|The only thing one knows about human nature is that it changes. - Oscar Wilde|
No. 112, Part II, 10 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 CENTRAL EUROPEAN PRESIDENTS MEET IN LANCUT, POLAND. The presidents of Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine met in Lancut, southeastern Poland, on 7-8 June to discuss European integration. Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski said expanding the EU and NATO should be a natural move crowning the integration process that started after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, specially invited to the meeting by Kwasniewski, stressed that a new European security system should not exclude Russia. The meeting was the fourth of its kind; the first one was in July 1993, in Salzburg, and the next will take place in Slovenia in 1997. -- Jakub Karpinski BREAKAWAY UKRAINIAN, BULGARIAN ORTHODOX CHURCHES RECOGNIZE EACH OTHER. Patriarch Filaret of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate and Metropolitan Inokentiy of Sofia from the breakaway Bulgarian Orthodox Church, announced on 8 June that the two breakaway churches have recognized each other, Radio Ukraine reported. The hierarchs took part in a special religious service at St. Volodymyr Cathedral in Kyiv. Neither church is recognized by any of the Orthodox ecumenical patriarchs. Meanwhile, Patriarch Maksim of the official Bulgarian Orthodox Church concluded a visit to Kyiv that featured meetings with Patriarch Volodymyr of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate and Deputy Prime Minister Ivan Kuras, Ukrainian TV reported on 7 June. -- Chrystyna Lapychak MORE NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT FUNDS PROMISED FOR BELARUS. The U.S. promised Belarus an additional $12.9 million in aid for strategic disarmament, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 June. The money raises the total sum allocated to Belarus under the Nunn-Lugar program to $28.9 million. It will be used to dismantle missile infrastructure and destroy liquid rocket fuel. In all, the U.S. has promised $123 million in aid to Belarus to eliminate nuclear weapons. Also on 7 June, the Belarusian parliament ratified an agreement with Russia on legal exchanges over issues related to the stationing of Russian strategic forces on Belarusian soil. Russian public television reported that 150 temporary barracks-- environmentally "clean" and radiation-free--have been handed over to Belarus. -- Ustina Markus ESTONIA'S FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO BE TRIED FOR ILLEGAL ARMS TRADING. The Prosecutor General's Office has endorsed formal criminal charges against the former chief of the Estonian army Central Staff Col. Arvo Sirel, BNS reported on 7 June. He is charged with negligence and faces a maximum term of one year in prison if found guilty. Sirel is accused of failing to exercise proper control over some of his staff's official purchases of weapons. Last fall Estonia bought 1,309 guns as well as ammunition from the Finnish company Ultramatic Oy. Some of the weaponry was then sold to private individuals on the premises of the Central Staff. -- Saulius Girnius LATVIA RANKS FIFTH IN CONVICTS PER CAPITA. Prison Department's Coordination Center head Vitolds Zahars said that Latvia with 357 convicts per 100,000 residents ranks fifth in the world in per capita prison population, BNS reported on 7 June. The four countries with higher rates are the U.S., Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. The maintenance of one prisoner costs Latvia 2.4 lati ($4.3) per day. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIAN BANKRUPT BANKS BEGIN PAYOFFS. Some of Lithuania's bankrupt banks have begun paying out compensations to their depositors, BNS reported. No bank complied with the 4 June deadline set by the government, but six of the nine were paying out compensations up to 4,000 litai ($1,000) to disabled people, single pensioners, and heirs of deceased depositors two days later. Compensations to other groups of depositors will begin on 6 August and 17 September. The three banks that are not paying compensations are the Lietuvos Verslas, Sekunde, and Nida, which are moving to new headquarters. -- Saulius Girnius GDANSK SHIPYARD GOES BANKRUPT. The Gdansk shipyard's shareholders voted on 8 June to stop the shipyard's activity, Polish dailies reported on 10 June. A motion to declare the company bankrupt will be deposited in court in two weeks. The shipyard, called the cradle of Solidarity, was the scene of the August 1980 strike that led to the creation of the Solidarity trade union, which had nearly 10 million members by 1981. The bankruptcy motion was approved by 79 percent of the shareholders, but small shareholders, comprising large numbers of company employees, were overwhelmingly opposed. The Polish state controls a 61 percent share in the shipyard. The bankruptcy motion cited a lack of financial resources to cover the company's debts for last year, totaling $31.7 million. A new company, the New Gdansk Shipyard, will be created for one year and will employ 3,000 people, half the current number of employees. -- Jakub Karpinski SLOVAK POLICE ON DEATH OF FORMER COLLEAGUE. Police Vice President Anton Manak claimed during a 9 June TV debate that investigations into the explosion of Robert Remias's car in April have shown that the cause was "clearly a technical defect." Remias, an ex-policeman, was a close friend of former Slovak Information Service agent Oskar F., who said he participated in the kidnapping of President Michal Kovac's son. Manak claimed that Remias did not have a "clean conscience; he moved in criminal surroundings and committed crimes." Meanwhile, the opposition has rejected such assertions and has claimed that Remias was the victim of "a political murder." Jozef Ciz, investigator of the Kovac Jr. kidnapping, said Remias told him that he was being followed; however, he rejected protection since he would not be able to meet Oskar F., who is hiding abroad. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK POLITICAL UPDATE. Meeting on 7 June, Slovak opposition parties called for representation on the bodies overseeing the Slovak Information Service, TV, radio, and the National Property Fund (FNM), TASR reported. Although his party did not attend the meeting, Party of the Democratic Left Chairman Jozef Migas said that if deciding between early elections and entrance into the current government, "we would choose early elections," Narodna obroda reported on 10 June. Slovak National Party chairman Jan Slota told Sme that his party--a junior coalition partner--wants to become "a mediatorŠbetween opposition and coalition parties with the aim of calming current tensions." Meanwhile, Olga Keltosova of the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia said her party hopes to win the 1998 elections so that "it will not need coalition partners." In other news, the opposition Democratic Union and the ethnic Hungarian Coexistence movement on 7 June gained full membership in Liberal International. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN PREMIER WOULD REINSTATE CAPITAL PUNISHMENT. Prime Minister Gyula Horn said during a weekend political forum that Hungarians should decide in a referendum whether to restore the death penalty, Hungarian dailies reported on 10 June. Horn added he would vote "yes" on such a referendum. The statement, clearly aiming to restore Horn's popularity among workers, surprised Justice Minister Pal Vastagh, who responded that a popular vote on the issue would not be possible without a ruling by Hungary's Constitutional Court. Restoration of the death penalty would violate several international agreements and cause Hungary to lose its membership in the Council of Europe, Vastagh added. Lawyers later commented that Hungarian law does not provide for referenda on issues regulated by international agreements. Public debate over the death penalty has intensified recently as crime and mafia operations have increased. -- Zsofia Szilagyi HUNGARY UNVEILS STATUE OF MARTYRED PREMIER. President Arpad Goncz on 6 June unveiled Hungary's first public statue of former Premier Imre Nagy, who led the 1956 uprising against the Soviets and was executed by collaborators after the uprising was crushed, Hungarian dailies reported. Thousands of spectators, including leading politicians, attended the ceremony, which marks the 100th anniversary of Nagy's birth. The life-size bronze statue was unveiled on Vertanuk [Martyrs'] Square in central Budapest, one of the bloodiest scenes of the uprising. Meanwhile, there is talk between Hungarian and Russian officials on possibly naming a Moscow street after Nagy. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SERBS TO RETURN TO MOSTAR? Leading officials of the Serbian Orthodox Church visited Mostar on 7 June and held a service in the ruined church building to launch its reconstruction, Onasa reported. Bishop Atanasije Jevtic thanked the Muslim mayor of eastern Mostar, Safet Orucevic, for everything going smoothly. The bishop said that his visit could mark the beginning of the return of Mostar's Serbs, most of whom live nearby in eastern Herzegovina. Jevtic added that the church does not have much influence on the Serbs, but he hoped that "reasonable people" would prevail. Oslobodjenje commented on 9 June, however, that the church has been a staunch backer of Serbian nationalism and has not sufficiently distanced itself from war crimes. -- Patrick Moore IZETBEGOVIC LINKS RETURN OF SERBS, MUSLIMS. President Alija Izetbegovic on 8 June addressed a rally to mark the capture of Zuc hill during the war. He linked the return of Serbs to Sarajevo with that of Muslims to their homes in eastern Bosnia. "We need our expelled citizens to return to their homes so that Bosnia can be Bosnia again. In order to have [Muslims] returning to Podrinje [the Drina valley] Serbs must return to Sarajevo too. Not Chetniks [Serb extremists], but Serbs. I can put this in the opposite order too. In order to have the Serbs returning to Sarajevo--something they have been asking for--the [Muslims] must return to Foca, Visegrad, Rogatica, Prijedor," AFP quoted him as saying. To date, few, if any, refugees have returned to their homes in territories under the control of another ethnic group. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN UPDATE. British UN peacekeepers testified to the international war crimes tribunal that they were tortured by Serb captors last year, the BBC reported on 9 June. In Vienna, the Bosnian government said it is working on a solution to the impasse that is blocking the signing of the arms control agreement, which is required by the Dayton agreement and was concluded last week. The Serbs insist on signing separately, while the government demands that they sign as part of the Bosnian delegation, AFP reported on 9 June. Dayton specifies that foreign relations are the responsibility of the national government, but the Serbs want to be treated as an independent state. -- Patrick Moore SERBIAN PRESIDENT QUESTIONS IMPARTIALITY OF WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL. Slobodan Milosevic, in an interview with Der Spiegel published on 10 June, responded to mounting international calls for his help in apprehending accused war criminals by questioning the impartiality of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Reuters on 8 June quoted him as saying: "I do not believe that this tribunal is an institution for defamation, but it is completely clear from its public conduct up to now that it is a political and not a legal institution....Justice can only be done when the same standards apply for all. Unfortunately, the work of the tribunal in The Hague has until now offered no basis for such an impression." -- Stan Markotich AGREEMENT BETWEEN CROATIAN RULING PARTY AND OPPOSITION? Negotiations began between the ruling Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) and the opposition Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS), Croatian media reported over the weekend. The HSLS presented on 9 June a list of their requests, including a change in the constitution concerning the powers of the parliament, government, and president, Slobodna Dalmacija reported on 10 June. HSLS also requests a fulfillment of commitments towards the Council of Europe, some short-term and momentary measures, and changes in media policy and staff. Leaders from other parties expressed disappointment that they were not informed of the negotiations. -- Daria Sito Sucic CROAT WAR CRIMES SUSPECT ARRESTED. Croatian police on 8 June arrested Zlatko Aleksovski, who has been indicted by the International War Crimes Tribunal for former Yugoslavia for allegedly participating in a massacre of Muslims in the Bosnian village of Ahmici in November 1993, AFP reported. The Croatian Justice Ministry said Aleksovski would be "treated in accordance with Croatian law and with the war crimes tribunal's demand for extradition." Aleksovski is kept in custody in the Croatian port town of Slit and will be dealt with according to the amended law which allows the extradition to The Hague of those wanted for war crimes. -- Daria Sito Sucic ROMANIAN ELECTORAL UPDATE. Results of local elections held on 2 June do not provide conclusive evidence as to what is likely to happen in the parliamentary elections scheduled for 3 November. The main coalition formation, the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) won most of the votes for mayor (21.8%) and was first in the ballot for local councils (19.1%). But in the ballot for county councils, considered a more accurate gauge of electoral trends at national level, the opposition Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR) scored higher (17.8%) than the PDSR (16.9%). An alliance of the democratic opposition headed by the CDR would, according to these results, have a larger share of the vote (43.4%) than the PDSR and its prospective allies in the already disbanded "red quadrangle" coalition (31,8%). Meanwhile, President Ion Iliescu has given his approval to the PDSR to start gathering the necessary 100,000 signatures of support for his candidacy for president, although he has not officially announced that he will run, Radio Bucharest reported on 8 June. -- Michael Shafir MOLDOVAN PARTY FAVORING REUNIFICATION HOLDS CONGRESS. The fifth congress of the Christian Democratic Popular Front (FPCD), which supports reunification with Romania, reiterated this option on 10 June, Radio Bucharest reported on the same day. The FPCD said it wanted reunification to follow the German or "other peaceful" model and added that it was the only political formation in Moldova to pursue the country's integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures. The party deferred a decision on which candidate to support in the presidential election scheduled for November. -- Michael Shafir BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT RESHUFFLEDŠ An extended plenary meeting of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) on 9 June decided on structural and personnel changes in Prime Minister Zhan Videnov's government, which the parliament approved the next day, Bulgarian media reported. Montana region Governor Krastyu Trendafilov took over the Agriculture Ministry from Svetoslav Shivarov, who stays on as deputy premier. Deputy Education Minister Lyubomir Dachev replaced Kliment Vuchev as industry minister. The state Energy Committee was transformed into a ministry under its present Deputy Chairman Rumen Ovcharov. Ivan Marazov took over the Culture Ministry from Georgi Kostov. A proposal by Videnov to close down the Ministry of Economic Development headed by Rumen Gechev, who is also deputy prime minister, was voted down. According to Demokratsiya, Videnov's concrete proposals--aimed at getting his government out of its grave crisis--took both the party leadership and the BSP's coalition partners by surprise. -- Stefan Krause ŠAS POPULAR PROTESTS CONTINUE. Days before the ruling BSP plenary meeting, about 1 million people took to the streets on 7 June to protests the government's economic and social policy, Reuters and Trud reported. Protest meetings took place in many towns, and workers went on warning strikes throughout the country, demanding salary increases and the government's resignation. The government last month announced strict austerity measures and price and tax hikes agreed on with the IMF. Incidents were reported between police, opposition deputies, and taxi drivers, when the latter staged a demonstration outside the parliament building and tried to pass police-guarded fences put up by order of Parliament President Blagovest Sendov. In other news, former Tsar Simeon II on 9 June visited Plovdiv, where he was enthusiastically welcomed by some 200,000 people. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN PRESIDENT ORDERS ELECTION RERUNŠ Sali Berisha has decreed that the parliamentary elections be held again in 17 out of 115 electoral districts, Reuters reported on 8 June. Berisha said the new voting would take place on 16 June and called on all political parties to participate. The Central Electoral Commission had earlier acknowledged that "serious irregularities influenced the final result of the voting" in the 17 districts. The U.S. and the EU had advised the government earlier to redo elections in an unspecified number of districts. Meanwhile, the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights and the Albanian Helsinki Committee called on the Albanian government, the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the United Nations to declare the elections invalid and said that human rights had been violated before, during, and after the polls on 26 May. -- Fabian Schmidt ŠBUT OPPOSITION SAYS IT IS NOT ENOUGH. The Socialists, the Social Democrats, and the Democratic Alliance said they would boycott the re- run and demanded full new elections with international monitoring. Democratic Alliance leader Neritan Ceka said: "We are absolutely not interested in this type of election," and Socialist leader Servet Pellumbi added that the "opposition cannot be included in such kinds of ploys," pointing out that "the decree was a challenge to the EU, U.S. and the OSCE, because all of them are waiting for the OSCE's final report on the elections." Social Democrat leader Skender Gjinushi said: "We cannot accept a partial re-run if there is no general recognition of all the violations. Berisha's decree is not the solution. This is the president's ploy to hide (the manipulations) from the world," Reuters reported. The Socialists say they have prepared evidence of irregularities and manipulation in 107 districts. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Susan Caskie ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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