|Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead|
No. 54, Part II, 15 March 1996
New OMRI Analytical Briefs: - "Slovakia's Controversial Press Law", by Sharon Fisher - "Fifth Anniversary of the Referendum to Preserve the Soviet Union", by Peter Rutland 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 ARMS CONFERENCE OPENS IN ANKARA. The Bosnia "Train and Equip" Donors Conference began in the Turkish capital on 15 March under U.S. and Turkish sponsorship. It aims to strengthen the Bosnian federal armed forces to offset Serbian military preponderance and achieve the 5:2:2 ratio between Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia as set down in the Dayton agreement, the VOA reported. Some 25 countries were expected to attend, AFP said on 13 March. The Turkish Daily News noted the next day that Iran has not been invited and that Russia declined to attend. The Financial Times reported on 15 March that a major rift has emerged between the EU, led by Paris and London, and the U.S. Brussels' main concern is to restore ties with Serbia, while Washington is interested in strengthening the federal armed forces, in combating Iranian influence in Bosnia, and in pressuring Serbia to end the Kosovo imbroglio. -- Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE NOTE TO OUR READERS. Andrii Ozadovsky, Ukrainian ambassador to the Czech Republic, has appealed to OMRI as well as Czech officials and publications to refer to the Ukrainian capital as "Kyiv" rather than "Kiev." In an interview with OMRI, the ambassador explained that a special government commission last fall ordered its representatives to appeal to governments and periodicals to switch to the Ukrainian transliteration. He said his government has formally appealed to the UN to use Ukrainian transliterations of place names in official documents and references. The UN has agreed to comply with this request. As of 15 March, OMRI is using "Kyiv" in its publications. UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT TO REVIEW CRIMEAN CONSTITUTION. The parliamentary commission on legal policy and judicial reforms on 13 March voted to submit the draft Crimean constitution to the Ukrainian legislature, Radio Ukraine and UNIAN reported. But Crimean Parliament speaker Yevhen Supruniuk said he doubted it would be approved by Ukrainian lawmakers by 31 March. The Crimean legislature has threatened to hold a regional referendum on Crimea's status if Ukrainian legislators fail to approve the Crimean basic law by the end of the month. The speaker blamed the recent standoff on hard-liners in both the Ukrainian and Crimean legislatures. He added, however, that at a 13 March meeting in Kyiv, President Leonid Kuchma had shown "understanding" for Crimean complaints about provisions in the draft Ukrainian constitution limiting Crimean autonomy. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUSIAN COMMUNISTS WANT BELAVEZHA ACCORDS DENOUNCED. Syarhei Kalyakin, deputy speaker of the parliament and leader of the communist caucus, asked the legislature on 14 March to denounce the Belavezha agreements, which dissolved the USSR and created the CIS, ITAR-TASS reported. He reminded deputies that in the 17 March 1991 referendum, 76.4% of Belarusians voted in favor of preserving the Soviet Union. Kalyakin also said the Communists supported the president's policy to integrate more closely with Russia. -- Ustina Markus BELARUS SIGNS AGREEMENTS WITH KALININGRAD. A delegation from Kaliningrad headed by Governor Yurii Matochkin met with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in Minsk on 14 March, ITAR-TASS and Russian Public Television reported. The two sides signed agreements on trade and transport, and the use of Kaliningrad as a port for Belarusian trade activities was also discussed. Lukashenka said ties between Belarus and Kaliningrad would not lead to confrontations with Lithuania or Poland. -- Ustina Markus UPDATE ON ESTONIAN-RUSSIAN BORDER TALKS. European Commissioner Anna Gradin told Estonian European Affairs Minister Endel Lippmaa in Tallinn on 14 March that it was important for Estonia to settle its border with Russia since it could become the outer limits of the EU, BNS reported. Dissatisfied with the lack of information on the progress of the border talks, the Fatherland Party is to hold a round table discussion on the question today; all political parties, except the Reform Party, are expected to attend. The next round of border talks is scheduled for 28 March. -- Saulius Girnius LATVIAN DEPUTIES CONDEMN RUSSIAN IMPERIALISM IN CHECHNYA. Fifty-five of the 100 Saeima deputies on 14 March signed a letter to the Russian government and Duma condemning "Russian imperialism" and "scorched earth" tactics in Chechnya, Reuters reported. The letter, initiated by the rightist For the Fatherland and Freedom party, accuses the Russian army of genocide during the 15-month war in Chechnya and expressed condolences to the Chechen people and the relatives of Russian soldiers killed in the war. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT IN ARGENTINA. Algirdas Brazauskas, during his two- day visit to Argentina, met with Argentine President Carlos Menem, Western agencies reported on 14 March. The two leaders signed an agreement on protecting and encouraging investments. Brazauskas noted that Argentina's experience in economic reforms could be useful for Lithuania. He is scheduled to fly to Uruguay the next day for talks with President Julio Maria Sanguinetti and will also visit Brazil and Venezuela. -- Saulius Girnius RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN POLAND. Yevgenii Primakov, at the beginning of his two-day official visit to Poland, held separate talks with Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz and Foreign Minister Dariusz Rosati on 14 March, Polish and international media reported. After meeting with Cimoszewicz, Primakov said the two countries will seek to eliminate trade barriers. Rosati said they also discussed bilateral relations, European security, and the Polish president's visit to Russia next month. Primakov noted that Russia will abandon its plan to build a highway from Kaliningrad to Belarus via Poland's northwestern tip (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 March 1996). In an interview with Polityka, Primakov said Russia will be satisfied if Poland receives a security guarantee from NATO rather than becoming a member. Poland argues that its membership in NATO would not endanger Moscow's security and could work in Russia's favor. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz GERMAN-LED CONSORTIUM WINS CZECH MOBILE PHONE CONTRACT. TMobil, dominated by a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom, on 14 March beat out five other international consortia for a license to set up a GSM digital mobile phone network in the Czech Republic, Czech media reported. Economy Minister Karel Dyba said TMobil will sign a joint venture agreement with Czech Radiocommunications next week, paying 5.22 billion crowns ($193 million) for a 49% stake. Since 1991, Eurotel has had a monopoly in the sector, and its analog mobile phone system has an estimated 49,000 customers. Dyba said the new network will offer lower prices and will seek to cover 65% of the country by September this year and have 500,000 customers within 10 years. Germany's DeTeMobil owns 84.55% of TMobil, STET of Italy 12%, and Czech firms the remainder. -- Steve Kettle SLOVAKS COMMEMORATE ANNIVERSARY OF FOUNDING OF WAR-TIME STATE. Between 100 and 250 skinheads and pensioners on 14 March gathered in Bratislava to mark the 57th anniversary of the founding of Slovakia's Nazi-allied war-time state and to honor its president, Jozef Tiso, Slovak media reported. The rally was organized by the Slovak National Union (SNJ) and the Society of Dr. Jozef Tiso. SNJ chairman Stanislav Panis praised both Tiso and the war-time state and complained that the majority of current parliamentary deputies are former communists. Speakers attacked Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar for earlier statements that the Tiso regime was "fascist," and they called for the Slovak-Hungarian treaty to be rejected. The Slovak Anti-Fascist Union and the Human movement condemned the attempts "to revive fascist ideas." -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK OPPOSITION CRITICIZES PENAL CODE. Representatives of the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) and Democratic Union on 14 March rejected the cabinet's amendment to the penal code (also known as the law on the protection of the republic), Slovak media reported. KDH deputy Ivan Simko called the amendment "the most fundamental turning point in Slovakia since 1989" and stressed that his party will turn to the Constitutional Court if the bill is passed. The Slovak National Party has said its approval of the Slovak-Hungarian treaty is conditional on the draft law's passage. The opposition also criticized the bill on Slovakia's territorial arrangement. -- Sharon Fisher ANTI-GOVERNMENT DEMONSTRATION IN BUDAPEST. An estimated 30,000 people on 14 March attended a rally organized by the Independent Smallholders Party (FKgP) outside Budapest's parliament, international media reported. Populist FKgP Chairman Jozsef Torgyan, pointing to the negative effects of the austerity measures implemented by Gyula Horn's cabinet, demanded its resignation and called for new parliamentary elections. The demonstration was held on the eve of Hungary's state holiday marking the anniversary of the 1848 revolution. With 26 seats in the parliament, the FKgP became the biggest opposition party after the recent split of the Hungarian Democratic Forum. Opinion polls suggest that the party is more popular than Horn's Socialist Party, which holds 209 seats. -- Sharon Fisher SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE ANOTHER BALKAN SUMMIT TO BEGIN. The top leaders of Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia are slated to meet in Geneva with U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher on 18 March, AFP reported on 15 March, citing Christopher's spokesman. There will also be top officials present from the other Contact Group countries, Reuters noted the previous day. The fact that such a gathering is being called illustrates the precarious state of the Dayton peace process, given that the last summit was held in Rome only a few weeks ago and that a regional foreign ministers' meeting is slated for 23 March in Moscow. Meanwhile, Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic has left the hospital for a prolonged recuperation at home from heart problems, Oslobodjenje noted the next day. Vice President Ejup Ganic, who has been substituting for the president, will fill in for him at the summit with Presidents Franjo Tudjman of Croatia and Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia. -- Patrick Moore SARAJEVO SERBS SEEK TO CURB EXODUS. The anti-nationalist Serbian Civic Council (SGV) has appealed to the federal president and prime minister to take measures to reassure Serbs that they have a place in the Bosnian capital. The SGV again asked President Kresimir Zubak to make Sarajevo a federal district, based on the model of Brussels, where all groups would be equal. It also asked Prime Minister Izudin Kapetanovic to give Serbs a six-month grace period to return to their homes. The Council also called for setting up a registry of prewar Serbian property and a commission on the rights of refugees and returnees, Oslobodjenje reported on 14 March. There are some 10,000 Serbs still in the suburbs, and Ilidza-based Mayor Maksim Stanisic is also urging them to stay through his Democratic Initiative of Sarajevo Serbs. -- Patrick Moore SERBIAN WAR CRIMINAL SUSPECTS TO APPEAR IN THE HAGUE? Deputy Chief Prosecutor on the International War Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia Graham Blewitt on 14 March believes that suspected Serbian war criminals Radoslav Kremenovic and Drazen Erdemovic will be turned over to the tribunal. "I do not anticipate any obstacles to both men being transferred [from Serbia] to the Hague in accordance with the prosecutor's request," Reuters quoted him as saying. Kremenovic and Erdemovic have already admitted to taking part in the massacres of Bosnian Muslims after the Bosnian Muslim "safe-haven" of Srebrenica fell to the Serbs in July 1995. -- Stan Markotich SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER ON CONDITIONS IN RUMP YUGOSLAVIA. Vuk Draskovic, leader of the Serbian Renewal Movement, has sent a letter to the foreign ministries (or their equivalents) of the U.S., Russia, Germany, France, Britain, and Italy arguing that since the Dayton peace accord, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic has implemented "a one- party dictatorship." Nasa Borba on 15 March quotes Draskovic as saying that there are systematic campaigns of repression against the independent media, growing police repression, and continuing human rights violations. Draskovic also contends that "the great powers have given [Milosevic] a free hand" to intensify domestic repression since the peace accord was signed. -- Stan Markotich OSCE TIES BELGRADE'S ADMISSION TO SOLUTION IN KOSOVO. Swiss Foreign Minister and OSCE chairman Flavio Cotti said Belgrade's readmission to the OSCE would be tied to a resolution of the Kosovo conflict, Reuters reported on 14 March. Cotti pointed out that "effective progress" is "unfortunately still far away." He pointed out that the OSCE expects guarantees from Belgrade that Kosovo will be granted "large autonomy" or that "a federal solution" to the problem will be found. -- Fabian Schmidt SPY TRIAL IN CROATIA CRITICIZED. Defense lawyers representing 15 people charged with spying for rump Yugoslavia and Croatian Serb rebels have accused the military prosecutors of being partial, Nasa Borba and AFP reported on 14 March. They say the prosecutors have denied them access to necessary legal documents so that they have been unable to prepare their defense on time. Prosecutors say 10 of the accused have pleaded not guilty, three have pleaded guilty, and two have refused to plead anything. Defense lawyers also complained about bringing the prisoners to the court "in chains,", Vjesnik reported on 15 March. -- Daria Sito Sucic ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON TREATY WITH RUSSIA. Teodor Melescanu has told ITAR-TASS that Romania wants to sign the bilateral treaty with Russia before the next Russian presidential elections. Radio Bucharest cited Melescanu as saying that the treaty should be signed during the Yeltsin-Iliescu summit and that he would discuss these matters with his Russian counterpart, Yevgenii Primakov, next month. He added that disagreement persisted over the inclusion in the treaty of a mention of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Demurin said Moscow was waiting for a sign of "realism" from Bucharest that it was ready to forego its demand that the treaty condemn the pact. -- Michael Shafir BUCHAREST SUBWAY RUNS AGAIN. Radio Bucharest announced on 14 March that the Bucharest subway has started running again. Nothing was said about the some 2,000 employees who have refused to sign pledges to return to work. According to a statement by Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu on 13 March, those workers have been dismissed. -- Michael Shafir MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT DEMANDS DEFENSE MINISTER'S RESIGNATION. Mircea Snegur is demanding Defense Minister Pavel Creanga's resignation, BASA-press and international agencies reported on 14 March. The presidential office released a statement saying Creanga had failed to "take sufficient measures to ensure the integrity of the National Army's assets and efficient use of budget funds." Creanga said the accusations were "groundless" and that the demand for his resignation was illegal and prompted by his refusal to allow political interference in the army. Under Moldovan law, a minister can be dismissed only by the prime minister. Observers note that Premier Andrei Sangheli, a political rival of Snegur, is unlikely to fire Creanga. -- Michael Shafir BULGARIAN UPDATE. The European Court of Human Rights on 14 March agreed to hear charges made by Andrey Lukanov, who was Bulgarian premier for 10 months after the collapse of the communist regime headed by Todor Zhivkov, international media reported. Lukanov, now a deputy of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party, alleges that his rights were violated when the authorities illegally detained him in 1992 to determine his possible role in misappropriating state funds while deputy premier in the 1980s. In other news, Bulgarian media on 14 March reported that some 37 sports federations are defending Ivan Slavkov, chairman of both the Bulgarian Olympic Committee and Soccer Association and Zhivkov's son-in- law. In a letter to various politicians, the federations say Slavkov's human rights are being violated. On 11 March, he went on trial for misappropriating state funds and possessing firearms. -- Stan Markotich ALBANIAN EDITOR FINED FOR "FALSE REPORT." Koha Jone Chief Editor Aleksander Frangaj was fined the equivalent of $1,000 for allowing the publication of a "false report" (see OMRI Daily Digest, 14 March 1996) international agencies reported. Frangaj was sentenced under a disputed media law that makes chief editors and publishers accountable for articles containing false information. The law provides for fines from between $1,000 and $8,000. -- Fabian Schmidt GREEK PREMIER SAYS ECONOMIC TIES WITH SKOPJE IMPROVE. Kostas Simitis said that talks on economic ties with Skopje are progressing but that the dispute over the name of Macedonia remains unresolved. Simitis was speaking at a meeting with Greek opposition leaders , AFP reported on 14 March. Neo-nationalist leader Antonis Samaras, who opposes any concessions to Macedonia, called for a referendum, but other party leaders supported finding a compromise. Simitis will meet with the head of the Macedonian liaison office in Athens Ljupco Arsovski on 15 March. In another diplomatic effort, Greek Foreign Minister Theodore Pangalos has invited his Macedonian counterpart, Ljubomir Frckovski, to Athens to "discuss economic and commercial relations." -- Fabian Schmidt GREEK-TURKISH UPDATE. Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz said Turkey may withdraw its Aegean army in a move to improve strained relations with Greece, Western media reported on 14 March. His remarks came in the wake of Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos's offer to withdraw its troops from Aegean islands near Turkey if Ankara relocates its 4th Aegean army. -- 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. 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
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