|Absence makes the heart grow fonder. -|
No. 110, Part II, 6 June 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 UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ON NATO. Leonid Kuchma told the Assembly of the Western European Union (WEU) in Paris that Ukraine is not opposed to NATO's gradual expansion but is against the deployment of nuclear weapons in neighboring countries that might join the alliance, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 June. Kuchma reiterated that Ukraine's neutral status precludes it from joining any alliances but said that Ukraine should have the right to join any "military-political structure that seeks to become an element of European and trans-Atlantic security." He added that Ukraine will seek associate membership in the WEU and develop ties with the EU. -- Ustina Markus ADMINISTRATION REACTS TO VOTE ON DRAFT UKRAINIAN CONSTITUTION. President Leonid Kuchma's Chief of Staff Dmytro Tabachnyk hailed the Ukrainian legislature's initial approval on 4 June of a draft post-Soviet constitution as a victory for reformist forces in Ukraine, Ukrainian TV reported on 5 June. Tabachnyk said the vote in favor of the draft revealed the beginnings of the formation of a constructive centrist and center-right wing majority in the 450-seat parliament. He said the failure of leftist forces to obstruct the vote showed that the Communists and Socialists were clearly a minority, not only numerically but intellectually. However, the official said he fears the draft will not garner the two-thirds majority vote it requires for adoption and a national referendum may be needed to pass the new constitution. -- Chrystyna Lapychak ESTONIA ALLOWS SECOND POLLING PLACE IN TALLINN FOR RUSSIAN ELECTIONS. The Estonian Foreign Ministry granted permission to Russia to open an additional polling station in the Tallinn suburb of Pirita for the upcoming Russian presidential elections, BNS reported on 5 June. Permission was allegedly given because of room shortage in the embassy, which is being refurbished. The ministry said other polling stations could be opened in addition to the consulates in Narva and Tartu if Russia gives Estonia a list of its citizens residing in Estonia, estimated to number more than 90,000. The Russian Foreign Ministry has refused to do so but said it might protest to the Council of Europe that the lack of sufficient polling places violates the human rights of its citizens in Estonia. In December 1995 about 15,500 of the estimated 82,000 Russian citizens voted in the Russian Duma elections. -- Saulius Girnius HIGH-LEVEL CHINESE DELEGATION VISITS BALTIC STATES. A delegation of top Chinese government officials and businessmen, headed by National Council Vice Chairman Li Lanqing, flew to Vilnius from Palanga on 3 June, BNS reported. The delegation visited Klaipeda and the resorts of Juodkrante and Nida. Li Lanqing met with Foreign Minister Povilas Gylys, Prime Minister Mindaugas Stankevicius, and Seimas Chairman Ceslovas Jursenas and signed a series of cooperation documents, including one on foreign trade and economic cooperation. On 4 June the delegation visited Kaunas and Tallinn. The next day it met with President Lennart Meri, Prime Minister Tiit Vahi, and other high officials to discuss ways to build closer ties. On 6 June the delegation will be in Riga for a similar three-day visit. -- Saulius Girnius ITALIAN PRESIDENT IN POLAND. Oscar Luigi Scalfaro arrived in Poland on 5 June for a five-day official visit. After meeting with Aleksander Kwasniewski, his Polish counterpart, Scalfaro said that Poland's efforts to join NATO and the EU have full Italian backing. During his meeting with Kwasniewski, Scalfaro stressed the importance of having a secular state but one based on Christian values. Kwasniewski praised cultural ties and economic cooperation between the two countries. Italy ranks among Poland's top five foreign investors. Scalfaro will travel on 7 June to the southeastern city of Lancut for a two-day meeting of Central European presidents. -- Jakub Karpinski TALKS ON FORMING CZECH GOVERNMENT CONTINUE. President Vaclav Havel met with the leaders of the three right-of-center coalition parties and the Social Democratic Party (CSSD) on 5 June to discuss ways of forming a government. Although no agreement was reached, Czech media reported that the Social Democrats might support a minority government led by current Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus in exchange for posts in the leadership of the Czech parliament. CSSD chairman Milos Zeman said he might back a minority government if it agrees, among other things, to changes in the housing, health care, and educational policies. -- Jiri Pehe SLOVAK COALITION PROBLEMS RESOLVED? Slovak National Party chairman Jan Slota told Slovak Radio that coalition talks held on 5 June between his party and the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, represented by Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, were "successful." The parties agreed to expand the parliamentary body that oversees the Slovak Information Service. Talks will continue next week on other issues. Slota claimed that Jan Luptak, chairman of the Association of Workers of Slovakia, was unable to attend the meeting because he was "ill at home;" however, speaking on Slovak Radio just after Slota, Luptak complained that no one told him about the talks. Expressing opposition to the privatization of financial institutions and criticizing the recent privatization of the Piestany spa, Luptak said, "I think some politicians or deputies are more interested in privatization than... in social and economic developments." Despite the controversies, Luptak said he does not believe the coalition will fall apart. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK PRESIDENT VETOES FOUNDATIONS LAW. Michal Kovac on 5 June returned the law on foundations to the parliament for reconsideration, Slovak media reported. The president said the bill, passed on 22 May, is restrictive and "does not correspond to the position of foundations in a democratic society." He noted that it insufficiently respects the self- administrative principles of foundation activities and narrows the broad spectrum of foundations into a single type. Kovac requested that the relevant European legislation be respected when the new law is drafted, and he recommended that the foundations law be discussed alongside other laws on non-profit organizations. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARY'S WELFARE SYSTEM ON THE VERGE OF COLLAPSE. The Hungarian system of health care financing could soon collapse under a sizable debt burden, Hungarian radio reported on 4 June. By the end of the year, the health insurance deficit could be significantly higher than the 1.5 billion forints ($10 million) set out by the parliament. The overdraft accumulated in the first four months of 1996 has already reached some 8 billion forints. Pension funds face the same dilemma. This indicates that the social insurance deficit, which was to be reduced by two-thirds by end 1996, will be far from meeting government and IMF expectations. Meanwhile, after increasing opposition in the parliament, the Welfare Ministry decided to postpone until November the government's recent decision to reduce the number of hospital beds by 10%, Hungarian dailies reported on 6 June. The move has temporarily eased tensions but offers no relief for the health care sector's financial situation. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE MASS GRAVE FOUND NEAR SREBRENICA. UN investigators on 5 June dug out a small "test trench" at Nova Kasaba that revealed at least six corpses, with more more certainly nearby. The entire mass grave site may contain up to 2,700 mainly Muslim males murdered by the Serbs after the fall of Srebrenica last July, Reuters reported. U.S. satellite photos, survivors' testimonies, and journalists' accounts had suggested that a huge grave was located in the peaceful valley. The Serbs maintain that any Muslims buried in the area were soldiers killed in battle, but the latest excavations reveal civilian clothing and skeletons with their hands tied behind their backs. Meanwhile in Jajce, the body count in the mass grave of mainly women recently discovered there is now 63, Onasa reported. Finally, the remains of 20 Muslims gunned down by the Serbs in June 1992 were unearthed in Jesevo, northwest of Sarajevo, AFP noted. -- Patrick Moore SERBS CONTINUE TO HARASS CROSS-BORDER BUS LINE. Bosnian Serb police in Lukavica have created "certain problems" for a bus line linking that Serb-held Sarajevo suburb with the rest of the city, UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski said on 5 June. Serb policemen told the bus driver: "Do not play with your lives. We will pick you off the bus tomorrow," Onasa reported. The UN is now considering bringing in foreign drivers, as is already done on the Banja Luka-Zenica line where Danes drive buses with Danish license plates. Bosnian Serb authorities seem determined to block the few bus routes connecting the Republika Srpska with the Croat-Muslim Federation (see OMRI Special Report, 4 June 1996). Freedom of movement and the unity of all Bosnia-Herzegovina are two key principles of the Dayton agreement. -- Patrick Moore NEW INCIDENTS IN MOSTAR. During the past several days, Muslim-Croatian tensions flared in Mostar, Oslobodjenje reported on 6 June. Croatian police arrested three Muslims and in retaliation, fellow Muslims blocked the main Revolution Boulevard, which is the demarcation line between the city's Muslim and Croatian communities. The Muslims then dragged two Croats out of their cars, taking them hostage. After the EU police intervened, both the detained Muslims and Croats were released. Head of the EU police Piter Lambrehtce on 5 June denied that the Muslim military police attacked a Croatian policeman inside the joint police forces' headquarters, Oslobodjenje reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic SERBS START DEMOBILIZING IN EASTERN SLAVONIA. In Eastern Slavonia, which is due to be returned to the Croatian government within two years, Serbs have started to demobilize their soldiers, AFP reported on 6 June. A UN spokesman said Gen. Dusan Loncar, the commander of the Serb forces in the territory, gave the order and demobilization will be completed in 10 days. Then, the 5,000 Serbs will also hand over their barracks and training areas to the UN transitional administration. Meanwhile, Milan Djukic, a Serb deputy in the Croatian parliament, sent an open letter to Croatian President Franjo Tudjman in which he wrote that this is the most difficult time in history for Serbs in Croatia and asked the Croatian president not to spread the hatred, Novi List reported on 6 June. -- Daria Sito Sucic UN WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL CHIEF VISITS BELGRADE. During his visit to rump Yugoslavia, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia Antonio Cassese failed to win a commitment from the Belgrade authorities that they would pass a law on the extradition of war criminals. Following 5 June meetings with Radovan Bozovic, speaker of the federal parliament, Cassese said that "this [failure to adopt legislation] is a blatant violation not only of the Dayton agreement but also of two UN Security Council resolutions." For its part, Belgrade defended its lack of compliance with Dayton by arguing that "the Yugoslav criminal code is in keeping with international law and regulates the issues of extradition of war crime suspects in an adequate way," Tanjug reported. -- Stan Markotich U.S OFFICIAL OPENS INFORMATION CENTER IN KOSOVO. U.S Deputy Secretary of State John Kornblum presided over the opening of a U.S. Information Center in Kosovo on 5 June, Nasa Borba reported the next day. Aleksa Jokic and Milos Nesovic, representatives of the Serbian authorities in the predominantly ethnic Albanian province, and Kosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova also attended. Reuters reported that while the center is not to have any official diplomatic role, Kornblum said it could play a part in resolving ethnic tensions in the region. "We believe that by allowing access to many new kinds of information resources and by providing a center as a meeting place...we will be able to contribute to the foundations for a democratic future," he said. Washington has made improvement in the human rights situation in Kosovo a precondition to the formal recognition of rump Yugoslavia. -- Stan Markotich SLOVENIA'S GOVERNING COALITION TO CONTINUE. The coalition agreement uniting the Liberal Democratic party (LDS) and the Christian Democratic Party (SKD) was to have come to an end formally on 4 June, but on 5 June the SKD said it would stay on in accordance with the terms of the current coalition arrangement until December elections. In a statement reported by Radio Slovenija on 29 May, LDS Secretary General Gregor Golobic said that terminating the agreement would amount only to "formalizing relations to date" between the two parties. Ties appeared to have reached their all-time low on 16 May when the SKD backed a no- confidence motion against LDS Foreign Minister Zoran Thaler. Golobic also said the LDS and SKD will continue to cooperate on some basis, enabling the government to continue working. He discounted "rumors" of an upcoming vote of no-confidence in Drnovsek. -- Stan Markotich MACEDONIA, SLOVENIA TO BOOST COOPERATION. During a visit of Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek to Skopje on 5 June both sides agree that the "excellent political relations must be followed by increased economic cooperation," Nova Makedonija reported. Drnovsek and his Macedonian counterpart, Branko Crvenkovski, signed an agreement on mutual protection of investments and announced that an agreement on free trade will be signed in July. Drnovsek and Crvenkovski stressed their identical views on the issue of the succession of the former Yugoslavia and both said their countries wish to join the EU and NATO. -- Stefan Krause ROMANIA SETS DEADLINE FOR PRESIDENTIAL AND GENERAL ELECTIONS. The government on 5 June announced that presidential and general elections will be held in Romania on 3 November, local media reported. The announcement came after a meeting with leaders of the parliamentary parties. In order to avoid the delay that might have resulted from amending the electoral law, the parliamentary "hurdle" will remain at 3%, instead of a proposed 5-7%. Candidacies for the presidency will, as in 1992, require the backing of 100,000 supporters. In a related matter, it was announced that the final returns of the 2 June local elections will be made public on 7 June only. -- Dan Ionescu FORMER MOLDOVAN COMMUNIST BOSS VISITS GAGAUZ REGION. Ivan Bodiul, who was First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic in the 1960s, paid an unofficial visit to Comrat, the capital of Moldova's autonomous Gagauz region, BASA-press reported on 5 June. Bodiul met with Gagauz Governor Georgii Tabunshchik and other local officials. He expressed satisfaction about the way the Gagauz issue was eventually settled through the setting up of an autonomous region within the framework of the Moldovan state. The 78-year-old Bodiul, who currently lives in Moscow, had talks with the Dniester separatist leaders in Tiraspol on 31 May. Some media in Chisinau have speculated that Bodiul might run as a presidential candidate in the next Moldovan elections to take place in November. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIAN SOCIALIST PARTY LEADERSHIP TO RESIGN? Prime Minister and BSP Chairman Zhan Videnov proposed that the BSP Deputy chairmen and the Executive Bureau tender their collective resignation to the party's Supreme Council on 8 June, Standart and Duma reported. Most of the Executive Bureau's members agreed to this move. The last party plenum on 31 May obliged Videnov to make changes in the government and the party leadership by 8 June. New people are expected to be elected to the BSP top level and changes in the government approved. According to 24 chasa, Minister of Economic Development Rumen Gechev, Industry Minister Kliment Vuchev, Finance Minister Dimitar Kostov, and Agriculture Minister Svetoslav Shivarov will be replaced. However, Shivarov and Gechev will keep their deputy prime minister posts. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN TV BOSS TO BE SACKED. The parliamentary Commission for Radio, TV, and the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency on 5 June adopted a proposal of its Socialist majority recommending that the parliament dismiss National TV Director-General Ivan Granitski, Trud and Reuters reported. Granitski, whom the Socialists voted in less than a year ago, was accused of having allowed professional and economic problems to build up at the state TV. The commission ruled that Granitski had undermined the prestige of the parliament and other state institutions and shown "disrespect for political forces." The opposition abstained and demanded that a vote on Granitski's dismissal be postponed until all parties discussed the issue. Valeri Zapryanov and Stefan Stoev, the directors of the state TV's two channels, News Director Pencho Kovachev, and other top TV managers resigned in protest over the commission's vote. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN ELECTION UPDATE. During a visit to Brussels on 5 June, leaders of the Socialists, Social Democrats, Democratic Alliance, and the Party of the Democratic Right tried to muster support from the EU, Western media reported. They said opposition to President Sali Berisha and his Democratic Party was "not a question of Left and Right but...of democracy versus dictatorship" and demanded that the parliamentary elections be reheld. Representatives of the Belgian Socialists and the German Social Democrats supported this demand. The EU Commission also stepped up pressure on the Albanian government to repeat the elections in districts where international monitors reported irregularities. EU Commission President Jacques Santer and Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini canceled a visit to Tirana. Meanwhile, the Socialists and Democrats said they are ready to start a dialogue. On 4 June, protests continued in Permet, Saranda, and Tepelena, but no incidents were reported. -- Stefan Krause [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Deborah Michaels ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ SUBSCRIBING/UNSUBSCRIBING 1) Compose a message to LISTSERV@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU 2) To subscribe, write: SUBSCRIBE OMRI-L FirstName LastName (include your own name) To unsubscribe, write: UNSUBSCRIBE OMRI-L 3) Send the message REPRINT POLICY To receive a copy of OMRI's reprint policy, contact OMRIPUB@OMRI.CZ or see the Web page at http://www.omri.cz/Publications/Digests/DigestReprint.html OTHER OMRI PUBLICATIONS TRANSITION OMRI publishes the biweekly journal TRANSITION, which contains expanded analysis of many of the topics in the Daily Digest. 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