|Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson|
No. 111, Part II, 7 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 FINANCIAL PROBLEMS WITH CHORNOBYL CLOSURE. After meeting with G-7 representatives for two days in Kyiv, Ukrainian Environment Minister Yurii Kostenko announced that the government might have to reconsider its plans to close the Chornobyl plant due to lack of financing, international agencies reported on 6 June. Kostenko said Ukraine needs $840 million immediately to finish constructing two reactors at the Khmelnytsky and Rivne power stations to make up for the loss of energy should Chornobyl be shut down. In December 1995, the G-7 agreed to a $3.1 billion aid package for the closure but did not decide on a specific timetable for the release of the funds. Head of the G-7 delegation Claude Mandil said some agreements were reached during talks, including a more specific plan on distributing over 10 years $1.4 billion for the closure and a $170 million grant for building storage and processing facilities. -- Ustina Markus UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT SETS UP STATE COAL RESERVE. The Ukrainian government has allocated 6 trillion karbovantsi ($32 million) to set up by 15 September a 5.5-million-ton state coal reserve at the country's power stations, UNIAN reported on 5 June as monitored by the BBC. The cabinet has also approved providing state guarantees for commercial bank loans worth 17 trillion karbovantsi to buy Ukrainian-made supplies and machinery for the coal sector. It is also planning further state support for coal enterprises that produce chiefly for the Ukrainian market. -- Chrystyna Lapychak CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES AMBITIOUS ECONOMIC PLAN. Crimean lawmakers have approved an ambitious regional government plan for the social and economic development of the peninsula, UNIAR reported on 5 June, as monitored by the BBC. The plan forecasts a 1.4% rise in industrial output and a 22.7% jump in agricultural production by next year. It also predicts a 56% increase in wages and a doubling in pension benefits. The scheme calls for increased oil and gas production through the development of oil and gas wells at the Shtormovoye and Semenovskoye deposits in the region. It also forecasts a recovery in the troubled Crimean tourism industry, with 3.5 million visitors expected this year compared to 2.5 million in 1995. Crimean officials believe the pace of privatization will speed up when the region's some 600 coveted health resorts and chief industries go up for sale in the near future. -- Chrystyna Lapychak ESTONIA LAYS FOUNDATION FOR EU INTEGRATION. The Estonian government on 6 June approved the country's EU integration plan, which states the accession will take place no sooner than 2001 or 2002, ETA reported. Director of the European Integration Bureau Riivo Snijarv noted that for Estonia EU membership will mean access to a market of 380 million consumers. A poll by the Estonian Market Research AS indicated that Estonians are well informed about EU policies and 72% would participate in a referendum on joining the EU, with 47% voting for the integration and 24% voting against it. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIA'S LITIMPEKS BANK ALLOWED TO RESUME ALL OPERATIONS. The board of the Bank of Lithuania on 6 June decided to allow Litimpeks Bank to resume all operations from 10 June, Radio Lithuania reported. The Litimpeks Bank's board is to be elected on 7 June, with its former leader Gintautas Preidys as one of its candidates. The suspension of the activities of Litimpeks and the Joint Stock Innovation Bank in December 1995 resulted in a serious banking crises from which Lithuania is still recovering. Lithuania currently has 27 banks of which nine are facing bankruptcy proceedings and only 11 are fully operational. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH CATHOLIC LEADERS SPEAK OUT ON SOCIAL ISSUES. At a procession in Warsaw of some 15,000 Poles celebrating Corpus Christi, Primate Jozef Glemp stressed the right to life of the unborn and the need to ratify a concordat that would clarify church-state relations, Rzeczpospolita reported on 7 June. Glemp said the family is being degraded by the Polish law, media, and economic conditions. He criticized feminist movements saying they aim to abolish marriage and consequently, the happiness of women. Cracow's Cardinal Jozef Macharski also called for the rejection of nationalism and intolerance. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz EURO-JEWISH CONGRESS CRITICIZES POLISH ANTI-SEMITES. The European Jewish Congress (EJC) on 6 June said that a car explosion on 4 June near a Jewish restaurant in Warsaw is the latest in a series of anti-Semitic acts in Poland over last few weeks. The blast shattered windows but caused no casualties. The EJC linked the attack to anti-Semitic statements made by Edward Moskal, the leader of Americans of Polish origin, and to the resumed construction of a shopping center just outside the Auschwitz death camp (see OMRI Daily Digest, 4 June 1996). Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski had ordered police to stop the construction at Auschwitz and the Warsaw government had agreed that the project is inappropriate. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz CZECH PRESIDENT ASKS INCUMBENT PRIME MINISTER TO FORM GOVERNMENT. Vaclav Havel on 6 May designated Vaclav Klaus to form a minority government and on 7 May called the first session of the new parliament for 17 June, Czech media reported. Klaus's Civic Democratic Party won the 31 May-1 June elections, but the Klaus-led coalition of right-of-center parties failed to win a parliamentary majority. The opposition Social Democrats (CSSD) have indicated they will support a minority government in exchange for posts in the leadership of the parliament, including that of the parliament's chairman. They are also demanding that the coalition alter its social, housing, and education policies to reflect the CSSD's objectives. Most Czech analysts agree that forming a coalition government that complies with the CSSD's demands will be difficult and that such a government may be only a temporary solution until new elections can be called. -- Jiri Pehe FORMER ROMANI REPRESENTATIVE TO RUN FOR SENATE. Ladislav Body, who had been the only Romani representative in the Czech parliament but whose Left Bloc party was unsuccessful in last week's parliamentary elections, told TASR on 6 June that he will run for the Senate in November. While he voiced approval of the state's recent amendment to its citizenship law, he also emphasized the need for Romani political representation. -- Alaina Lemon SLOVAK OPPOSITION FIGURE INTERPRETS COALITION CONFLICT. Milan Knazko of the Democratic Union on 6 June accused the Slovak National Party (SNS) of blackmailing Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar in an attempt to gain a bigger share in privatization, Slovak media reported. SNS chairman Jan Slota's request that the parliamentary organ overseeing the Slovak Information Service (SIS) be expanded to include opposition representatives is "only propaganda," Knazko stressed, adding that Slota knows this would allow the opposition to determine SIS involvement in the kidnapping of the president's son. Recent management changes at the state insurance firm Slovenska poistovna sparked the SNS's rebellion. However, Sergej Kozlik, Finance Minister and Meciar's ally, told TASR on 6 June that the new leadership was legally elected. Kozlik criticized National Property Fund Presidium President Stefan Gavornik, claiming that instead of dealing with the insurance firm's problems, Gavornik took the position of a "dead beetle." -- Sharon Fisher PARLIAMENTARY DEBATE ON HUNGARY'S NEW CONSTITUTION ENDS. The parliament on 6 June ended a month-long general debate on the new draft constitution, Hungarian dailies reported. The final draft was prepared by an all parliamentary party committee and then presented in late March. The coalition parties--the Socialists and Free Democrats--would like to complete the final text of the constitution by December and push the bill through this year. Meanwhile, some opposition parties suggested that only amendments be made to the current constitution and the drafting of a new constitution be postponed until after the 1998 elections. The opposition Smallholders' Party rejected the draft constitution and recommended that both the plan and the final version be approved by a referendum, arguing that society was not given the time and opportunity to familiarize itself with the concept. The coalition politicians rejected this argument and pointed out that the full text of the draft was published in the daily press in June 1995. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE NATO VEHICLES SURROUND KARADZIC'S HOUSE. NATO troops have stepped up their psychological campaign against the Bosnian Serb leadership, which recently included the reported use of helicopters to chase Col. Slavko Aleksic near Sarajevo. Three armored personnel carriers were deployed around the home of indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic in Pale and pointed their barrels at it, Onasa reported on 6 June. The vehicles left the scene after a group of civilians gathered between the house and the armored vehicles. IFOR has also stepped up patrols in the Bosnian Serb capital. Meanwhile in Washington, the Pentagon announced on 6 June that Vice Adm. T. Joseph Lopez will replace Adm. Leighton Smith as NATO commander in southern Europe and in Bosnia this summer. Spokesmen stressed that the move reflects normal rotations of personnel and has nothing to do with policy, AFP noted. -- Patrick Moore HAGUE COURT WANTS SANCTIONS AGAINST PALE AND BELGRADE. Antonio Cassese, the head of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, told a news conference in Sarajevo on 6 June that the court wants the international community's High Representative Carl Bildt to implement sanctions against the Republika Srpska. He said he will formally launch the proposal at the upcoming international summit on Bosnia-Herzegovina in Florence. Cassese added that he "probably" will also ask for sanctions to be reimposed on rump Yugoslavia, Onasa and Nasa Borba noted. He stressed that neither Serb state is properly cooperating with the court as the Dayton agreement obliges them to do. He told Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic that the Bosnian government is the only one in the former Yugoslavia that is meeting its obligations to cooperate. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN UPDATE. Delegations representing rump Yugoslavia, Croatia, the Bosnian Federation, the Republika Srpska, and the Bosnian government met a midnight deadline to complete an arms limitation agreement in Vienna on 6 June, AFP reported. The Norwegian OSCE mediator said that the 90- page basic text has been written and only a few details remain to be ironed out. Such an agreement is specified in the Dayton treaty and will take effect after being signed in Oslo on 11 June. Meanwhile in Bosnia, representatives of Serbs loyal to the Bosnian government and to a multi- ethnic Bosnia strongly protested discrimination against Serbs on federal territory, particularly in the Sarajevo suburbs, Nasa Borba and Oslobodjenje noted on 7 June. Elsewhere, a cross-border bus between Banja Luka and Zenica completed its journey on 6 June after a "short dispute" with Bosnian Serb police who had stopped it, Onasa said. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN FEDERAL ASSEMBLY ADOPTS 21 AMENDMENTS. The federal assembly at its constitutional session on 5 June adopted 21 amendments to the constitution, Onasa reported. This followed complaints from federal President Kresimir Zubak that the laws adopted by the Bosnian Republic Assembly were illegitimate. However, no agreement was reached on the amendments relating to the federation's defense, customs service, diplomatic-consular missions, and the Sarajevo city organization. The biggest controversy is over a defense bill intended to integrate the Croatian and Muslim armies within three years. Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic emphasized that the two parties still have separate armies and "unfortunately they cannot be eliminated by the stroke of a pen," Reuters reported on 6 June. -- Daria Sito Sucic RUMP YUGOSLAVIA TO OPEN CONSULATE IN CROATIA. Rump Yugoslavia's Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 6 June that the Yugoslav government bureau in Zagreb will start to function as a consulate from 15 June, Nasa Borba reported the next day. The consulate will be in charge of protecting rump Yugoslavia's interests in Croatia. The office will also issue passports and visas. In another development, Eastern Slavonian Serbs asked the UN to extend the mandate for its transitional authority (UNTAES) by one year, AFP reported on 6 June. Croatian Serbs also decided to form a 15-member "expert council" to hold talks with Croatia on the future status of the region. Eastern Slavonia is slated to be returned to the Croatian government, while under the Dayton peace accords UNTAES has a 12-month mandate, which can be extended by an additional year, to insure the peaceful transition of the territory. -- Daria Sito Sucic RELEASED SERBIAN PRISONERS ARRIVE IN RUMP YUGOSLAVIA. Sixty of 78 ethnic Serbian prisoners freed by Croatia in accordance with an amnesty that Croatian President Franjo Tudjman announced at the end of May arrived in rump Yugoslavia on 6 June, having been transported by the International Committee of the Red Cross, Nasa Borba reported the next day. All 78 were arrested during Croatia's August 1995 Operation Storm mission to reclaim territory held by Serbian rebel forces. The prisoners were charged for their roles in the 1991 Krajina Serb uprising against Croatia. All received pardons on 30 May, and 18 decided to stay in Croatia, Reuters reported on 6 June. -- Stan Markotich MOLDOVA PROTESTS CHANGE IN RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPING FORCES. Senior Moldovan officials protested Russia's decision to transfer a battalion belonging to its troops based in eastern Moldova to the peacekeeping forces in that region, Moldovan news agencies reported on 6 June. The move took place on 30 May when more than 200 military and dozens of armored vehicles were dispatched to the town of Tighina (Bendery) to join the peacekeeping forces there. Victor Cecan, Moldova's representative on the Joint Control Commission, said that the decision is in violation of a July 1992 Moldovan-Russian convention on the settlement of the Dniester conflict that provided for the strict neutrality of the former 14th Russian Army. Moldova wants Russia to withdraw this army, re-named Operational Group last summer. The Russian military attache in Chisinau claimed that the move was "due to purely financial reasons." -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIAN AGRICULTURE MINISTER RESIGNS. Svetoslav Shivarov on 6 June announced his resignation as agriculture minister. The leadership of the Bulgarian Agrarian People's Union "Aleksandar Stamboliyski" approved his decision, Demokratsiya reported. Shivarov, who took over the Agriculture Ministry only on 23 January, did not resign his post as deputy premier. He had been widely criticized for his failure to deal with the ongoing grain and bread shortage and was named as one of the most likely victims of the cabinet reshuffle expected next week. The plenary meeting of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) Supreme Council on 8 June is expected to approve changes in the government and the BSP Executive Bureau. Prime Minister Zhan Videnov's economic advisor Ivan Angelov also resigned, Duma reported. Meanwhile in Standart, Executive Bureau member Vladimir Topencharov said the government might fall in two or three months if the situation does not change. -- Stefan Krause BULGARIAN ROUNDUP. The parliament on 7 June dismissed Bulgarian National TV Director-General Ivan Granitski, Bulgarian media reported. The opposition boycotted the vote. The parliamentary commission overseeing the state media had proposed Granitski's dismissal on 5 June (see OMRI Daily Digest, 6 June 1996), but a vote on 6 June failed after the opposition walked out and the necessary quorum of 120 lawmakers was not met. In other news, thousands of people protested against the government's economic and social politics in Sofia on 6 June, Reuters reported. They called for the government's resignation and shouted "we are hungry." Hundreds of thousands went on a nationwide one-hour warning strike. Also on 6 June, Amnesty International released a report accusing Bulgaria of police brutality and the death of prisoners "on a large scale." Meanwhile, Interior Minister Nikolay Dobrev asked the parliament to lift a moratorium on the death penalty adopted in 1990. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN INTERIOR MINISTER SACKS POLICE CHIEFS. The Interior Ministry on 6 June sacked seven police chiefs for violently crushing an opposition rally in Tirana on 28 May, Reuters reported. The police had beaten with batons senior opposition leaders and parliamentary candidates protesting alleged manipulations in the 26 May parliamentary elections. The police injured a number of people, including journalists, and temporarily detained opposition politicians. Those sacked include a colonel and a deputy colonel, who are vice-directors in the Interior Ministry, and five senior Tirana police officers. The Socialist Party has filed suits against the secret service and the police in connection with the incidents. The police has banned opposition demonstrations from central Skanderbeg Square and prevented an opposition rally on 4 June, but the Socialists have called for another one on 8 June. -- Fabian Schmidt WASHINGTON CALLS FOR NEW ELECTIONS IN ALBANIA. U.S. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said that Albania's offer to partially repeat the Albanian elections is not good enough and that the election should be redone in more areas, AFP reported on 6 June. He added that fraud was widespread in the ballot and is quoted as saying that "further U.S. actions will depend upon the response of the Albanian government to our proposals." The Albanian government has offered re-elections in four constituencies. Meanwhile, the Socialist Party said that it wants re- elections in at least 107 election districts out of a total 115. An earlier U.S. State Department statement on 1 June called the vote "a significant step backward" from previous parliamentary elections in 1992 that "cast a shadow on the prospects for democratic progress in Albania," Reuters reported. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Deborah Michaels ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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