|Nash zhiznennyj put' useyan oblomkami togo, chem my nachinali byt' i chem my mogli by sdelat'sya. - A. Bergson|
No. 57, Part II, 20 March 1996
New OMRI Analytical Briefs: - "Human Rights Group Urges Europe to Get Tough on Chechnya", by Scott Parrish - "Bosnian Summit: Whistling in the Dark?", by Patrick Moore 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CZECH, POLISH PRESIDENTS DISCUSS NATO. Vaclav Havel and Aleksander Kwasniewski on 19 March urged the West not to delay the enlargement of NATO because of Russian objections, Czech and international media reported. "Prolonging the process of expansion on the part of the Western side could strengthen the radical groups in Russia," Kwasniewski told a joint news conference after the two presidents met for the first time in the Czech town of Nachod, close to the Polish border. Havel said he could not imagine Russia becoming a member of NATO, rather a "future partner;" but Kwasniewski said that integrating postcommunist countries into organizations like NATO and the European Union should eventually extend as far as to Russia. Havel said he would explain the Czech Republic's stance on NATO to U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher, who arrived in Prague on 19 March and the following day is due to discuss European security with the foreign ministers or their deputies from 12 Central and East European countries that are seeking to join NATO. -- Steve Kettle ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE CHRISTOPHER WRAPS UP VISIT TO UKRAINE. U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher wrapped up his visit to Ukraine by denouncing the Russian Duma's recent decision to revoke the 1991 accord creating the CIS as "highly irresponsible" and reaffirmed his country's support of Ukrainian independence, RFE/RL and Ukrainian agencies reported on 19 March. Following talks with Ukrainian leaders, Christopher said the U.S. does not want to see Ukraine become a Russian satellite. President Leonid Kuchma and Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko expressed eagerness to expand ties with NATO in response to the Russian Duma's resolution They said they would like to formalize their relationship with NATO with a charter or treaty, although they still oppose full membership. Christopher praised Kyiv's progress in nuclear disarmament and reforms, including its formal submission of a new draft constitution to parliament on 19 March. He also pledged $10 million in medical aid in light of the 10th anniversary of the nuclear accident at Chornobyl in April. -- Chrystyna Lapychak EDITOR OF BELARUS LARGEST DAILY SACKED. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 19 March dismissed Mikalai Halko, the editor of the largest daily in Belarus, Narodnaya Hazeta, for "a failure to carry out his duties," Reuters reported. Halko had been in his job for only a year. Lukashenka had dismissed his predecessor and the editors of other newspapers, including some that are now being printed in Lithuania. Lukashenka was probably displeased with the paper's criticism of the state of the media in Belarus and of his efforts to unite the country with Russia. Opposition parliament deputies said the dismissal indicated Lukashenka's desire to crush what was left of the free press. -- Saulius Girnius LATVIAN BORDER QUESTIONS DISCUSSED. Latvian and Lithuanian delegations, meeting in Jurmala on 18-19 March, agreed on the general principles for resolving their maritime border dispute, BNS reported. They also signed a protocol on abidance with the UN convention on maritime law, international law, and earlier bilateral agreements. Latvian delegation head Juris Sinka said the talks proceeded in a friendly atmosphere and he hoped that an agreement could be signed at the next round of talks in Vilnius on 22-23 April. Latvian Foreign Ministry State Secretary Maris Riekstins noted that Latvia was preparing to set a provisional sea border with Estonia to protect Latvia's fishing interests. He said Estonia's rejection of a Latvian proposal to define a "gray area" in which both countries could fish had prompted this action, which is intended to speed up negotiations. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH PUBLIC TV DIRECTOR REMAINS IN OFFICE. Polish Public TV's (TVP) nine-person supervisory council has refused to accept the resignation tendered last month by TVP director Wieslaw Walendziak (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29 February 1996). Five council members voted in favor of the resignation, one vote short of the number required by the TVP statute. Walendziak is disliked by the ruling left-wing politicians, but remains popular among the Polish public: 61% of respondents consider him a good director, according to a Polish Public Opinion Research Center (OBOP) poll, conducted on 8-12 March. -- Jakub Karpinski POLISH PRIME MINISTER ENDS VISIT TO INDONESIA. Polish Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz ended a two-day official visit to Indonesia on 19 March, which included meetings with Indonesian President Suharto and other officials. The two sides agreed to boost cooperation in coal mining, modernizing Indonesian shipping facilities and generating electric power, as well as in the aircraft industry. Trade between the two countries is valued at about $150 million a year. Next, Cimoszewicz arrived in Bangkok on 20 March for a two-day visit to Thailand, which is expected to focus on bolstering economic ties. It is the first visit of a Polish premier to Thailand since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1972, Polish and international agencies reported. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH POLITICIAN'S ANTI-ROMA SIGN TO BE REMOVED. A Free Democrats- Liberal National Social Party candidate in southern Moravia, Rudolf Baranek, has promised to take down a sign barring Roma from his hotel in Breclav, CTK reported on 19 March. The sign read, "Because of repeated stealing, access is banned to those of Romani nationality" (see OMRI Daily Digest, 19 March). Baranek and Jiri Dienstbier, a party co- chairman, have been criticized by civil-rights organizations such as Citizen's Solidarity and Tolerance Movement (HOST) for claiming on television that the sign was not racist. Dienstbier is a former Czechoslovak dissident and a signatory of Charter 77. HOST said that people like Dienstbier, who defended Roma before 1989, .are "less willing now to take effective steps against racism." -- Alaina Lemon GENERAL AGREEMENT SIGNED IN SLOVAKIA. Representatives of Slovak trade unions, employers' groups, and the government on 19 March signed the trilateral General Agreement for 1996, Praca reported. The agreement represents the starting point for bargaining and enables unions to participate in the drafting of legislation. Wage increases proved to be a sticking point between unions and employers; however, Confederation of Trade Unions chairman Alojz Englis voiced satisfaction with the agreement, which secures growth in real wages by at least as much as last year. In other news, representatives of the KOVO trade union on 18 March criticized the law on the protection of the republic, which is on the agenda of the parliament's current session. They expressed fear that the law would pose a serious threat to democracy and could be used against trade union officials. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK PARLIAMENT SESSION STARTS. On the eve of the opening of the March parliament session, opposition parties on 19 March held a secret meeting to discuss a common strategy aimed at bringing privatization controversies and the Slovak Information Service's alleged involvement in the kidnapping of President Michal Kovac's son on to the agenda, Slovak media reported. Although evidence against the SIS exists, current police investigator Jozef Ciz has been reluctant to use it, claiming that former SIS agent Oskar F.'s testimony is of questionable value since he was issued a presidential pardon. Rejecting Ciz's claims, Kovac on 19 March said the pardon was granted only for specific crimes and would not free him from possible charges of providing false witness. In other news, in an interview with Sme on 18 March, an anonymous judge provided proof that the SIS led the attempt to discredit Banska Bystrica Bishop Rudolf Balaz last summer. -- Sharon Fisher SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN PEACE PROCESS ENTERS SECOND STAGE. Crowds in a festive mood came from the rest of Sarajevo into Grbavica on 19 March to mark the reunification of the city and inspect their flats, CNN reported. A wreath was laid atop Mt. Trebevic, the former excursion site just above the city from which the Serbs shelled Sarajevo during their four-year siege, Sky News added on 20 March. Strict controls are in effect to prevent the activity of Muslim gangs that marred the transfer of Ilidza, Nasa Borba said. IFOR confirmed that government troops have pulled out of the Marshal Tito barracks as they were required to do following the Serbian army's departure from the suburbs. The reunification of Sarajevo marks the end of the military disengagement stage of the peace process, which will now focus on reconstruction, elections, the return of refugees, and other civilian issues. Some 90 days after the Dayton agreement came into effect, the republic is now fully divided into the Federation and the Republika Srpska. -- Patrick Moore CROATIAN DEFENSE MINISTER UNDERGOES LUNG SURGERY. Gojko Susak has been operated on at the Walter Reed Army Hospital in the U.S., AFP said on 20 March, quoting Globus. The Croatian Defense Ministry refused to comment, although rumors of Susak's hospitalization in the U.S. have been circulating for at least a week. He is one of the most powerful men in Croatia because of his key office, his close relationship with President Franjo Tudjman, and his prominence among the influential "Herzegovinian lobby" in political and economic life. -- Patrick Moore THREE WAR CRIME SUSPECTS ARRESTED. Three Bosnian war crimes suspects were arrested in Germany and Austria on 17 March, AFP reported. The Austrian interior ministry said the men, held in Vienna and Munich, will not be identified until they are charged, which indicates that neither is on The Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal list of war-crimes suspects. Bosnian Serb media identified one of them as a Bosnian Croat, arrested for alleged atrocities against Serbs, and the other as Muslim, wanted for the same reason. The Hague-based tribunal spokesman Christian Chartier said that a third suspect arrested in Germany matched the description of one of its indicted suspects. He is suspected of mistreating inmates in a prison camp in Bosnia in 1992. His ethnicity was not revealed, but the court statement said the camp housed mainly "non-Serbs." Meanwhile, Croatia's foreign minister told Vjesnik that Bosnian Croat General Tihomir Blaskic, indicted for crimes against humanity, would surrender to the tribunal, while the Serbian President also promised to transfer to The Hague two Serbs suspected of war crimes. -- Daria Sito Sucic MUSLIMS, CROATS RESUME JOINT PATROLS IN MOSTAR. Muslims and Croats agreed to resume joint police patrols in Mostar after suspending them for several hours following a series of arrests carried out by both sides over the weekend, AFP reported on 18 March. EU police spokesman said the police officers agreed to resume their patrols after Muslims and Croats arrested over the weekend were released. Three Muslims were arrested on 16 March in the Croat part of the city following a blast that destroyed a shop. Two Croat truck drivers were arrested in the Muslim part of the city. Despite an agreement on reunification of the city reached during the Geneva 17 March summit, Croats and Muslims maintained their police barricades, AFP and Nasa Borba reported on 19 March. -- Daria Sito Sucic AUSTRIA PREPARED TO SEND AN AMBASSADOR TO RUMP YUGOSLAVIA. Michael Weninger, Austria's charge d'affaires in Belgrade, said on 19 March that Vienna has taken steps to upgrade relations with rump Yugoslavia to ambassadorial level. Nasa Borba on 20 March reported that he did, however, stress that the appointment of an ambassador shall be linked to regional developments. The chargee said Vienna, following the lead of the European Union, is ready to extend full diplomatic recognition "just as soon as mutual recogniton between [rump] Yugoslavia and Macedonia takes place." -- Stan Markotich SLOVENIAN ENVIRONMENTALISTS SEEK PLANT CLOSURE. Slovenia's Ecological Movement, supported by Greenpeace, began to collect petition signatures on 19 March in a bid to try to force the government to close down the country's only nuclear plant, Krsko. If 40,000 signatures are collected by 17 May, the environmentalists will be able to force a referendum on the plant's closure. One Greenpeace representative observed: "In 10 years Slovenia would be able to replace the energy which is produced by the nuclear plant, mainly by new small gas and hydro power plants and by household efficiency programmes." Last year neighboring Croatia said it would give up its claims to the plant and its resources and not protest its closure on condition that Zagreb is fully compensated. Efforts in 1995 in the Slovenian legislature to close the plant failed due to lack of support. Reuters carried the story. -- Stan Markotich ROMANIAN RULING PARTY, OPPOSITION ATTACK RUSSIAN DUMA VOTE. The ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania on 19 March stated that although the Russian Duma's recent resolution denouncing the breakup of the Soviet Union cannot have any direct legal or political consequences, it may represent an infringement on the sovereignty of the newly independent states, including Moldova. Opposition parties expressed fear that Russia might return to a policy of spheres of influence and endanger the independence of former Soviet bloc states, Romanian and international media reported on 18-19 March. Adrian Severin of the Democratic Party said the logical consequence of Duma's decision was "Russia's return to an imperial formula and to an authoritarian rule." Dinu Zamfirescu, leader of the Liberal Party '93, expressed astonishment over President Ion Iliescu's lack of response to the Duma decision. -- Matyas Szabo ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT ADOPTS POLITICAL PARTIES' LAW. The parliament's two chambers on 19 March passed in joint session a long-delayed Political Parties' Law, Radio Bucharest reported. The law allows parties set up on ethnic criteria to function in Romania. Its draft -- and especially the provisions regarding the financing of political organizations and the functioning of ethnic parties -- aroused heated debates in Romania. Parliament eventually adopted a more conciliatory version, proposed by the Chamber of Deputies. Parliamentarians representing the extreme nationalist Party of Romanian National Unity and Greater Romania Party, and the neo-communist Socialist Labor Party voted against ethnic parties. Petre Turlea, an independent, described those parties as "racist by definition" and "non-constitutional." Romanian TV said that, if not attacked at the Constitutional Court, the bill is going to be promulgated by President Ion Iliescu. -- Dan Ionescu MOLDOVAN POLITICAL CRISIS UPDATE. The situation has remained calm in Chisinau as the country awaits a Constitutional Court ruling on the legality of Defense Minister Pavel Creanga's dismissal last week. The move has provoked a serious political crisis in the Republic of Moldova that ended in a war of words between President Mircea Snegur and his opponents. Meanwhile, Igor Smirnov, the president of the self-proclaimed Dniester republic, expressed concern over the situation in Moldova, BASA-press reported on 18 March. He said recent developments signaled "a split among the top leadership in Chisinau." Smirnov on 16 March had discussed the crisis by telephone with Moldovan Premier Andrei Sangheli and Parliament Speaker Petru Lucinschi, and met the same day in Tiraspol with the Russian Ambassador to Moldova, Aleksandr Papkin, in the presence of Gen. Valerii Yevnevich, commander of the Russian troops headquartered in Tiraspol. -- Dan Ionescu GERMAN PRESIDENT IN BULGARIA. Roman Herzog arrived in Sofia on 19 March for a three-day official visit, Bulgarian and Western media reported. After meeting with Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev, Herzog said Germany will help Bulgaria during its "difficult transition phase." He also pledged German support if Bulgaria wants to join the EU and NATO. Herzog also proposed German help for the reconstruction of Bulgaria's dilapidated nuclear power plant at Kozloduy, considered a safety risk by the West. Addressing the parliament on 20 March, Herzog said the road to EU membership will be "long and hard." On 19 March, both sides signed a cultural agreement which among others provides for mutual recognition of university degrees. Germany is the biggest foreign investor in Bulgaria, providing nearly half its foreign capital. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIA TO SELL STATE ASSETS. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development Rumen Gechev on 19 March announced that the government will auction off some of the country's largest state-owned companies this year, Western media reported. Gechev declined to list all enterprises, but he said they include a 25-30% share in the national telecommunications company and the Sodi works in Devnya, one of the world's largest producers of calcined soda. Gechev said that if Bulgaria does not have several big privatization deals in 1996, it will not be able to service its debts. According to Gechev, Bulgaria spent 10% of last year's budget to service foreign debt, and another 39% to keep loss-making enterprises going. He said that the government and the Bulgarian business community are "displeased with the quite low level of foreign investment" but admitted that the cabinet failed to create favorable conditions in 1995. -- Stefan Krause GERMAN DEVELOPMENT MINISTER VISITS ALBANIA. German Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development Carl Dieter Spranger arrived for a two-day visit to Albania on 19 March, the Albanian language service of Radio Deutsche Welle reported. Spranger told Albanian President Sali Berisha that he was impressed by the progress of reform in Albania and assured him that the German government will support the economic development of Albania and help it reach an association agreement with the European Union. It is his third visit to Albania since 1992. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Chrystyna Lapychak 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. 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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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