|The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli|
No. 67, Part II, 3 April 1996
New OMRI Analytical Briefs: - "Bulgarian Political Class Divided over Yeltsin's Remark," by Stefan Krause - "Balkan Defense Minitsers Meet in Tirana," by Fabian Schmidt 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ THOUSANDS DEMONSTRATE IN MINSK AGAINST TREATY WITH RUSSIA. Some 20,000 Belarusians demonstrated in Minsk on 2 April against the union treaty signed earlier that day in Moscow by Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and his Russian counterpart, Boris Yeltsin, international media reported. A similar number of Communists had demonstrated in Minsk at the weekend in support of the treaty, which paves the way for integration with Russia in a number of areas. The 2 April demonstration took place despite an initial ban on public gatherings. Police later announced that the demonstration had been authorized but not in the city center. Unable to reach the parliament building or the main square, the demonstrators headed for the Russian Embassy but were prevented from reaching there by more than 1,000 policemen. The protest, organized the Belarus Popular Front, dispersed after some three hours. -- Jiri Pehe ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ON STATE OF THE NATION. Leonid Kuchma, in his annual state of the nation address, said that Ukraine made considerable progress in 1995 in its transformation to democracy and a market economy, Ukrainian agencies reported on 2 April. He called on lawmakers to help build a consensus on the nation's "fundamental values" and adopt a new constitution as soon as possible. He added that the government managed to bring down inflation, stabilize the national currency, and privatize more state enterprises in one year than in the previous three combined. Kuchma said his goals for 1996 include further lowering inflation, resolving the industrial payments crisis, accelerating privatization and restructuring, and tax reform. He called on deputies to lift a moratorium on the privatization of some 6,000 state-owned enterprises. -- Chrystyna Lapychak MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT IN ESTONIA. Mircea Snegur on 2 April began a two-day official visit to Estonia, Moldovan agencies and BNS report. Snegur is scheduled to meet with his Estonian counterpart, Lennart Meri, Premier Tiit Vahi, Foreign Minister Siim Kallas, and other senior Estonian officials. The Moldovan delegation includes Foreign Minister Mihai Popov and Economics Minister Valeriu Bobutac. The two presidents are expected to sign a joint declaration of friendship and cooperation. Snegur's visit is the first by a Moldovan president to the Baltic states. He will travel to Lithuania from Estonia. -- Dan Ionescu EIGHT FORMER COMMUNISTS INDICTED IN LATVIA. Eight former members of the Latvian Communist Party were indicted for lying about their political activities after the party was outlawed in January 1991, Western agencies reported on 2 April. The eight, now members of the Socialist Party, have been charged with concealing communist party activities in order to participate in parliamentary elections. All of them were crossed off the election list before last fall's elections. If convicted, they face up to a year in prison or fines of up to $2,000. -- Dan Ionescu U.S., LITHUANIAN PARATROOPERS CONDUCT JOINT EXERCISE. Lithuanian and U.S. paratroopers on 2 April started a month-long joint military exercises at a former Soviet training ground in Lithuania, Western agencies reported. Lithuanian Defense Minister Linas Linkevicius said the exercise, code-named Bersteintal and staged in Rukla, will help "strengthen military cooperation" between the two countries. Lithuania signed a military agreement with the U.S. in 1994 and has since been participating in NATO's Partnership for Peace program. A small Lithuanian military unit is part of NATO's IFOR troops in Bosnia- Herzegovina. -- Dan Ionescu POLISH ADMINISTRATION TO BE REFORMED. The Polish government on 2 April amended its draft law on administration, Polish dailies reported. The amendment provides for the Internal Affairs Ministry to be transformed into the Internal Affairs and Administration Ministry. It also transfers control over the State Protection Office (UOP) from the internal affairs minister to the prime minister. The same day, Premier Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz met with heads of the 49 provincial authorities. He said the reform of territorial administration is unlikely to take place before the 1997 parliamentary elections. -- Jakub Karpinski TWENTY GROUPS TO CONTEST CZECH ELECTIONS. A total of 17 parties and three political movements have met the 1 April deadline to register candidates for the upcoming Czech parliamentary elections, Czech media reported. Apart from two Moravian groups, each will put up candidates in all eight electoral districts. According to recent opinion polls, only six or seven parties are likely to win the 5% of the total vote needed for parliamentary representation: the three center-right parties in the current governing coalition, the Social Democrats, the Communists, the extreme-right Republicans, and, possibly, the reformed communist Left Bloc. In the June 1992 elections, eight out of the 23 groups that ran won seats in the then Czech National Council, now the parliament. The elections will be held on 31 May and 1 June. -- Steve Kettle COUNCIL OF EUROPE CRITICIZES TREATMENT OF ROMA IN CZECH REPUBLIC. A recent Council of Europe report says that the Czech citizenship law does not violate international legislation, but it criticizes administrative procedures used against Roma, CTK reported on 2 April. The report singles out courts and police in northern Moravia, where Roma have been stripped of citizenship without being properly informed or given time to make contingency plans. The council expresses surprise that 78% of Roma denied citizenship so far have lived in Bohemia and Moravia for more than 20 years. According to official figures, a few hundred Roma have been denied citizenship. But civil rights organizations say that thousands more have been turned away by bureaucrats or cannot afford the fees. -- Alaina Lemon RUSSIAN, UKRAINIAN OFFICIALS IN SLOVAKIA. Russian Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov, at the start of a three-day visit to Slovakia on 2 April, signed a police cooperation agreement with his Slovak counterpart, Ludovit Hudek, TASR reported. Hudek stressed that criminal activities among Russian citizens in Slovakia have not increased since visa-free relations began last August. Kulikov noted that Russian citizens account for less than 1% of crime in Slovakia, while Ukrainians account for 7%. In other news, Ukrainian Defense Minister Valeri Shmarov, who also arrived for an official visit on 2 April, stressed that the decision of whether to join NATO is up to Slovakia. Christian Democratic Movement chairman Jan Carnogursky on 2 April criticized Slovak foreign policy, saying it "verbally claims orientation toward Western structures but, in fact, is pursuing policy aimed towards the East." -- Sharon Fisher NEW PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION ON ROMA FORMED IN HUNGARY. The Roma Program Commission was set up by the parliament on 2 April, MTI reported. Csaba Tabajdi, political state secretary at the Prime Minister's Office, told the press after the inaugural session that the commission will consider ways to improve the situation of Gypsies and will collaborate with relevant ministries and with the National Gypsy Minority Autonomous Government. The commission will submit an action program to the government by late May. Prime Minister Gyula Horn is chairman of the commission, while Tabajdi has been appointed secretary. -- Alaina Lemon HUNGARY TO INVITE TENDERS FOR POWER PLANTS. The Hungarian State Privatization and Holding Co. (APV Rt.) has opened a tender for two power plants that were not sold last year, Hungarian dailies reported on 3 April. A 90% stake in Budapesti Eromu, which serves the capital, and 95% of Tiszai Eromu, in eastern Hungary, are up for sale. APV Rt. said that between 60% and 70% of the country's other three power plants will be sold off by the end of the year as well as stakes in MVM, the main electricity company. Last year, stakes in two generators and 12 electricity and gas supply companies were sold for a total of some $2 billion, mainly to German, French, and Italian investors. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SHALIKASHVILI SAYS U.S. TROOPS WILL NOT PURSUE WAR CRIMINALS. U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili said he is "comfortable" with NATO's planned withdrawal from Bosnia at the end of the year. He added that one year will be enough to tell whether the people in the area are serious about peace, AFP quoted the Washington Post as saying on 3 April. A debate is taking place in the U.S. and elsewhere as to whether the one-year mandate for IFOR will be sufficient. The daily noted that the U.S. commander on the ground, Adm. Leighton Smith, has not ruled out an extension. Shalikashvili also opposed any American hunt for Bosnian war criminals. He said it is the duty of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to bring the indicted Bosnian Serbs to justice and that people like Radovan Karadzic will be out of office after the upcoming elections. -- Patrick Moore KARADZIC PICKED TO NEGOTIATE WITH INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY. The Bosnian Serb parliament wrapped up its latest session in the early hours of 3 April, AFP reported. It selected civilian leader Radovan Karadzic to head a committee representing the Bosnian Serbs in talks with the international community. He said the committee was "indispensable" due to "the numerous attempts being made to interpret the Dayton accords to the Serbs' detriment." He added that his heading the committee was "in line with the constitution of the [Republika Srpska] under which the president of the republic represents the state." The international community does not, however, have anything to do with Karadzic, an indicted war criminal. Under the terms of an agreement between Pale and Belgrade last August, Milosevic alone represents the Bosnian Serbs in such talks. -- Patrick Moore BILDT WARNS ABOUT SOCIAL UNREST. The international community's High Representative in Bosnia, Carl Bildt, said economic assistance will be vital to curb unemployment, especially for tens of thousands of demobilized men, AFP reported on 2 April. He also said that war criminals must be brought to justice and the multi-ethnic nature of Bosnia preserved, the International Herald Tribune and Nasa Borba added on 3 April. In Strbac, Serbs and Croats exchanged a total of 31 prisoners, Croatian and Serbian radios noted. In Sarajevo, in a rare display of unity, President Alija Izetbegovic and former Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic issued a joint declaration saying that Bosnia must be "a multiethnic community based on human rights and freedoms," Onasa news agency said on 2 April. They were seconded by five political parties, Vecernje novine reported. -- Patrick Moore U.S. OFFICIAL URGES SERBIAN PRESIDENT TO SEND WAR CRIMINALS TO THE HAGUE. John Kornblum, U.S. envoy to the former Yugoslavia, met with Slobodan Milosevic on 2 April and urged him to extradite war crimes suspects to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Reuters reported. Kornblum observed that while Serbia has recently sent to the Hague two suspects implicated in the 1995 massacre of Muslim civilians near Srebrenica, others remain at large in Serbia, including three officers involved in the 1991 massacre of civilians in the Croatian city of Vukovar. In a separate development, the U.S Congress has passed a motion criticizing Belgrade for its recent clampdown on independent media and humanitarian groups, notably the Soros Foundation, Nasa Borba reported on 3 April. -- Stan Markotich CROATIAN OPPOSITION PARTIES LAUNCH ELECTORAL PACT. Seven key parties opposed to the governing Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) have signed a declaration on joint action for the expected upcoming elections in Zagreb, Novi list reported on 3 April. The signatories include the Croatian Social-Liberal Party, which is the largest opposition grouping and which has been criticized for its earlier reluctance to present a united electoral front against the HDZ. The opposition currently has a majority in the city council but its choice of mayor has been repeatedly rejected by President Franjo Tudjman. Polls suggest that voters are fed up with Tudjman's behavior and that the opposition will do even better in the early vote. * Patrick Moore VOJVODINA UPDATE. Nenad Canak, leader of the Social Democratic Party in Vojvodina, has met with Hungarian President Gyula Horn to discuss autonomy for the Serbian province, Nasa Borba reported on 2 April. Canak is slated to present his views to the Hungarian government "in detail." Before the collapse of socialist Yugoslavia Vojvodina had a population of some 2 million, roughly 22% of whom were ethnic Hungarians. In a separate development, Dragoljub Micunovic, former president of the Serbian Democratic Party, has offered his support for Vojvodina's autonomy. Micunovic, however, has stressed that he promotes cultural and economic autonomy, Nasa Borba reported. -- Stan Markotich MACEDONIAN LIBERALS WANT DISSOLUTION OF PARLIAMENT. The Macedonian Liberal Party on 2 April announced it will submit a motion asking for the parliament to be dissolved by 15 September, Nova Makedonija reported. The Liberals claim that the parliament is no longer representative since the coalition Union for Macedonia fell apart after the formation a new government in February. That government does not include the Liberals. The Union for Macedonia was composed of the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia, the Liberals, and the Socialist Party. Representatives of the Social Democrats and Socialists dismissed the Liberals' claim that the parliament is not legitimate. -- Stefan Krause ROMANIA APPLIES FOR NATO MEMBERSHIP. Romania on 2 April submitted documents to NATO officials in Brussels designed to open discussions on the country's membership in the alliance, an RFE/RL correspondent in Bucharest and local media reported. The documents were approved last month by the Supreme Council for the Country's Defense, chaired by President Ion Iliescu. Romania is the fourth country--after Latvia, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia--to submit such documents. It was also the first to sign up for NATO's Partnership for Peace Program. -- Matyas Szabo ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT APPOINTS NEW POLICE CHIEF. Gen. Costica Voicu on 2 April was named the country's new police chief, Romanian media and Reuters reported. Voicu, who was formerly deputy chief of police, replaces Gen. Ion Pitulescu, who resigned in mid-February in protest over alleged tolerance among judicial officials of crime and corruption. Voicu is the seventh chief of Romania's General Police Inspectorate since the fall of the Ceausescu regime in December 1989. -- Matyas Szabo THOUSANDS PROTEST BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT'S RESPONSE TO YELTSIN REMARK. Thousands of people gathered outside the Bulgarian government building on 2 April to protest the government's failure to clearly distance itself from a recent remark by Russian President Boris Yeltsin, RFE/RL reported. Yeltsin had said at the signing last week of the regional integration agreement with Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan that Bulgaria might also sign an integration agreement with Russia and other former Soviet republics. Union of Democratic Forces Chairman Ivan Kostov called on Prime Minister Zhan Videnov to "clearly and categorically" reject Yeltsin's statement. Bulgarian Socialist Party caucus leader Krasimir Premyanov accused President Zhelyu Zhelev of exploiting the situation for his re-election goals. He added that the opposition's protests might harm relations with Russia. Meanwhile, the government has said it is trying to balance its foreign policy priorities between the EU and the CIS. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES CHANGES TO LAW ON NATIONAL BANK. The Bulgarian parliament on 2 April amended the law on the national bank giving the power to appoint and remove the governor and three deputy governors to the legislature, Bulgarian media reported. The president retains that power vis-a-vis the other five members of the executive board. Deputies rejected a clause removing the president's right to veto changes to the board proposed by the governor. A board member's mandate may be terminated owing to his resignation, death, criminal conviction, or inability to perform his duties for more than one year. -- Michael Wyzan U.S. TO GIVE MILITARY AID TO ALBANIA. U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry said Washington will give military equipment worth more than $100 million to Albania, Reuters reported on 2 April. The package will include anti-tank missiles, anti-aircraft missiles, and other military supplies. Perry said the U.S. has no plans to set up a base in Albania but pointed out it would support the building of a new training center in Bize. Albanian President Sali Berisha awarded Perry the Order of Skanderbeg, the highest decoration bestowed on foreigners, at the end of his three-day visit. -- Fabian Schmidt ALBANIAN CENTRIST PARTIES REGISTER ON JOINT LIST. The Albanian Democratic Alliance and the Social Democratic Party have registered as a joint party for the upcoming elections in late May or early June, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 3 April. The two parties' leaders--Neritan Ceka and Skender Gjinushihe--head the new group, which is called the Pole of the Center. Neither has ruled out the possibility of a coalition with the Socialist Party or the Party for Human Rights, which represents the country's ethnic Greeks. -- 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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