgyessy also aims to reduce interest rates and reform the pension and health insurance systems. -- Szilagyi Zsofia SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE IFOR FAILS TO ARREST KARADZIC AGAIN. IFOR commander U.S. Admiral Leighton Smith admitted that Bosnian Serb leader and indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic was in Banja Luka at the same time as some of Smith's men on 27 February. Smith claimed, however, that they could not have arrested him. Reuters on 28 February quoted Smith as saying: "We did not have Karadzic in our hands. We happened to be in the same city. He happened to have a fairly substantial number of guards. He was also in public places where civilians were around. If IFOR had attempted to detain him, there clearly would have been some resistance. It would have been unwise frankly on the part of those IFOR people who may have seen him in Banja Luka to have pursued any sort of a detention." This is the latest in a series of reports that Karadzic was in the vicinity of the peacekeepers, who did nothing to apprehend him. -- Patrick Moore WAR CRIMES UPDATE. Nasa Borba and Novi list on 1 March reported that the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia has deferred until 2 March its ruling on a request to free Bosnian Serb General Djordje Djukic. This was a rebuff to his lawyer's request for him to be released by 1 March "at the latest," AFP reported. Onasa on 28 February quoted Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic as saying that evidence is being collected against Canadian General Lewis McKenzie on suspicion of his participating in war crimes, "mainly rapes," when he was UNPROFOR commander in Bosnia. McKenzie was linked to reports about gatherings at a Serb-run brothel near Sarajevo and later became a lobbyist for the Serbian cause. Meanwhile in Zagreb, parliament agreed on 27 February after heated discussion to postpone until March a vote on a bill to enable Croatia to extradite suspected war criminals wanted by the tribunal. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN JOURNALISTS BOYCOTT CARL BILDT. The Independent Union of Professional Journalists of Bosnia-Herzegovina broke off all contacts with the international community's High Representative Carl Bildt as of 1 March, Onasa reported on 27 February. This is to protest the Serbs' continued detention of Bosnian photographer Hidajet Delic, whom the Serbs captured and accused of "war crimes" on 8 February in apparent response to the arrest of Djukic and other Serb officers. The journalists said that Bildt is responsible for ensuring freedom of movement in Sarajevo. OMRI special correspondents Jan Urban and Yvonne Badal visited Delic and said he "was not in a good mental state, although he kept repeating he had not been physically abused." Urban added that the Serbs have not filed charges against Delic or let him contact a lawyer. -- Patrick Moore EU MAINTAINS ARMS EMBARGO AGAINST BOSNIA, CROATIA, RUMP YUGOSLAVIA. The EU Council of Ministers, meeting in Brussels on 27 February, decided maintain its arms embargo against Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and the rump Yugoslavia until the IFOR mission ends and eastern Slavonia is transferred to the Croatian government, Novi list reported on 29 February. The embargo does not include equipment needed to clear mines. Requests by Slovenia and Macedonia to be allowed to import arms will be discussed on a "case-by-case" basis. The EU will reconsider its decision again shortly before the IFOR mandate in Bosnia and the UN mandate in eastern Slavonia expires. -- Daria Sito Sucic INTERNATIONAL MONITORS CONCLUDE RUMP YUGOSLAV MISSION. International monitors observing cross-border activity between the rump Yugoslavia and the Republika Srpska have ended their mission following the lifting of sanctions against the Bosnian Serbs, Nasa Borba reported on 29 February. The mission began in September 1994, after Belgrade had agreed to halt all traffic, except humanitarian aid deliveries, to the Bosnian Serbs. Belgrade will now resume responsibility for monitoring the border. In other news, on 28 February Tanjug reported that UN special representative Kofi Annan, who on 27 February announced he was resigning his post, paid a visit to Belgrade where he met with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and other officials. -- Stan Markotich BOSNIAN CARDINAL WARNS OF DANGER OF "ISLAMIZING" BOS-NIA. Vinko Puljic, during a visit to Bonn for talks with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, has warned of the danger of "Islamizing" Bosnia-Herzegovina, Nasa Borba reported on 29 February, citing Deutsche Welle. Puljic asked Kohl for political, moral, and material aid in the reconstruction of Bosnia. He expressed special concern for the refugees who have found safe haven in Germany, saying he feared they would become beggars on returning home. -- Daria Sito Sucic SLOVENIA REACHES DEAL WITH FOREIGN CREDITORS. Slovenia has become the first former Yugoslav republic to reach a deal with its foreign creditors to pay its share of the former Yugoslavia's debts, Radio Slovenia reported on 28 February. The parliament formally approved the deal. Governor of the Bank of Slovenia France Arhar was quoted as saying "the bonds for covering the debt will be issued before the end of June." Slovenia and the London Club of creditors last year agreed that Ljubljana will pay 18% of the former Yugoslavia's debts. -- Stan Markotich MACEDONIAN WRAP-UP. Mace-donian President Kiro Gligorov was awarded the annual peace prize of the Crans Montana Forum, MIC reported on 28 February. Gligorov will receive the prize at the next session of the forum, which will be held under the auspices of the Council of Europe, the European Commission, UNIDO, and UNESCO. Meanwhile, Defense Minister Blagoy Handziski on 27 February received the first Russian military attache to Macedonia, Col. Stanislav Gromov. The EU Council of Ministers concluded that the EU should adopt a restrictive approach toward arms exports to Macedonia and Slovenia, given the situation in the former Yugoslavia. Export licenses will now have to be approved on a case-by- case basis. Finally, Politika on 29 February reported that rump Yugoslav Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic is in Skopje to negotiate preparations for the mutual recognition of the two states. -- Fabian Schmidt ROMANIAN SENATE CHAIRMAN IN U.S. A Romanian parliamentary delegation headed by Senate Chairman Oliviu Gherman is paying an official visit to the U.S., Radio Bucharest reported on 28-29 February. Gher-man, who is also chairman of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania, met with U.S. congressmen and members of the Clinton administration to discuss the progress of reforms in Romania and its efforts to join Euro- Atlantic structures. The visit has been sponsored by the congressional research service, which has launched an assistance program for Romania. -- Dan Ionescu ROMANIA RESUMES TREATY TALKS WITH NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES. Romanian Foreign Ministry official Dumitru Ceausu and Vladimir Vasilenko, a special envoy to Ukraine's Foreign Ministry, resumed bilateral treaty talks in Bucharest on 27 February following a four-month break, Romanian and international media reported. Negotiations on a Romania-Yugoslav Federation basic treaty began in Belgrade the same day. The talks had been postponed after the UN Security Council imposed sanctions on the rump Yugoslav government. A new round of negotiations between Romania and Hungary over Romanian President Ion Iliescu's "historic reconciliation proposal" also began on 28 February in Bucharest. -- Matyas Szabo MOLDOVAN PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER ON BASIC TREATY WITH RUSSIA. Petru Dascal on 28 February said Moldova and Russia should denounce both the 1990 bilateral treaty and a 1995 additional protocol stipulating military assistance in case of need. Moldovan agencies quoted him as saying that due to the rapid development of events over the past several years, the treaty is outdated, although it has not yet been ratified by the Russian State Duma. Dascal said the two countries should begin negotiations on a new treaty that would take into account the current state of bilateral relations. -- Matyas Szabo BANK TAKEOVER IN BULGARIA. The Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) has effectively taken over the private Bank for Agricultural Credit Vitosha (BZK), Pari reported on 29 February. BZK's shareholders will hand over their shares to BNB without compensation and BNB will continue to refinance BZK. Since the beginning of 1996, BNB has pumped some 2.5 billion leva ($33.1 million) into BZK in order to avoid insolvency. The latest move is aimed at stabilizing the bank and protecting depositors. BZK head Atanas Tilev, who is also the biggest shareholder with some 40%, has agreed to the deal. The BNB insists on changes in BZK's statutes and management. Such changes have to be approved by 75% of shareholders. -- Stefan Krause BOMBS EXPLODE THROUGHOUT ALBANIA. Unrelated bomb explosions took place throughout Albania on 27-28 February. Unidentified assailants in Vlora blasted a hole in the balcony of an apartment building, Koha Jone reported on 29 February. The blast shattered glass in the building. A bailiff in Gramsh found a bomb with a burning fuse on his balcony but was able to throw it away before it exploded. Gazeta Shqiptare reported that a garbage can near an apartment block in Shkoder was blasted by a bomb. The explosion was so loud that it could be heard in most parts of the city. Investigations into all three incidents have begun. Meanwhile, police have published sketches of a person who left the car containing the bomb that went off in Tirana on 26 February, Lajmi i Dites reported. -- Fabian Schmidt AGREEMENT REACHED "IN PRINCIPLE" TO FORM TURKISH COALITION GOVERNMENT. Turkish caretaker Prime Minister Tansu Ciller, leader of the True Path Party, and Mesut Yilmaz, chief of the Motherland Party, have agreed "in principle" to form a "grand coalition," Western agencies reported. But the former bitter rivals reportedly remain divided over who should initially serve as prime minister if a rotation scheme is agreed on. A second round of talks between Ciller and Yilmaz is scheduled for 1 March. There have been three abortive attempts to form a coalition government since the general elections last December. -- 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. 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