|Fear of life in one form or another is the great thing to exorcise. - William James|
No. 105, Part II, 30 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 U.S. OFFERS ADDITIONAL AID TO UKRAINE. An unidentified U.S. defense official on 29 May said that the U.S. will provide an additional $43.1 million to Ukraine for its disarmament efforts, Reuters reported. The money would bring U.S. aid to Ukraine under a "Cooperative Threat Reduction" program to $400 million. The money is earmarked for dismantling strategic weapons, cleaning up the missile bases at Pervomaisk and Khmelnitsky, and providing housing for the retired strategic rocket forces. -- Ustina Markus CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT DEBATES OPENING MOSCOW EMBASSY. Crimea's parliament added to its agenda the issue of opening an embassy in Moscow due to the peninsula's increasing trade with Russia, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 May. According to Crimea's Trade Ministry, exports to Russia account for almost half of all Crimean exports to CIS countries, while imports from Russia make up 41% of Crimea's total imports. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT ISSUES BANKING DECREE. Alyaksandr Lukashenka issued a decree entitled, "Measures to Regulate Banking Activities in the Republic of Belarus," stating that the country's National Bank will set all salaries in the banking sector, Belarusian radio reported on 29 May. Lukashenka had threatened to nationalize all banks in the country which the decree does not do, although it appears to have increased government control over the banking sector. -- Ustina Markus NORDIC, BALTIC DEFENSE MINISTERS MEET. The defense ministers of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Baltic states had their third annual meeting in Trakai, Lithuania on 28-29 May, BNS reported. The Nordic ministers expressed their strong support for Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania's NATO and EU membership. Norwegian Defense Minister Joergen Kosmo said Russia cannot veto NATO expansion, but should not be left out of the security equation. The defense ministers also held talks with the three Baltic presidents, who thanked the Nordic countries for their assistance in the establishment and training of the Baltic Peacekeeping Battalion. The defense ministers' next meeting is scheduled for May 1997 in Saaremaa, Estonia. -- Saulius Girnius ESTONIA, SLOVAKIA SIGN FREE TRADE ACCORD. Estonian and Slovak Foreign Ministers Siim Kallas and Juraj Schenk signed a free trade agreement in Tallinn on 29 May, BNS reported. Schenk's one-day trip was the first official visit between the two states. He also held talks with Estonian Prime Minister Tiit Vahi. Schenk invited Estonia to join the Central European Free Trade Association (CEFTA) whose current members are Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Slovenia. He noted that European integration does not only mean EU expansion but also regional cooperation. He predicted that CEFTA will grow into a vast liberal market uniting 150 million people. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH PRIME MINISTER ON SECURITY SERVICES . . . Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz in a TV speech on 29 May criticized the State Security Office (UOP) for the way it handled investigations into allegations that his predecessor, Jozef Oleksy, spied for Russia, Polish dailies reported the next day. A confidential report from a special internal UOP commission charged with determining whether there had been irregularities in the inquiry against Oleksy prompted Cimoszewicz's reaction. Cimoszewicz said irregularities did occur, pointing out that "some of the original recordings have disappeared and the officers ... are unable to recall what happened to these tapes. The files now contain only copies pieced together." He added that there is suspicion that some of the evidence was manipulated to fit pre-formulated theories. -- Jakub Karpinski . . . AND NEW NOMINATIONS IN THE SERVICES. Cimoszewicz appointed Col. Andrzej Kapkowski as the new UOP chief. Kapkowski had been the acting UOP chief since February of this year. The Internal Affairs Minister Zbigniew Siemiatkowski nominated the new directorate chiefs in the ministry--Col. Wojciech Czerniak for intelligence, Col. Wlodzimierz Orlowski for counter-intelligence, Col. Jerzy Kucharenko for investigation-- to replace the officers fired on 27 May (see OMRI Daily Digest, 28 May 1996). Siemiatkowski is considering requesting the Prosecutor-General's Office to investigate the sources of the recent leaks of state secrets, Rzeczpospolita reported on 30 May. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH PRESIDENT PETITIONED TO DISSOLVE REPUBLICAN PARTY FOR ANTI-ROMANI TV SPOT. The Independents movement on 28 May requested Vaclav Havel to dissolve or suspend the Republic-Czechoslovak Republican Party (SPR-RSC) after Miroslav Sladek, head of the extreme-right party, placed an anti- Romani election ad on Czech TV. Sladek says in the TV spot, "The Gypsies will either behave as we do, or they can go. We don't care where, how, and who pays for it." The ad alleges that Premier Vaclav Klaus courted the Romani vote by "sending his wife to a Gypsy ball," and that "Sladek would not even let his dog there," CTK reported the previous day. Havel is still considering the petition that states the TV ad is in violation of the Charter of Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms and the constitution. Emil Scuka, Chairman of the Romani Civic Initiative, will also file suit against Sladek and Czech TV. -- Alaina Lemon SLOVAK PRESIDENT SUES PRIME MINISTER. Michal Kovac on 29 May filed charges against Vladimir Meciar for slander and defamation of the head of state, Slovak media reported. Kovac was reacting to Meciar's radio interview of 24 May when Meciar accused the president of involvement in the $2.3 million fraud surrounding the Slovak firm Technopol (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 May 1996). Besides denying involvement in the fraud, Kovac rejected Meciar's claims that Kovac influenced the investigation of the Technopol case and knew about preparations for his son's kidnapping but failed to intervene. Meciar, who missed the last two cabinet meetings and has not appeared in public since the broadcast of a controversial telephone conversation between two top officials, reportedly has "a very bad case of the flu." An April FOCUS poll published on 30 May showed that if a referendum were held, 41.4% would be against Kovac's dismissal and 28.7% for it. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK JEWS CRITICIZE DEPUTY'S STATEMENTS. The Central Union of Jewish Religious Communities on 28 May issued a protest against statements made early this month by Slovak National Party deputy Bartolomej Kunc on a program on the Czech TV station Nova, Slovak and international media reported the following day. Kunc said the deportation of Slovak Jews during World War II was an attempt to fix "a bad situation," in which "too much of the national wealth was owned by only a few people... There was a concentration of property in Jewish hands." He also blamed "the exploitation and impoverishment of the Slovak people" on Jews. Leaders of Slovakia's Jewish community, which now has only about 3,000 members, called Kunc's remarks, "the incarnation of the whole spectrum of anti- Semitic stereotypes formerly spread by fascist and Nazi propaganda and repeated today by sympathizers of Slovak fascism." -- Sharon Fisher SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE FINAL RESULTS IN FIRST ROUND OF ALBANIAN ELECTIONS PUBLISHED . . . According to the Central Electoral Commission, the Democratic Party won 95 out of 115 direct seats in parliament, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 30 May. The Socialist Party received 5 seats, and the ethnic Greek Party for the Defense of Human Rights (PBDNJ) two in Gjirokastra and Saranda. The elections will be repeated in two districts in Fier and one in Puke due to irregularities. The second round of the elections on 2 June will determine 10 more seats. The Socialist Party, the Social Democrats, the Democratic Alliance, the Party of National Unity, and the Party of the Democratic Right have announced their boycott of the elections and demand new elections. Meanwhile, the two PBDNJ deputies opposed their party leadership's decision and said they would not boycott parliament. -- Fabian Schmidt in Tirana . . . OPPOSITION CONTINUES WITH PROTEST RALLIES. After police violently broke up an opposition rally the previous day in Tirana, the Socialist Party continued to hold demonstrations on 29 May in Tepelena, Vlora, Fier, Kucova, and Korca. In Fier, the police surrounded the Socialist Party headquarters in an attempt to arrest local party leader Petro Koci but failed when a large number of his supporters blocked the building's entrance. Gazeta Shqiptare said many people "among whom a majority [were] women and elderly," were injured during the clashes there. No incidents were reported elsewhere. Meanwhile, the Socialist Party blamed the secret police for the mysterious 28 May killing of a Eurosocialist (member of the Socialist's youth organization) in Tirana. The Interior Ministry, however, announced that they arrested a suspect, who is a known criminal. -- Fabian Schmidt in Tirana BRIDGE EXPLODES IN NORTHEASTERN BOSNIA. Unknown persons blew up a bridge connecting the Republika Srpska with federal territory in an area where Russian IFOR troops are located. The bridge links the settlement of Teocak with the Bijeljina-Tuzla road and was the site of numerous prisoner exchanges during the war. IFOR and the international police are investigating, Nasa Borba reported on 30 May. Meanwhile, hard-line Serbs have expelled at least 100 Muslims from Teslic in central Bosnia in what UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski called "the worst wave of attacks on Muslims since the Dayton agreement was signed." Bombings, other acts of violence, and threats have been used to drive Muslims out of an area where they made up 21% of the prewar population, Reuters said on 29 May. -- Patrick Moore DID THE FRENCH PRESIDENT PLAY THE KEY ROLE IN SREBRENICA'S FALL? A British TV documentary has produced new evidence suggesting that Jacques Chirac held up air strikes against Bosnian Serbs who were attacking Srebrenica last July. British commander Gen. Rupert Smith requested the raids that were to protect the "safe area" and had the backing of UN officials in New York. Chirac reportedly told French Gen. Bernard Janvier to hold off on the raids. The documentary indicated that the French made a deal with Bosnian Serb Gen. Ratko Mladic to end air strikes in return for freeing UN hostages held by the Serbs. The UN's chief official for Bosnia, Yasushi Akashi, supported Janvier against Smith, AFP reported on 29 May. The fall of Srebrenica led to the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II, in which up to 7,000 mainly Muslim males are presumed to have been murdered. Until now the blame has been laid chiefly on the Dutch UNPROFOR troops stationed in Srebrenica or on British elite SAS units operating nearby. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN WRAPUP. The UN has resumed efforts at exploring sites of possible mass graves in eastern Bosnia, where many of the victims of the Srebrenica massacre are believed to be buried. In The Hague, the war crimes tribunal said it will hear testimony from Drazen Erdemovic--a Croatian veteran of the Bosnian Serb forces--who has admitted to complicity in the killings, AFP reported on 29 May. In Sarajevo, federal President Kresimir Zubak announced that the U.S. firm Military Professional Resources will train and help equip federal troops. The organization is based near Washington D.C. and is staffed by retired U.S. military personnel. The program outlined in the Dayton agreement is estimated to cost $800 million, but only the U.S. and Turkey have made any firm pledges of money so far. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN FEDERAL GOVERNMENT POLICY RESETTLES MUSLIM REFUGEES IN SARAJEVO. While Bosnian Serbs who fled the Sarajevo suburb of Vogosca before it reverted to the Bosnian Federation are applying to return to their homes, the Bosnian government has decided to resettle about 8,000 Muslims displaced from the Serb-held town of Doboj in northern Bosnia in abandoned Serbian houses in Sarajevo, Oslobodjenje reported on 29-30 May. The decision was made at a secret meeting of the Ministry for Refugees in the first half of May. The refugees from Doboj have been contacted and invited to come and live in Sarajevo, Oslobodjenje quoted Doboj's former municipal authorities as saying. Ekrem Ajanovic, an MP from the town of Tesanj, south of Doboj, at the parliamentary meeting on 28 May criticized the government decision, which he said runs counter to official policy and the right of refugees to return to their homes. -- Daria Sito Sucic RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN BELGRADE. Yevgenii Primakov met on 29 May with his rump Yugoslav counterpart, Milan Milutinovic, for talks on the status of the Dayton peace process. Primakov did not confirm that the fates of Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic were discussed, but both ministers agreed rump Yugoslavia "fully respected and fulfilled all its duties in accordance with the Dayton- Paris agreement," Tanjug reported. Primakov's visit is roughly a week after Washington officials said they would lobby for the re-imposition of sanctions against rump Yugoslavia should Belgrade continue to fail to honor commitments concerning the extradition of accused war criminals. Primakov was to conclude his Belgrade visit after meetings with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic, Nasa Borba reported on 30 May. -- Stan Markotich RUMP YUGOSLAV PREMIER SLAMS IMF. Radoje Kontic on 29 May dubbed as "black mail" the "political conditions" the IMF has made contingent for the continuation of discussions with Belgrade. Reuters quoted the premier as adding "[rump] Yugoslavia wants to see political issues dealt with by competent international political bodies and not the IMF and the World Bank." Talks between Belgrade and the financial institutions broke down in 1996, owing to rump Yugoslavia's refusal to back away from its demand to be recognized as the successor state to Tito's Yugoslavia as a precondition for accepting membership in the IMF and World bank. Kontic's latest set of remarks and Belgrade's continuing refusal to step away formally from the demand suggest that relations with the international bodies are likely to be strained through the foreseeable future. -- Stan Markotich ROMANIA DEMANDS EXTRADITION OF TAIWANESE SAILORS. Romania's Prosecutor- General's Office and the Supreme Court demanded the extradition from Canada of the captain and six officers of a Taiwanese ship, Romanian and western media reported. The demand came in connection with the case of three Romanian stowaways reportedly dumped overboard on the high seas in what has been described as an "abominable crime." According to press reports, the Taiwanese captain of the "Maersk Dubai" container ship ordered his Filipino crew to force two of the Romanians into a makeshift raft on 12 March. A third Romanian stowaway disappeared six day later, while a fourth eventually reached the Canadian port of Halifax after crew members hid him. Romania announced it will dispatch two prosecutors and a police officer to Canada to investigate the case. -- Dan Ionescu MOLDOVAN PRIME MINISTER MEETS DNIESTER LEADER. Andrei Sangheli on 28 May met Igor Smirnov, president of the self-proclaimed "Dniester republic," BASA-press reported the next day. As part of the negotiations aimed to solve the Dniester conflict, the two sides discussed financial and economic ties between Chisinau and Tiraspol, including the possibility to increase electricity production at the Cuciurgan and Dubasari power plants. Also on the agenda were the need to speed up the electrification of some railway segments, relations between the Moldovan and Dniester Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and the repayment of Russia's credit granted to the breakaway Dniester region in 1993-94. -- Matyas Szabo BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER ANNOUNCES AUSTERITY MEASURES. Zhan Videnov on 29 May announced new austerity measures agreed on with the IMF, Reuters reported. In an address to the parliament, he said the agreement gives Bulgaria the chance "to weather successfully the hardest period in our transition," adding that the alternative is "the collapse of the country." The measures include closing down 64 unprofitable state enterprises, cutting off credits to 70 more companies, and shutting down up to five insolvent banks. The government will also raise the VAT in June, reportedly from 18% to 22%, increase excise duties on alcohol, and introduce an import tax on all goods. Videnov said the government hopes this way to collect 140 billion leva ($920 million) in 1996. He urged all political parties, the trade unions, and citizens to back the measures. -- Stefan Krause BREAD SHORTAGE IN BULGARIA. As the grain and bread shortage in Bulgaria continues, local authorities started to introduce measures to secure a basic supply, Trud and Demokratsiya reported on 30 May. The mayors of Asenovgrad and Chiprovtsi introduced bread rationing in their towns. In other places, supplies are expected to run out within days, and 13 villages in the Rhodope mountains reportedly have not had bread for a week. In Plovdiv, Mayor Spas Garnevski ordered that only two loaves of bread be sold per customer. The country's biggest private mill in Mezdra stopped production a few days ago. Meanwhile, Socialist deputies continue to demand the resignation of several ministers, including Agriculture Minister Svetoslav Shivarov, Kontinent reported. But Premier Videnov, during a Socialist parliamentary faction meeting on 28 May, ruled out any personnel changes in the government. -- Stefan Krause [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Deborah Michaels ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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