|When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain|
No. 65, Part II, 1 April 1996
New OMRI Analytical Briefs: - "Belgrade Committed to Sheltering War Criminals," by Stan Markotich - "Tajikistan: The Unseen Cost," by Bruce Pannier - "CIS Integration: A Gradual Approach," by Roger Kangas - "The Vagaries of Russia's Abkhaz Policy," by Liz Fuller - "Yeltsin's Chechen Peace Plan: Can it Work?," by Liz Fuller 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ TENS OF THOUSANDS MARCH IN MINSK TO SUPPORT UNION WITH RUSSIA. Communists and trade unionists organized a march in Minsk on 31 March in support of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's plans to sign a union agreement with Russia on 2 April, Western agencies reported. According to unofficial estimates, the number of people involved in the rally exceeded those who protested against the agreement one week ago. Several hundred students, waving flags and singing the national anthem, demonstrated against the union before the police dispersed them. Two days earlier the parliament voted by 157 to five to approve the president's plan to sign the agreement. But it included a point stating that integration was voluntary "based on the principle of state sovereignty, maintenance of territorial integrity, equal rights, and...non-interference in internal affairs." -- Saulius Girnius ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINE TO SELL 25 STRATEGIC BOMBERS TO RUSSIA. Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev on 29 March said his government will buy 25 strategic bombers from Ukraine, Russian agencies reported. Grachev said he concluded the agreement in talks with Ukrainian Defense Minister Valerii Shmarov on 29 March in Tysovets, Ukraine. Kyiv will provide Moscow with 10 Tu-160 and 15 Tu-95 MS bombers, along with some 300 air-to-ground guided missiles. In return, Russia will transfer a number of AN-24 and AN-27 military transport planes, Mi-8 transport helicopters, eight training MiG-29s, and four Su-27 aircraft. Meanwhile, Ukraine and Russia are continuing talks on basing their parts of the Black Sea Fleet in Crimea, RFE/RL reported. The countries' deputy prime ministers met in Moscow on 29 March to discuss financial differences over the fleet's division. -- Chrystyna Lapychak UKRAINIAN FOREIGN AFFAIRS ROUNDUP. Ukrainian Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk and his Romanian counterpart, Nicolae Vacaroiu, signed several trade and commercial agreements in Izmail, Ukraine, on 29 March. But they failed to make progress on resolving their ongoing territorial disputes, Western and Ukrainian media reported. Romania has insisted that Ukraine denounce secret protocols in the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact giving the former Soviet Ukraine some Romanian territory. Kyiv has refused out of fear that Bucharest will re-claim its borderlands. In other news, international agencies reported on 29 March that the U.S. and Ukraine have agreed to create a research center on the site of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster. Ukrainian Environment Minister Yurii Kostenko and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Terry Lash signed an agreement establishing the $3 million International Chornobyl Center on Nuclear Security. -- Chrystyna Lapychak POLISH PRESIDENT IN BELARUS. Aleksander Kwasniewski on 30 March met with his Belarusian counterpart, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, Polish dailies reported. Lukashenka assured Kwasniewski that a new treaty between Belarus and Russia does not mean that Belarus will lose its independence. Kwasniewski also met with Belarusian opposition leaders, but Lukashenka reportedly insisted that some of his supporters also be present at the meeting. -- Jakub Karpinski FORMER LATVIAN COMMUNIST HEAD DOES NOT WANT AMNESTY. Alfreds Rubiks, in an open letter to the Russian-language newspaper Panorama Latvii on 29 March, said he would turn down an amnesty, BNS reported. Rubiks, who was first secretary of the Latvian Communist Party from 1990-1991, was sentenced in July 1995 to eight years in prison for attempting to overthrow the government in 1991. Some Saeima and Council of Europe deputies earlier this year petitioned President Guntis Ulmanis to amnesty him, and the Russian State Duma recently sent an appeal to the Saeima asking for his immediate release. Rubiks wrote that he is convinced that the unlawful character of his conviction will be recognized. He predicted that the Russian presidential elections will change the political situation in Latvia, adding that he hoped it would be for the better. -- Saulius Girnius RESIGNATION OF POLISH PUBLIC TV PRESIDENT ACCEPTED. The Supervisory Council of Polish Public TV has accepted the resignation of TVP President Wieslaw Walendziak. The council also dismissed the four other members of TVP's board of managers, Polish dailies reported on 30 March. Walendziak was appointed two years ago and was the first president of TVP following its transformation into a shareholders' company. Walendziak largely succeeded in making the TVP immune to political pressures. -- Jakub Karpinski POLISH CENTER-RIGHT PLANS ALLIANCE. Leaders of center-right parties--the Conservative Party, the Christian Popular Party and the right-wing faction of the Freedom Union--met in Warsaw on 30 March to discuss forming an election alliance, Polish dailies reported. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for next year. More than 500 delegates to the meeting signed a statement calling for "a broad center-right alliance." In another development, the Sejm on 29 March elected Adam Zielinski as civil rights ombudsman. Zielinski is a judge at the Human Rights Chamber in Bosnia-Herzegovina and former president of the Supreme Administrative Court. His election must be approved by the Senate. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH PREMIER, COALITION PARTNERS IN PRE-ELECTION DISPUTE. Vaclav Klaus on 31 March rejected criticism from the two junior coalition parties, the Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA) and Christian Democratic Union- Czechoslovak People's Party (KDU-CSL), over those parts of the government program that will not be implemented before the upcoming elections, Czech media reported. Klaus told a conference of his Civic Democratic Party (ODS), which has an outright majority in the cabinet, that all coalition partners were responsible for the government program. He also listed a series of alleged shortcomings in policy areas where ODA politicians are in charge. Rebuffing Klaus's criticism, ODA Deputy Chairman Libor Kudlacek said all parties should recognize their errors, while KDU-CSL Chairman Josef Lux said it was legitimate to point out publicly who was responsible for failures. -- Steve Kettle SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER ON PROTECTION OF REPUBLIC LAW. Vladimir Meciar told Slovak Radio on 29 March that the law on the protection of the republic is necessary because of "intensifying attacks aimed at morally and politically destroying state organs." He also condemned "a certain group of politicians" calling for a referendum on self-determination for minorities in southern Slovakia. He criticized the opposition's "high level of intolerance" demonstrated during the parliamentary discussion of the new legislation. "What right do they have to call coalition deputies fascists?" Meciar asked. He went on to stress that the law will prevent such forces from gaining power. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK ROUNDUP. The parliament on 29 March re-approved an income tax law vetoed by President Michal Kovac the previous month. The law states that if a firm is bought from the National Property Fund at a reduced price and under the condition that the money saved is used for investment, the new owner will not have to pay taxes on such income. Speaking before the parliament, Kovac criticized the fact that the law applies only to some investors and stressed the need to preserve equality for all citizens. In other news, Bela Bugar on 30 March was reelected chairman of the Hungarian Christian Democratic Movement. At a Slovak National Party (SNS) congress, the party approved declarations condemning the opposition and the president. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARY JOINS OECD. Hungary on 29 March became the 27th country to join the OECD, international media reported. Documents were signed by Hungarian Trade and Industry Minister Imre Dunai and OECD Secretary- General Jean-Claude Paye during a ceremony at the OECD Paris headquarters. Hungary will be now be able to attend all OECD meetings-- including those of its council--as an observer. Once the parliament has ratified the final documents, Hungary will become a full member. The Czech Republic became the first former communist country to join the OECD last December. Poland is expected to join later this year, while OECD officials say Slovakia has no real chance to join before 1997. -- Zsofia Szilagyi HUNGARIAN SOCIALISTS ELECT NEW PRESIDIUM. The ruling Socialist Party, at a congress over the weekend, elected new leaders and reaffirmed support for the government's economic stabilization program, Hungarian dailies reported on 1 April. Standing as the only candidate, Prime Minister Gyula Horn was re-elected party chairman by an overwhelming majority. The congress voted to reduce the size of the Presidium and replaced most of its members. It also defined the Socialists' top priorities as implementing public finance reform and drafting a new constitution. Privatization Minister Tamas Suchman said after the congress that he would quit the Socialist Party because he was not elected to the Presidium. He added he would remain in the cabinet as an independent. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE YET ANOTHER AGREEMENT ON CROATIAN-MUSLIM FEDERATION. International mediators met with top Bosnian Croat and Muslim leaders on 30 March to conclude a 20-point program aimed at strengthening the shaky federation, Oslobodjenje reported. One mediator said that three things are new about the text: neither side will be allowed to set conditions; municipalities and cantons that do not implement the pact will not get international aid; officials who balk can lose their jobs, Onasa news agency reported on 31 March. The text sets target dates for establishing a joint bank and budget. It also includes provisions for other common institutions, including customs offices. Skeptics charged that it is just one more attempt at cajoling the two sides into doing what they have already agreed to do many times before. But U.S. Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith told the BBC that the pact is "very significant" and that it involves "converting a piece of paper into the real thing." -- Patrick Moore IFOR TO ACT AGAINST CHECKPOINTS. U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry announced in Bosnia on 29 March that IFOR will take "vigorous action" to ensure freedom of movement, the Onasa news agency reported. He added that checkpoints must be eliminated. Meanwhile, indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic made his first public appearance in some time, apparently without any interference from IFOR. He spoke at a factory near Pale and handed out medals to Bosnian Serb fighters, Reuters said on 31 March. Bosnian Vice President Ejup Ganic appealed to IFOR to arrest Karadzic, saying that the "NATO military is capable of removing [him and Gen. Ratko Mladic]. We are begging [IFOR] to do it. There will be no free elections with Karadzic still in power." Meanwhile in Zagreb, the Croatian Helsinki Committee condemned the "plundering and mining" of homes belonging to Serbs in the former Krajina region. The report added that Interior Ministry officials were involved in violations of Serbs' human rights, Slobodna Dalmacija reported on 1 April. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN WAR CRIMES UPDATE. IFOR commander U.S. Admiral Leighton Smith has said his troops will assist in war crimes investigations for the first time. They will provide security and other assistance to an international team in the Srebrenica area, news agencies reported on 31 March. The investigators from The Hague have arrived in Bosnia to inspect 12 reputed sites of war crimes in what the BBC called the court's "politically most sensitive mission to date." Meanwhile in Mrkonjic Grad, Bosnian Serbs have so far exhumed 28 bodies from a mass grave in the presence of international observers. The investigation is continuing, and bodies of civilians and soldiers alike appear to be involved in deaths that date back to the battle for the area last fall, AFP noted on 1 April. In Banja Luka, a Bosnian Serb military court sentenced a Croat, Ivan Stjepanovic, to death for war crimes involving the death of 80 Serbs in the contested Posavina region. -- Patrick Moore SERBIAN WAR CRIMES SUSPECTS SENT TO THE HAGUE. Belgrade authorities have turned over the suspected war criminals Drazen Erdemovic and Radoslav Kremenovic to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, RFE/RL reported on 30 March. The two men were arrested in the Vojvodina city of Novi Sad on 2 March. They are believed to have been key witnesses to the massacre of Muslim civilians last summer, when the "safe haven" of Srebrenica fell to Bosnian Serb forces. A representative of the tribunal said both were being treated as witnesses but that they may also be prosecuted. Erdemovic is suspected of having participated in the mass killings, and his testimony may link Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic to the atrocity. -- Stan Markotich SERBIAN OPPOSITION ORGANIZES ANOTHER RALLY. Three Serbian opposition parties--the Serbian Renewal Movement, the Democratic Party, and the Serbian Civic League--organized a mass meeting in Nis over the weekend, Nasa Borba reported. The parties called for the opposition to unite, and party leaders proposed an election coalition under the banner "A Unified List Against the Communists." Estimates of the number of people who attended vary from several thousand to tens of thousands. Meanwhile, members of the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia downplayed the event. TV Serbia on 30 March reported that Mile Ilic, head of the Nis SPS, said the opposition party leaders were "uninvited guests." He said that their efforts would only encourage the local population to "support the SPS and Slobodan Milosevic." -- Stan Markotich STOCK EXCHANGE OPENS IN SKOPJE. The first Macedonian Stock Exchange opened in Skopje on 28 March. Dnevnik reported that nine brokerage companies carried out 25 transactions involving 395 shares worth a total of $15,000. Some 60 brokers have been trained in Macedonia as part of the Know-How Funds Project and have received international trading licenses. Banks, insurance companies, and savings institutions will trade on the exchange until the government passes a new law on setting up brokerage companies. -- Branko Geroski in Skopje U.S. TO HELP MOLDOVA SOLVE DNIESTER CONFLICT. A high-ranking U.S. diplomat on 31 March said that the U.S. is ready to help Moldova settle its dispute with Dniester separatists, Reuters reported. Ambassador Joseph Presel, coordinator for regional affairs in charge of the newly independent states, was quoted as saying that the Dniester issue could be raised at the U.S.-Russian summit in Moscow next month. But he added that it was unlikely that "any serious progress" could take place before the Russian presidential elections. Presel is currently on a three-day visit to Moldova, where he met with Moldovan President Mircea Snegur and other senior officials. He is expected to visit the Dniester region on 1 April. -- Dan Ionescu YELTSIN REMARK PROVOKES SHARP RESPONSE IN BULGARIA. Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev and the Bulgarian opposition have responded sharply to a remark by Russian President Boris Yeltsin at the signing last week of the regional integration agreement (see Part 1 of today's OMRI Daily Digest), RFE/RL reported. Yeltsin had commented that "the community is open to other states...perhaps, for example, Bulgaria." Zhelev on 30 March said it was "scandalous to include Bulgaria in a community we have never discussed." He demanded that the government announce whether it has conducted secret talks with Moscow, otherwise he would be forced to believe that it is "committing treason." Opposition leaders denounced the government and said they would organize demonstrations against what they labeled "Soviet Union II." Government spokesman Nikola Baltov the next day denied that the government has held any talks that could be interpreted as "backstage dealings." He said Zhelev's remarks were "perplexing." -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN OPPOSITION SIGNS AGREEMENT ON PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. The Union of Democratic Forces (SDS), the People's Union, and the mainly ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom (DPS) on 29 March signed an agreement providing for a joint candidate in the upcoming presidential elections, Trud reported. Peter Stoyanov of the SDS and incumbent President Zhelyu Zhelev, who is supported by the People's Union, will take part in primary elections on 1 June. DPS leader Ahmed Dogan said his party will let its members vote according to their conscience. SDS Chairman Ivan Kostov called on the government to assist by providing urns and by opening polling stations. Stoyanov kicked off his election campaign on 31 March by organizing a concert in Sofia. -- Stefan Krause DEFENSE MINISTERS MEETING IN TIRANA. The defense ministers of Bulgaria, Macedonia, Turkey, Italy, and the U.S. arrived in the Albanian capital on 31 March for a two-day conference on Balkan security, Reuters reported. The "unofficial" meeting was initiated by the Albanian government and also attended by an OSCE representative. U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry praised the conference as a "chance for more security in the region." Albanian President Sali Berisha said the aim of the conference was to "boost security cooperation in the region and to discuss military cooperation." Other issues discussed were humanitarian aid in disaster situations and civil military relations. Greece declined to participate in protest at the exclusion of Serbia and Romania. -- Fabian Schmidt ALBANIAN PARLIAMENT DISSOLVES ITSELF. Albania's parliament on 29 March dissolved itself ahead of the parliamentary elections scheduled for late May or early June, Reuters reported. Before doing so, it unanimously adopted a new civil code, which is the last step in the creation of a post-communist legal system. A new criminal code was adopted last summer. President Sali Berisha praised the legislature's contribution to establishing a state based on the rule of law and market economy. He noted that it has given "political stability to the country." -- 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 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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