|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
No. 72, Part II, 11 April 1996
New OMRI Analytical Briefs: - "Akayev "Rotates" Kyrgyzstan's Media Heads," by Lowell Bezanis - "A Serbian Opposition Party in Trouble?," by Sharon Fisher - "Albania's Rocky Road to Europe," by Fabian Schmidt - "Britain Recognizes Rump Yugoslavia," by Stan Markotich - "Russia Fails to Budge Poland on NATO Expansion," by Scott Parrish - "Belarusian Opposition Leaders in Exile," by Ustina Markus 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 OPPOSITION LEADER IN CZECH REPUBLIC. Zyanon Paznyak, leader of the Belarusian Popular Front, held a press conference at RFE/RL in Prague on 10 April, RFE/RL reported. One day earlier, he paid a visit to OMRI. Paznyak and an opposition colleague, Syarhei Naumchyk, were unable to return to Belarus from Ukraine after President Alyaksandr Lukashenka issued a warrant for their arrest for their part in organizing demonstrations against the Russian-Belarusian integration agreement. Paznyak accused Lukashenka of imposing "authoritarian and dictatorial" rule in Belarus, adding that the country was experiencing an "informational blockade." He called for solidarity among opposition forces, saying he has long been planning a trip abroad to muster support for the national democratic movement in Belarus. -- Ustina Markus ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT IN INDONESIA. Leonid Kuchma arrived in Jakarta on 10 April for a four-day official visit, Ukrainian Radio and international agencies reported. He will hold talks with his Indonesian counterpart, Suharto. The purpose of the visit is to boost economic cooperation. Last year Ukraine's trade with Indonesia totaled $65 million. -- Ustina Markus EU ON BALTIC STATES' MEMBERSHIP. European Parliament President Klaus Hensch has said the EU is interested in admitting all the Baltic states into the EU simultaneously, BNS reported on 10 April. He said the organization preferred to admit groups of states with similar geostrategic positions at the same time. Talks with the Baltic States on admission will not begin before 1998, Hensch underlined. -- Ustina Markus LATVIA ISSUES REGULATION ON CONTROLLING FISHING WATERS. The Latvian cabinet has issued a regulation on controlling fishing waters on its side of the provisional fishing borderline with Estonia, Latvijas vestnesis reported on 10 April. The Latvian Navy is required to monitor the fishing borderline, prevent conflict situations, and implement international conventions on navigation. It has also been instructed not to interfere with Estonian fishing vessels between the fishing borderline and the maritime borderline. Naval Commander Gaidis Zeibots did not say how the regulation was to be implemented. -- Ustina Markus POLISH PRESIDENT OFFERS DIALOGUE ON NATO EXPANSION. Aleksander Kwasniewski, at a press conference closing his visit to Moscow, pledged that Poland will closely consult with its eastern neighbors before joining NATO, Russian and Western agencies reported. ITAR-TASS quoted Kwasniewski as saying that such discussions might "dispel suspicions about our plans" and avert "unpleasant surprises." But he did not suggest that Poland will be willing to moderate its desire for full membership in NATO, which Russia rejects. The Polish president offered an upbeat assessment of his visit, terming it "important, necessary, and essential." But some Russian and Polish commentators have expressed disappointment with its relatively meager results. -- Scott Parrish UPDATE ON AUSCHWITZ DEMONSTRATION. Marek Trombski, governor of the Bielsko-Biala district, offered his resignation on 10 April, Polish media reported. Trombski authorized the 6 April demonstration outside the main entrance to the Auschwitz concentration camp, at which banners were raised protesting against NATO, the EU, and Jews. He had argued that the camp site had not been desecrated because the demonstrators marched silently and with rolled-up banners. He had also said he was blackmailed by the organizers of the demonstration, who threatened that if they were not given permission to rally, they would disrupt a march commemorating Holocaust victims scheduled for 16 April. The government condemned the demonstration and asked the justice and internal affairs ministers to present a report on the activities of extremist groups in Poland. It also announced its intention to amend the law on public gatherings to reduce the possibility of similar demonstrations. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH GOVERNMENT WILL NOT SEEK BAN ON RADICAL COMMUNISTS. The Czech government on 10 April decided not to ask the country's Supreme Court to ban the neo-Stalinist Party of Czechoslovak Communists, Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus said at a press conference in Prague. The party was formed in 1995 by Miroslav Stepan, a former politburo member of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSC). It sees itself as the KSC's successor and seeks the "the renewal of socialism and the Czechoslovak state." Internal Affairs Minister Jan Ruml announced last month that he will seek a ban on the party, arguing that its goals contravened the 1993 Law on the Illegality of the Communist System. A number of other communist and post-communist groups exist in the Czech Republic; some have parliamentary representation, but their programs do not appear to violate the anti-communist law. Klaus explained his government's decision not to ban Stepan's party by saying that the government is formed through free competition among political parties and that democracy in the Czech Republic is not endangered. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK PRESIDENT VETOES TERRITORIAL ADMINISTRATION BILL. Michal Kovac on 9 April refused to sign the law on Slovakia's territorial administration, which would divide the country into eight regions and 79 districts, Slovak media reported two days later. The opposition has sharply criticized the law, particularly Hungarian minority deputies, who fear that together with anticipated changes in the electoral law, it could negatively affect their parliamentary representation. Hungarian officials have said the bill contravenes the Slovak-Hungarian treaty. Kovac was mainly concerned about the provision that Bratislava would no longer have the status of an independent region. He asked that the law's implementation be delayed from 1 July 1996 to 1 January 1997. -- Sharon Fisher AUSTRIAN CHANCELLOR IN SLOVAKIA. Franz Vranitzky visited Slovakia on 10 April to receive an honorary doctorate from Bratislava's Economic University, Sme reported. "I consider politics the antithesis to slogans of populism and nationalism..., which arouse fear and uncertainty," Vranitzky said. He added that "as long as political reforms are concentrated only on introducing legal norms, the application of technical know-how in the economy, and the administration and management of modern political parties, there is a danger that democracy and the fundamental needs of citizens will be overlooked." Vranitzky told Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar that he considers it "very important" that Slovakia is among the first group of countries admitted to the EU. Vranitzky and Meciar also discussed a trilateral meeting--to include Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn--scheduled for July in Slovakia. -- Sharon Fisher GERMAN DEFENSE MINISTER IN HUNGARY TO DISCUSS NATO. Volker Ruhe has said that NATO membership is not conditional on the deployment of nuclear weapons or the stationing of foreign troops on the territory of future member states, Hungarian media reported on 11 April. Following talks with his Hungarian counterpart, Gyorgy Keleti, in Budapest, Ruhe also said that NATO plans to reduce its defense capability in the near future and thus it may be the case that no nuclear weapons will be deployed in states that prefer to remain nuclear-free. Commenting on Romanian Defense Minister Gheorghe Tinca's concerns about NATO expansion (see OMRI Daily Digest, 10 April 1996), Ruhe said neither the EU nor NATO is capable of admitting all Eastern European states at the same time. He said he would ask Tinca to clarify his position. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE CROATIA CHARGES SIX MUSLIMS WITH TERRORISM. Croatia has formally indicted six Bosnian Muslims on charges of planning to murder Bihac kingpin Fikret Abdic in Rijeka, Reuters reported on 10 April. "There is a founded suspicion that the accused intended to commit a criminal act of killing Fikret Abdic," Rijeka county public prosecutor Drago Marincel told Croatian TV. Four men and one woman have been arrested, while another man is still at large. Two of those arrested worked for the Bihac police, while the man still being sought was employed by Bosnia's security department. They reportedly had a large number of weapons stored in Croatia. Bosnia's ambassador Kasim Trnka told Onasa news agency, however, that Bosnia has no reason to send terrorists to Croatia. His embassy spokesman said those arrested were in fact Abdic's own agents trying to sabotage Zagreb-Sarajevo relations, Slobodna Dalmacija wrote on 11 April. The Croatian government has since delivered a formal protest note to the embassy over the incident, Nasa Borba reported. Meanwhile in Zagreb, eight Croatian citizens have gone on trial for killing 18 elderly Serbs after Croatian forces defeated Serbian forces last year, Hina said on 10 April. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN SERBS NOT TO ATTEND AID CONFERENCE. The international community's High Representative Carl Bildt has rejected demands by Pale that the Republika Srpska's delegation to the Brussels conference on reconstruction be separate from the federation's. Bildt said the Serbs had earlier agreed to a joint representation, in keeping with the Dayton agreement's principle that Bosnia-Herzegovina is a single state consisting of two entities. He added that he could not now invite the Serbs to come to Brussels on 12 April, the BBC reported. Speculation about the Serbs' decision centers on the theory that there is fierce infighting between hard-liners around civilian leader Radovan Karadzic based in Pale and the supposedly more moderate Banja Luka group headed by Prime Minister Rajko Kasagic. A cornerstone of the Dayton package was the hope that the promise of international aid and reconstruction money would prompt all sides to observe the terms of the treaty and be cooperative. -- Patrick Moore MUSLIM COUNTRIES DISAPPOINT BOSNIAN HOPES FOR AID. Representatives of 14 Islamic countries concluded a conference on helping the war-torn republic rebuild its economy and shore up its defenses, but they apparently fell short of promising a joint fixed sum for the effort. Turkey pledged $80 million and Iran $50 million, Oslobodjenje wrote on 11 April. Ten other countries were invited but did not send representatives. President Alija Izetbegovic appealed to the delegates that Bosnian needs their help. Iran used the occasion to open a cultural center, which will also coordinate reconstruction work, local media reported. -- Patrick Moore EU PREPARES TO RECOGNIZE BELGRADE. The EU on 10 April said that rump Yugoslavia's recognition of Macedonia "opens the way to recognition by (EU) member states of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia as one of the successor states of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia," AFP reported. In a related development, a spokesman from the Belgian Foreign Ministry said Brussels will recognize rump Yugoslavia in the near future, while German officials said they will discuss the question of recognition later this week. -- Stan Markotich RUMP YUGOSLAV BANK GOVERNOR TO BE OUSTED? Speculation is rife in Serbia that the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic are planning to oust National Bank Governor Dragoslav Avramovic, who played a significant role in curbing hyperinflation and introducing economic stability in 1994. Fueling the speculation are local media reports quoting Avramovic as saying the SPS sabotaged his recent efforts to secure IMF and World Bank membership by insisting those bodies recognize rump Yugoslavia as the successor to the former Yugoslavia. -- Stan Markotich SLOVENIAN OFFICIALS ON SUCCESSION ISSUE. Miran Mejak, head of the Slovenian committee on succession to the former Yugoslavia, has responded to Belgrade's recognition of Macedonia by saying it has "no impact" on the succession question. Mejak, in a statement reported by STA on 10 April, observed that all the successor countries of the former Yugoslavia must be regarded as "equal" and that an agreement must be reached on any decision on the division of assets belonging to the former Yugoslavia. Belgrade's Politika on 11 April reports that Slovenian Premier Janez Drnovsek has largely endorsed Mejak's viewpoint. -- Stan Markotich ROMANIAN ELECTIONS TO BE POSTPONED? Ioan Gavra, deputy chairman of the Party of Romanian National Unity, has pointed out that the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania's decision to take the new law on local elections to the Constitutional Court means local elections cannot be held in late May or early June, Radio Bucharest reported. General and presidential elections will also have to be postponed, since the constitution stipulates that at least six months must separate local and other elections. In a related development, Dinu Zamfirescu, a leader of the Liberal Party '93, denied that his formation will join the pact recently concluded between the Social Democratic Union and the Party of Civic Alliance for the local elections. Meanwhile, a Romanian Senate commission on 10 April voted in favor of lifting the parliamentary immunity of Corneliu Vadim Tudor, leader of the extreme nationalist Greater Romania Party. The plenum will now have to vote on the issue. -- Michael Shafir MOLDOVAN DEFENSE MINISTER REINSTATED. President Mircea Snegur has reinstated Defense Minister Pavel Creanga following the Constitutional Court's decision that his dismissal was illegal, Moldovan and international agencies reported on 10 April. But at the same time, Snegur has reduced Creanga's powers, citing unrest in the army. Creanga remains in charge of the day-to-day running of the army, but Snegur is to be in charge of military affairs in his capacity as commander in chief. General Tudor Dabija, whom Snegur nominated as Creanga's replacement, will continue to serve as deputy defense minister. -- Michael Shafir NEW MOLDOVAN LAW ON PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. The Moldovan parliament has passed on its first reading a new law on presidential elections, Infotag and BASA-press reported on 10 April. The new legislation stipulates that presidential candidates have to be backed by at least 50,000 people from at least one-third of Moldova's electoral districts. This stipulation-- which, proportionally, is twice as high as in Russia and three times as high as in Romania--has prompted protests from the opposition. Elections are to be held on the fourth Saturday of October in the year when a presidential term expires, with run-offs on the second Saturday of November. The president is to take office on 8 December, the day the first president of Moldova was elected in 1991. -- Michael Shafir BULGARIAN PRESIDENT VETOES WATER ACCORD WITH GREECE. Zhelyu Zhelev on 10 April vetoed the Greek-Bulgarian agreement on the division of the water of the River Mesta/Nestos (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29 March 1996), Reuters reported. He argued that the issue should be dealt with at the same time as all other disagreements between Sofia and Athens. The treaty was signed in December 1995 and was ratified by the Bulgarian parliament on 28 March, ending a decade-old dispute. In other news, Zhelev and Lithuanian President Algirdas Brazauskas signed a friendship and cooperation treaty and several other agreements. Brazauskas arrived in Sofia on 10 April for a two-day visit. -- Stefan Krause WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO SOVIET MONUMENT IN SECOND-LARGEST BULGARIAN CITY? The Plovdiv Municipal Council on 10 April decided to demolish the statue of a Soviet soldier popularly known as "Alyosha," Duma reported. Bulgaria's second-largest city is dominated by the anti-communist Union of Democratic Forces. Mayor Spas Garnevski promised during his election campaign last year to pull down the statue, which he called a "symbol of the Soviet occupation army." He argued that the monument has no cultural or historical value. The Russian General Consulate in Plovdiv claims that the decision violates five international conventions on the preservation of cultural heritage as well as agreements between Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev and his Russian counterpart, Boris Yeltsin. State officials have said the council's decision has no legal force since "Alyosha" is state property and therefore cannot be pulled down by the local authorities. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN PRESIDENT SETS DATE FOR ELECTIONS. Sali Berisha has scheduled Albania's third free elections for 26 May, Reuters reported on 10 April. His announcement marks the official beginning of the election campaign, which the Democratic Party unofficially launched at its congress on 4 April. Berisha also announced the dissolution of the parliament and approved the establishment of the Central Election Committee, which will be composed of nine members appointed by the government and Berisha's Democratic Party and eight by the other opposition parties. Both main parties, the Democrats and the Socialists, have said they are confident that they will win a parliamentary majority. But opinion polls are still in their infancy in Albania, making it difficult to predict the outcome. -- Fabian Schmidt CORRECTION: In the 9 April OMRI Daily Digest, the first sentence of the item "UKRAINE, VIETNAM SIGN AGREEMENT" should have read: "President Leonid Kuchma and his Vietnamese counterpart, Le Duc Anh, meeting in Hanoi on 8 April, signed an agreement on cooperation, international agencies reported." [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Jan Cleave ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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