|The salvation of mankind lies only in making everything the concern of all. - Alexander Solzhenitsyn|
No. 48, Part II, 07 March 1996
New OMRI Analytical Briefs: - "No End in Sight to Turkey's Political Disarray", by Lowell Bezanis - "Subtle Change", by Bruce Pannier 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 ELECTIONS MAY BE DELAYED. Robert Frowick, head of the OSCE mission and in charge of organizing free elections in Bosnia, said they may not be able to go ahead as planned by the Dayton peace accord owing to a lack of good faith, Nasa Borba reported on 7 March. Frowick admitted an absence of pluralistic parties in Bosnia and the danger that indicted war criminals, such as Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and military commander Ratko Mladic, would hamper the process. He told NATO- country ambassadors that he was working on a detailed document outlining all the hurdles needed to be overcome before elections may be held. These include access to free media for all candidates, along with free movement across the country. As the two biggest problems, Frowick named resettling refugees and the media. Meanwhile, a total of 32 political parties are reported as registered in Sarajevo, Onasa reported on 6 March. -- Daria Sito Sucic ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN DENMARK. Hennadii Udovenko ended an official visit to Denmark on 5 March by signing several agreements with his Danish counterpart Neils Petersen, Radio Ukraine reported. Among those signed were a protocol on cooperation between the countries' foreign ministries and a treaty on preventing double taxation. Udovenko said Ukraine discussed expanding cooperation and seeking advice from Denmark in the spheres of energy, oil and gas exploration, agriculture and food processing, as well as European security. -- Chrystyna Lapychak UKRAINIAN COAL MINERS REJECT GOVERNMENT OFFER. In a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Vasyl Yevtukhov, leaders of Ukraine's coal miners' unions rejected the government's offer of shares in the state-owned mines to cover the back wages still owed them, Ukrainian TV reported on 6 March. The miners requested instead that they be paid in household appliances, such as refrigerators, washing machines and vacuum cleaners, produced by largely still state-owned factories. Yevtukhov said payment in appliances instead of stock was "more complicated," but he would explore the option. The miners suspended a two-week-long strike on 16 February to negotiate payment of the wage arrears. -- Chrystyna Lapychak LITHUANIAN GOVERNMENT PROGRAM. Prime Minister Mindaugas Stankevicius presented his government's program to the Seimas on 6 March, Radio Lithuania reported. He said that the main goals were maintaining the stability of the litas and reducing inflation. The program calls for reducing state expenditures and debts, introducing tax concessions for local and foreign businessmen, and increasing energy prices. The ruling Democratic Labor Party expressed its support for the program while the major opposition parties in the Seimas noted that it differed little from that of the previous government and that they would vote against it. The Seimas is required to approve or reject the program within 30 days. -- Saulius Girnius BELARUS PLANS TO BUILD NUCLEAR POWER PLANT. Energy Minister Valyantsin Herasimau said on 5 March that Belarus had revived plans to have a nuclear power plant in operation by 2005, Reuters reported the next day. Before the 1986 Chornobyl disaster, the republic was planning to build two nuclear plants, but one site was converted to a gas-fired station and plans for the other were abandoned. Gerasimov noted that Belarus imports 85% of its fuel from Russia and 25% of its electricity from Russia and Lithuania. Belarus is also planning to increase energy conservation, find new home-produced energy sources, use a broader range of Russian oil companies, and possibly import gas from Turkmenistan. -- Saulius Girnius BELARUS TO HELP BELGRADE. During the visit of rump Yugoslav President Zoran Lilic to Minsk on 6 March, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka pledged to assist in the country's economic recovery, ITAR- TASS reported. He said that Belarus would provide "not only peaceful products, but also the means necessary to ensure the inviolability and integrity of Yugoslavia." Lukashenka said the presidents saw "eye to eye" on all issues: a series of bilateral agreements were signed. -- Peter Rutland NEW PRO-WALESA MOVEMENT IN POLAND. A movement called "Solid in Elections" was established on 6 March by former President Lech Walesa's election activists in various Polish provinces, Polish media reported the next day. The founders declared that "the Republic's good currently requires consolidation of all pro-Walesa political forces" because convergence of power in the hands of one post-communist formation poses a threat to socio-political reforms in the country and "leads to the elimination of Catholic, national, and patriotic values from public life." -- Dagmar Mroziewicz NATO HOPEFULS TO MEET IN PRAGUE. The foreign ministers of 12 Central and East European countries will meet with U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher in Prague on 19 March to discuss European security, Czech and international media reported. The meeting was announced by Czech Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec after he returned from Moscow, where he and his Russian counterpart, Yevgenii Primakov, discussed Russian objections to the enlargement of NATO. Following the Prague meeting, Christopher is due to travel to Moscow. Along with Christopher and himself, Zieleniec said the foreign ministers of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Albania have been invited to the Prague talks. -- Steve Kettle U.S. STRESSES ROMANI DISCRIMINATION IN CZECH REPUBLIC AND HUNGARY...The U.S. Department of State, in its 1995 human rights reports issued on March 6, singled out prejudice against Roma as the main area of concern. In the Czech Republic, the report recognized that courts proceeded "with more vigor" than before as the government publicly condemned racially motivated attacks. It said, however, that Roma are still vulnerable to serious racial prejudice and attacks which the authorities have not been able to suppress, and that the law on citizenship has left 10--24,000 people, mostly Roma, without citizenship. The report also said that, while Hungary has been pursuing parliamentary democracy, discrimination against Roma still exists. Some in Eastern Europe argue that the West should also look to its own treatment of minorities, which undermines the efficacy of the issued reports. -- Alaina Lemon ...ALSO CRITICIZES SLOVAK HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD. The State Department report on Slovakia said the government's actions in 1995 gave rise for concern, Reuters reported. While recognizing Slovakia's overall respect for human rights in 1995, the report noted that "disturbing trends away from democratic principles emerged," including "politically motivated dismissals of public officials, intimidation of opponents of government policy, police misuse of authority, and interference with the electronic media." It pointed to suspected involvement of the Slovak Information Service in the kidnapping of the president's son, the use of police to spy on leading opposition politicians, and the harassment by police of a senior clergyman. The report also expressed concern about the lack of protection for Roma against discrimination, the situation of the Hungarian minority, and some isolated cases of anti-Semitism. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK ROUNDUP. Police on 6 March questioned the president's son for the first time in connection with his alleged involvement in the $2.3 million fraud involving the Slovak firm Technopol, Slovak media reported. Michal Kovac Jr.'s lawyer, Jan Havlat, expressed satisfaction that his client was finally able to defend himself, and he noted that the possibility of taking Kovac into custody was not discussed. In other news, the European Human Rights Commission on 6 March rejected a complaint against Slovakia by two Slovak emigrants who claimed their human rights were violated by a decision to make permanent residence in Slovakia a condition for the restitution of property taken by the state under the Communist regime. Party of the Democratic Left deputy Robert Fico, who defended Slovakia in the case, said the country had won its first dispute in Strasbourg, TASR reported. -- Sharon Fisher SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE IFOR CHIEF WARNS ABOUT CROAT-MUSLIM FEDERATION. Bosnian federal president and Bosnian Croat leader Kresimir Zubak appeared on 6 March to distance himself from his earlier harsh words on the future of the federation that Slobodna Dalmacija had reported, Onasa stated. The NATO commander in Bosnia, U.S. Admiral Leighton Smith, however, remains openly pessimistic about the future of Croat-Muslim cooperation, the VOA said on 7 March. AFP quoted the admiral as saying that Mostar is evidence of the deep-set problems of the partnership, which has yet to take root at either the political, military, or people-to-people levels. He predicted things will go from bad to worse in the spring. Former Bosnian Prime Minister and now opposition politician Haris Silajdzic issued similar warnings, saying that the politicians responsible for the Croat-Muslim war of 1993 must go if trust is to be rebuilt. Vecernje novine ran the report on 7 March. -- Patrick Moore PEACEKEEPERS TO PROTECT SITES OF WAR CRIMES IF ASKED. IFOR is currently carrying out about 300 civilian construction projects in Bosnia, including repairing bridge links between that republic and Croatia at Brcko and elsewhere, news agencies reported on 6 March. A NATO spokesman in Brussels said that the peacekeepers will now consider on an individual basis requests to guard suspected sites of war crimes to prevent tampering with evidence, especially if the request comes from the international tribunal in The Hague. The 60,000-strong force will still give priority to its military duties as set down in the Dayton agreement. NATO has drafted some new guidelines for IFOR, but it is not clear if they will enable the peacekeepers to become more active in catching or detaining war criminals. Reuters noted that Washington has agreed to the guidelines. A diplomat said the new measures are not a case of "mission creep" but of mission evolution. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN-IRANIAN IMBROGLIO CONTINUES. Serbian propaganda has long stressed alleged links between the Bosnian Muslim leadership and international Islamic fundamentalism represented by Iran. Washington, moreover, has been concerned about any continued presence of Iranian fighters or other agents in the embattled republic. The matter has resurfaced in the wake of Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic's visit to Tehran and of U.S. media reports that Bosnian troops are being trained in Iran. Onasa wrote on 6 March that the Bosnian army press office has officially denied those stories, but the VOA on 7 March quoted the Washington Post as outlining extensive military links between the two countries. Onasa wrote that Bosnia had succeeded in keeping both Iran and the U.S. as allies, but Vecernje novine objected to "friendly persuasion" by the Americans and Europe -- including Croatia -- against Sarajevo's links to Tehran. Iran has pledged to help Bosnia rebuild, as have its rivals Turkey and Saudi Arabia. -- Patrick Moore CROATIA AND THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE. The president of the committee for democracy, human rights, and humanitarian issues of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has proposed that talks on Croatia's membership in the CE be postponed for another year, Nasa Borba reported on 7 March. The reasons given were "the Croatian president's latest anti-democratic actions." The report said that "since Krajina was retaken, Franjo Tudjman has been increasingly far away from the European democracies' social values,"including a disregard for the opposition and critical media, his own family's accumulation of wealth in the privatization process, manipulating election rights, protecting war criminals, and silence over attacks on the EU administrator in Mostar. The report concluded by expressing fears that the Croatian president is ready to turn the country into a dictatorship for his own purposes. -- Daria Sito Sucic BELGRADE'S STUDIO B WINS INTERNATIONAL SUPPORTERS. Nasa Borba on 7 March reports that the EU has sharply criticized the Serbian government for its recent take-over of Belgrade's only politically independent television broadcaster, Studio B. According to the report, actions such as the Serbian regime's against the independent media may contribute to a strain on "the development of future relations between the EU and the countries of the region." In a related story, the same daily reports on how the citizens and residents of Belgrade continue to suffer from an information blackout and exposure to regime-controlled and manipulated programming. "Of the 11 television stations which can be viewed in [and around] the territory of Belgrade, five broadcast nothing but films and music shows," Nasa Borba observes. -- Stan Markotich SLOVENIAN-ITALIAN RELATIONS UPDATE. Ljubljana dailies on 6 March reported that a controversy between Italy and Slovenia centering on the issue of property ownership may be resolved in the very near future owing to a compromise suggested by Spanish mediation. Reports suggest Rome is satisfied with the Spanish proposals, and that Ljubljana appears inclined to accept them. Beta reports that the Italian side has insisted that foreigners who lived in Slovenia before 1991 be allowed to purchase and own real estate, a move that would enable Italians who left immediately following World War II to once again own property in Slovenia. -- Stan Markotich STRIKERS BLOCK SUBWAY TUNNEL IN BUCHAREST. Some 1,000 metro workers on 6 March blocked a downtown station and the subway tunnel in Bucharest to protest their union leaders' decision to suspend a strike started on 4 March, Romanian media reported. The strikers ignored a Supreme Court ruling of the same day ordering them to call off the action because it was seriously harming the national economy. The strike has affected up to one million commuters in Bucharest, forcing them onto packed buses and trams. The strikers are demanding a 28% pay rise and better working conditions. The government agreed to continue negotiations with the unions over those demands. -- Dan Ionescu NEW COMMUNICATIONS MINISTER APPOINTED IN ROMANIA. President Ion Iliescu installed Ioan Ovidiu Muntean as Romania's new communications minister on 6 March, Romanian and international media reported. The 48-year-old Muntean formally joined the chauvinistic Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR) on the eve of his appointment and is replacing Adrian Turicu of the same party, who was dismissed in January. Muntean's appointment ends a political dispute between the PUNR and the Party of Social Democracy in Romania, both members of the government coalition. -- Matyas Szabo BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS CALL FOR CABINET RESHUFFLE. 24 chasa on 7 March cited an unnamed member of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party's (BSP) executive as saying that a cabinet reshuffle will "with certainty [take place] by the end of March." A plenary meeting of the BSP Supreme Council, its coalition partners, and the parliamentary faction scheduled for 10 March will officially authorize BSP Chairman and Prime Minister Zhan Videnov to make the changes "he considers necessary." BSP Deputy Chairman Georgi Parvanov told Standart that the plenary meeting will propose "concrete changes." Videnov's other deputy, Yanaki Stoilov, told the BSP daily Duma that "changes in the interior ministry, the financial, and the economic team are necessary." -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN CURRENCY PLUNGES. The lev on 6 March lost heavily against the U.S. dollar, Duma and Pari reported. With a Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) fixing of 77.783 leva to the dollar, trading began at around 78-79 leva, but soon passed the 80 leva barrier. At an exchange rate of 82 leva in the early afternoon, the banks stopped trading, but exchange offices were selling the U.S. currency for 85--86 leva later the same day. The BNB did not intervene. According to a dealer cited by Kontinent, "fear and pessimistic projections make people buy" U.S. dollars. Other dealers, however, said there is no objective reason for the fall of the lev or that it is due to speculation. Also on 6 March, the new prime interest rate of 49% became effective. Many exchange offices on 7 March temporarily refused to conduct any trade because of the uncertainty, international media reported. -- Stefan Krause MACEDONIAN PARLIAMENT ELECTS NEW SPEAKER. The Macedonian Parliament on 6 March elected Tito Petkovski as its new chairman, MIC reported. Petkovski replaced Stojan Andov, who announced his resignation on 23 February to protest a new government coalition that no longer includes his Liberal Party. Petkovski is a member of the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia, the biggest party in the parliament and the government. Some 79 deputies supported his candidacy, five voted against him, while the 29 deputies of the Liberal Party abstained. -- Stefan Krause BOMB EXPLODES IN ALBANIAN PORT CITY. A five-kilo TNT bomb hidden in a dustbin exploded in Durres at midnight on 5 March, AFP reported. The incident caused no casualties. Police arrested several people in connection with the blast, which blew out windows on both sides of one of the city's main streets. One of the arrested persons reportedly had a Scorpion automatic weapon and a gun, but police released no further details. On 26 February, a bomb killed four people in Tirana and dailies reported about more minor explosions in subsequent days, including one in a dustbin in Shkoder. The government accused former communist agents of planting the Tirana bomb. -- Fabian Schmidt TURKEY'S 53RD GOVERNMENT. President Suleyman Demirel on 6 March approved a minority conservative government to be headed by former Premier Mesut Yilmaz, Western and Turkish media reported the same day. Yilmaz, chairman of the Motherland Party (ANAP) told the press the 53rd government will be one of "reform and change" and said a transparent and honest state would be "one of the highest priorities" of the new government. He also noted that formulating the cabinet list of 33 members was achieved with great difficulty. Turkey's foreign minister to-be is Emre Gonensay, a former special adviser to outgoing Prime Minister Tansu Ciller. The government must now win a parliamentary vote of confidence, tenatively scheduled for 12 March. -- Lowell Bezanis [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Steve Kettle 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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