|Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson|
No. 79, Part II, 22 April 1996
New OMRI Analytical Briefs: - "More Than a Cadre Reshuffle: Nazarbayev Appoints New Head in East Kazakhstan," by Bhavna Dave 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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ UKRAINE TO BEGIN CLOSING CHORNOBYL. During the G-7 summit meeting on nuclear safety in Moscow, President Leonid Kuchma told French President Jacques Chirac that Ukraine will shut down one of Chornobyl's two working reactors by the end of the year, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 April. Kuchma also discussed the nuclear power station's closure with Russian President Boris Yeltsin. G-7 leaders reaffirmed their support for a financial package worth $3.1 billion in grants and loans to help Ukraine close Chornobyl by 2000. -- Ustina Markus ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE ARMENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN UKRAINE. Armenian Foreign Minister Vagan Papazyan ended a three-day official visit to Ukraine on 20 April, ITAR- TASS reported. Papazyan met with President Leonid Kuchma, Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk, and his Ukrainian counterpart Hennadii Udovenko. Talks covered a wide range of issues dealing with developing Ukrainian- Armenian ties. -- Ustina Markus INTEGRATION COMMITTEE MEETING IN MINSK. The head of the Russian, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, and Belarusian integration committee Kazakh First Deputy Prime Minister Nigmatzhan Isingarin was in Minsk to discuss the first series of documents prepared for the integration process, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 April. Nigmatzhan met with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka who heads the international council for those countries. The documents included a program for economic and humanitarian integration for 1996, and the structure and mandate of the integration committee and its costs for 1996. -- Ustina Markus ESTONIA, CZECH REPUBLIC SIGN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT. Estonian Economics Minister Andres Lipstok and Czech Trade and Industry Minister Vladimir Dlouhy signed a free trade agreement on 19 April in Tallinn, BNS reported. President Vaclav Havel who headed a Czech delegation that completed a week-long trip to the Baltic states the next day noted that his visit was intended not only to strengthen economic ties between their countries, but also to stress solidarity with countries having common goals and aspirations to join NATO and the European Union. -- Saulius Girnius LATVIA, SLOVAKIA SIGN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT. Latvian and Slovak Foreign Ministers Valdis Birkavs and Juraj Schenk signed a free trade agreement in Riga on 19 April, BNS reported. The agreement that has to be ratified by the parliaments of both countries will go into effect from 1 July. In 1995 trade between the two countries was worth some $7.3 million, with more than two-thirds being Slovak exports to Latvia. Earlier in the week, Latvia signed a similar free-trade agreement with the Czech Republic. Birkavs noted that the agreements would promote Latvia's admission to the Central European Free Trade Agreement which he hoped would occur next year after Latvia is also admitted to the World Trade Organization. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH, LITHUANIAN PRIME MINISTERS MEET. Polish Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz met his Lithuanian counterpart Mindaugas Stankevicius on 19 April in Augustow and Punsk in north-eastern Poland, near the Lithuanian border. They agreed that the two countries will sign a free trade agreement in June and accepted the setting up of a working group of experts on cross-border affairs. They will also soon sign an agreement on the spelling of names, guaranteeing that the minorities in each country will be able to write their names according to their own languages. A Polish-Lithuanian Euroregion of economic cooperation "Niemen" is to be created, "even if Russian and Belarusian partners would not be ready," Cimoszewicz said. The Polish side affirmed that Poland will support Lithuania in its endeavors to join CEFTA and the European structures. -- Jakub Karpinski CHANGES IN THE POLISH TV 1 MAY PROGRAM. The new board of public Polish TV (TVP) begins its operations on 22 April. The program of the country's most popular channel, TVP1, planned for 1 May, a socialist and communist holiday, has been changed by its new director Tomasz Siemoniak. His nomination two month earlier caused a crisis in the TVP management that led to the dismissal of the TVP board on 28-29 March and the nomination of a new board on 12 April. Programs on 1 May that were scheduled by the former TVP management but are now dropped are films on workers' anti- communist manifestations in 1956 and 1980, Ryszard Bugajski's film Interrogation about a woman imprisoned in Stalinist times, and a series on anti-communist emigre writer Jozef Mackiewicz. Siemoniak said that the program for the 1 May holiday should be lighter, Gazeta Wyborcza reported. Last year the ruling postcommunist coalition strongly criticized the anti-communist program aired on 1 May. -- Jakub Karpinski RESULTS OF SOLANA VISIT TO POLAND. NATO Secretary General Javier Solana told his Polish hosts on 17-18 April that Poland will be admitted to NATO and will share all member rights and duties. Solana asserted that there is no possibility of a limited or "only political" membership for Poland and, when admitted, the country will be covered by the full security guarantees of Article 5 of the Washington treaty. "NATO is not interested in semi-detached members, and we are certainly not interested in the idea of a political but not military membership in NATO," he said. According to Solana, NATO will, however, do everything possible to establish partnership relations with Russia. Solana met President Aleksander Kwasniewski, Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, and other officials. He addressed the Polish Atlantic Club and Euroatlantic Association that are dedicated to Poland's aim of joining NATO, Polish dailies reported. -- Jakub Karpinski SLOVAK OFFICIAL ON NATO ENLARGEMENT. Foreign Ministry State Secretary Jozef Sestak on 21 April said countries not accepted in the first wave of NATO enlargement must be assured that they will nonetheless become members of the alliance, Narodna obroda reported the following day. In a television debate, Sestak agreed that NATO might take in "one or two" new members first. But other candidates must be given reassurances that they will also gain membership eventually, he said -- "otherwise, destabilization will arise." Sestak added that Slovakia is among the "most fervid" candidates for NATO membership and is on course to join the alliance. -- Steve Kettle WORLD BANK OFFICIAL URGES WELFARE REFORM IN HUNGARY. Visiting World Bank Vice President Johannes F. Linn called for reform of the Hungarian state health care system and pension funds, Hungarian dailies reported on 22 April. Linn, who is on a three-day visit to discuss a $500 million credit agreement for Hungary, also called for curbing inflation and further modernization of the banking sector. According to Linn, reform of the banking sector should include refining a five-year-old bankruptcy law to give more power to state banking supervision and winding up insolvent banks. Part of the World Bank loan would assist with the restructuring of banks and big state enterprises, while the rest of the amount, yet undefined, is intended to co-finance welfare reform. -- Zsofia Szilagyi HUNGARY, BOSNIA SIGN PACT ON EXTRADITION, CRIME AND TERRORISM. Hungarian Interior Minister Gabor Kuncze and his visiting Bosnian counterpart Avdo Hebib signed an agreement on extradition, fighting organized crime, drug trafficking, and terrorism, Hungarian media reported on 22 April. Kuncze said the next item on the agenda will be the future of Bosnian refugees in Hungary. "Hungary is interested in the return of these refugees, but only on a voluntary basis and when appropriate conditions can be created," he added. During the visit, Hebib thanked the Hungarian government for receiving refugees from Bosnia during the war. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BRITISH IFOR REBUFFS KARADZIC. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic through an aide blasted the decision by British peace keepers to move their headquarters from Gornji Vakuf to Banja Luka, the major Serb stronghold in western Bosnia. The aide, Jovan Zametica, telephoned the British on 20 April to say that Karadzic had not given "his permission" for the move, Onasa news agency reported the next day. The British replied: "So what? We're entitled to go where we want... We don't need his permission." Elsewhere, Bosnian authorities released a group of Serbian prisoners, including Col. Aleksa Krsmanovic, for lack of war crimes evidence against them. The government similarly released a group of Serbian detainees. International media also said that about 800 Muslim and Croat refugees scuffled with some 1,500 Serbs trying to prevent their return to their homes near Doboj. The area is part of the Bosnian Serb entity, but the Dayton agreement allows all refugees to go home. -- Patrick Moore SLAVONIAN SERB LEADER CONFIRMS LOOTINGS. Goran Hadzic is the new "interim president" of the Serbs in eastern Slavonia, the last part of Croatia in rebel Serb hands. He indirectly confirmed reports that one- third of the Serbs have been carting off property to Serbia, including goods looted from Croatian homes, Reuters stated on 21 April. Hadzic said that his main priorities are to "fight crime which has taken on disturbing proportions" and to stop the ongoing exodus of Serbs. -- Patrick Moore CROATIAN SERB UPDATE. In Zagreb the small remaining Serb minority on Croatian-held territory has been forming a number of new organizations in recent weeks. The latest is an umbrella group, the National Council of Serbian Organizations (NSSO), Nasa Borba reported on 22 April. That same day Vecernji list denied that the government is discriminating against Serbs by cutting off funds to the paper Nas glas. The article claimed that the paper had taken an anti-Croatian stance, as shown by reporting stories on alleged atrocities in Krajina last summer. It noted that other Serbian organizations continue to receive subsidies. Meanwhile, the Sabor passed a law on cooperation with the war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Vecernji list said on 20 April. The measure is expected to facilitate the extradition of suspected war criminals.-- Patrick Moore SERBIAN OPPOSITION RALLY BECOMES SCENE OF VIOLENCE. Three opposition parties--the Serbian Renewal Movement, the Democratic Party, and the Serbian Civic League--organized a rally on 20 April in the town of Novi Sad which was marred by violence when supporters of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia forced their way into the crowd. Nasa Borba on 22 April reported that much of the violence was not of a serious nature, and that, apart from minor scuffles, quelled when police intervened to move Milosevic supporters from the scene, "thankfully nothing more serious erupted." On April 20, however, AFP reported that witnesses on the scene observed police officers bludgeoning Miroslav Negrojevic, a legislator and member of the Serbian Renewal Movement. Estimates suggest that about 10,000 opposition supporters attended the rally which called for Milosevic's removal from office. -- Stan Markotich MONTENEGRIN PREMIER IN U.S. Milo Djukanovic, accompanied by the rump Yugoslav republic's finance minister, Predrag Goranovic, left for the United States on 21 April on what local media described as "a working visit." The two Montenegrin officials are reportedly seeking to reopen working relations with U.S. based financial institutions. Nasa Borba on 22 April reports that Djukanovic and Goranovic also regard the visit as a means of reopening and sustaining bilateral talks aimed at "a normalization" in relations. -- Stan Markotich SWISS ENVOY TO ROMANIA SUSPECTED OF BEING CAUGHT IN ESPIONAGE WEB. Romanian and international media reported on 19-20 April that the Swiss ambassador to Romania, Jean-Pierre Vettovaglia, was summoned home after investigations revealed a sentimental involvement with a Romanian journalist who is suspected of being an agent of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI). The journalist, Floriana Jucan, who works for Evenimentul zilei, denied she was on the SRI payroll, but confirmed the affair with the Swiss diplomat, who is married. The SRI also denied that Jucan is on its payroll. Romanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Sorin Ducaru said the ministry regrets the "unpleasant situation" that has been "intensely exploited in the media" and praised Vettovaglia's "competence and professionalism" and his contribution to boosting ties between the two countries. -- Michael Shafir ROMANIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS PROMISE TO BE SPORTY. Ilie Nastase, the former Romanian international tennis star, on 19 April officially began his campaign for mayor of Bucharest as the candidate of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), local and international media report. At his side was Nadia Comaneci, the former Olympic gold medal gymnast. Comaneci arrived in Bucharest for her marriage on 27 April to U.S. gymnast Bart Conner. Adrian Nastase, the executive chairman of the PDSR (no kin of Ilie) will act as best man in what many political observers believe to be an attempt to boost his party's electoral chances in the autumn general elections. Other sport stars have also been recruited by political parties as candidates in the local elections. Emerich Jenei, a former coach of Romania's and Hungary's national soccer teams, is running for mayor of Oradea on the list of the Democratic Party and Gheorghe Raducanu, once the star goal-keeper of Bucharest Rapid, is the candidate of the Democratic Agrarian Party in one of the capital's districts. -- Michael Shafir NATO OFFICIAL IN ROMANIA. Gebhardt von Moltke, NATO Assistant General Secretary for Political Affairs, on 21 April was received by Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu, Romanian television announced on the same day. They discussed NATO expansion into Eastern Europe, Romania's relations with NATO and its participation in the Partnership for Peace program. Melescanu reiterated Romania's aspiration to be received in the organization in the "first wave" of new members. Von Moltke will chair a meeting of the NATO Cooperation Council opening in Sinaia on 22 April. -- Michael Shafir RUSSIAN TROOPS IN THE TRANSDNIESTER TO BE REDUCED? Citing sources close to the Russian troops command in the Transdniester, BASA-press reported on 20 April that the troops will be reduced by 60% this summer. The cuts are to be carried out at the orders of the Russian chief of staff, Gen. Mikhail Kolesnikov. The agency said that as a result of these directives, General Valerii Yevnevich could be replaced with a lower- ranking officer as commander of the Russian troops in the Transdniester and be promoted to a higher post in Moscow. -- Michael Shafir BULGARIAN SOCIALIST PARTY DISCUSSES AGRICULTURE POLITICS. The BSP and its coalition partners -- the Bulgarian Agrarian People's Union "Aleksandar Stamboliyski" and the Political Club Ekoglasnost -- on 21 April discussed the government's agriculture politics, Duma reported. Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister Svetoslav Shivarov said that securing sufficient grain production is one of the main problems this year. Many participants of the meeting criticized the government, saying the farmers had lost faith in it for failing to resolve the problems of agriculture which impoverished them. Boncho Rashkov, chairman of the parliamentary agriculture commission, said the government will fall if the agriculture ministry does not change its policy. -- Stefan Krause WHO WILL BE THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE OF THE BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS? Prime Minister and Chairman of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) Zhan Videnov said the BSP candidate in the upcoming presidential elections must be "strong, and not a figure expressing an inner-party compromise," Duma reported on 22 April. Videnov told a party meeting in Sofia on 20 April that the candidate must remain "faithful to himself" after winning the elections. According to Standart, one third of the BSP organizations favor the candidacy of Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski. Problems could arise from the fact that Pirinski was born in the U.S., and the Constitutional Court might be asked to clarify whether this constitutes an obstacle to his candidacy. Under the Bulgarian constitution, people holding dual citizenship can not run for parliament or for president. -- Stefan Krause BANK ROBBERS STEAL $300,000 IN ALBANIA. Unidentified culprits robbed the National Trade Bank in Vlora of $300,000 on 18 April, Albania reported. They injured a guard and teller during the robbery. It was the third professional robbery in Vlora this year. Earlier victims of hold-ups involved the local branches of the Savings Bank and the company VEFA. In unrelated news two Albanians were killed by starving wolves when attempting to illegally cross the border to Greece. Five others escaped the wolves by hiding in trees for two days. They were eventually rescued by Albanian border guards, international agencies reported. -- Fabian Schmidt ITALIAN PRESIDENT VISITS ALBANIA. Italian President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro visited Albania on 19 April, Reuters reported. He pledged support for Albania's integration into Europe and Italian help for an association treaty with the EU. Concerning economic cooperation Scalfaro pointed out that more than 500 Italian companies are active in Albania. Albanian President Sali Berisha thanked Scalfaro for Italy's contributions to Albania's transition and said the meeting had produced good results. Scalfaro attended the opening ceremonies of a stretch of highway and a drinking water system, the latter funded by the Italian government with some $23 million. Italy has made available about 300 billion lira ($185 million) in aid and investments to Albania since 1992 and is considered Albania's main trading partner. Outside the president's palace, police arrested a man from Fushe Kruje who threatened to commit suicide with a hand grenade unless he was allowed to speak to Berisha. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Saulius Girnius ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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