|The person who knows how to laugh at himself will never cease to be amused. - Shirley MacLaine|
No. 51, Part II, 12 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ ILIDZA CHANGES HANDS. A Bosnian government multi-ethnic police force entered Ilidza on the morning of 12 March, making it the fourth of five suburbs to be transferred from Pale's control. CNN said that gangs of arsonists and thieves submitted the few remaining mainly elderly residents to a final night of terror. One Serbian woman said she was glad the federal police would arrive because IFOR refused to protect her building. The police station, hospital, and a major factory went up in flames, despite last-minute attempts by IFOR and the Sarajevo fire department to end the blazes. Departing Serbian police fired pistols and grenades as IFOR troops scattered for cover. It was difficult to escape the impression that "once again thugs had made fools out of what is supposed to be the most professional army in the world," a BBC reporter said on 11 March. The UN's Kris Jankowski said that a prominent local Serb, Danilo Staka, disappeared with his daughter after urging other Serbs to stay, Onasa reported. -- Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINIAN OFFICIALS PRESS AHEAD WITH PLANS TO CURB CRIMEAN AUTONOMY. The Ukrainian Constitutional Commission on 11 March voted overwhelmingly to submit to the parliament a draft Ukrainian constitution limiting Crimean autonomy, Reuters reported. The commission decided to press ahead despite reservations by President Leonid Kuchma about the document. Crimean lawmakers have threatened to call a referendum on the region's status if Ukraine fails to approve a new Crimean constitution by 31 March. Kuchma, parliamentary speaker Oleksander Moroz, and legal experts have complained that the authors of the draft failed to take into account Crimean public opinion. The draft constitution curbs, among other things, the Crimean legislature's authority to initiate legislation. Hard-liners in Ukraine have said they cannot accept two republics and two constitutions within one country. -- Chrystyna Lapychak FIRE DAMAGES UKRAINIAN TV, RADIO STUDIOS. A fire destroyed three floors of Ukrainian State TV and Radio's main broadcasting facility on 10 March, international and Ukrainian agencies reported. Programming was disrupted, but no one was injured. The cause of the blaze remains undetermined. Management said the fire caused damage totaling millions of dollars and destroyed the company's main TV and radio studios. Broadcasts resumed the next day from reserve studios. The government has set up a special commission to investigate the cause of the fire. -- Chrystyna Lapychak UKRAINIAN INDUSTRIAL CONVERSION MINISTER IN INDIA. Ukrainian Minister for Industrial Conversion Valerii Maleev arrived in Delhi, India, on 12 March for the opening of a Ukrainian industrial-trade exhibition intended to promote cooperation between Ukraine and India in that sphere, ITAR-TASS reported. Some 80 Ukrainian enterprises are participating in the exhibit, including ones from the metal and electrical industries and the aerospace sector. Maleev said bilateral trade between Delhi and Kiev accounts for one-fifth of Indian trade with the CIS. He noted that there was the potential to expand bilateral trade and singled out cooperation in the aerospace industry as an area for development. -- Ustina Markus BELARUS CONSIDERS ESTABLISHING DIPLOMATIC TIES WITH IRAQ. Belarusian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Khvostau on 11 March said Belarus is considering establishing diplomatic relations with Iraq, ITAR-TASS reported. A document has already been drawn up and will be forwarded to President Alyaksandr Lukashenka for his approval in the near future. Khvostau said establishing relations with Baghdad paves the way for Minsk to cooperate with the Middle East regardless of the political situation there. He stressed that Belarus was most interested in economic cooperation and therefore should not postpone establishing formal relations. -- Ustina Markus ESTONIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN JAPAN. Siim Kallas, during his visit to Tokyo on 11 March, met with his Japanese counterpart, Yukihido Ikeda, to discuss strengthening bilateral relations, BNS reported. The two sides agreed on an exchange program for doctors, teachers, and diplomats. Ikeda said more time would be needed to study the possibility of introducing visa-free travel between the two countries. Kallas also met with bank heads and signed a memorandum of intent with the president of the Japanese Industrial Bank on financing joint Estonian-Japanese projects. Kallas is also scheduled to hold talks with Japanese industrialists. -- Saulius Girnius LATVIAN FARM SUBSIDIES. The Latvian Agriculture Ministry has decided to allot some 4 million lati ($7.3 million) in farm subsidies, BNS reported on 11 March. More than half (2.15 million lati) will be used to improve the quality of corn, flax, and other crops as well as to pay the interest on debts for mineral fertilizers. Some 1.9 million lati will be used for animal breeding, primarily for cows, but also for swine, sheep, and horses. In 1995, the ministry earmarked 4.9 million lati for cattle breeding but disbursed only 2.9 million lati. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH JEWS OPPOSE SHOPPING CENTER NEAR AUSCHWITZ. Polish Jewish groups on 11 March raised strong objections to plans to open a shopping center opposite the gate of the Auschwitz death camp, Polish and international media reported the next day. Local authorities and the director of the museum at the camp site have agreed to the center. Szymon Szurmiej, head of a committee representing Jewish groups in Poland, said Auschwitz was a sacred place and that a 500-meter "quiet zone" should be maintained around its perimeter so that visitors would not be distracted. Government spokeswoman Aleksandra Jakubowska said Warsaw has no right to intervene in the matter. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz POLISH PRESIDENT EXPLAINS DECISION TO SCRAP WALESA'S DRAFT LAWS. Danuta Waniek, head of the Polish President's Office, said Aleksander Kwasniewski has scrapped Lech Walesa's draft laws because they were part of the former president's election campaign, Polish dailies reported on 12 March. One of these bills gave the president the right to ratify the concordat. Waniek said the government will prepare draft legislation on the document between the Vatican and Warsaw, adding that the issue is not urgent. Waniek also said that Kwasniewski withdrew Walesa's draft election law because he wanted the government to draw up that legislation. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz CZECH MINISTER PROPOSES DISBANDING COMMUNIST GROUP. Interior Minister Jan Ruml on 11March formally proposed that the extra-parliamentary Party of Czechoslovak Communists (SCK) be disbanded, Czech media reported. If the government accepts the proposal, the Supreme Court will rule on the issue. Ruml said the SCK has broken both the law on political parties, under which it was founded and registered one year ago, and 1993 legislation outlawing the pre-1989 governing party, the Czechoslovak Communist Party (KSC). At its Congress last month, the SCK presented an election program in which it claimed to be the successor of the KSC. SCK chairman Miroslav Stepan was a leading member of the KSC and served a jail term after the fall of communism for abuse of power. -- Steve Kettle CZECH HEALTH WORKERS BEGIN PROTEST ACTION. Doctors, nurses, and other health service workers on 11 March started a series of protests to demand higher pay and better working conditions, Czech media reported. The first protest wave consists of collecting signatures on petitions to be delivered to the government and holding meetings at hospitals across the country. The protests are due to culminate in a two-day strike on 25-26 March and a major rally in central Prague. -- Steve Kettle SLOVAK OPPOSITION PARTIES MEET. Representatives of Slovakia's right-of- center opposition parties on 11 March met with their leftist counterparts to discuss calling an extraordinary parliamentary session on the kidnapping of President Michal Kovac's son, TASR reported. Democratic Party Chairman Jan Langos said the kidnapping case is interfering with the work of several state bodies. The proposed agenda for the parliamentary session includes reports by Prosecutor-General Michal Valo, police investigators, and the civil investigation group led by Christian Democratic Movement deputy Ladislav Pittner. The opposition called for a similar session last October, but coalition deputies blocked it by rejecting the proposed agenda. -- Sharon Fisher NEW CAUCUS IN HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT. Breakaway deputies opposed to the rightward shift in the Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) on 11 March achieved formal recognition as an independent caucus, international media reported. The Hungarian Democratic People's Party (MDNP), led by Ivan Szabo, former industry minister and finance minister, has 15 deputies (the minimum number required for a caucus). It aims to form a center-right alternative to the ruling socialist-liberal coalition. Meanwhile, the rump MDF has only 19 deputies and will seek to renew ties with the Hungarian Truth and Life Party, which is led by extremist Istvan Csurka. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN BORDER GUARDS SEIZE HEROIN. Hungarian customs officials on 11 March announced the arrest of three Bulgarians attempting to smuggle 28 kilograms of heroin across the Hungarian-Romania border the previous day, international media reported. The officials said the highly pure heroin was found hidden in the back seat of a Mercedes at the Battonya border crossing. The Bulgarians were handed over to the police for questioning. Sharon Fisher SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN SERBS CLAIM NATO USED NUCLEAR WEAPONS. Soldiers of the Atlantic alliance may now be reluctant to protect pensioners in Sarajevo suburbs, but Bosnian Serb TV claims that last year NATO planes used nuclear weapons in the air strikes on Serb positions that helped make the Dayton conference possible. "In their combat assaults on Serb defence positions and Serb villages, the NATO air force and rapid reaction force used the most modern combat weapons including low intensity nuclear weapons that caused a certain degree of long-term radiation. In the course of their investigations, teams [of experts from Pale and Belgrade] detected symptoms of radiation-linked diseases in several dozen people and unusual behavior in cattle," AFP on 12 March quoted the broadcast as saying. -- Patrick Moore EU TO OVERSEE MOSTAR CENTRAL DISTRICT. Mostar EU administrator Hans Koschnick announced that the EU will take over administration of the central Mostar district until new city authorities and a mayor for the whole of Mostar have been appointed, Oslobodjenje reported on 11 March. Mijo Brajkovic, mayor of the Croatian-held part of Mostar, said the Croatian side had not agreed to this decision, Nasa Borba and Vjesnik reported the next day. Meanwhile, La Stampa announced that a possible replacement for Koschnick, who is leaving his post at the end of April, is Giorgio Giacomelli, a UN official known for his diplomatic experience and expertise in fighting organized crime. -- Daria Sito Sucic BOSNIAN SHORTS. General Jovo Maric, a senior Bosnian Serb air force commander, died in a road accident near Rogatica the previous week, AFP reported on 11 March. In Belgrade, the deputy prosecutor from the Hague- based war crimes tribunal has arrived to seek the extradition of two witnesses to the massacres at Srebrenica. They disappeared following their recent arrest by Serbian police (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 March 1996). In Sarajevo, the canton assembly held its opening session but without deputies from the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), Oslobodjenje reported on 12 March. The HDZ and its Muslim counterpart, the Party of Democratic Action, have been engaged in a running power struggle within the federation. -- Patrick Moore RUMP YUGOSLAV BUSINESS LEADERS PROMISE TO HELP REBUILD REPUBLIKA SRPSKA. A delegation of businessmen from Serbia and Montenegro are currently in Banja Luka to meet with ranking political officials of the Republika Srpska, Television Serbia reported on 10 March. The main item on the agenda was economic cooperation between rump Yugoslavia and the Bosnian Serbs. SRNA quoted Mihajlo Milojevic, head of rump Yugoslavia's Chamber of Commerce, as saying that "Serbia and Montenegro have no plans to abandon our [Bosnian Serb] brethren." He added that "with its rich resources and our aid, the Republika Srpska will become a modern state." -- Stan Markotich REFUGEES IN MONTENEGRO. International Red Cross sources reported that some 200 refugees arrived in Podgorica last month, including some 53 families from the Republika Srpska and 16 from territories once held by rebel Croatian Serbs. An estimated 12, 500 refugees are now in Podgorica, Montena-fax reported on 11 March. -- Stan Markotich CROATIA, RUMP YUGOSLAVIA SEEK TO NORMALIZE RELATIONS. Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on 11 March signed memoranda on opening an Adriatic oil pipeline, a Zagreb-Belgrade highway, railroad and air links, and consular offices in Belgrade and Zagreb, Croatian media reported. The previous day, Croatian and rump Yugoslav delegations, led by Foreign Ministers Mate Granic and Milan Milutinovic, had met for one- day talks. Granic said the main goal is to reach an agreement on normalizing bilateral relations as soon as possible, Hina reported. Croatian President Tudjman said that to speed up the normalization process, eastern Slavonia into Croatia must be returned to Croatian control and the division of former Yugoslav assets expedited. -- Daria Sito Sucic U.S., MACEDONIA HOLD FIRST JOINT MANEUVERS. The U.S. and Macedonia on 11 March began their first joint military maneuvers, international agencies reported. The exercises were held on the Sar Planina mountains, and a special U.S. elite unit from Colorado took part. The U.S. and Macedonia previously signed a military cooperation agreement. Macedonia will participate in joint NATO military exercises in Albania in July. -- Fabian Schmidt ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT GIVES SUBWAY WORKERS ULTIMATUM. The Romanian government on 11 March gave Bucharest's subway workers until midnight to end a week-old wildcat strike or face instant dismissal, RFE/RL's correspondent in Bucharest and international media reported. OMRI was informed on 12 March that the strikers had not returned to work. In a related development, dock workers at six ports on the Danube went on strike for two hours in demand of more pay and threatened to launch a general strike later this week. -- Michael Shafir ROMANIAN OPPOSITION TO BILATERAL TREATY WITH UKRAINE. Nine cultural and other organizations on 11 March sent an open letter to President Ion Iliescu, Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu, Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu, and the parliament demanding that Romania not sign the basic treaty with Ukraine, Radio Bucharest reported the next day. The signatories said the treaty should not be approved unless territories incorporated into the Soviet Union after World War II and now in Ukraine are returned to Romania. Among the organizations that signed the letter was Vatra Romaneasca (Romanian Cradle), whose political arm, the Party of Romanian National Unity, is a member of the ruling coalition. -- Michael Shafir MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT RECEIVES MESSAGE FROM YELTSIN ON TRANSDNIESTER. Yurii Karlov, envoy to Russian President Boris Yeltsin, has handed Mircea Snegur a message on ways to solve the conflict in the breakaway region of Transdniester, Radio Bucharest reported quoting Moldpres. The message proposes a summit meeting at which an intermediary agreement would be signed on the basic principles for solving the dispute. -- Michael Shafir BULGARIAN OPPOSITION ON JOINT PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. The Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) still has not clarified its position on how the opposition to the Socialists should elect a joint candidate for president. Kontinent on 12 March quotes an unnamed source within the SDS leadership as saying that some SDS leaders are against preliminary elections among opposition party members unless "all conditions for the SDS candidate to win exist." Opinion polls suggest that none of the three SDS contenders for the post of presidential candidate--Petar Stoyanov, Asen Agov, and Aleksandar Yordanov--would win primaries against incumbent President Zhelyu Zhelev. Most SDS politicians are opposed to his candidacy. The SDS National Coordinating Council is to ask for guarantees from SDS Chairman Ivan Kostov that "Zhelev will not win the primary elections," Trud reported. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN UPDATE. The Democratic Alliance, the Social Democratic Party, the Party of Human Rights, and the Christian Democrats have decided to form a coalition for the upcoming elections, Koha Jone reported on 12 March. The centrist coalition is to be known as the "Pole of the Center" and will challenge the two main parties, the Democrats and the Socialists, who are expected to run a close race. Meanwhile, unknown assailants have broken into the offices of the Democratic Party of the Right, but they apparently stole only protocols and a list of speakers at party meetings. The party accused the ruling Democrats of involvement in the incident. In unrelated news, the monarchist Legality Party has collected 100,000 signatures since November 1995 calling for a referendum on a constitutional monarchy, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 12 March. -- Fabian Schmidt GREEK DEVELOPMENT MINISTER PROPOSES BALKAN COUNCIL. Vaso Papandreou on 11 March proposed the formation of a Balkan council to encourage regional cooperation and help Balkan countries make good use of EU funds, AFP reported. Papandreou said such a body could gradually widen its activities to include industry, infrastructure policy, and, eventually, "political cooperation and preventive diplomacy for defusing crises." She said that, within such a framework, Greece would support other Balkan countries in their dealings with the EU. Papandreou added that the EU should send a representative to the council. -- 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. 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 ----=_Tuesday, March 12, 1996 3:15 PM--
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