The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none. - Thomas Carlyle 1975-1881
OMRI Daily Digest 5 June 1996

Vol. 2, No. 109, Part 2, 5 June 1996

BELARUS FAULTED FOR FATAL BALLOON SHOOTING. The International Civil Aviation Organization issued a report blaming Belarus for the downing of a hot air balloon last September that resulted in the deaths of the two pilots, AFP reported on 5 June. The American pilots were competing in an international ballooning competition and were shot down by the Belarusian air defense forces while flying over Belarusian territory. An international investigation commission looked into the affair and found that the Belarusian military failed to identify the balloon correctly and then did not take appropriate steps in attempting to communicate with the balloon's pilots. Belarusian authorities expressed regret for the shooting, but did not apologize. -- Ustina Markus

BALTIC STATES CONCERNED ABOUT POSSIBLE RUSSIAN FORCES INCREASE. At a meeting of the foreign ministers of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council in Berlin on 4 June, Latvian and Estonian Foreign Ministers Valdis Birkavs and Siim Kallas expressed concern about one of the planned amendments to the treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe, which was agreed to at a recent Vienna conference, BNS reported. The amendment would increase from 180 to 600 the number of tanks that Russia would be allowed to station in the Pskov region bordering on Latvia and Estonia. Birkavs told U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher that the Baltic states should be compensated for the increased security threat they would face. The amendment will become effective if the 30 signatories of the treaty ratify it by 15 December. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH PRIME MINISTER ON "AGENT O." Polish Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz said in a radio interview on 4 May that the mysterious agent O., identified for a long time with Cimoszewicz's predecessor Jozef Oleksy, might not be a real Russian agent in Poland but a Polish secret service officer who acted on orders and deliberately misled Russian intelligence. Gen. Gromoslaw Czempinski, former chief of the State Security Office, refused to evaluate numerous hypotheses on O.'s identity but said that if the case involves "an operational game," nobody, not even the prime minister, should make speculations. Rzeczpospolita on 5 May suggested that O. might have been a double agent in the case of Marek Zielinski whom the Polish secret services caught in 1993 transmitting intelligence materials to Col. Vladymir Lomakin, the Russian military attache in Warsaw. The Russian text referring to O. may be based on Zielinski's report, Rzeczpospolita wrote. -- Jakub Karpinski

TALKS ON FORMING CZECH GOVERNMENT CONTINUE. Vaclav Klaus, the incumbent prime minister and leader of the Civic Democratic party (ODS) that won the 31 May-1 June parliamentary elections, criticized President Vaclav Havel on 4 June for not designating quickly a new prime minister. Klaus, whose ODS-led coalition lost its parliamentary majority, said after a meeting of the ODS's leadership that Havel should not wait, as he has indicated he will, until after the new parliament meets to appoint a prime minister. The ODS demands that Klaus be charged with leading the new government. Meanwhile, the Social Democrats have indicated that they may support a Klaus-led minority government if certain conditions are met, for example that Labor Minister Jindrich Vodicka, Internal Affairs Minister Jan Ruml, Economic Minister Karel Dyba, and Minister without Portfolio Igor Nemec be excluded from the new government. -- Jiri Pehe

CZECH POST DENIES MAIL SERVICE TO ROMANI HOUSING ESTATE. Post office authorities in the northern Bohemian town Most told CTK on 4 June that they will stop delivering mail to the Chanov housing estate inhabited mostly by Roma. The post office claimed that delivery is too difficult because there are no names on apartment doors and no mailboxes. However, mailboxes have been absent from the premises for 15 years, and the city and landlord, not the tenants, assign numbers to buildings and apartments. The city already cut off the hot water supply to Chanov in January because none of the residents could pay the rent. With mail service discontinued, finding and retaining employment will become even more difficult, as will surmounting other bureaucratic hurdles such as completing citizenship applications. -- Alaina Lemon

SPECULATION OVER SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER'S ILLNESS... Bratislava has been buzzing with rumors about the illness of Vladimir Meciar, who briefly appeared at a cabinet session on 4 June, Slovak media reported. Meciar is expected to be absent from work for another two weeks, reportedly because of a respiratory and inner ear infection. He has not appeared in public since the broadcast in mid-May of a controversial conversation between Interior Minister Ludovit Hudek and Slovak Information Service chief Ivan Lexa. Meanwhile, Radio Twist on 4 June reported that experts from Prague's Research Institute for Radio and TV confirmed the authenticity of the cassette recording of the conversation. In other news, the cabinet on 4 June issued a declaration distancing itself from "all statements that attempt to defend fascism." It was apparently reacting to statements on Jews made last month by Slovak National Party (SNS) deputy Bartolomej Kunc (see OMRI Daily Digest, 30 May). -- Sharon Fisher

...AS POLITICAL TENSION MOUNTS IN SLOVAKIA. In Meciar's absence, his coalition appears to be crumbling, and it is unclear whether he will be able to attend a meeting scheduled for 5 June to deal with the growing conflicts. SNS chairman Jan Slota, who recently criticized the policies of Meciar's party, the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), called the meeting. Criticism has also come from Meciar's other junior coalition partner--the Association of Workers of Slovakia--and from within the HZDS, mainly from deputy Frantisek Gaulieder. Opposition deputies remain suspicious of the SNS's sudden rebellion and note that it is likely connected to the party's lack of control over privatization. Particular attention has centered on the change of management at the insurance firm Slovenska poistovna on 31 May; the new leadership reportedly consists of individuals with strong HZDS ties. -- Sharon Fisher


SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SERB MOB FOILS IFOR ATTEMPT TO ARREST WARLORD. U.S. and Italian peacekeepers on 4 June spotted Slavko Aleksic, the former kingpin of Grbavica, in Lukavica near Sarajevo. He was carrying a pistol and a hand grenade in violation of the Dayton agreements. When the soldiers tried to arrest him, up to 300 Serb civilians formed a hostile crowd and surrounded the troops. Some 30 French rapid reaction soldiers then arrived on the scene, helped disarm Aleksic, and turned him over to waiting Serb police who had begun to disperse the crowd as soon as the French appeared. Dayton requires that civilians carrying illegal weapons be handed over to the local police, who in Lukavica are Serbs, Nasa Borba pointed out. Bosnian Serb parliament speaker Momcilo Krajisnik told AFP that there could have been much violence. Serbian propaganda has recently stressed that provocation of the Serbs could result in pandemonium. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN SERB POLITICAL UPDATE. Confusion continues among NATO officials as to whether or not they have a new mandate to catch war criminals (see OMRI Daily Digest, 3 June 1996), but peacekeepers acted decisively to disband a regular press briefing in Pale to protest the presence of a picture of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic in the briefing room, Onasa reported on 4 June. Meanwhile in Foca, some 5,000 Serbs demonstrated in favor of Karadzic and fellow indicted war criminal Gen. Ratko Mladic, AFP noted. "The attacks on President Karadzic...and General Mladic are attacks against the Serb people," said Bozidar Vucurovic, the mayor of Trebinje in eastern Herzegovina. Krajisnik said the Bosnian Serbs have so far completed all the preparations for the elections, Onasa reported on 4 June. In Banja Luka, journalists at the government-backed paper Glas srpski announced a strike unless the state authorities change a planned new media budget. The journalists said the program favors Pale at the expense of Banja Luka, Nasa Borba reported on 5 June. -- Patrick Moore

NEW MASS GRAVE OF CROATIAN, MUSLIM WOMEN FOUND. Bosnian Croat authorities announced that a site has been unearthed near Jajce containing the bodies of at least 36 persons, mainly women. Spokesman Jerko Radic said, "I think we made a mistake in our [original] calculations because we thought there were 33 bodies, but there will be around 50. All of them are civilians and mostly female as you can see. The fact that these were civilians and mainly females shows the Serbs carried out genocide and that all those who were not Serbs were killed, regardless of their age," AFP on 4 June quoted him as saying. Jajce fell to the Serbs early in the war but was retaken by the Croats last September. Before the war its population was 39% Muslim and 35% Croatian. -- Patrick Moore

GREEK TELECOM DENIES BREACH OF DAYTON ACCORD. Greek and international media coverage of a deal between the Greek telecommunications company OTE and the Republika Srpska (RS) has prompted OTE's management to half-heartedly deny any violation of the Dayton agreement, AFP reported. State-controlled OTE struck a deal with the RS to develop a "master plan" for a modern telecommunications network for the Bosnian Serbs (see OMRI Special Report, 21 May 1996), which would include military communications and establish links between Pale, Banja Luka, and Belgrade but not between the RS and the Croatian-Muslim federation. Elevtherotypia and the Financial Times on 4 June reported that the deal totaling $248,000 violates the Dayton agreement and was protested by the international community's High Representative Carl Bildt. OTE chairman Dimitris Papoulias said his company carried out the study for free and did not breach the Dayton agreement. Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas backed OTE's decision. -- Stefan Krause

OSCE CHAIRMAN SAYS BOSNIAN ELECTIONS NOT TO BE AUTOMATICALLY APPROVED. Despite pressure from the major European powers to keep Bosnia's first postwar elections on schedule, OSCE chairman Flavio Cotti said reasonably free and fair conditions must exist first, Reuters reported on 4 June. Foreign ministers from the five countries representing the contact group on Bosnia at their 4 June meeting in Berlin insisted that adhering to the timetable is of central importance for the implementation of the peace plan. But, Cotti informed them that intimidation and discrimination have increased in Bosnia and election preparations are behind schedule. He clearly stated that he will not automatically give his approval for elections unless certain minimum prerequisite conditions are fulfilled, "so that the concepts 'free, fair, and democratic' ... retain their meaning," Reuters quoted him as saying. -- Daria Sito Sucic

CROATIA ACCEPTS CONDITIONS FOR ENTERING COUNCIL OF EUROPE. Meeting with a European Council delegation on 4 June in Zagreb, Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic said Croatia is ready to accept the European conditions for Croatian membership to the Council of Europe (see OMRI Daily Digest, 4 June 1996), Nasa Borba reported the next day. Granic's statement contrasted with Croatian President Franjo Tudjman's recent claim that Croatia will accept no more dictates. Slobodna Dalmacija in its editorial on 5 June commented that Croatia has already accepted and partly fulfilled these "new conditions." Granic announced he will visit Belgrade by the end of June to discuss the normalization of relations between Croatia and rump Yugoslavia. -- Daria Sito Sucic

MONTENEGRIN CATHOLIC BISHOP SLAIN. The retired Bishop of Kotor, Ivo Gugic, was found dead in his home on 4 June, Montena-fax reported the same day. The 75 year-old clergyman became Bishop of Kotor in 1982 and was also working with the Montenegrin government committee for the protection of minority and ethnic group rights. Police already have a man in custody who has reportedly confessed to the murder. -- Stan Markotich

MACEDONIAN PARLIAMENT ON EARLY ELECTIONS, U.S. TROOPS. The Sobranie on 4 June ruled that it is not competent to decide on a petition drive for early elections, Nova Makedonija reported. The majority decided that while the parliament can dissolve itself, it cannot initiate a referendum on early elections. A petition carrying more than 170,000 valid signatures and demanding early elections was submitted to the parliament earlier this year. The parliament also ratified an agreement with the U.S. providing for the presence of U.S. troops in Macedonia if UNPREDEP is scaled down or its mission terminated, AFP reported. The accord also defines rules for participation of U.S. and other troops in military exercises in Macedonia under the Partnership for Peace program and provides for training of Macedonian officers in the U.S. -- Stefan Krause

U.S. CONGRESS URGED TO APPROVE MFN STATUS FOR ROMANIA. Senior U.S. government officials have urged the Congress to approve legislation granting Romania permanent "most favored nation" (MFN) trade status, an RFE/RL correspondent reported on 4 June. Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley said Romania is the only U.S. trading partner that has acceded to the World Trade Organization and has conditional MFN status, Reuters reported. Romania's preferential treatment has to be approved each year following a review of its compliance with international human rights accords. U.S. State Department official Marshall Adair also spoke in favor of extending the MFN status clause indefinitely. However, Republican Congressman David Funderburk, a former U.S. ambassador to Bucharest, expressed reservations about awarding MFN status to Romania on a permanent basis before national elections set for this fall. MFN gives a nation's exports to the U.S. non-discriminatory tariff treatment. -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT ACKNOWLEDGES DEFEAT. Zhelyu Zhelev on 4 June accepted the result of the 1 June primary elections and said he will not run in the upcoming presidential elections, Reuters reported. He said he will support the winner, Petar Stoyanov of the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) "so that Bulgaria will again have a democratic president." Earlier that day, the leaders of the SDS, the People's Union (NS), and the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom (DPS) formally approved Stoyanov as their common presidential candidate. Ivaylo Trifonov, the director of Zhelev's presidential chancellery, and Yulia Gurkovska, the head of his cabinet, resigned because of Zhelev's bad showing in the primary. Meanwhile, the DPS and the Bulgarian Business Bloc announced they will support the no-confidence motion in the Socialist government initiated by the SDS and the NS. The big trade unions also voiced their support. -- Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN POLICE PREVENT OPPOSITION PROTESTS. After the government banned public demonstrations in Tirana on 4 June saying former secret police officers and Socialist Party (PS) leaders "planned to cause trouble," massive police forces prevented opposition supporters from gathering outside the PS headquarters, Western media reported. Some 200 people managed to gather near the building, which was encircled by two lines of special police forces, while the rest were pushed away. Police vans also blocked Skanderbeg Square, the scene of violent clashes between protesters and police one week earlier. Meanwhile, 76 leading PS members ended their hunger strike over alleged manipulations of the parliamentary elections, saying the strike had achieved its main goal of denouncing President Sali Berisha and his Democratic Party. They hope their move will calm political tension and open a dialogue with the Democrats. -- Stefan Krause

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Deborah Michaels
News and information as of 1200 CET


Copyright (c) 1996, Open Media Research Institute. All rights reserved.
ISSN 1211-1570


[English] [Russian TRANS | KOI8 | ALT | WIN | MAC | ISO5]

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