|Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most times he will pick himself up and carry on. - Winston Churchill|
No. 66, Part II, 2 April 1996
New OMRI Analytical Briefs: - "Central Asian States Sort Out Unions, Treaties, and Independence," by Roger Kangas 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ RUSSIAN-BELARUSIAN TREATY SIGNING PROMPTS PLANNED DEMONSTRATIONS IN MINSK. As Presidents Boris Yeltsin and Alyaksandr Lukashenka met in Moscow to sign the integration treaty between Russian and Belarus, opponents and supporters of the treaty prepared to take to the streets to voice their opinions. There were reports overnight that police have been raiding the offices of nationalist groups in order to forestall the opposition demonstrations. (see related story in Russian section) -- Ustina Markus in Minsk ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINE RESPONDS TO YELTSIN'S DECISION TO DELAY VISIT YET AGAIN. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry on 1 April reacted "with understanding" to Russian President Boris Yeltsin's decision to again postpone his official visit to Kyiv, Ukrainian TV reported. The ministry said Ukraine has made every effort to resolve remaining differences with Russia over the basing of the countries' Black Sea Fleets in Crimea, which Moscow has made a prerequisite for the visit. It added that Kyiv was ready to continue negotiations but that the basing of Ukrainian naval forces was strictly an internal matter and would not be influenced by Russian objections to sharing a base in Sevastopol. The ministry stressed that Ukraine regretted Russia's decision to link the signing of the long- awaited friendship and cooperation treaty to the last unresolved issue on the fleet. Deputy Defense Minister Ivan Bizhan said Ukraine could not "agree to compromises...when Sevastopol is Ukrainian territory," ITAR- TASS reported. Bizhan said if no agreement were reached on the sharing of bases, the parliament might vote to remove the Russian portion of the fleet from Ukrainian waters. (see related story in Russian section) -- Chrystyna Lapychak ESTONIAN CENTER PARTY RE-ELECTS SAVISAAR AS CHAIRMAN. Estonia's Center Party on 30 March overwhelmingly re-elected Edgar Savisaar as chairman, BNS reported. Savisaar received 468 out of 607 votes. Meanwhile, Rein Veidemann, one of Savisaar's closest former allies, announced the next day that he was resigning from the party. Speaking to journalists, Savisaar denied the existence of a "Veidemann wing" within the party. He described the congress as an important step toward internal stabilization. Savisaar last fall had announcement his retirement from politics because of a spying scandal. -- Dan Ionescu ESTONIAN FOREIGN MINISTER WARNS AGAINST RUSSIAN EXPANSION. Siim Kallas on 1 April told journalists in Prague that an expanded Russia could pose a security threat to his country, CTK reported. Kallas, who is paying an official visit to the Czech Republic, said he was worried about not only the regional integration treaty signed by Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan but also the recent vote in the Russian State Duma annulling the 1991 decision to dissolve the Soviet Union. He described the trend as "very serious." Kallas and his Czech counterpart, Josef Zielenec, discussed security in Eastern-Central Europe, prospects for NATO enlargement and European integration, and bilateral relations. -- Dan Ionescu LATVIAN CONSERVATIVES HOLD CONGRESS. The Latvian National Conservative Party (LNNK) on 30 March elected Andrej Krastins as chairman to replace Anna Seile, who had declined to run for another term, BNS reported. The vote came at the end of the LNNK's ninth congress. Krastins, who is defense minister in Andris Skelle's cabinet, pledged to focus on ensuring his party's success in the next local and parliamentary elections. The congress adopted five resolutions on social, economic, and political issues, including one condemning the recent decision of the Russian State Duma to denounce the Belovezh treaty, which put a formal end to the Soviet Union. -- Dan Ionescu FORMER POLISH PRESIDENT RETURNS TO GDANSK SHIPYARD AS ELECTRICIAN. More than 150 reporter crews from around the world waited at the Gdansk shipyard for Lech Walesa's return to work as an electrician on 2 April. Walesa, who lost the November 1995 presidential elections, arrived in a black Mercedes accompanied by two bodyguards. He has no pension as former president, but under Polish law, he is entitled to an official car and bodyguards. A farewell bonus of three monthly salaries ran out at the end of March. The Sejm is expected to vote next week on a bill allowing pensions for former presidents. Meanwhile, the Treasury is selling its 60% share in the shipyard to save it from bankruptcy. -- Jakub Karpinski POLISH NATIONAL DEFENSE COMMITTEE CONVENES. The first meeting of the Polish National Defense Committee (KOK) to be headed by President Aleksander Kwasniewski took place on 1 April, Polish media reported. On the agenda were foreign-policy activities aimed at Poland's admission to NATO and internal security. Internal Affairs Minister Zbigniew Siemiatkowski addressed the meeting. KOK secretary Jerzy Milewski said that local administrations had not fulfilled their defense obligations last year. Kwasniewski revealed that within the next month, he wants to create a National Security Council, which would advise the president on security issues. -- Jakub Karpinski FURTHER PRE-ELECTION WOES FOR CZECH CENTRIST PARTY. Martin Bursik, a deputy chairman of the Free Democrats-Liberal Social National Party (SD- LSNS), resigned his party post on 1 April and stepped down as a candidate in the upcoming parliamentary elections, Czech media reported. Bursik said he was protesting that party co-chairman Vavrinec Bodenlos and businessman Rudolf Baranek are still SD-LSNS candidates despite scandals surrounding them. It was recently revealed that Bodenlos received a suspended prison sentence four years ago for assaulting a neighbor with an ax, while Baranek put up a sign in a hotel he owns banning Roma from the premises. Bursik complained that the other SD-LSNS co-chairman, former Czechoslovak Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier, backed Bodenlos and failed to condemn Baranek clearly. As a result of these scandals, the liberal SD-LSNS is not expected to gain enough votes to be represented in the next parliament. -- Steve Kettle SLOVAK COALITION PARTY CRITICIZES CATHOLIC BISHOPS. The Slovak National Party (SNS) on 1 April rejected eight Slovak bishops' protest against the law on the protection of the republic (see OMRI Daily Digest, 26 March 1996). Accusing the bishops of promoting confrontation and uncertainty, SNS chairman Jan Slota told TASR that his party regrets that Church representatives could make such a statement. He added that unlike Church representatives of the past, who led the nation in its fight for sovereignty, these eight bishops had revealed themselves as clearly "anti-Slovak." Signatories to the statement included Conference of Bishops chairman Rudolf Balaz. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION KNOCKS GOVERNMENT OVER BASIC TREATY. Opposition deputies have harshly criticized the government's reaction to the Slovak parliament's decision to include interpretation clauses in the basic treaty, Hungarian media reported on 2 April. Many called for the treaty to be revised or even abrogated. Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs, who was Hungary's main negotiator on the treaty, said the cabinet had pointed out to the Slovak Foreign Ministry on 29 March that a one-sided interpretation of the basic treaty has no legal force. He added that Hungary will refuse to exchange ratification documents-- thereby preventing the treaty from going into effect--if those documents are not identical. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE KARADZIC PLEDGES UNITY WITH RUMP YUGOSLAVIA. Bosnian Serb civilian leader Radovan Karadzic told the parliament in Pale that he will continue to work for unification with Serbia and Montenegro, although the Dayton agreement says that Bosnia must remain united, AFP reported on 1 April. He otherwise pledged to execute the agreement faithfully, Nasa Borba noted the following day. Karadzic called on the assembly to pass a law making all Serbs in the former Yugoslavia eligible for citizenship in his Republika Srpska. Social problems loomed large in his speech, including the return of property to refugees. Speculation about problems within the Bosnian Serb leadership was heightened by the absence of two key figures: Prime Minister Rajko Kasagic and military leader Gen. Ratko Mladic. -- Patrick Moore INDICTED CROAT GIVES HIMSELF UP. Bosnian Croat Gen. Tihomir Blaskic arrived in The Hague on 1 April, becoming the first indicted war criminal to give himself up voluntarily to the tribunal, Slobodna Dalmacija and Nasa Borba reported. Croatia had been under intense pressure from Washington to comply with a request for his extradition. In Belgrade, UN administrator for Eastern Slavonia Jacques Klein told Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic that it is imperative that Serbs there remain after the region returns to Croatian control by end of 1997. In Zagreb, Defense Minister Gojko Susak was taken to hospital, Vecernji list wrote. He had just returned to Croatia in order to meet his American counterpart, William Perry, following a lung operation in the U.S. -- Patrick Moore GRENADE ATTACK ON BELGRADE MOSQUE. One person was injured when an unidentified man threw a hand grenade at the only existing mosque in the rump Yugoslav capital, local Belgrade media reported on 30 March. Reports conflict over whether there were casualties and, if so, how many. Witnesses said the man first brandished a gun at worshippers and then reached for the explosive. Since the outbreak of war in Bosnia- Herzegovina in April 1992, the Bajrakli Mosque has been bombed once and been the target of two arson attacks. -- Stan Markotich SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER REMAINS TARGET OF STATE-RUN MEDIA. Vuk Draskovic, leader of the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), remains the target of a state-run media campaign, Nasa Borba reported on 2 April. The campaign was triggered by a letter that Draskovic sent to several foreign ministries criticizing Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's regime (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 March 1996). The state authorities have gone so far as to label Draskovic "the number one enemy of the state," Nova Makedonija observed on 1 April. -- Stan Markotich NATO DELEGATION IN ROMANIA. A high-ranking NATO delegation led by Lt. Gen. Gerrit Jan Folmer, director of International Military Staff, is in Romania to discuss possible cooperation between the Romanian Army and NATO structures, Romanian media reported on 1-2 April. At meetings with Romanian Defense Minister Gheorghe Tinca and Chief of Staff Gen. Dumitru Cioflina, Folmer said that future NATO expansion should first take into account European stability and that the "geostrategic factor" should be of secondary importance. Meanwhile, the Romanian Chamber of Deputies has passed a bill on the ratification of the agreement between NATO member states and countries participating in the Partnership for Peace program. The neo-communist Socialist Labor Party voted against the bill, arguing that the agreement would limit "the country's national sovereignty." -- Matyas Szabo MOLDOVAN PREMIER IN MOSCOW. Andrei Sangheli on 31 March arrived in Moscow for talks with the Russian government, Infotag reported on 1 April. Sangheli is scheduled to meet with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Bolshakov and several members of the cabinet. Talks are expected to focus on Russian excise duties on Moldovan goods, which have significantly reduced Chisinau's exports to Russia. Other topics for discussion are the Russian troops withdrawal from the Dniester region and the settlement of Moldova's gas debts to Russia. -- Dan Ionescu CONTINUED CONTROVERSY IN BULGARIA OVER YELTSIN'S REMARK. Russian President Boris Yeltsin's recent remark about Bulgaria's possible membership in a new political union (see OMRI Daily Digest, 1 April 1996) continues to cause controversy in Sofia, Bulgarian media reported. The government on 1 April said there is consensus among the country's political forces that Bulgaria's main foreign-policy goal is integration into European structures. Parliamentary President Blagovest Sendov noted he was "surprised and bewildered" by Yeltsin's remark. Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) caucus leader Krasimir Premyanov stressed that Bulgaria's sovereignty is not negotiable. Opposition parties argued that government and BSP statements were insufficient and asked both to distance themselves from Yeltsin's remark. The Union of Democratic Forces has called a protest meeting outside the parliament building for 2 April. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN WRAPUP. Aleksandar Marinov, BSP leader in Sofia, has said that members of his party in the capital favor Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski as BSP presidential candidate, Bulgarian media reported. Marinov said Pirinski leads over former party leader Aleksandar Lilov. In other news, Neven Kopandanova of RFE/RL's Bulgarian Service has been chosen as editor-in-chief of the Union of Democratic Forces daily Demokratsiya. She will take over on 15 April. Finally, the National Commission on Prices has proposed that electricity prices for private households increase by 47.7%, 24 chasa reported. The prices of electricity, fuel, heating, and spirits are all expected to rise this month, leading to an additional 2% increase in inflation, the National Statistical Institute announced. -- Stefan Krause BALKAN, ITALIAN, U.S. DEFENSE MINISTERS AGREE ON JOINT MANEUVERS. The defense ministers of Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Italy, and the U.S., meeting in Tirana for a two-day conference, have agreed to hold joint military exercises this year, international agencies reported on 2 April. The exercises will focus on what to do in the case of natural disasters. The ministers also agreed to exchange information and opinions on military issues. U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry urged the Balkan countries to increase contacts and dialogue and to reduce their troops along common borders as part of confidence-building measures. He added that UNPREDEP forces may remain in Macedonia after IFOR has withdrawn from Bosnia-Herzegovina. -- 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
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.