|Tot, kto lishen iskrennih druzej, poistine odinok. - F. Bekon|
No. 44, Part II, 01 March 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ BOSNIAN SERBS RESUME NEGOTIATIONS ON ARMS CONTROL. Bosnian Serbs on 29 February resumed talks in Vienna on disarmament and arms control in the former Yugoslavia, international agencies reported. The Bosnian Serbs quit the talks two weeks ago after the arrest of the two senior Serbian officers suspected of involvement in war crimes. Contacts with the international community were restored on 22 February. The Vienna talks are organized by the OSCE and include officials from the rump Yugoslavia, Croatia, and the Bosnian Federation. Nasa Borba on 1 March reported the Norwegian ambassador to the OSCE as saying that if participants do not reach agreement by 6 June, the Dayton accord regulations on arms quotas will be enforced. -- Daria Sito Sucic ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ EASTERN AND CENTRAL EUROPE UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT ORDERS TRANSFER OF SOCIAL SERVICES TO MUNICIPALITIES. The Ukrainian government has ordered the phased transfer of local social services from state-owned firms to municipal jurisdiction, UNIAN reported on 27 February. A government resolution provides that 30% of housing and 20% of pre-schools and recreational facilities be turned over to city government financing and management this year. The plans calls for nearly all social services to be under municipal control by 1998 and is part of a government effort to restructure and streamline the industrial and agricultural sectors. -- Chrystyna Lapychak CRIMEANS TO SERVE IN BLACK SEA FLEET. The Black Sea Fleet has begun accepting applications from Crimeans wishing to serve in the Black Sea Fleet, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 March. Ukraine until now has been against Crimeans serving in the fleet. More than 80 Sevastopol residents have taken Russian citizenship and are being trained to serve in the fleet. Instructors at the fleet's technical school say Crimeans tend to be the most-disciplined students. -- Ustina Markus UNPAID WAGES IN BELARUS. The Belarusian Ministry of Statistics has said that one in four Belarusians was not paid in December 1995, Belarusian Radio reported on 29 February. As of 9 February, workers were owed 509 billion Belarusian rubles ($44 million) in back wages. Over half of the debt is owed to collective farm workers. Trade unions have been threatening strikes since late 1995 over the issue of unpaid wages. -- Ustina Markus ESTONIAN-RUSSIAN BORDER TALKS. Some progress was made during border talks in Moscow on 28-29 February but there was no breakthrough on the dispute over the 1920 Tartu Peace Treaty, BNS reported the delegation heads as saying. A trilateral meeting with Finnish officials is to take place in late March over determining the point of convergence of the three countries' borders in the Gulf of Finland. Russia promised to consider what Estonia termed a constructive proposal on the 1920 treaty, but no information about its contents was revealed. The next round of Estonian-Russian talks is scheduled for 27-28 March in Tallinn. -- Saulius Girnius ESTONIA'S TV3 WINS BROADCASTING LICENSE. Culture Minister Jaak Allik on 29 February granted a national broadcasting license to the private company TV3, formed by the merger of the private stations RTV and EVTV, ETA reported. The ministry's Broadcasting License Committee two days earlier voted in favor of AS Trio, which owns several radio stations. Allik, however, doubted that it could start transmissions immediately since it lacked the technical basis and experienced employees. Major shareholders in TV3 are the Swedish media giant Kinnevik and Finnish MTV3. -- Saulius Girnius POLL ON POPULARITY OF LI-THUANIAN POLITICIANS. A poll carried out in mid-February by the British-Lithuanian joint venture Baltic Surveys suggest that public trust in Lithuanian politicians has grown since January, Radio Lithuania reported on 29 February. Seimas Deputy Chairman Egidijus Bickauskas remained in first place, with a 54% rating. He was followed by Center Union chairman Romualdas Ozolas with 50%. President Algirdas Brazauskas's rating registered the largest increase, by nine points, to 48%. But trust in the presidency increased by only two points, to 25%. Former Premier Adolfas Slezevicius received a positive rating of only 7%. -- Saulius Girnius LEGAL PROCEEDINGS AGAINST FORMER POLISH PREMIER TO BE DROPPED? The Supreme Military Prosecutor's Office on 29 February said it will not lift Jozef Oleksy's parliamentary immunity. Such a move is necessary for prosecutors to formally charge the former prime minister, who has been accused of spying for the former Soviet Union. Polish dailies on 1 March suggest that the prosecutors will most probably drop the proceedings against Oleksy. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH DOCTORS CALL SECOND STRIKE. Members of the Medical Trade Union Club (LOK) on 29 February called a two-day strike for 25-26 March to demand higher pay and better work conditions, Czech media reported. LOK chairman David Roth said no progress has been made in reforming the state health system, harming patients and frustrating doctors. The strike will include a rally in central Prague, while emergency services will be maintained at hospitals. If LOK's demands are not met, doctors will limit overtime work after the strike. Up to 5,000 doctors and nurses took part in the first strike rally last November. -- Steve Kettle RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN SLOVAKIA. Yevgenii Primakov, during his first visit to a former Eastern bloc country since taking office, on 29 February urged top Slovak officials to drop plans for NATO membership, Slovak and international media reported. Primakov's counterpart, Juraj Schenk, stressed that Slovakia continues to aim for full integration into West European structures. While noting that Russia has "no veto right" in the matter, Primakov emphasized that NATO expansion "would put Russia into a worse geopolitical and military position, not to mention the psychological aspects of the process." A Slovak Statistical Office poll released on 29 February showed that 65% of Slovaks favor EU membership, while only 43% view integration into NATO positively. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK ROUNDUP. Interior Minister Ludovit Hudek on 29 February signed a draft law on Slovakia's new territorial arrangement, Narodna obroda reported. The bill, which provides for eight regions and 74 districts, will be reviewed by the cabinet next week. Also on 29 February, Mikulas Dzurinda of the Christian Democratic Movement criticized the cabinet's new privatization method, Pravda reported. He claimed that when the government privatizes a firm, it keeps 34% for itself. Meanwhile, Narodna obroda's new editor-in-chief, Tatiana Repkova, announced that under her leadership, the paper will be a "general daily with a liberal democratic orientation" and will focus on economic and social issues. As of 1 March, Pravda's new editor-in-chief is Pavol Minarik, formerly a correspondent for the Czech daily Pravo. Minarik is the fourth person to assume that post in less than one year. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN DEFENSE MINISTER IN ISRAEL. Gyorgy Keleti on 29 February met with Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres to discuss cooperation on security matters and the Middle East peace process, international and Hungarian media reported. The two men also discussed the possibility of the Israeli air defense companies upgrading Hungarian Air Force MiG-21 fighter planes. -- Zsofia Szilagyi USAID MAY CLOSE DOWN IN HUNGARY. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) may close down its Budapest office before 2000. International agencies quoted office head Tom Cornell as saying "Hungary is progressing faster than expected and thus needs less and less American assistance." The organization has spent some $230 million on aid programs since 1991 and has an annual budget of between $15 and 21 million for the coming years. USAID's Budapest bureau provides financial and technological aid in the financial sector and supports several non- governmental organizations, Cornell said. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE IS GENERAL DJUKIC MISSING LINK TO MILOSEVIC? The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia on 1 March announced that Serbian General Djordje Djukic has been formally charged with "crimes against humanity" and "violation of war rights and conventions," AFP reported. It will also hold another Serbian officer, Col. Aleksa Krsmanovic, until at least 4 April. The Guardian on 29 February published an article based on a package of leaked documents on Djukic and some secret Serbian maps. It argues that Djukic is an officer in Belgrade's army, not Pale's, and that the "international community" was aware all along of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's role in starting and continuing the war in Bosnia through the end of 1995. The author concludes that "the revelation that the general is Belgrade's man has explosive implications for the Dayton peace agreement, while cutting to the core of the history of the conflict by revealing Belgrade's secret role in the Bosnian Serb war machine." The authenticity of the documents has yet to be verified, but many observers have long suspected such a link. -- Patrick Moore SIEGE OF SARAJEVO ENDS. With the arrival of federal police in Ilijas on 29 February, the blockade of the Bosnian capital formally came to an end. Oslobodjenje on 1 March reported that Interior Minister Avdo Hebib has reopened the overland route from Sarajevo to Zenica and Tuzla. The Serbian siege lasted nearly four years, despite repeated attempts by the government army to break through. UN spokesman Alexander Ivanko blamed the Pale leadership for ordering the looting of Ilijas before the federal units arrived. In another development, suspected war criminal and Bihac kingpin Fikret Abdic has reemerged on the political scene by registering his Democratic People's Community in Mostar. -- Patrick Moore MORE VIOLATIONS OF DAYTON ACCORDS ON PRISONERS, FORCED LABOR. The Onasa news agency on 29 February quoted a prominent Roman Catholic priest, Karlo Visevicki, as telling Bosnian Prime Minister Izudin Kapetanovic in Banja Luka that Serbs continue to make Muslims do forced labor in western Bosnia. AFP the same day reported that the International Committee of the Red Cross said that the government authorities are holding 52 more Serbian prisoners in Tuzla, bringing the total there to at least 129. Two others are being held in Zenica. These Serbs and all other prisoners not wanted for war crimes should have been freed six weeks ago. The Serbs are still officially holding 23 captives and the Croats two, in addition to those all three sides are keeping in connection with war crimes investigations. -- Patrick Moore WORLD BANK APPROVES $45 MILLION AID TO BOSNIA. The World Bank has approved $45 million in emergency reconstruction aid for Bosnia in the form of loans and grants, AFP reported on 29 February, quoting an unidentified source. The aid is part of an emergency fund created by the World Bank totaling $150 million. The World Bank is expected to announce on 1 March which reconstruction projects will be financed by these funds, whose contributors include the EU, the U.S., Canada, Germany, Japan, Holland, Sweden, Switzerland, and Britain. -- Daria Sito Sucic BOMB EXPLODES IN MOSTAR. A bomb destroyed a Muslim-owned bank in the Croatian part of Mostar on 29 February, Nasa Borba and AFP reported. No casualties were reported. The bank is owned by a Muslim family that lives in Zagreb. Bosnian Croat police have opened an investigation into the blast, which, they say, may be linked either to mafia operations or to ethnic strife. -- Daria Sito Sucic SOROS FOUNDATION VOWS TO CONTINUE WORK IN RUMP YUGOSLAVIA. The Soros Foundation has pledged to re-register in order to continue its aid work throughout rump Yugoslavia, Nasa Borba reported on 1 March. The foundation was banned last month by Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's regime. The organization said that since it was banned, there has been a risk that 30,000 refugees will not receive critical food aid, pre-schoolers will be deprived of basic educational supplies, and some 100 health facilities will not get critical medical supplies. Foundation head Sonja Licht noted that the rump Yugoslavia is "the only country that has banned the Soros Foundation from operating on its territory." -- Stan Markotich WORLD CHESS CHAMPION ENLISTS WITH SERBIAN SOCIALISTS. Russian chess master Anatolii Karpov has formally joined Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia, AFP reported on 29 February. Karpov is said to be the first foreigner to join Milosevic's ruling SPS. -- Stan Markotich ROMANIAN OPPOSITION SENATOR TO BOYCOTT PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES. Constantin Ticu Dumitrescu, senator for the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic, on 29 February said he will boycott parliamentary debates, Radio Bu-charest reported. Dumitrescu, a former political prisoner under the Communists, said he was protesting the indefinite postponement of the debate over a draft law he proposed two years ago. The bill would provide for information on the former political police to be released and would allow citizens access to their Securitate files. He also pointed to another draft law blocked by the parliament, saying the legislation aimed at banning former communist officials from holding high office within the administration. Dumitrescu argued that informers are still at work everywhere in Romania and that some have infiltrated the democratic opposition. -- Dan Ionescu MAJOR OIL LEAK IN ROMANIA. An oil tanker has spilled up to 250 tons of gasoline in the harbor of Constanta on the Black Sea, Romanian and Western media reported on 29 February. The leak occurred when the Maltese-registered tank ship was unloading its cargo. A port official blamed the oil spill on "negligence by the crew," who have been ordered to pay a small fine only and the costs of the clean-up operation. Fuel imports have been increased in an attempt to halt an energy crisis caused by particularly cold weather. -- Dan Ionescu CONTROVERSY OVER PLUNDERED ROMANIAN JEWISH FORTUNES IN SWISS BANK. The World Jewish Congress has said the Association of Swiss Bankers is hiding data on the fate of Romanian Jews' fortunes plundered during World War II and deposited in a Swiss bank account, Reuters and Cronica romana reported on 29 February-1 March. The WJC said details of an account belonging to Radu Lecca have been discovered in a Securitate file. Lecca, who was in charge of "Romanianizing" Jewish property, is widely suspected of having amassed a fortune by threatening Jews with deportation. He was sentenced to death in 1946 but his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. The file states that in 1963, Lecca-- possibly under pressure from the Securitate--attempted to reclaim money from the Swiss Volksbank but was told no record of the account existed because the bank's records had been destroyed. -- Michael Shafir EU-MOLDOVA COOPERATION COMMITTEE CONVENES IN CHI-SINAU. The EU-Moldova Joint Cooperation Committee on 29 February met for the first time, Moldovan agencies reported. Moldovan Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli said the committee was set up to implement the first agreements signed by Moldova and the EU. He expressed gratitude to the EU for its support in the peaceful settlement of the Dniester conflict and in efforts to withdraw Russian troops from Moldovan territory. Without EU's humanitarian assistance and preferential credits, "Moldova may experience social unrest," he added. -- Matyas Szabo BULGARIAN ROUNDUP. The Bulgarian government on 29 February adopted regulations for implementing the arms trade law, Standart reported. The regulations give private and state-run companies equal status. Private firms, however, must be Bulgarian majority-owned. Industry Minister Kliment Vuchev said he is not so interested in re-exports but noted that "it is important arms are being sold, that our plants work." Also on 29 February, the cabinet decided to raise the price of gasoline, diesel fuel, and fuel oil. The government said the hikes were due to the devaluation of the lev against the dollar and the need to finance road maintenance and reconstruction. -- Stefan Krause WAS ITALIAN MAFIA INVOLVED IN TIRANA BOMBING? Reuters on 29 February quoted unofficial sources "with knowledge of the police investigation into the [bomb blast in Tirana on 26 February]" as saying the owner of the car that carried the bomb has been detained and has links with the Italian Mafia. He reportedly came from Italy's Puglia region. Vefa Holdings, the owner of the supermarket that was destroyed in the blast, is reportedly also involved in arms trading. -- Fabian Schmidt JOURNALIST CONTINUES TO BE DETAINED IN TIRANA. Meanwhile, a Tirana court has ruled that Populli Po journalist Ylli Polovina is to remain in prison, Koha Jone reported on 1 March. Polovina wrote an article last November suggesting that bomb attacks like that on Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov in October could also happen in Albania. The prosecutor charged him with "publicly calling for violent acts." Polovina faces up to three years in prison if found guilty. The Albanian Helsinki Committee, Reporters without Borders, and the International Center against Censorship Article 19 have protested both Polovina's arrest and raids on Koha Jone's offices since the bombing. Koha Jone Chief Editor Nikolle Lesi has been charged with illegal arms possession, Gazeta Shqiptare reported. President Sali Berisha continues to blame the communist-era secret police for the explosion. -- Fabian Schmidt GREECE WILL CONTINUE TO BLOCK EU AID TO TURKEY. Greek Prime Minister Kostas Simitis on 29 February said Greece will block EU aid to Turkey "as long as Turkish aggressiveness persists," Reuters reported. He said it "would be foolish for Greece to go along as if nothing were happening while Turkey threatens war." He also noted that Turkey is not following a provision of the customs union with the EU committing it to friendly relations with EU countries. Turkish caretaker Prime Minister Tansu Ciller said the same day that Greece should not use EU membership as a weapon against Turkey. She called on Athens to solve differences by dialogue. Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana arrived in Athens on 29 February to discuss the effects of the Greek-Turkish dispute on military cooperation in the region, AFP reported. -- 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. 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