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No. 46, Part II, 05 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ SERBS LAUNCH NEW WAVE OF ETHNIC CLEANSING. Serbs arriving from Sarajevo have begun forcing some of the few remaining Muslims and Croats in the Banja Luka area from their homes. Onasa on 4 March quoted a UN spokesman as saying that reports of expulsions are coming in "almost daily." Elderly Serbs were said to be moving into empty houses vacated earlier by Muslims and Croats in Trebinje, the Serbian stronghold in eastern Herzegovina. Meanwhile in Brussels, NATO has been discussing the idea of putting teeth into IFOR's mandate to enable it to take a more active role in catching war criminals and protecting the evidence of war crimes, AFP reported on 4 March. -- Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN UKRAINE. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati visited Kiev on 4-5 March, ITAR-TASS reported. Velayati met with his Ukrainian counterpart Hennadii Udovenko and Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk. Talks focused on economic issues. Iran invited Ukraine to participate in a free economic zone being created along Iran's and Turkmenistan's border, and Udovenko and Velayati stressed the importance of realizing the trilateral agreement between Iran, Ukraine, and Turkmenistan over Turkmen gas deliveries to Ukraine. Under the agreement, Iran covers part of Ukraine's gas bill to Turkmenistan. Udovenko and Velayati noted that their countries held similar positions on most regional and international issues. Velayati flew to Belarus at the end of the visit, and will also visit Russia. -- Ustina Markus ESTONIA, FLANDERS SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENT. Flanders Prime Minister Luc van den Brande and Estonian Foreign Minister Siim Kallas on 4 March signed an agreement on cooperation in transport, trade, tourism, science, and culture, BNS reported. Flanders has signed similar agreements with Hungary and Poland. In meetings with Prime Minister Tiit Vahi, President Lennart Meri, and Agriculture Minister Ilmar Mandmets, van den Brande noted the problems smaller languages and cultures face in the process of European integration, but expressed support for Estonia's entry into the European Union. -- Saulius Girnius OUTBREAK OF SWINE FEVER IN LATVIA. The Estonian veterinary service on 4 March imposed a 12-month ban on the import of swine, pork, and pork products from Latvia due to an outbreak of swine fever in the Talsi region of Latvia, BNS reported. Arnolds Zilinskis of the Latvian veterinary service said that the last outbreak of swine fever in Latvia was in 1993. At that time, no vaccinations were carried out in Talsi and five other regions. -- Saulius Girnius BELARUS COMPLETES CFE AIRCRAFT REDUCTIONS. Belarus has met its obligations in aircraft reductions as specified by the CFE treaty, Belarusian television reported on 2 March. Under the terms of the treaty, Belarus was to dismantle 130 military aircraft. The last were destroyed at the air base at Baranavichi with an inspection group from Norway overlooking the operation. By 26 April, Belarus should fulfill all of its treaty reductions. Under the terms of the treaty, the reductions should have been completed by November 1995. In February 1995, Belarus suspended its reductions because of financial difficulties, and only resumed them after Western countries promised additional aid. Because of its geographic position, Belarus had been the most militarized republic in the former USSR. -- Ustina Markus WALESA CALLS FOR PARTY CONSOLIDATION. Former Polish President Lech Walesa said on 4 March he expects the parties that emerged from the "Solidarity" trade union to agree on a common basic program and run on the same list during the forthcoming parliamentary elections. At a public meeting held at the University of Gdansk, Walesa recommended at most two party lists. The public opinion organization "Demoskop" says that if Walesa succeeds in constructing a center-right alliance, the chances are that the bloc will gain 30% of the vote. This would put it ahead of the Democratic Left Alliance (28%). If the Freedom Union (UW) and Jan Olszewski's Movement for Poland's Reconstruction (ROP) run separately, Walesa's bloc could count on 21% support, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 5 March. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz MYSTERIOUS ARSON AT POLISH JOURNALIST'S APARTMENT. A fire was set during the night of 2-3 March outside the Warsaw apartment of Polish political journalist Jerzy Slawomir Mac, who has recently written articles about spying allegations against former Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy and financial support given to Poland's communist party by Moscow. Mac said he and other journalists at Wprost had recently received threatening letters and phone calls. He told Polish Television that he suspected the arson was politically motivated. One suspect was arrested on 4 March and two others detained but initial evidence points to a purely criminal and not political act, Polish dailies reported. In other news, Dariusz Fikus, the 64-year old editor-in-chief of the Rzeczpospolita daily, died of a heart attack on 2 March. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH PREMIER IN BELGRADE, FOREIGN MINISTER IN MOSCOW. Vaclav Klaus, beginning a two-day visit to rump Yugoslavia and Croatia, on 4 March called for Belgrade to be reintegrated into international organizations, Czech media reported. "I personally regard is as reasonable and rational because it is senseless for Yugoslavia to remain outside," he was quoted as saying. Klaus had talks with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and rump Yugoslav Prime Minister Radoje Kontic, centering on boosting trade links and removing bilateral visa requirements. Meanwhile, Josef Zieleniec discussed repayment of Russian commercial debts to the Czech Republic - worth some $380 million - with Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin during a visit to Moscow. -- Steve Kettle SLOVAK JUSTICE MINISTRY PREPARES DRAFT LAW ON PROTECTION OF REPUBLIC. Slovak National Party (SNS) deputy chairwoman Anna Malikova expressed satisfaction with the Justice Ministry's proposed amendment to the criminal code, Narodna obroda reported on 5 March. Malikova, noting that the amendment was inspired by her party's law on the protection of the republic which was drafted last April, said the SNS will submit the legislation to the parliament this month. Although the ministry's draft has not yet been publicized, the SNS version would inflict punishment on participants in activities aimed against Slovakia, including activities which are only "a potential threat." Other crimes would include "the spreading of false news on Slovak territory or abroad which endangers the security of the republic or damages its interests." The bill is reportedly aimed mainly against representatives of the Hungarian minority and journalists. -- Sharon Fisher UPDATE ON KIDNAPPING OF SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S SON. Christian Democratic Movement deputy Ladislav Pittner, a former interior minister who now heads an independent group investigating the Michal Kovac Jr. abduction, announced on 4 March that the case could be closed within a month, Narodna obroda reported. Pittner said his group, which was created a month ago because of dissatisfaction with the state of the police investigation, already has evidence pointing to the participation of the Slovak Information Service. In other news, Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's long-awaited invitation for an official visit to Germany will not arrive until the kidnapping case is cleared up, Narodna obroda reported on 5 March, quoting "well-informed sources" in Bonn. Germany has apparently coordinated this position with other EU members, the paper said. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARY'S MDF SPLITS. The Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF), the country's major opposition party and senior coalition partner in the former government, split into two on 4 March, Hungarian and international media reported. The split followed the MDF national convention, which was called to decide on the future direction of the party, and the election of a new party presidium (see OMRI Daily Digest, 4 March 1996). The election of Sandor Lezsak as president led to the more liberal members of MDF to dissociate themselves from the party. The group, led by former executive president and parliamentary caucus leader Ivan Szabo, includes former senior members of MDF, among them Geza Jeszenszky, Gyorgy Szabad and Imre Konya. After reconciliation talks with Lezsak failed, Szabo announced the formation of the Hungarian Democratic People's Party. Szabo and his adherents will form a new caucus in parliament once their party is registered later this week. -- Zsofia Szilagyi COURT ACQUITS HUNGARIAN NEO-NAZIS. A municipal court in Budapest found the leaders of two extreme right-wing organizations innocent of violating the law which bans incitement to hatred and use of prohibited symbols, Hungarian media reported on 5 March. In the first ever neo-Nazi trial in Hungary, which began last November, chief defendants Albert Szabo, 41, and Istvan Gyorkos, 55, were acquitted under freedom of speech provisions. The two men have used prohibited swastika-like symbols and circulated neo-Nazi propaganda material. They were arrested after a march in Budapest on 23 October 1995. The president of the Hungarian Jewish Communities, Peter Feldmajer, said that the court decision "only focuses attention on the shortcomings of Hungarian legislation in this regard". The state prosecutor said an appeal will be launched and the case will go to the Supreme Court. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE FRENCH OFFICIALS FREE KARADZIC'S VICE PRESIDENT. French police briefly arrested Bosnian Serb Vice President Nikola Koljevic In Paris on 2 March on the basis of an international arrest warrant issued in Sarajevo in 1992 for genocide, AFP noted on 4 March. He was freed after French government officials intervened and he went on with an advisor to Radovan Karadzic to visit the Serbian community in France. In The Hague, indicted war criminal General Djordje Djukic of the Serbian army said he "does not feel himself guilty" as charged, Nasa Borba wrote on 5 March. And in Croatia, the Helsinki Committee reported on atrocities committed against mainly elderly Serbs by uniformed Croats in Krajina since the area fell last summer, Novi list reported. -- Patrick Moore BILDT, REHN: TRIALS FOR WAR CRIMINALS ESSENTIAL TO PEACE. Carl Bildt, the high representative for civilian affairs in Bosnia, told an international conference in Vienna on 4 March that the prosecution of alleged war criminals before the Hague-based international tribunal is a crucial element in the Bosnia peace process, AFP and Nasa Borba reported. The UN reporter on human rights in former Yugoslavia, Elisabeth Rehn, said recognition of rump Yugoslavia must depend on the human rights situation there. She appealed to the international community to make the lifting of sanctions and provision of reconstruction assistance to Yugoslavia contingent on that. Bildt announced that the chamber of human rights, an independent court of justice, would be constituted in the middle of March. The conference, held to discuss the human rights provisions of the Dayton accords, was sponsored by the Austrian Foreign Ministry and attended by 150 delegates from 30 countries. -- Daria Sito Sucic TUDJMAN APPOINTS NEW ZAGREB LEADER. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman on 2 March named Marina Matulovic-Dropulic as a commissioner to fulfill the duties of mayor of Zagreb, Croatian media reported the following day. Tudjman earlier refused to confirm two candidates for mayor nominated by the opposition majority on the city council, and instead decided to appoint a commissioner while calling for new elections. Zagreb City Assembly President Zdravko Tomac said the council would not confirm Matulovic- Dropulic's appointment. The opposition alliance will nominate another candidate for the post of mayor, Hina reported. "We will not give in, because it is Zagreb that will decide whether democracy is to stay or vanish," Vjesnik quoted Tomac as saying. -- Daria Sito Sucic WILL SESELJ DIVIDE THE SERBIAN OPPOSITION? Nasa Borba on 5 March runs a series of articles which attempt to evaluate the impact of the controversial Serbian Radical party (SRS) and its leader, accused war criminal Vojislav Seselj, on opposition party relations. A recurring theme appears to be a suspicion in opposition ranks that any serious cooperation aimed at forging unity aimed to dislodge the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia likely shall not or cannot include the SRS. In one piece, titled "What Opposition Colleagues Say About the Radicals," Aleksandar Cotric of the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) argues: "The question is just whether or not Seselj is really even a member of the opposition, because everybody remembers a time when there was tight cooperation [between the SRS] and the socialists...when he [Seselj] even told his voters to cast their ballot for Milosevic for president." -- Stan Markotich SLOVENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN EGYPT. Zoran Thaler met in Cairo with Egyptian Prime Minister Kamal Ahmad al-Janzuri and Foreign Minister Amr Musa on 3 March, STA reported that same day. At the top of the agenda were continuing and developing bilateral economic ties, but the possibility for Slovenian-Egyptian cooperation on issues relating to Bosnia-Herzegovina was also discussed. "Slovenia and Egypt have a similar point of view on resolving the Bosnia crisis...and [our] two countries will cooperate in reconstruction projects for Bosnia and Herzegovina," said Thaler. -- Stan Markotich METRO STRIKE CAUSES TRAFFIC CHAOS IN BUCHAREST. Metro workers in Bucharest on 4 March went on an indefinite strike to press demands for a 30% pay rise and better terms, Radio Bucharest reported. The strikes will be held daily from 4 a.m. to 4 p.m. to get around legal requirements that metro workers must not strike for more than two-thirds of the 19-hour-a-day timetable. The strike has affected some 700,000 commuters in Romania's capital who use the underground rail network regularly. On 4 March, thousands of commuters lined up at bus and tram stops despite low temperatures of some -10 Celsius. Romania's Transport Ministry declared the strike "illegal" and "unwarranted," pointing at the fact that the metro system receives state subsidies. Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu also spoke of an "illegal" strike and urged the workers to resume their activity. -- Dan Ionescu SIX ROMANIANS DIE IN JERUSALEM BOMB ATTACK. Five Romanian guest workers and a tourist were among the victims of last weekend's suicide bomb attack in Jerusalem, Romanian and international media reported on 3-5 March. President Ion Iliescu condemned the attack, and expressed hopes that such fanatical acts would not derail the peace process. The Romanian Foreign Ministry released the names of the six victims and said the bodies will be repatriated on 6 March. -- Matyas Szabo BULGARIAN INTEREST RATE GOES UP. The Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) on 4 March raised the prime interest rate by 7%, Pari reported. The new rate of 49% becomes effective on 6 March. BNB Governor Lyubomir Filipov said "chaos on the currency market" necessitated the move but he hopes the rate will fall under 25% by the end of 1996. The raise came just one month after the BNB raised the prime interest rate from 34% to 42% on 1 February. In 1995, the rate was lowered seven times. Trud cited Filipov as saying that without help Bulgaria can not meet its obligations to repay foreign debts in 1996 because it would have to use its foreign currency reserves which would further devalue the lev. 24 chasa said the BNB's foreign currency reserves fell from $1.4 billion on November 1995 to $930 million. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN UPDATE. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development Rumen Gechev and Interior Minister Lyubomir Nachev are likely to be replaced soon, 24 chasa reported on 5 March. A report by the Bulgarian Socialist Party's (BSP) sociopolitical commission said they must leave the government of Prime Minister Zhan Videnov immediately. BSP Deputy chairman Georgi Parvanov called for immediate personnel changes, an intensified fight against crime, and a smoother implementation of economic reforms. In other news, Standart reported that official documents were falsified in order to allow for increased grain exports. The Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (KNSB) claims that more than one million tons of grain were exported instead of the 500,000 tons the government had approved, thus causing a severe grain shortage. -- Stefan Krause GREEK "SPY STORY" UPDATE. Greece on 4 March demanded that Italy and the Netherlands replace their military attaches, Reuters reported. Rome and The Hague had recalled the attaches after Athens accused them of spying (see OMRI Daily Digest, 4 March 1996). A senior government official said Greece "will not accept the same people." Dutch Foreign Minister Hans van Mierlo called the row "a little storm in a very big teacup" and said there was no question of the Netherlands spying on a NATO partner. But parliamentary deputies in The Hague said that if Greece does not withdraw its accusation it will be asked to recall a diplomat from the Netherlands. Italy said it will not send its military attache back until Athens ends the "blown-up episode." -- Stefan Krause TWO ALBANIAN PAPERS CLOSE DOWN. The Koha Jone publishing house has announced it will close down two of its smaller publications to overcome a financial crisis following a police crackdown on its delivery system, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 3 March. Editors-in-Chief Nikolle Lesi and Aleksander Frangaj argued that Koha Jone is forced to close down AKS and Sport Ekspres as police are continuing to impound nine of the daily's delivery vans, some for over a month. Koha Jone has also been charged with tax evasion for wrongly registering as a magazine rather than a newspaper. -- Fabian Schmidt FOUR ALBANIANS ARRESTED FOR FOUNDING COMMUNIST PARTY. A Tirana court ordered the continued detention of three people who tried to re-found a Communist Party and youth organization, Koha Jone reported on 5 March. A fourth man, aged 73, has been put under house arrest. All those arrested are over 50 years old and will be charged with founding anti- constitutional parties or organizations. -- Fabian Schmidt [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. 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