|The person who knows how to laugh at himself will never cease to be amused. - Shirley MacLaine|
No. 69, Part II, 5 April 1996
New OMRI Analytical Briefs: - "Shevardnadze's Ankara Visit Highlights Pipeline Problems," by Lowell Bezanis and Liz Fuller Available on 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT THREATENS TO EXPEL DIPLOMATS. Alyaksandr Lukashenka threatened on 4 April to expel diplomats who attended mass rallies denouncing his pro-Russian policies, international media reported. Some 20,000 people demonstrated in Minsk on 2 April against the recently signed union treaty with Russia. Lukashenka also vowed to withdraw accreditations from journalists who covered the events. He said he had started "active talks" with Russian TV channels whose journalists covered the rally. "These journalists will not be working here for many more days," he said. Lukashenka added that Belarus has asked a number of countries to recall diplomats from Minsk for organizing the demonstrations. He did not name those countries but noted that, in his view, those diplomats had "violated the laws of our country." -- Jiri Pehe ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINE APPROVES CRIMEAN CONSTITUTION BUT REJECTS "SEPARATIST" ARTICLES. The Ukrainian parliament on 4 April approved the new Crimean constitution but rejected 20 articles it considers "separatist," UNIAN reported. Those articles provide for "internal Crimean citizenship" and symbols of sovereignty such as a Crimean flag, emblem, and anthem. The constitution gives Crimea an autonomous status but states that it is an "integral part of Ukraine." It was adopted in November by the Crimean parliament but had also to be approved by the Ukrainian legislature. Crimean deputies must now reconsider and resubmit the articles to Kiev for approval. Crimea, whose population is two-thirds ethnic Russian, has repeatedly threatened to break away and join Russia since Ukraine became independent in December 1991 -- Jiri Pehe LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT AMENDS MEDIA BILL. The Lithuanian parliament on 4 April voted to allow information about the private lives of politicians to be made public, BNS reported. Article 8 was changed to read that such information can be published if it has a bearing on public life. The vote took place during debates on the media bill that started two months ago. Deputies had initially attempted to prevent the publication of details about their and other officials' private lives. Journalist criticized this stand, accusing them of trying to limit freedom of expression for the sake of protecting their own reputation. The amended article won support from all parties in the parliament. -- Dan Ionescu ASIAN MIGRANTS END HUNGER STRIKE IN LITHUANIA. The Foreign Ministry on 4 April announced that a group of Asian asylum-seekers who began a hunger strike three days ago have ended their protest, Reuters reported. The 44 refugees, who arrived in Lithuania via Belarus, launched their protest at a camp at Visaginas to back claims for refugee status. They had threatened to commit mass suicide if their applications were not accepted. According to U.N. officials, there are some 500 refugees stranded in Lithuania and hoping to reach the affluent Scandinavian states. -- Dan Ionescu RUSSIAN DEPUTY PREMIER IN POLAND. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Davydov, on an official visit to Warsaw from 1-4 April, met with Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz and Foreign Trade Minister Jacek Buchacz to discuss developing bilateral trade, Polish and international media reported. Buchacz said Poland was interested in buying fighter airplanes from Russia, while Davydov said that Polish and Russian banks will help exporters in each country. The two sides also discussed waiving visas for Poles and Russians wishing to visit each other's country. Other possible areas of cooperation are the construction of a Paris-Moscow highway and a gas pipeline from the Yamal peninsula to Germany. Russia is Poland's third-largest trading partner, after Germany and Italy. -- Jakub Karpinski PREPARATIONS FOR KWASNIEWSKI'S VISIT TO MOSCOW. Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski on 4 April met with opposition party leaders to seek advice on his visit to Russia from 8-11 April. Bronislaw Gieremek, head of the Sejm International Affairs Committee, said he should present Poland's position on NATO enlargement very clearly. Before going to Moscow, Kwasniewski will visit Katyn, site of the 1940 massacre of Polish officers. -- Jakub Karpinski EU COMMISSION CHIEF IN PRAGUE. Jacques Santer on 4 April said negotiations with the Czech Republic and other candidates for EU membership could begin in early 1998, Czech media reported. At a seminar in Prague, Santer warned Czech politicians who have criticized aspects of the EU's functioning not to be skeptical and said that joining the EU must be based on enthusiasm for membership. He said the process of harmonizing laws with EU norms will be "long and sometimes difficult," but it must be carried out without interruptions. After meetings with President Vaclav Havel and Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, Santer praised the Czech Republic's reforms, stressing that they have taken place without causing political or social instability. -- Steve Kettle SLOVAK OFFICIALS DEFEND LAW ON PROTECTION OF REPUBLIC. Foreign Minister Juraj Schenk on 4 April criticized the EU for knocking the law on the protection of the republic "before it came into force." Following a meeting with three EU envoys, Schenk told TASR that he regrets that the EU expressed an opinion without first giving Slovakia the chance to make its views known, thus violating the EU association agreement. Meanwhile, Deputy Premier Jozef Kalman said pressure from EU leaders "must be considered [to represent] their point of view." New U.S. Ambassador to Slovakia Ralph Johnson, sworn in on 4 April, promised that the U.S. will closely follow developments in Slovakia and point out any deviations from the path toward integration with Western structures. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK TV CONTINUES CASE AGAINST PRESIDENT'S SON. Slovak TV (STV) on 4 April featured an interview with Ladislav Matt, a witness in the Technopol fraud, in which Michal Kovac Jr. is implicated. Matt, a former Technopol manager, said the director-general allowed him to conclude contracts that cost the firm $2.3 million. In connection with those contracts, he named Marian K., against whom Technopol filed a lawsuit one year ago, Michal Kovac Jr., and President Michal Kovac. Matt is the latest in a series of witnesses who have appeared on STV claiming that the kidnapping was a fake and giving details of Kovac Jr.'s alleged involvement in the Technopol fraud. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARY REJECTS SLOVAK INTERPRETATION OF BASIC TREATY. The Hungarian government on 4 April told Slovakia that the exchange of ratification documents on the bilateral treaty will not take place if Slovakia attaches its so-called "interpretation" clauses, MTI reported. State Secretary at the Foreign Ministry Istvan Szent-Ivanyi said Hungary has already informed the Slovak government of its decision. Szent-Ivanyi warned that attaching interpretation clauses is "virtually unprecedented in international law." The Slovak parliament approved an addendum last week that includes a unilateral interpretation of the Slovak-Hungarian treaty. -- Zsofia Szilagyi HUNGARY TO PRIVATIZE ROYAL GRAND HOTEL, AMUSEMENT PARK. Hungary is to sell Budapest's century-old Royal Grand Hotel and amusement park, Hungarian media reported on 5 April. The four-star Royal Hotel, once the biggest hotel in the Austro-Hungarian empire, is up for sale at a provisional price of $6.8 million. It has been closed since October 1991 pending renovation. Following two unsuccessful attempts to sell it, the buyer is now obliged only to preserve its facade. The amusement park, located in the City Park, is to be sold because the municipality lacks funds to modernize it. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE IFOR SAYS NO MORE FIXED CHECKPOINTS IN BOSNIA. NATO peacekeepers have said that all fixed control posts have been removed in northwestern Bosnia around Banja Luka, Prijedor, and Bihac, and in central Bosnia around Travnik. Mobile checkpoints are still allowed, provided they do not stay in one place for more than 30 minutes, Onasa news agency reported on 4 April. It is unclear what has happened to the control posts around Mostar in Herzegovina. The Dayton treaty is quite specific about the need for freedom of movement across Bosnia, but IFOR at first said it would not do "police work," even though the international police force was greatly understaffed and unable to do its job. IFOR recently changed its position and has removed checkpoints. -- Patrick Moore REACTIONS TO U.S. SECRETARY OF COMMERCE'S DEATH IN CROATIA. Bosnian media responded to Ron Brown's death in a plane crash outside Dubrovnik, Croatia, on 3 April by noting he was at the center of reconstruction efforts and that it will not be easy to find someone to replace him. The Croatian government ordered flags flown at half-mast and entertainment shows canceled following the crash, in which 35 people are reported to have died. The Bosnian and Croatian prime ministers said their respective countries had lost a friend, local news agencies reported. The crash in heavy rain may have been caused by the malfunction of a rudder, which has happened before on Boeing 737s. Croatian officials said that the crash could not be blamed on air safety standards in their republic, Slobodna Dalmacija wrote on 5 April. The Serbian daily Nasa Borba said that pilot error was the most likely cause and that gunfire could be ruled out. -- Patrick Moore KARADZIC TURNS DOWN OFFER OF ASYLUM IN MONASTERY. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has declined an offer of refuge by the Serbian Orthodox Shilandar monastery on Mt. Athos, which enjoys extraterritorial status. The leadership of the church proposed that the internationally wanted war criminal become a monk there, AFP on 5 April quoted the Montenegrin weekly Monitor as saying. Karadzic, a licensed psychiatrist, said he intends to set up a private mental hospital with his wife, who is a doctor, and his daughter, who studies medicine. -- Patrick Moore ANOTHER OPPOSITION LEADER FALLS FOUL OF SERBIAN PRESIDENT? Zoran Djindjic, leader of the Democratic Party, appears to be the latest target of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's crackdown on the opposition. Tanjug on 3 April reported that the Belgrade District Public Prosecutor's Office has requested that an investigation be launched into Djindjic in connection with a short piece he placed in the daily Telegraf accusing Serbian government ministers of abusing their official position to buy wheat at very low prices and then sell it for a huge profit. The prosecution claims that Djindjic committed a "criminal offense against the reputation of the Republic of Serbia." -- Stefan Krause and Stan Markotich GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER REPLIES TO SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER. Klaus Kinkel, in a reply to a letter sent by Serbian Renewal Movement leader Vuk Draskovic to several foreign ministers (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 March 1996), said the democratization of rump Yugoslavia is a precondition for its readmission into European structures, Nasa Borba reported on 4 April. He said that it was particularly important that democratic institutions be established and human and minority rights respected. Klaus also noted that Germany and its EU partners see certain developments in rump Yugoslavia as "incompatible with the obligations your country undertook within the framework of the peace and stabilization process." -- Stefan Krause CROATIA WANTS NO REGIONAL GROUPINGS. Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic told his visiting Albanian counterpart, Alfred Serreqi, that Croatia wants good relations with all countries in the region, including rump Yugoslavia. He stressed, however, that Zagreb does not want "any [regional] association, nor will [it] join any kind of Balkan conferences," Vecernjli list reported on 4 April. Croatia, like Slovenia, has repeatedly pointed out since 1991 that it wants nothing to do with any grouping that smacks in any way of being some kind of new Yugoslavia. Granic added that Croatia's "basic strategic goal is to join the Euro-Atlantic political and security associations." It also wants "direct relations with the EU" rather than any regional grouping, which Croatia regards as a half-way house. The two men discussed bilateral relations, with Serreqi paying "special attention to the Kosovo question." -- Patrick Moore ROMANI ELECTION ALLIANCE FORMED IN ROMANIA. The Roma Party of Romania announced last week that it and 11 other Romani organizations have agreed to run on joint lists in the local elections, Radio Bucharest reported on 2 April. The groups will compete as the Roma Alliance. Gheorghe Raducanu, executive chairman of the Roma Party, said that any other Romani parties who wish to join have until 9 April to do so. The local elections are expected to take place in May. -- Alaina Lemon MOLDOVAN COURT RULES AGAINST SNEGUR. Moldova's Constitutional Court has ruled that President Mircea Snegur's dismissal of Defense Minister Pavel Creanga last month was illegal, international agencies reported on 4 April. Under the constitution, cabinet members can be fired only by the premier or through a vote in the parliament. Snegur's legal adviser said after the court's ruling that Creanga was now "free to return to office." Creanga said the decision was a "victory of the truth." Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli commented that he thanked God that no bloodshed was caused by Snegur's decision, although "we were only inches away from it." -- Michael Shafir ROVER CLOSES BULGARIAN PLANT. Rover Group on 4 April announced that it will stop assembling automobiles at its Bulgarian plant, RFE/RL and Reuters reported. Rover owns a 51% stake in Rodacar, Bulgaria's only car maker. The other 49% is held by Daru Group, which has been experiencing severe financial difficulties. The plant, located in Varna, was opened less than seven months ago. Rover was the biggest foreign investor in Bulgaria outside the food sector. A Rodacar spokesman said, "We were led to believe that we could rely on government support in setting up our plant here, but that support failed to materialize." -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN PRIVATIZATION DEADLINE EXTENDED. The Bulgarian parliament on 4 April voted to extend the deadline for selling privatization vouchers, RFE/RL reported. The initial deadline was 8 April, but legislators decided to extend it by one month because so far vouchers have been bought by only 18.4% of those eligible to do so. Some 1,063 companies are to privatized. Also on 4 April, Industry Minister Kliment Vuchev returned from a three-day visit to Slovenia where he signed a protocol on economic and trade cooperation. Other economic agreements with Slovenia will be signed soon, Vuchev said. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN GREECE. Georgi Pirinski, on an official visit to Athens, held talks with his Greek counterpart, Theodoros Pangalos, on 4 April, RFE/RL reported. Pirinski also met with Prime Minister Kostas Simitis, President Kostis Stephanopoulos, and Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis. Pirinski and Pangalos discussed the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, the proposed meeting of Balkan foreign ministers in Sofia, and closer economic cooperation. Pirinski said he believes Greece and Bulgaria are ready "to discuss [the pipeline] constructively." Pangalos assured Pirinski that the Greek parliament will ratify bilateral accords on the use of water from the River Mesta/Nestos and on the opening of new border crossings, which the Bulgarian parliament ratified last month. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN PRESIDENT KICKS OFF ELECTION CAMPAIGN. Sali Berisha on 4 April kicked off the parliamentary election campaign by addressing a congress of his Democratic Party, Reuters reported. Berisha urged Albanians to support the Democrats, which he called "the locomotive of the development of democracy, a market economy, and the country's integration in Europe." He said that if the Democrats win the elections, they will cut taxes and privatize banks, mines, the oil sector, hydroelectric power stations, and telecommunications within two years. -- Stefan Krause [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Jan Cleave ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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