|We do not live an equal life, but one of contrast and patchwork; now a little joy, then a sorrow, now a sin, then a generous or brave action. - Ralph Waldo Emerson|
No. 102, Part II, 27 May 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 CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE POLISH UNION LEADER SUMMONED BY BELARUSIAN COURT. A Belarusian court has summoned Solidarity President Marian Krzaklewski to appear in court on 30 May for organizing an illegal demonstration in the capital earlier this month. Krzaklewski, who had been invited to Minsk by Belarusian independent trade unions, said he would not appear in court and would prefer to summon the Belarusian authorities for detaining and illegally deporting him and three other Solidarity members. The Polish Embassy in Minsk was notified about the case but will return the court summons because "it is not customary" for the embassy to deliver such documents. Krzaklewski said that if he were to go to Belarus to appear in court, it would mean that he believed that the law is "functioning there according to European norms and Belarusian constitution. And that is not true," Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 27 May. -- Jakub Karpinski UKRAINIAN PREMIER ON BASING OF RUSSIAN FLEET. Yevhen Marchuk, during a visit to Sevastopol on 24 May, said Ukraine will agree to allow the Russian Black Sea Fleet to maintain its main base in the Crimean port temporarily and under certain conditions, Ukrainian and Russian media reported. But while he did not specify what those conditions are, he noted that Sevastopol is Ukrainian territory but should be considered "a city of Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusian glory." Meanwhile, Ukrainian leaders gave permission for festivities to take place in Sevastopol marking the 300th anniversary of the Russian navy, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 May. -- Chrystyna Lapychak CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT PASSES 1996 BUDGET. Crimean lawmakers have approved a budget for this year totaling 62 trillion karbovantsi ($335 million), UNIAN reported on 23 May. The new budget allocates 4.2 trillion karbovantsi ($22 million) for the resettlement of Crimean Tatars and other deported peoples on the peninsula. -- Chrystyna Lapychak NEW PARTY IN ESTONIA. Former members of the Center Party have set up the Development Party, BNS reported. At the founding congress in Tallinn on 25 May. Andra Veidemann, who headed the Center Party from November 1995 to April 1996, was elected the new party's chief by an overwhelming majority. The party has 174 members, including the seven deputies of the Liberal Centrist caucus. One of the latter, Tiit Made, said that "compared with the Center Party, the Development Party leans much more to the right." He added that the new party will primarily appeal to businessmen, the intelligentsia, and students. Made also commented that the party would like to join the government coalition, but Reform Party Chairman Siim Kallas noted that since all the ministerial posts were filled, there would be no room for the new party. -- Saulius Girnius LATVIAN PRESIDENT'S TRIP TO UZBEKISTAN. Guntis Ulmanis, returning to Latvia from Tashkent on 24 May, said he and Uzbek President Islam Karimov had agreed that the demise of communism is uniting their countries in their relations with Russia, BNS reported the next day. The presidents signed a joint political declaration and a protocol ratifying a cooperation and friendship agreement. The interior ministers signed agreements on cooperation in curbing organized crime, while the foreign ministers signed accords on the protection of investments, international motor transport, cooperation in railway transport and communications, mutual assistance in customs services, and cooperation in the sphere of culture. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIA, SWEDEN SIGN DOCUMENT ON VISA-FREE TRAVEL. Lithuanian Foreign Ministry official Darius Jurgelevicius, heading a delegation to Stockholm, has signed a protocol paving the way for a visa-free travel treaty with Sweden, BNS reported on 24 May. Sweden's main condition for signing the treaty is that Lithuania join the 1951 UN Geneva Convention and its protocols on refugees. Jurgelevicius said Lithuania has no objections to comply with Sweden's demand. He added that joining the convention "can be in principle quick." -- Saulius Girnius CZECH PREMIER ON SUDETEN GERMAN DEMANDS. Vaclav Klaus has responded angrily to statements made by Theo Waigel, German finance minister and chairman of the Bavarian Christian Social Union, at the 47th Congress of Sudeten Germans in Nuremberg. Waigel noted that the expulsion of some 3 million Germans from Czechoslovakia after World War II needs to be recognized as an "injustice." He added that those laws and presidential decrees that made the expulsion possible also have to be dealt with. Bavarian Premier Edmund Stoiber made similar comments at the congress. Klaus said he "was very upset" by Waigel's statements. "We don't need Mr. Waigel to teach us about [our] legal system. When it comes to World War II, Germans should only whisper.... I am all the more upset [because] Mr. Waigel's statements come one week before our parliamentary elections," Czech media reported. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK DOCTORS DEMAND HIGHER WAGES. Some 500 doctors and 1,000 supporters attended a rally organized by the Slovak Medical Board (SLK) in Bratislava on 25 May to protest low wages, Slovak media reported. SLK President Ladislav Knapec complained that a petition for a 200% wage increase signed by more than 6,500 doctors had not drawn a response from the competent authorities. Average monthly wages for doctors in 1995 reached only 6,251 crowns ($200). Responding to the newly formed Medical Trade Union Association's vow to begin strong protest action, Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar told Slovak Radio that if "some radicals" do not like the Health Minister's program, "they have the right to protest. However, they cannot expect that the world will begin to revolve around them because they will shout more than the decent [ones] who work every day...." The opposition Democratic Union has expressed support for the doctors. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER ACCUSES PRESIDENT. Speaking on Slovak Radio on 24 May, Meciar accused President Michal Kovac of involvement in the fraud case of the Slovak firm Technopol. "Currently, the Technopol case and the so-called kidnapping [of Michal Kovac Jr.] are being investigated simultaneously and a direct connection [between the two cases] is being proven. If he did not have presidential immunity, the man who decides on granting pardons in the Technopol case would most probably be accused of being one of the participants in this case," Meciar stated. Referring to Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) deputy Ladislav Pittner's independent commission established to investigate the Kovac Jr. kidnapping, Meciar accused the KDH of building "an informer-police structure." He added that he will investigate the group's legality. In other news, Justice Minister Jozef Liscak, attending an Association of Workers of Slovakia meeting on 25 May, warned that Slovakia is facing the danger that "in southern Slovakia anyone can announce autonomy at any time." -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARY, ROMANIA TO CONTINUE TALKS IN JUNE. Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs on 25 May announced that Hungary and Romania will resume talks on the bilateral treaty in the second half of June, Reuters reported. The announcement came one day after Kovacs met with his Romanian counterpart, Teodor Melescanu, in Salzburg where they were taking part in the European Artistic Forum. Treaty negotiations have been stalled since mid-1995, mainly over rights for Romania's Hungarian minority. Signing the treaty is seen as a key step in both countries' efforts toward NATO and EU membership. In other news, MTI on 24 May reported that the Hungarian, Slovak, and Austrian premiers are to expected meet in Slovakia in mid-June. -- Sharon Fisher SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE MASSIVE IRREGULARITIES, VIOLENCE DURING ALBANIAN ELECTIONS. One day before Albanians went to the polls to elect a new government, a "large number of Socialists," including former Prime Minister Ylli Bufi, were arrested, Albanian media reported on 25 May. The secret police (SHIK) reportedly beat up members of the Socialist Party. Deputy Interior Minister Agim Shehu claimed that the Socialists had created an illegal "paramilitary force" and had reprinted and distributed ballot forms among voters. Socialist leader Servet Pellumbi, however, said the arrests were a pretext to interfere in the elections. He added that in a radio address, a member of the election commission had asked voters to photocopy election forms to ensure sufficient supplies. More arrests, beatings, and intimidations were reported from all over the country late in the evening of 26 May. Members of election commissions and parliamentary candidates of opposition parties were reportedly the target of those attacks. -- Fabian Schmidt in Tirana ALBANIAN OPPOSITION CHALLENGES LEGITIMACY OF BALLOT. Many opposition election commission members left the polling stations saying they had been intimidated with guns or beaten up by SHIK officers. The Socialists, the Social Democrats, the Democratic Alliance, the Party of the Democratic Right, the Agrarian Party, the Party of National Unity and the Party for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms all declared that they would withdraw their representatives from the electoral commissions. They also called on the Constitutional Court to declare the ballot invalid, saying they would not take part in any government formed on the basis of these elections. Democratic Alliance leader Neritan Ceka accused Europe of giving "blind support" to President Sali Berisha, adding that only the U.S. could ensure democratic elections. Meanwhile, Berisha said on Albanian TV that he expected the Democrats to win some 70% of the vote. -- Fabian Schmidt in Tirana THREE ALBANIAN COMMUNIST-ERA OFFICIALS SENTENCED TO DEATH. Former Deputy Interior Minister Zylyftar Ramizi, former Prosecutor-General Rrapi Mino, and former head of the Supreme Court Aranit Cela were sentenced to death on 24 May, Albanian media reported. Former parliamentary president Haxhi Lleshi and ex-Deputy Prime Minister Manush Myftiu, who were both partisans during World War II, also received life sentences. The five were charged with crimes against humanity, including sending thousands of dissidents and their families into internal exile. Lleshi and Myftiu had been under house arrest due to bad health but are now in a prison hospital. Before Albania's admission to the Council of Europe in June 1995, parliamentary speaker Pjeter Arbnori had said his country was committed to abolishing capital punishment and would not carry out death sentences following its admission. -- Fabian Schmidt in Tirana FORMER TSAR ARRIVES IN BULGARIA . . . Simeon II on 25 May arrived in Sofia on his first visit to Bulgaria since he was forced into exile in 1946, Bulgarian and international media reported. He met with Sofia Mayor Stefan Sofiyanski and the following day with President Zhelyu Zhelev. Reuters reported as many as 500,000 people turned out to welcome Simeon when he toured Sofia's Orthodox churches on 26 May. Simeon is expected to stay in Bulgaria for three weeks or so. Recent opinion polls suggest that while less than 20% of Bulgarians want the monarchy restored, some 40% want Simeon to assume an important political role. The former monarch said he will disclose his future plans after touring the country. -- Stefan Krause . . . AND RECEIVES MIXED RECEPTION FROM POLITICIANS. While Zhelev and opposition leaders met with Simeon, members of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) sought to avoid contact with the former monarch. The government considers his visit "a private affair," while Prime Minister Zhan Videnov has said he will not meet with Simeon because he has "much more important work" to do. State media journalists have been told not to give extensive coverage to the visit or to interview Simeon. Velko Valkanov, a deputy elected on the BSP ticket, called the visit "a huge mistake" that will involve Simeon in domestic policy. Anastasiya Dimitrova-Mozer of the People's Union said the visit deflects attention from real issues and will further divide the country. -- Stefan Krause SERBS BLOCK REFUGEES, CONTINUE ETHNIC CLEANSING. In what has become a familiar ritual, 44 Muslim and Croatian refugees attempting to enter Bosnian Serb territory were blocked by 250 Serbian civilians wielding sticks and stones, AFP reported on 26 May. An IFOR bus was also severely damaged, Oslobodjenje stated. The incident took place near Prijedor, which the refugees wanted to visit in order to plant a "peace tree" at the site of a former concentration camp. Serbian police supported the civilians, while IFOR limited itself to "extracting" the refugees and the IFOR vehicle from the tangle. Meanwhile in Teslic, in north-central Bosnia, the authorities continue to expel local Muslim civilians to make room for Serbian refugees from Sarajevo, the BBC noted. The Dayton accord guarantees freedom of movement, the right of refugees to go home, and the right to live where one chooses. -- Patrick Moore WILL KARADZIC DISAPPEAR FROM PUBLIC VIEW? Bosnian Serb Vice President Nikola Koljevic, speaking on Serbia's Kragujevac Radio on 26 May, said Bosnian Serb civilian leader Radovan Karadzic will keep a low profile from now on and "effectively disappear" from public view, Reuters reported. But the news agency noted that Koljevic, who is regarded as Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's ally, stopped short of suggesting that Karadzic will relinquish political authority. Koljevic's statement has not been confirmed by the state-run Bosnian Serb media, leading to speculation that he has floated a trial balloon on Milosevic's behalf. Bosnian Ambassador to the UN Muhamed Sacirbey has noted that any scenario allowing Karadzic to trade keeping out of the public view in exchange for avoiding prosecution for war crimes is out of the question. -- Stan Markotich MONTENEGRIN PREMIER ON INDEPENDENCE. Milo Djukanovic on 26 May said most people living in the rump Yugoslav republic would not endorse any moves that might lead to Montenegrin independence. Tanjug reported Djukanovic as saying that no more than 15-17% of voters would vote for the "independence option" in elections likely to take place before year's end. Djukanovic, who in the past has publicly expressed his differences with the federal authorities in Belgrade, added that "our...interest lies inside the [rump] Yugoslavia, despite some objective or temporary differences." -- Stan Markotich TUDJMAN ON CROATIA'S INTERNATIONAL STATUS. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, addressing the Presidential Council on 25 May, said the Council of Europe's decision to delay Croatia's admission was punishment for its refusal to be included in the Balkan integration process, Hina reported. Tudjman criticized the "humiliating conditions" that the Council of Europe has laid down for Croatia, while admitting countries such as Russia. He stressed that Croatia will not agree to those conditions, which include more press freedom, creating conditions for the return of Serbian refugees, cooperation and help in solving the Mostar crisis, and not blocking a solution to the administrative status of Zagreb. Tudjman commented that the EU states seem to be dissatisfied with the leading role the U.S. has played in Bosnia and with the fact that the U.S. has taken Croatia' s side. -- Daria Sito Sucic UN SECRETARY-GENERAL WANTS TO EXTEND UNPREDEP MANDATE. Boutros Boutros Ghali on 24 March recommended that the mandate of UNPREDEP be extended by six months, Reuters and AFP reported. In a report to the UN Security Council, he said UNPREDEP should remain in Macedonia until 30 November at its current strength of 1,050 troops, 35 military observers, and 168 civilian police. According to Boutros Ghali, there are fewer threats to Macedonia now than when UNPREDEP was deployed in 1992. But he added that "it is too soon to be confident that stability has been established in the region." -- Stefan Krause TRADE UNION PROTEST IN BUCHAREST. More than 5,000 employees marched through downtown Bucharest on 24 May to protest falling living standards and low pay, Romanian and Western media reported. At the government's headquarters, the demonstrators handed over a memorandum accusing the cabinet of blocking economic reforms and of being unable to solve serious economic and social problems. The memorandum also claimed that ministers were protecting the vested interests of those in power. The protest was organized by the Alfa Cartel, one of Romania's main labor organizations. Alfa is demanding a minimum monthly wage of 140,000 lei ($34), better pay for overtime, and increases in child allowance, pensions, and stipends. Alfa leader Bogdan Hossu described the situation of many trade union members as "desperate." -- Dan Ionescu MOLDOVAN TEACHERS STAGE STRIKE. Teachers in 32 Moldovan districts on 24 May suspended classes to protest wage arrears, BASA-press reported the same day. Petru Chiriac, chairman of the education trade unions, told journalists that since the begining of the year, teachers have been fully paid for January only. He added that the state owes them millions of lei for the following months. The state's inability to pay wages and pensions has caused widespread protests. Earlier this month, Premier Andrei Sangheli promised education union leaders that the cabinet will solve the problem, but no concrete steps have been taken so far. -- Dan Ionescu [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Jan Cleave ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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