|To live is so startling, it leaves little time for anything else. - Emily Dickinson|
No. 77, Part II, 18 April 1996
New OMRI Analytical Briefs: - "Tajikistan's Grim Anniversary," by Bruce Pannier - "Turco-Israeli Accord Aggravates Regional Tensions," by Lowell Bezanis 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ GULF STATES CONTRIBUTE $100 MILLION TO BOSNIAN ARMY. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait have pledged a total of $100 million to help train and equip the Bosnian military, AFP reported on 18 April. The pledges were collected by White House aide Thomas "Mack" McClarty on a recent trip to the region, despite European objections. The Arabs had been reluctant to provide funds lest some go to the Croats, but Bosnian envoy Muhamed Sacirbey accompanied McClarty and told the Arabs that there is no alternative to the Croat-Muslim alliance. U.S. President Bill Clinton said he was "deeply gratified by the generosity and understanding" of the Gulf states, a spokesman noted. The Dayton agreement calls for greater military parity between the Croatian and Muslim allies on the one hand and the Serbs on the other, as a deterrent against future aggression. The latest move comes against the background of a U.S. election-year imbroglio over what the White House allegedly knew about Iranian arms deliveries to Bosnia during the war, international media noted. -- Patrick Moore ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT DOES NOT SIGN STATE BUDGET. Alyaksandr Lukashenka has not signed the budget passed by parliament for 1996, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 April. A parliamentary commission for budget, taxation, banking, and finances met to examine Lukashenka's proposed changes to the budget. Lukashenka opposed articles that exempted collective and state farm profits from taxation, claiming this would decrease state budget revenues. Lukashenka also criticized the state budget for more than doubling the parliament's budget and raising the tax rate from 10% to 12%. He also disapproved of parliament's rejection of article 30 that allowed the president to decide his own expenditures within the limits of the budget deficit. The commission will now report back to the parliament, which may still pass the original budget with a two-thirds vote, draw up a new budget, or accept the president's recommendations. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT DEMOTES FORMER INTERIOR MINISTER. Alyaksandr Lukashenka issued a decree demoting former Interior Minister Yurii Zakharenka for gross financial improprieties and negligence of duties, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 April. The decree was issued after an investigation revealed that 8.9 billion Belarusian rubles (over $700,000) from the ministry's budget was used to renovate interior ministry hotels after Zakharenka became head of the organization. Lukashenka's decree also charged Zakharenka with "not taking appropriate actions in the fight against crime in the republic." Zakharenka was demoted to the rank of colonel and dismissed from the Interior Ministry. -- Ustina Markus UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT DEBATES CONSTITUTION. Ukraine's parliament began debating the draft constitution on 17 April, ITAR-TASS reported. At the end of the session, parliament decided that the draft did not correspond to the principles of Ukraine's 1990 Declaration of Sovereignty. Western agencies reported that two-thirds of the draft constitution were agreed upon by the majority of deputies, including articles on the president, elections, and government. Communist deputies continue to oppose many articles and to submit proposals to enhance the power of the legislature. The deadline for adopting a new constitution is 8 June, when the one-year constitutional treaty expires. -- Ustina Markus STRIKES IN DONETSK. A coal miners' strike in Donetsk is expanding, ITAR- TASS reported on 17 April. The strike, which began at the beginning of the month, now involves 16 mines and 2,000 miners. An unsanctioned meeting on the miners' situation in Toreze took place on 17 April with 3,000 participants. Nonpayment of wages instigated the strike; some miners have not been paid since last September. A massive strike involving hundreds of thousands of miners last winter led to an energy crisis. -- Ustina Markus ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES LOCAL ELECTIONS LAW. The Estonian parliament on 17 April passed a new law on local elections that will be held on 20 October, BNS reported. Only citizens of Estonia are allowed to run in the elections, but non-citizens who have lived in the respective municipality for at least five years and have a permanent residence permit will be allowed to vote if they are not in the service of a foreign government. -- Saulius Girnius NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL IN ESTONIA, LATVIA. Javier Solana flew from Vilnius to Tallinn on 16 April for meetings with President Lennart Meri, Prime Minister Tiit Vahi, and other ministers. Solana stressed that the decision on NATO's eastward expansion would not be influenced by resistance from Russia. The next day he went to Riga where, after talks with leading officials, he said that no decision has yet been made on NATO accepting the Baltic states as new members. He noted, however, that NATO did not want any "gray zones" in European security and that the decision on granting the eleven applicant countries membership would be made at the end of the year, Western agencies reported. -- Saulius Girnius CZECH PRESIDENT VISITS LITHUANIA. Vaclav Havel and Lithuanian President Algirdas Brazauskas on 17 April witnessed the signing of a memorandum on liberalizing bilateral trade and an agreement on cooperation in education and science, Radio Lithuania reported. A free-trade agreement was not signed because the Lithuanian Agriculture Ministry opposed the Czech proposal to abolish import duties on food within two years. Havel also met with Prime Minister Mindaugas Stankevicius and Parliament Chairman Ceslovas Jursenas. He was granted an honorary doctorate from the University of Vilnius. On 18 April he is scheduled to travel to Kaunas before departing for Tallinn later in the day. -- Saulius Girnius NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL IN WARSAW. After visiting the Baltic states, Javier Solana arrived in Poland on 17 April. Solana reiterated that NATO will indeed enlarge, but no dates have been specified and no countries named for the first round of expansion. "NATO has very good bilateral relations with Poland, and we very much hope to expand on these relations in the future," said Solana. Dialogues between NATO and the countries willing to become NATO members will take place throughout 1996. Solana thanked Poland for its participation in the peace-keeping mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Solana also met with the Polish Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, but refused to reveal any details on the confidential meeting. -- Jakub Karpinski POLISH STATE TRIBUNAL BEGINS TRIALS. The State Tribunal, a body empowered to judge high state functionaries, began its proceedings on 17 April. The defendants are five ministers who held their posts between 1989-1990, including the then Internal Affairs Minister Czeslaw Kiszczak. They are accused of diminishing state tax and custom revenues by allowing the unregulated and illegal import of alcohol and alcoholic beverages. The State Tribunal existed in pre-war Poland and was reestablished in 1982 by Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, former First Secretary of the Communist Party. This is the first trial before the State Tribunal since its re-establishment. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH PARLIAMENT LEADERS FAIL TO RESOLVE DIFFERENCES. The leaders of the parliamentary caucuses on 17 April failed to agree on the agenda for the last session of the Czech legislature before the parliamentary elections scheduled for 31 May and 1 June, Czech media reported. The session failed to get under way on 16 April when deputies could not agree on the agenda (see OMRI Daily Digest 17 April 1996). Some 70 draft laws and amendments were to be approved at the session, including the constitutional amendments on the Czech-Slovak border and on subdividing the country into regions. A main point of contention is a draft law on ombudsman, which virtually all parties support except Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party (ODS). ODS leaders have said that introducing ombudsman into the Czech constitutional system would weaken their party's power. The chances of holding the session are now minimal. -- Jiri Pehe BRITISH PRIME MINISTER IN PRAGUE. John Major arrived in Prague on 17 April, where he met with Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus and members of his cabinet, Czech media reported. Major expressed support for the Czech Republic's admission into NATO and the EU. Major argued that political and economic preparedness should be the admission criteria for all countries applying for NATO and EU membership. In a press conference after the meeting, Klaus denied reports which claimed Major's visit was intended to lend support to Klaus before the upcoming parliamentary elections. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S SON DENIES HE STAGED OWN KIDNAPPING. Michal Kovac jr. on 17 April said accusations that he staged his own abduction to Austria last August were "a deception against the public," Narodna obroda reported. Police investigator, Jozef Ciz, told Slovak TV two days earlier that three witnesses confirmed Kovac had planned and carried out a fake kidnapping. Two investigators before Ciz were removed from the case after saying they found evidence that the Slovak secret service was involved in the kidnapping. Slovak TV officials granted Kovac his request for airtime in order to reply to Ciz. Former Interior Minister Ladislav Pittner, head of an independent commission investigating the affair, said a Slovak TV report, which stated that his commission had established that the sacked investigators had falsified testimony, was itself "absolutely false" and he accused the company of "conscious or unconscious disinformation." -- Steve Kettle HUNGARIAN RADIO, TV ON BRINK OF BANKRUPTCY. The managements of Hungarian Radio and TV are preparing for drastic austerity measures as the institutions have reached virtual bankruptcy, Hungarian dailies reported on 18 April. While consultations are taking place with the Prime Minister's Office, Hungarian Radio and TV Board Chairman Mihaly Tamas Revesz said on 17 April that a total of 4.5 billion forints ($30 million) in "fast aid" would be justifiable for Hungarian Radio, Hungarian TV, and the TV satellite channel, Duna TV. Hungarian Radio's financial data reveal that the institution faces a 800 million forint debt, while its deficit could reach 3 billion forints by the end of 1996. State subsidies only cover 5% of the radio's expenditures, and not more than half of its funds come from advertisers and sponsors. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN DEMOBILIZATION DEADLINE NEARS. NATO forces in Bosnia are preparing for the next military deadline, which is slated to pass at midnight on 18 April. This will be 120 days after the Dayton agreement was signed and is the deadline for all armies to demobilize their reserves, move their regular forces into barracks, and store their heavy weapons, Onasa reported. IFOR officials told the BBC that they do not expect complete compliance immediately, but feel that all sides are showing good will. One NATO officer said that this is one of the biggest demobilization projects in recent history. IFOR also noted that a shipment of mine detectors is scheduled to arrive on 22 April to help deal with the estimated three million land mines across the country, Onasa added. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN VICE PRESIDENT URGES CROATS TO STAY. Ejup Ganic told the Croatian daily Vecernji list on 17 April that Muslims and Croats have the same long-term interests and no alternative but to be allies. He urged Croats to remain in Bosnia, an apparent reference to the fact that Croats in some central Bosnian areas under Muslim control have been leaving for Croatian-held regions and for Croatia proper. The same daily on 18 April drew attention to the now decimated Croatian community of Stup near Sarajevo, which wants its Croatian identity affirmed. Croats have lived in central Bosnia since the Middle Ages and boast historic churches and monasteries there, but they lost much land to the Muslims in the internecine war of 1993. They claim that Muslim authorities still discriminate against them despite the Croat-Muslim alliance and that the Muslims often bar Croatian refugees from going home. Bosnian Cardinal Vinko Puljic said that equality is the key to Bosnia's survival, Onasa on 17 April. -- Patrick Moore GERMANY TO RECOGNIZE RUMP-YUGOSLAVIA. The German government at a meeting on 17 April concluded that it is ready to recognize rump Yugoslavia as one of the successor states to Yugoslavia, Nasa Borba reported on 18 April. The formal agreement on establishing full diplomatic relations will be presented by a German representative to Belgrade on 18 April. German Interior Minister Manfred Kanther's proposal that recognition would come only when Belgrade agreed to take back 120,000 refugees, including a large number of Kosovo Albanians, was rejected by the German cabinet, the Czech daily Mlada fronta Dnes reported on 18 April. -- Fabian Schmidt CROATIAN JOURNALISTS CALL FOR PRESS FREEDOM. The Croatian Journalistic Society and the NGO "Club of Rome" have listed eight demands to ensure that journalists can carry out their work on a professional basis, Novi list reported on 17 April. Their measures include a call for an early court decision on the constitutionality of the new libel law, which is widely seen as an attempt to muzzle criticism of top officials. Three additional points deal with the dailies Novi list and Slobodna Dalmacija, which the journalists say have been the victims of legal manipulation by the governing party. They also demand that electronic media licenses be granted on a clearly defined basis, and that state radio and TV become a publicly owned institution. -- Patrick Moore ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES 1996 BUDGET. A joint session of Romania's two chamber parliament on 17 April approved the 1996 state budget. The vote was 245 in favor, 168 against. The budget includes a planned deficit amounting to 3.45% of the Gross Domestic Product. The former members of the ruling coalition, the Greater Romania Party and the Socialist Labor Party, voted in favor of the budget. Had they failed to do so, the budget law would not have passed due to votes against it from main opposition parties, Romanian media reported on 17-18 April. -- Michael Shafir OPINION POLL SHOWS ILIESCU, PSDR LEADING. A poll conducted from 3-10 April, with a representative sample of 1,114 persons, shows incumbent President Ion Iliescu and the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) leading in presidential and parliamentary election races. The poll was conducted by the Center of Urban and Regional Sociology and was published in the daily Romania libera on 18 April. Iliescu leads the presidential race with 35% of the support, followed by the Democratic Convention of Romania's (CDR) candidate, Emil Constantinescu, who received 19%; Petre Roman, the Social Democratic Union's (USD) candidate, however, is rapidly closing the gap with 15%. Observers now do not rule out the possibility of an Iliescu-Roman race in the second round of the presidential elections. In the parliamentary race, the PDSR is backed by 32%, the CDR by 27% and the USD by 13%. -- Michael Shafir REPRESENTATIVE OF BULGARIAN CORPORATION COMMITS SUICIDE IN SKOPJE . Ivo Jancev, the representative of the Bulgarian corporation Multigroup, was found dead in a hotel in Skopje on 12 April, Nova Makedonija reported on 18 April. According to Bulgarian media, Jancev's body did not show any signs of struggle and investigators concluded that Jancev committed suicide. Jancev, who previously worked for the Bulgarian secret service, was buried on 14 April. Demokratsiya on 18 April ran a story, where former secret service colleagues allege that Janev was assassinated. Following the assassination attempt on Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov in October 1995, unconfirmed reports in the Macedonian and Bulgarian press drew a connection between Multigroup and the attack. No evidence was produced and Jancev strongly denied the allegations. -- Ismije Beshiri and Fabian Schmidt BULGARIAN TSAR MAY VISIT HIS COUNTRY. The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said on 17 April that former Tsar Simeon II will be allowed to visit Bulgaria, international media reported the same day. Simeon II was forced by communist leaders to leave the country in 1946. The official announcement requested Simeon II to pledge that he "respects the Bulgarian constitution and the results of the 1946 referendum" which abolished the monarchy. The Foreign Ministry denied allegations that it was delaying an extension of the Tsar's identity card to prevent him from entering the country. Simeon II lives in Spain. He is planning to visit Bulgaria on 25 May. -- Fabian Schmidt LATE ALBANIAN COMMUNIST DICTATOR'S SON RELEASED FROM PRISON. Enver Hoxha's son Ilir was released from prison on 17 April, local media reported. Hoxha was accused on 8 June 1995 of "inciting national hatred and endangering public peace, by calling for hatred against parts of the population" and "calling for vengeance." In an interview he gave to the newspaper Modeste he had called the current Albanian leadership a "pack of vandals" and "dark forces". He was also quoted as saying during his trial that "The day will come when all those who have betrayed my father will have to answer for their actions." After his release he claimed he wanted to protect the memory of his father. Enver Hoxha ruled Albania from 1945 until 1985. His wife, Nexhmije, is serving a jail term for abuse of power. -- Fabian Schmidt MORE ALBANIAN CANDIDATES BANNED FROM RUNNING IN ELECTIONS. Another ten Socialist candidates have been banned from running in the upcoming elections on 26 May by a government commission screening for past communist involvement, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 18 April. The total number of candidates excluded is now 63. The commission was created to settle a dispute over two laws - the "verification law" and so-called "Genocide law." The ruling Democratic Party argues that both laws are designed to prevent former high communist officials and former secret police spies from holding public office, but the opposition maintains they are designed to weaken the parliamentary opposition. -- 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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