|Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith. - Christopher Fry|
No. 75, Part II, 16 April 1996
New OMRI Analytical Briefs: - "Azerbaijan's Former President Arrested in Moscow," by Liz Fuller - "The Battle over Polish Public TV is Won by the Ruling Coalition: The New TVP President Has Been Nominated," by Jakub Karpinski 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ GERMAN WEEKLY LEAKS INFORMATION ON CZECH-GERMAN DECLARATION. Der Spiegel reported in its 15 April issue that in the Czech-German declaration currently being drafted by both countries' government representatives, the Czech Republic will express regrets over the fact that innocent people suffered during the expulsions of Sudeten Germans after World War II. Such a formulation would allow the two countries to bypass the question of the expulsions' legality. However, Mlada fronta Dnes reported last week that the declaration is to contain a Czech apology for the "wild expulsions" and the excesses that occurred during the so- called "transferals" of Sudeten Germans (see the Daily Digest of 9 April 1996). Der Spiegel claims that Germany will accept the results of World War II in the declaration, making it difficult for any future German government to defend Sudeten German claims. Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus stressed last week that the declaration is still under discussion and its final version will not be ready before the Czech parliamentary elections in June. -- Jiri Pehe ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE OPINION POLL ON RUSSIAN-BELARUSIAN AGREEMENT. An opinion poll conducted by the Zerkadlo sociological service in Belarus showed that most Minsk residents support the 2 April agreement forming a Community of Sovereign States between Russia and Belarus, Belapan reported on 15 April. Out of 300 people polled, 47% said they completely supported the community's formation, 16% voiced partial support, while 17% said they did not support it at all. A further 20% found the question too difficult to answer. When asked about the effect the community would have on Belarus' sovereignty, 30% responded it would be strengthened by the community, 28% said it would be lost, 16% felt it would make no difference, and 26% said they did not know. -- Ustina Markus NATO SECRETARY GENERAL IN KIEV. Secretary General Javier Solana arrived in Kiev on 15 April for an official visit, NTV and Russian Public TV reported. Solana met with President Leonid Kuchma, Prime Minister Yevhan Marchuk, and Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko. Kuchma said that Ukraine was in favor of developing political, not military, ties with NATO. Russian media noted that as Russian elections approach, the West is becoming more active in developing ties with the Baltics and Ukraine. -- Ustina Markus WORLD BANK TO OFFER AGRICULTURAL CREDITS TO UKRAINE. The World Bank signed a conditional agreement with Ukraine on extending a $700 million loan to support the country's agricultural sector, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 April. Among the conditions attached are that Ukraine lift its moratorium on the sale of land for six years, and that collective farms are stripped of their pre-emptive right to buy land. The bank also agreed to extend a $250 million credit to support structural reforms, and $170 million to set up an export guarantee fund. The first tranche of a $250 million credit to reform Ukraine's coal industry should be made available by the World Bank in May. -- Ustina Markus CRIMEA SETS UP CONSTITUTIONAL COMMITTEE. Democratic leaders of 38 Crimean public and political organizations set up a committee for the promotion of the constitutional process in Ukraine, UNIAR reported on 12 April. The organizations claim the current draft constitution does not guarantee the rights of Crimean Tatars and has other shortcomings. The committee will insist that the draft constitution be amended to incorporate their concerns. -- Ustina Markus PROPOSAL FOR BALTIC SECURITY CIRCULATED. In the run-up to NATO Secretary General Javier Solana's visit to the Baltics, a Rand Corporation paper advocating a security concept short of NATO membership has been circulating in the Baltic foreign ministries, BNS reported on 14 April. Western officials have acknowledged that the Baltics are too difficult to defend, and their sizable Russian minorities do not allow for quick NATO membership. The Rand report proposes basing Baltic security on "five pillars": strengthening reforms, solving the minority issues, cooperating with the Nordic countries, EU membership, and cooperation with Moscow. The report says NATO membership should not be excluded as a future possibility for the Baltics, but that the "five pillar" approach would buy time and acknowledge Russian sensitivities in the region. -- Ustina Markus LATVIA, ESTONIA REACH TEMPORARY DEAL ON FISHING ZONES. Latvia's Prime Minister Andris Skele and his Estonian counterpart Tiit Vahi reached a temporary agreement valid until 1 August on fishing in their disputed waters, BNS reported on 15 April. According to the agreement, both sides will have access to waters near the island of Ruhnu in the Gulf of Riga, and agree not to hinder each other's fishing vessels. The statement was made in Vilnius where the Baltic Assembly met on 14 April. Vahi said the two reached an agreement on sea borders and fishing rights for this year and next. An Estonian government spokesman said Latvia accepted Estonia's proposals regarding the sea border, while Estonia compromised on its fishing rights in the region. -- Ustina Markus LATVIA, CZECH REPUBLIC SIGN FREE-TRADE AGREEMENT. Czech Industry and Trade Minister Vladimir Dlouhy and Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Valdis Birkaus on 15 April signed an agreement establishing a free-trade zone between the two countries, Czech and Latvian media reported. In 1995 the two countries traded goods worth $24.1 million; the new agreement is expected to increase that volume. Dlouhy told Birkaus that the Czech Republic will ask the World Bank to give Latvia new credits to be used for purchasing Czech-made mass transportation vehicles. Meanwhile, Czech President Vaclav Havel and his Latvian counterpart, Guntis Ulmanis, agreed there was no alternative to joining NATO for future security, but that partnership with Russia was also vital. -- Jiri Pehe HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL OPENS IN PRAGUE. A Holocaust memorial, listing all available names of Czech Jews killed by the Nazis, was shown to reporters in Prague on 15 April, Czech media report. The memorial is located in the Pinkas Synagogue that recently reopened after several decades. Some 80,000 names are listed over 170 sq. m. area of the synagogue's wall. Prague's Rabbi Karol Sidon will unveil the memorial officially on 16 April which is Holocaust Remembrance Day. The memorial was first opened in 1959 but closed in 1968 as relations between Czechoslovakia and Israel deteriorated. During the renovation, names were removed and added on the basis of new information. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK CONSTITUTIONAL COURT DELEGATION IN U.S. A group of Slovak Constitutional Court judges, led by Chairman Milan Cic, arrived in Washington on 14 April for a 12-day visit. In an interview with Slovakia, Cic said the main goal of the visit is to find out how the U.S. Supreme Court and lower courts function. He said the delegation will brief American officials on Slovakia's Constitutional Court. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK PRESIDENT IN CHINA. Michal Kovac, on a five-day official visit to China, met with Chinese leaders on 12 April to discuss economic cooperation between the two countries, Slovak media report. On 13 and 14 April, Kovac visited Xi'an, one of China's greatest industrial centers. On 15 April, Kovac and his entourage traveled to Shenzen, an economic zone in China's Guangdong province. -- Jiri Pehe NEW POLISH PUBLIC TV PRESIDENT SPEAKS ON HIS WORK. Ryszard Miazek, Polish public TV's new president, spoke on 15 April on his vision of public TV and journalism. Miazek, supported by the ruling left-wing coalition, said in an interview with Zycie Warszawy, "TV should not itself aspire to express opinions because that is the task of the parliament and other state representatives." Polish journalists from Rzeczpospolita, the left-wing Trybuna, and the satirical Nie, were critical of Miazek's comments. A commentator from Rzeczpospolita said "this is the end of independent TV's role as a balancing instrument." Miazek replaced Wieslaw Walendziak who was considered too opposition- minded by the ruling coalition. -- Jakub Karpinski BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER IN POLAND. Leader of the Belarusian Popular Front Zyanon Paznyak and the Front's Press Secretary Syarhei Naumchyk said on 15 April during a visit to Wroclaw that they intend to organize support for Belarusian opposition abroad. Paznyak says he hopes Wroclaw will become a center of support for Belarusian democracy. Paznyak was critical of Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski's recent visit to Belarus, adding Kwasniewski met in Minsk with individuals who do not represent Belarusian opposition but support "constructive collaboration" with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. He went on to say Lukashenka is doing "dirty work" for Russia with the help of the KGB generals in Belarus, Polish dailies reported on 16 April. -- Jakub Karpinski CONTROVERSY OVER ALLEGED GUARANTEES BY HUNGARY'S FORMER GOVERNMENT. The senior coalition Socialist party is at odds with former government representatives over guarantees to various business organizations that the present government allegedly inherited from the Boros-government in 1994, Hungarian media reported. Prime Minister Gyula Horn's unexpected statement two weeks ago that the present cabinet has to make good on 600 billion forints ($4 billion) sparked a heated debate. On 15 April, Horn accused former governing parties of financial mismanagement and falsifying files on international negotiations, and he increased the debated amount to 900 billion forints. The statement led to an acrimonious debate, with the former ruling parties disputing Horn's claim. Neither side has revealed any evidence in the case. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIA BEGINS FORMAL PAYMENTS TO SOLDIERS. Bosnian authorities held official ceremonies to start paying soldiers, invalids, and families of dead soldiers for their contributions during the war, Oslobodjenje reported on 16 April. The problem is that the government has little or no money to meet its obligations, so instead of paying in cash it is issuing "bank books" that show exactly how much each man earned, Onasa noted. The average salary for soldiers is DM 400 per month, which is still a princely wage by Bosnian standards. The authorities expect to distribute up to 3,000 of the bank books daily. It is not clear exactly when and how the men or their families can convert the paper payments into hard cash. All three sides in Bosnia face huge problems connected with the demobilization of tens of thousands of soldiers. -- Patrick Moore BIHAC KINGPIN LAUNCHES NEW PARTY. Fikret Abdic, one of the country's most controversial figures, has launched a new party, the Democratic People's Community (DNZ), Nasa Borba reported on 16 April. The Bihac- area kingpin has been living in Croatia since his Serb-backed empire fell to joint Croatian and Bosnian government forces last fall. Among his enemies are Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic. However, thousands of people from the Bihac region, refer to Abdic as "Babo," or "Daddy," crediting him with bringing prosperity and peace. He appears to have exchanged Serbian for Croatian backing, and some observers have suggested that the Croats' recent arrest of five Muslims allegedly sent to kill Abdic was merely a publicity stunt on Abdic's behalf, Novi list and Politika noted. The renegade Muslim politician himself said that he "was not surprised" that assassins were sent to kill him, claiming that Izetbegovic cannot tolerate the presence of a politican who got more votes than he did in the 1990 elections. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIA'S EX-COMMUNISTS APPEAL FOR ANTI-NATIONALIST VOTE. The Union of Bosnian Social Democrats (UBSD) is the successor to the former communist and reformist party that took only 10% of the vote in the parliamentary elections, but it held on to the mayor's seat in multi-ethnic Tuzla throughout the war. Mayor Sejfudin Tokic has launched the UBSD's republic-wide electoral campaign by stressing that his party seeks to represent all Bosnians, which, he claims, Izetbegovic never did, Nasa Borba reported on 16 April. Tokic claims that his party has 40,000 members, including some from Serb-held regions. He stated that the Serbian and Croatian nationalist parties will fall apart under internal pressures, but that Izetbegovic's Muslim nationalist party will be a tougher nut to crack because of its radical populist profile. -- Patrick Moore PALE LEADERSHIP TEST TERMS OF PEACE TREATY. Vice President Nikola Koljevic, whom some see as a possible successor to the indicted war criminal and civilian leader Radovan Karadzic has publicly stated views that are openly at variance with the Dayton peace accord. Koljevic told Nasa Borba on 16 April that "boundaries no longer matter" between the Bosnian Serb state and rump Yugoslavia. He also said that it is not permissible that Muslims and Croats return to their homes on Serb-held territory until Serbian refugees there have been settled. Koljevic noted that the major European powers are coming to accept the Serbian view that Bosnia has no multi-ethnic future. The Economist also said that Europe is rejecting the American and Dayton concept of a multi-ethnic state in favor of a more "evenhanded" approach. -- Patrick Moore SLOVENIA AND CROATIA PLEDGE AID FOR BOSNIA. The war-torn republic's two northern neighbors have promised financial backing for Bosnia through the World Bank, Onasa noted on 15 April. Ljubljana is offering $3.5 million to repair the homes of 18,000 Bosnian refugees living in Slovenia on the condition that they return to Bosnia. Zagreb will make available a total of up to $20 million by 1999 to rebuild the port at Ploce, reconstruct the Sava bridge at Orasje, and develop waterworks. -- Patrick Moore SLOVENIAN--RUMP YUGOSLAV RELATIONS REMAIN STRAINED. A normalization of mutual relations between Ljubljana and Belgrade remains unlikely. The Slovenian foreign ministry announced that it is still waiting for a response to its recognition of rump-Yugoslavia, pointing out that this would be a precondition for establishing diplomatic ties. -- Fabian Schmidt MOLDOVA: A CROSSROADS FOR ILLEGAL MIGRATION. Moldova has detained 500 illegal migrants this year, Reuters reported on 15 April. Moldova's border with Romania has become a crossroads for illegal migrants from Southeast Asia, according to a National Security Ministry statement aired on national TV on 14 April. -- Michael Shafir UPDATE ON EBRD MEETING IN SOFIA. EBRD President Jaques de Larosiere urged Eastern European Banks to strengthen banking regulation, Bulgarian Economic Review reported on 16 April. He said governments should focus on "macroeconomic stabilization, bank rehabilitation and banking supervision." Larosiere noted bank debts and failure of private banks to stick to basic banking principles as the main problems. Meanwhile, Bulgarian Deputy Premier and Minister of Economic Development Rumen Gechev estimated that Bulgaria may be legislatively and economically ready for EU membership in eight years. Gechev added that 106 state- owned companies were listed for liquidation, but pointed out that Bulgaria attracted $60 million in foreign investment in the first quarter of this year. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov promised tax concessions for companies, more than 66% of which are privately owned, Demokratsiya reported. -- Fabian Schmidt and Miat Sadiku KIRO GLIGOROV REJECTS EARLY PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS. In an interview given to the Croatian daily Vecernji List, Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov ruled out early parliamentary elections in Macedonia, Politika reported on 16 April. Politika claims that Gligorov's ruling angered organizers of a citizen's initiative which collected 220,000 signatures demanding new elections. Gligorov defended his objections to early elections arguing that "there is no [democratic] country with regulations that allow early elections based on a citizens' initiative," MILS reported. Meanwhile, Gligorov said in an interview to Oslobodjenje on 16 April that he and Bosnian President Alia Izetbegovic planned to establish an association of the Yugoslav republics before the breakup of the state, but were blocked by Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and his Croatian counterpart Franjo Tudjman's oppositions. -- Fabian Schmidt ALBANIAN OPPOSITION CRITICIZES ELECTION COMMISSION. The Albanian opposition has criticized the commission which approves candidates for the upcoming May elections. The commission has banned more than 42 candidates from running, charging them with either holding high government office in communist times or with collaboration with the former secret police. Socialist Party Deputy Leader Namik Dokle accused the Democratic Party government of arbitrarily changing laws in order to keep party leader Fatos Nano in prison. He also accused the government of changing electoral districts to increase the electoral chances of its own party. -- Fabian Schmidt MONTENEGRIN SUPREME COURT TO REVIEW LAW ON LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT? The Montenegrin Helsinki Committee for Human Rights filed an appeal with the Constitutional Court, demanding a review of a law on local self- administration, Beta reported on 15 April. The law was decreed by the Montenegrin government on 1 April and the Helsinki Committee argues that it unconstitutionally increases central authorities' power to interfere in local affairs. The new law practically suspends a number of rights that had been guaranteed to the mainly ethnic Albanian community of Ulcinj. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Jan Cleave ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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