|When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece. - John Ruskin|
No. 62, Part II, 27 March 1996
New OMRI Analytical Briefs: - "Slovak Parliament Approves Law on the Protection of the Republic and Ratifies Treaty with Hungary," by Sharon Fisher - "Serbian Opposition Leader Attacked by State Media," by Stan Markotich 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ SLOVAK PARLIAMENT APPROVES LAW ON PROTECTION OF REPUBLIC. The Slovak parliament on 27 March approved the controversial law on the protection of the republic by a vote of 77 to 57, Slovak and international media reported. The new law allows the prosecution of individuals who "spread false information" that could damage Slovakia's interests or who organize public rallies "with the intention of subverting the country's constitutional system, territorial integrity, or defense capability." Critics claim the vaguely worded legislation allows for arbitrary interpretation and endangers freedom of expression and assembly. They also fear it will remove Slovakia from the list of front-runners for EU membership. By approving the law, the parliament ignored protests from the Catholic Church, trade unions, judges, and civic organizations. The opposition plans to appeal the law at the Constitutional Court. -- Sharon Fisher ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE SLOVAKIA RATIFIES TREATY WITH HUNGARY. Just hours after approving the law on the protection of the republic, the parliament ratified the Slovak-Hungarian treaty by a vote of 119 to 1 with 19 abstentions, Slovak media reported. It also adopted two accompanying clauses specifying that the treaty cannot be interpreted as granting minorities collective rights or the right to autonomy. The "interpretation" clauses are not binding on Hungary. Ratification, which was delayed many times because of opposition from the Slovak National Party (SNS), came more than one year after the treaty was signed by Slovak and Hungarian Prime Ministers Vladimir Meciar and Gyula Horn. The SNS in January finally agreed to support the treaty on condition that several laws were approved, including the one on protection of the republic. Ethnic Hungarian deputies abstained from the vote, complaining that since the treaty was signed, the parliament has taken several steps to restrict minority rights. -- Sharon Fisher UKRAINIAN LAWMAKERS RAISE POVERTY THRESHOLD. The Ukrainian parliament on 25 March voted to raise the poverty threshold from below 5 million karbovantsi to 6.8 million karbovantsi ($36) a month, Ukrainian Radio reported. Legislators ordered the government to find funds to raise pensions and social benefits to reflect the increase. In other news, President Leonid Kuchma issued a decree creating a presidential Council on Science and Scientific-Technical Policy to oversee reforms in science and scientific research. He appointed Volodymyr Horbulin, secretary of his Security Council, as the new council's chairman. -- Chrystyna Lapychak UKRAINIAN SECURITY SERVICE MARKS FOURTH ANNIVERSARY. Top officials at the Ukrainian Security Service (SSU) marked the service's fourth anniversary by summing up its achievements in combating organized crime and corruption in the country, Ukrainian TV reported on 25 March. SSU chief Volodymyr Radchenko said despite financial constraints, the service last year recovered 23 trillion karbovantsi ($122 million) in stolen or illicit funds. He also said it disbanded 450 criminal gangs, uncovered 436 cases of official corruption, and averted 70 terrorist acts. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES BUDGET. The Belarusian parliament on 26 March approved the 1996 budget, which foresees $3.4 billion in revenues and $3.9 billion in expenditures, Reuters reported. The $500 million deficit is equivalent to 3.1% of GDP and exceeds the IMF's recommendation that the deficit total 2.7% of GDP. The IMF stopped granting credits to Belarus last September. The finance minister noted that the budget did not include last-minute additions totaling $480 million in subsidies to the agricultural sector, which, he said, would raise the deficit to more than 6% of GDP. He said that the budget was unrealistic and that large-scale printing of new money was likely, despite the inevitable increase in inflation. -- Saulius Girnius ESTONIAN FOREIGN MINISTER RECEIVES U.S. ASSURANCES. Siim Kallas told AFP on 26 March that he has received strong assurances from top officials in Washington that Estonia can rely on the U.S. to help protect its sovereignty. Kallas had complained to Secretary of State Warren Christopher and his deputy Strobe Talbott on 25 March that Russia has recently become more hostile toward Estonia. He received a pledge that the U.S. will not recognize a union of former Soviet republics that was not forged voluntarily. Kallas agreed with the U.S. view that Estonia will have security guarantees by building closer ties with NATO and the EU. -- Saulius Girnius LATVIAN PRESIDENT IN BRUSSELS. Guntis Ulmanis--accompanied by Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs, Defense Minister Andrejs Krastins, and other ministers--began a four-day visit to Belgium on 25 March. The main purpose of the visit is to draw attention to Latvia's desire to become a member of NATO and the EU and to try to speed up the accession talks. Ulmanis stressed this desire at meetings with NATO Secretary General Javier Solana, European Commission president Jacques Santer, Western European Union Secretary General Jose Cutileiro, and other officials, Western agencies reported. -- Saulius Girnius NEW CHIEF OF POLISH MILITARY INTELLIGENCE APPOINTED. Polish Defense Minister Stanislaw Dobrzanski on 26 March dismissed Gen. Konstanty Malejczyk, head of the Military Intelligence Service (WSI), and appointed Navy Commander Kazimierz Glowacki to replace him. Glowacki has worked for the WSI since 1991 and was head of the counter-intelligence department until 1994. Defense Ministry spokesman Colonel Eugeniusz Mleczak said Glowacki also has had diplomatic experience in the West and would therefore be a better head of the intelligence services during integration with European security structures and NATO. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH TRADE DEFICIT CONTINUES TO GROW. The Czech Republic recorded a trade deficit of 8.7 billion crowns ($322 million) in February, bringing the total for the year so far to 15.3 billion crowns ($562 million), Czech media reported on 27 March. Compared with the first two months of 1995, imports rose 23.5% to 112.2 billion crowns ($4.15 billion), while exports increased by 19.2% to 96.9 billion crowns ($3.588 billion). Officials said February's figures were positive, pointing to a significant rise in exports of machinery and motor vehicles and increased exports to developing countries. Last year's trade deficit totaled a record 96.7 billion crowns ($3.58 billion). -- Steve Kettle CONFLICT OF INTERESTS BILL DIVIDES HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT. All seven Hungarian parliamentary parties seem to disagree over the conflict of interests bill, currently being discussed in parliament. Hungarian dailies on 27 March reported that the most contentious issues are when the law should take effect and whether deputies should be permitted to hold other positions or participate in business activities. The bill was proposed by five parliamentary parties after six years of political wrangling, while the Young Democrats were opposed to it. Most deputies agree that the issue should have been long settled, since the parliament's reputation has suffered over cases such as "Oilgate," in which deputies and ministers were accused of involvement in suspicious deals related to Russian oil shipments to Hungary (see OMRI Daily Digest, 8 December 1995). -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE NATO WANTS MUJAHEDEEN OUT OF BOSNIA. President Alija Izetbegovic has said in an interview with Focus and in a letter to U.S. senators that only about 50-60 Iranian and other foreign Islamic fighters remain in Bosnia. He added that they have taken Bosnian citizenship and become civilians. IFOR disagrees, however, and says that "small groups" of mujahedeen are still in place and are mainly involved in training, the International Herald Tribune reported on 27 March. NATO and the U.S. State Department called on the Bosnian government to send all foreign forces home "immediately." According to the Dayton agreement, they were supposed to have gone nearly two months ago. -- Patrick Moore ARE RUMP YUGOSLAV TROOPS STILL IN BOSNIA? Dayton's ban on foreign troops includes those from neighboring republics of the former Yugoslavia as well. But OMRI's special correspondent in Sarajevo reported on 26 March that journalists claim that rump Yugoslav troops are controlling sites of alleged mass graves in eastern Bosnia. IFOR spokesman Simon Haselock was asked by the journalists to comment, but he would neither deny their story nor say whether the presence of Serbian troops represented a violation of Dayton. OMRI's correspondent added that Russian IFOR soldiers have been intimidating some 4,000 Muslims near Zvornik in disputed territory and telling them to leave. The Russians also allegedly told the residents to take down the Bosnian flag, which they called "Muslim." -- Patrick Moore SERBS, CROATS REACH AGREEMENT ON PRISONER EXCHANGE. Bosnian Serb parliament speaker Momcilo Krajisnik and Bosnian Croat leader Kresimir Zubak have agreed to free all of each other's prisoners. Zubak said in Pale that the deal involves the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna, the Republika Srpska, and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and will be carried out in two days, Nasa Borba reported on 27 March. Also in Pale, Bosnian Serb spokesmen told UN human rights envoy Elisabeth Rehn that the fate of 2,000 Bosnian Serbs remains unclear in the wake of last fall's allied offensive in western Bosnia. In Dobrinja, three young Muslim males were arrested on 19 March by Serbs, Dnevni avaz said on 27 March. And in Grbavica, federal police arrested a Bosnian Serb interpreter working for the UN police about ten days ago, AFP reported on 27 March. They did not give any reason for holding the interpreter. -- Patrick Moore KARADZIC TO RUN IN REPUBLIKA SRPSKA ELECTIONS? Republika Srpska Vice President Nikola Koljevic on 26 March said Bosnian Serb civilian leader Radovan Karadzic may run in the upcoming elections in the Republika Srpska, Greek and Western media reported. During a visit to the Greek city of Thessaloniki, Koljevic said the Dayton accords bar Karadzic from holding office but do not rule out his candidacy. He added that the Bosnian Serb civilian leadership is focusing its efforts on Karadzic's candidacy, despite the fact that he has been indicted as a war criminal by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. "External pressures" will not result in division among the Bosnian Serb leadership, Koljevic added. He said he will consider running for the Republika Srpska presidency if asked to do so, but he "will not even think about it if I am to be Mr. Karadzic's opponent." -- Stefan Krause SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER CRITICIZED BY STATE-RUN MEDIA. Vuk Draskovic, leader of the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), has become the latest target of a state-run media campaign. Draskovic recently sent a letter to the Foreign Ministries of the U.S., Russia, Great Britain, France, Germany, and Italy alleging that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic is consolidating "a one-party dictatorship" and is waging a campaign of repression (see OMRI Daily Digest, 15 March 1995). Vecernji novosti on 26 March dubbed Draskovic a common criminal and called on prosecutors to file charges "to protect the country from attacks by foreign powers called for [by Draskovic]." State-run Borba said the letter was "a nail in the coffin of Draskovic's political ambitions." Nasa Borba on 27 March quotes Draskovic saying the media campaign was not unexpected. -- Stan Markotich NEW RADICALS IN MONTENEGRIN LEGISLATURE. Eight members of the Serbian Radical Party of Montenegro (SRSCG) took their places in the Montenegrin legislature for the first time on 25 March. Last spring, members of the Belgrade-based Serbian Radical Party (SRS) who were loyal to Vojislav Seselj, flamboyant leader of the SRS and an accused war criminal, had their mandates revoked. Seselj continues to advocate establishing a centralized Serbian state and removing any traces of autonomy for Montenegro. The new crop of Radicals are entering the legislature on the understanding that "there will be no return to 'Seseljism,'" Montena-fax reported on 25 March. -- Stan Markotich CROATIAN JOURNALISTS PROTEST DRAFT PRESS LAW. The Croatian Journalists Society has called the press law submitted to the parliament a threat to free speech and democracy, Novi list reported on 27 March. The measure, which was introduced by the governing Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), would allow government officials to sue journalists who offend them for libel. It also includes a vague provision allowing journalists to be punished for reporting "state secrets." The HDZ has near total control of the electronic media, and the independent mass-circulation press is limited to one daily and two weeklies. -- Patrick Moore U.S. REASSURES ROMANIA ABOUT NATO MEMBERSHIP. U.S. Ambassador in Bucharest Alfred Moses on 26 March told journalists that there will be "no ranking, no handicapping" for East European countries applying for NATO membership, Radio Bucharest reported. Moses was seeking to clarify U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher's speech in Prague last week, which was widely interpreted in Bucharest as suggesting that Romania may be relegated to a second tier for NATO membership. Meanwhile, Adrian Nastase, executive chairman of the ruling Party for Social Democracy in Romania, said that Romanians should continue to "act as if there were no differences between us and the others." -- Dan Ionescu MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT WARNS OF MASSIVE SOCIAL UNREST. Mircea Snegur, meeting with leaders of the Moldovan National Trade Union Federation on 26 March, said that if the government fails to undertake urgent measures to resolve outstanding social problems, Moldova will likely suffer massive social unrest, Moldovan agencies reported. Snegur said that only 31% of the 26,400 registered unemployed receive unemployment benefits. Real wages are decreasing, and wage arrears now total 2.6 billion lei ($572 million). Snegur had issued a decree in early February urging the government to pay pension, wage, and other arrears by 31 March. Meanwhile, trade union leader Ion Godonoga said the government has failed to honor its agreements with the trade unions. -- Matyas Szabo BULGARIAN CHURCH ABOUT TO SPLIT? The Bulgarian Orthodox Church is about to officially split, Bulgarian dailies reported on 27 March. The church split unofficially in 1992 when the government's Department for Ecclesiastical Issues declared Patriarch Maksim's election in 1971 invalid and appointed a new synod under Metropolit Pimen. Maksim and the old synod never recognized this decision, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate backed them. Pimen's associates on 26 March said they will call a national council in June and form a second Orthodox church. They also decided to break off talks with Maksim and his supporters and to ask for registration as a separate church. They expect to be recognized by other Orthodox churches. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN ROUNDUP. Prime Minister Zhan Videnov and Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister Svetoslav Shivarov on 26 March said there is no grain shortage and that mills and silos are filled with flour and grain, 24 chasa reported. But millers claim that there is grain for one week only. Videnov accused private bakeries in Sofia of trying to find excuses for raising bread prices. In other news, Petyo Blaskov--co-owner of the 168 Hours Press Group, which publishes Bulgaria's biggest daily, 24 chasa--will run for president in the upcoming elections, LEFF reported on 26 March. He has the support of the New Bulgaria party. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN SOCIALIST LEADER FACES ARREST. Secretary-General of the Albanian Socialist Party Gramoz Ruci has been charged with ordering the killing of Albanians fleeing the country in the first half of 1991 and four supporters of democratic reform in April 1991, Albanian media reported. Ruci was interior minister from February to June 1991. He is also charged with the destruction of secret police files. The Prosecutor's Office has asked the parliament to lift his immunity before it dissolves itself on 3 April, international agencies reported on 26 March. The charges are made under the so-called "Genocide Law" passed in September 1995. -- 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. 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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