|Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith. - Christopher Fry|
No. 73, Part II, 12 April 1996
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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ BOSNIAN AID DONOR CONFERENCE OPENS IN BRUSSELS. The second major international gathering to raise money for the reconstruction of Bosnia- Herzegovina opened on 12 April in Brussels. The sponsors are the EU Commission and the World Bank, and participants come from 55 countries and 29 international organizations. The agenda centers on plans to distribute $1.8 billion in pledged assistance and to raise an additional $1.2 billion, international and local media reported. The World Bank's James Wolfensohn said one of his priorities will be the creation of jobs for the 250,000 soldiers being demobilized, Onasa and Nasa Borba noted. The international community's High Representative Carl Bildt rejected the Bosnian Serbs' demand that they form a separate delegation, so only delegates from the federation were invited and are present. Bildt told the BBC that few donors are interested in putting their money into the Republika Srpska. -- Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT DISCUSSES SATELLITE LAUNCHES WITH INDONESIA. Leonid Kuchma and Indonesian President Suharto have discussed the possibility of Ukraine's launching a communications satellite from an Indonesian site, AFP reported on 11 April. The satellite would help resolve Indonesia's communications problems among its thousands of islands. Kuchma told Suharto that Ukraine could launch the satellite with its rockets but would be unable to finance the project owing to its economic difficulties. Kuchma is in Indonesia to try to increase trade and economic cooperation between Ukraine and the Far East. -- Ustina Markus THREE BELARUSIAN FACTIONS APPROVE ACCORD WITH RUSSIA. Three of the five Belarusian parliamentary factions--the Communists, the Agrarians, and the pro-presidential "Accord"--have approved the 2 April Russian- Belarusian agreement on integration, Belarusian TV reported on 10 April. The three factions voiced support for President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's policies and urged the parliament's speedy ratification of the treaty. The two other parliamentary factions--the Social-Democrats and Civic Action--are unlikely to be as supportive, since their leaderships have criticized Lukashenka's pro-Russian policies. -- Ustina Markus ESTONIA'S RUSSIAN DEPUTIES PROPOSE EASING CITIZENSHIP RULES. The Russian caucus in the Estonian parliament has proposed amending Estonia's citizenship law to make it easier to obtain citizenship, BNS reported on 11 April. The deputies want people who settled in Estonia before July 1990 and are over 55 to be exempt from the language examination. They have also proposed automatically granting citizenship to people married to Estonians, and ethnic Estonians who take up residency in the country. Deputy Mart Nutt said the proposed amendments disregard the interests of the Estonian state. He said most European countries do not grant citizenship on the basis of marriage and that it is difficult to define who is an ethnic Estonian. -- Ustina Markus FISHERMEN URGE LATVIA TO SEPARATE BORDER, FISHING ISSUES. The Latvian Fish Industry Association plans to propose that the Latvian and Estonian governments seek to resolve their maritime border problems separately from the fishing issue, BNS reported on 11 April. Chairman of the association Mikelis Pesse said that Latvian and Estonian fishermen have never argued over fishing and that the issue has become "overpoliticized." The prime ministers of the two countries are scheduled to meet on 14 April to discuss Latvia's decision to unilaterally define a fishing area. -- Ustina Markus POLISH PRESIDENTS TO RECEIVE PENSIONS. The Sejm on 12 April passed a law to grant pensions to former presidents of the Republic of Poland, Polish and international agencies reported. Three former presidents will receive pensions worth 6,500 zlotys a month ($2,600, the amount the current president earns): Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, who was president when the country changed its name to the Republic of Poland in 1990; Lech Walesa, who held office from 1990-1995; and Ryszard Kaczorowski, who is the only living president of the Republic of Poland's government in exile in London, which existed until Walesa's election. Walesa appeared at the Gdansk shipyard on 2 April but did not start work, choosing instead to go on a lecture tour in the U.S. -- Jakub Karpinski TREATY SIGNED ON PROTECTION OF ODER RIVER. Environment ministers from Poland, Germany, and the Czech Republic, meeting with EU representatives in Wroclaw on 11 April, signed a treaty on protecting the Oder River against pollution. The treaty also aims to limit pollution brought by the Oder to the Baltic Sea. An international commission will be established in Wroclaw to oversee the protection of the river. Polish Environment Minister Stanislaw Zelichowski said that Poland has bilateral arrangements with Germany and the Czech Republic on environment issues but that a new approach was required to ensure the Oder's protection. He added that cleaning up the river would cost around $20 billion, Polish dailies reported on 12 April. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH VILLAGERS PROTEST PROPOSED CHANGES IN BORDER WITH SLOVAKIA. A five-member delegation from the village of U Sabotu on 11 April submitted to the Czech parliament a petition signed by 21 village residents urging deputies not to approve a Czech-Slovak border agreement signed at government level in January, Czech and Slovak media reported. Under the agreement, the village is to be transferred from the Czech Republic to Slovakia. The villagers point out that a local referendum on the issue never took place. The Czech government recently decided to offer financial compensation to those residents who want to continue living in the Czech Republic. The petitioners, however, argue they do not want money but just want "to live where we used to." President Vaclav Havel unexpectedly received the delegation and commented afterward that he sees the proposed transfer of the village to Slovakia as "the price the village's inhabitants will have to pay for the split of Czechoslovakia... This is a price paid by all those of us who wanted to live in a common Czechoslovak state." -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAKIA'S CREDIT RATINGS UPGRADED. Standard & Poor's on 11 April increased its rating of Slovakia from BB+ to BBB-, international and Slovak media reported. Slovak National Bank Chairman Vladimir Masar told Slovak TV that the new ratings move Slovakia for the first time from the speculative to the "investment rating grade." Slovakia now has the same rating as Poland and is ahead of Hungary. The Czech Republic recently received an A rating, becoming the first post-communist country to move into that category. Standard & Poor praised macroeconomic developments in Slovakia, where the economy grew by 7.4% last year and annual inflation was only 7.2%--the best such indicators in Eastern Europe. It also hailed Slovakia's foreign trade and budget policies. But at the same time, the agency warned that further upgrading may be impeded by the country's unstable political situation and the lack of industrial restructuring. -- Jiri Pehe ATTACKS ON ROMA IN SLOVAKIA. A Romani man suffered burns when three Slovak men threw a bottle of flaming liquid into his house in Zalistie, after having assaulted him and four other Roma, TASR reported on 10 April. According to the European Roma Rights Center in Budapest, a group of skinheads the previous week attacked Romani children from an orphanage attending a hockey game, yelling "we will kill all Gypsies." The orphanage head said Slovaks who were also attending the game did not intervene but made room for the skinheads. Several callers to a Bratislava radio show said they approved of the attacks, noting that the Slovak state "does not protect its citizens against Gypsies." Several children are recovering with broken bones in the hospital. -- Alaina Lemon BOSNIAN INMATES START RIOT IN HUNGARIAN PRISON. Some two dozen inmates from the former Yugoslavia on 10 April staged a riot in a Hungarian prison to demand the acceleration of their repatriation, Hungarian and international media reported. National Prison Authority officials said the riot was initiated by three Bosnians. Later, 20 ethnic Albanians from Kosovo joined the protest. They threatened to commit suicide and broke windows and furniture to press their demands for repatriation. The riot followed the 14 March visit of a Bosnian Embassy official who had promised the three Bosnians repatriation in a few days. The three men were arrested for illegally entering the country. -- Zsofia Szilagyi OPPOSITION TO HUNGARIAN PREMIER'S PROPOSAL TO ESTABLISH INVESTIGATIVE OFFICE. Opposition parties, the junior coalition Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ), and many deputies from the Socialist Party oppose Gyula Horn's initiative to set up an office to investigate white-collar economic crime, Hungarian media reported on 12 April. Many opposition deputies fear that the new office would mean a still larger state apparatus that is no more efficient. SZDSZ chairman Ivan Peto stressed that his caucus would vote against the office, as the SZDSZ has been advocating a less costly state structure. He suggested that in order to fight corruption and black-marketeering, tax legislation be tightened and the police force, the National Security Office and the prosecutor- general's position all be strengthened. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE CROATIAN-MUSLIM FEDERATION NEEDS INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT. Federal President Kresimir Zubak told parliament that the federation is in its "most critical period ever" because of "essential differences" between the Croatian and Muslim sides. He called for greater involvement by the international community to shore up the shaky federation, which is one of the cornerstones of the Dayton agreement, AFP reported on 11 April. Vice President Ejup Ganic also stressed that problems are numerous. The legislative session has a large agenda, including adopting a new flag and state emblem. -- Patrick Moore FIRST MEETING OF INDEPENDENT JOURNALISTS FROM BOSNIAN FEDERATION, REPUBLIKA SRPSKA. The OSCE and OMRI on 10 April sponsored the first meeting of independent newspapers from both the federation and the Republika Srpska. The journalists met in Banja Luka and will hold their next session in Sarajevo, Onasa reported. The agency also said that David Rohde of the Christian Science Monitor won the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for his work in investigating mass graves of Muslims murdered after the fall of Srebrenica. In that same area, UN investigators have found evidence of additional mass graves, Reuters noted. Serbian authorities freed 211 Muslims from Srebrenica who had been held as prisoners at Sljivovica in rump Yugoslavia, but they continue to detain 13 others as possible war criminals. The UNHCR has protested, saying that all 224 people should have been freed, Nasa Borba reported on 11 April. Meanwhile in Sarajevo, the young Serbian man and his Muslim girlfriend who were killed as they tried to cross front lines in 1993 were reburied in the main cemetery in an atheist ceremony, international media noted on 10 April. -- Patrick Moore INDEPENDENT CROATIAN DAILY TO FIGHT MOVE TO SHUT IT DOWN. Rijeka's Novi list--Croatia's third-largest and only independent daily paper--will pay a $2.5 million fine to prevent its assets from being frozen but will also fight the charges in court. Editors said that they regard the fine as an attempt to close the paper by bankrupting it, a technique that the governing Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) has already used against the independent media. The fine allegedly stems from back taxes and from having imported printing equipment from Italy at a low rate reserved for publications for ethnic minorities, Reuters reported on 11 April. The HDZ lost the October 1995 legislative elections in Rijeka and is unpopular in nearby Istria, where it is regarded as the party of centralized rule from Zagreb. The editors noted that the current move against the paper comes with local elections due this summer. -- Patrick Moore RUMP-YUGOSLAV INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS WRAP-UP. Following visits to Croatia and Bosnia, Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy arrived in the rump Yugoslavia on 11 April. He met with President Slobodan Milosevic and Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic to discuss rump Yugoslavia's cooperation with the international war crimes tribunal and bilateral economic cooperation such as opening new airline links. Meanwhile, Sweden and Norway gave full diplomatic recognition to rump Yugoslavia, Nasa Borba reported on 12 April. -- Fabian Schmidt SERBIAN NATIONAL BANK GOVERNOR WARNS OF HYPERINFLATION. Dragoslav Avramovic has warned Serbian President Milosevic that rump Yugoslavia is again facing hyperinflation. He has threatened to stop issuing credits. According to Avramovic, foreign-currency reserves are currently falling by $1 million a day, Nasa Borba reported. Avramovic clashed earlier with Milosevic over relations with the IMF. He also urged the government to sign an agreement on new IMF loans, warning that the country otherwise faced "new inflationary suicide." Membership talks between rump Yugoslavia and the IMF at the end of March in Paris failed to achieve any results because the former insisted it is the sole legal successor to the former Yugoslavia. -- Fabian Schmidt POLICE DETAIN KOSOVAR WEEKLY'S MARKETING DIRECTOR. Koha editor in chief Veton Surroi has told OMRI that Serbian police on 11 April detained Ahmet Kurtolli, the weekly's marketing director. Kurtolli was questioned about the latest issue of the weekly, which was originally banned by the police but appeared in kiosks with one week delay on 10 April. Following international protests, the Pristina prosecutor-general revoked an earlier order stating that the paper cannot be published unless censored by him. -- Fabian Schmidt HIGH-LEVEL DEFENSE MEETINGS IN BUCHAREST. German Defense Minister Volker Ruehe, speaking in Bucharest on 11 April, said that Romania and Hungary have an equal chance of joining NATO, Romanian and international media reported. Ruehe met with his Romanian counterpart, Gheorghe Tinca, and Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu. He is scheduled to meet with President Ion Iliescu. Meanwhile, Hungarian Chief of Staff Sandor Nemeth is also in Bucharest. At a joint press conference with his Romanian counterpart, Gen. Dumitru Cioflina, he said Hungary will back Romania's quest for NATO membership because it would be detrimental for security in Europe and the region if countries belonged to different security systems. Nemeth and Tinca also signed two military accords. -- Michael Shafir CONTROVERSY OVER ROMANIAN CHIEF OF STAFF STATEMENTS. Meanwhile, Gen. Cioflina denied having said that if the Russian elections are won by the Communists and if Romania is not "co-opted by NATO," the former Warsaw Pact countries (presumably excluding Moscow) will have to set up an alliance "to counterbalance Soviet influence in this part of Europe." This statement was reported by the daily Evenimentul zilei on 11 April. Presidential spokesman Traian Chebeleu the same day said that the statements reported by Romanian and international media were taken out of context and harmed Romania's image abroad, Radio Bucharest reported. Defense Minister Gheorghe Tinca said Cioflina's comment was simply a "reaction by a [member of the] military" to a "hypothetical scenario." -- Michael Shafir ROMANIAN ELECTIONS TO TAKE PLACE ON SCHEDULE AFTER ALL? The Constitutional Court on 11 April ruled that the recent laws on public administration and local elections are constitutional, Romanian media reported. Nicolae Manolescu, leader of the Party of Civic Alliance, rejected the Party of Romanian National Unity's claim that elections will have to be postponed as a result of the Constitutional Court's examination of the legislation. He said the local election campaign will be shortened from 45 to 30 days so that the ballot can be held on 26 May. -- Michael Shafir MOLDOVAN FRONTIER GUARDS DETAIN BANGLADESHI CITIZENS. Moldovan frontier guards detained 14 Bangladeshi citizens who were trying to cross the border into Romania, BASA press reported on 11 April. The 14 had hidden in a truck container driven by a Moldovan citizen. Last year, 3,356 Asians were detained while trying to illegally cross the Moldovan- Romanian border, apparently on their way to the West. -- Michael Shafir BULGARIAN PREMIER LAUNCHES ATTACK AGAINST PRESIDENT. Bulgarian Prime Minister Zhan Videnov has accused President Zhelyu Zhelev of trying to "provoke a catastrophe" in the country, Reuters reported on 11 April. Videnov said that Zhelev is blocking laws, enflaming the war between state institutions, and "mocking our national prosperity, dignity and security." Zhelev recently tried to block controversial tax law amendments that, he argues, will damage small businesses and stifle the country's fragile private sector. Zhelev can veto legislation only once. The amendments were upheld by the parliament on 11 April and will shortly become law. -- Fabian Schmidt LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT IN BULGARIA. Algirdas Brazauskas arrived in Sofia on 11 April, Reuters reported. His visit was overshadowed by the long- running feud between Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev and Premier Zhan Videnov. Atanas Pavlov, the government's chief of protocol, criticized Zhelev for failing to schedule a meeting with Videnov during Brazauskas' two-day visit. Lithuanian journalists have interpreted Videnov's failure to attend a speech given by Brazauskas in the Bulgarian parliament as a snub against Zhelev. -- Fabian Schmidt SIX ALBANIAN OPPOSITION CANDIDATES BANNED FROM RUNNING IN ELECTIONS. An election commission has banned six candidates from the opposition Democratic Alliance from running in the 26 May elections, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 12 April. The controversial screening law, which was adopted last fall, prohibits all former high-ranking communist officials from running for public office until 2005. Among those banned are Prec Zogaj, the editor-in-chief of Aleanca (the party mouthpiece) and former Defense Minister Perikli Teta. Democratic Alliance leader Neritan Ceka and Secretary General Arben Imami are both allowed to run. The composition of the commission, which is dominated by the ruling Democratic Party and the government, was severely criticized by the opposition. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Jan Cleave ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ SUBSCRIBING/UNSUBSCRIBING 1) Compose a message to LISTSERV@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU 2) To subscribe, write: SUBSCRIBE OMRI-L FirstName LastName (include your own name) To unsubscribe, write: UNSUBSCRIBE OMRI-L 3) Send the message REPRINT POLICY To receive a copy of OMRI's reprint policy, contact OMRIPUB@OMRI.CZ or see the Web page at http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Digests/DigestReprint.html OTHER OMRI PUBLICATIONS TRANSITION OMRI publishes the biweekly journal TRANSITION, which contains expanded analysis of many of the topics in the Daily Digest. For subscription information send an e-mail to TRANSITION@OMRI.CZ ECONOMIC DIGEST The OMRI Economic Digest is for those who need more detailed economic news from the region. There is a four-week free trial subscription available; for more information, write ECON@OMRI.CZ or go to the Economic Digest Web page at http://www.omri.cz/Econ/Info.html RUSSIAN DAILY DIGEST The OMRI Daily Digest is translated into Russian and distributed the following day. 1) Compose a message to MAJORDOMO@DEMOS.SU 2) In the body of the message, write SUBSCRIBE OMRI
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.