|Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson|
No. 115, Part II, 13 June 1996
*********************************************************************** Available soon -- The OMRI Annual Survey of Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union -- "1995: Building Democracy." Published by M.E. Sharpe Inc., this 336-page yearbook provides a systematic and comprehensive review of the most pivotal events in the 27 countries of the former Communist bloc and former Soviet Union during 1995. Available to OMRI subscribers at a special price of $25 each (plus postage and handling). To order, please email your request to: email@example.com *********************************************************************** 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, SPEAKER QUIBBLE OVER EXPIRATION OF CONSTITUTIONAL AGREEMENT. President Leonid Kuchma blasted Parliament Chairman Oleksander Moroz for claiming that a power-sharing agreement signed by the Ukrainian leader and lawmakers last year had expired on 8 June and needed to be extended, UNIAN and ITAR-TASS reported on 11-12 June. Moroz said that the so-called constitutional agreement, which allowed a temporary law on separation of powers to take effect, has run out, but that he believes it should be extended "either by parliament or the president." Kuchma said language in the accord means it remains in force until a new Ukrainian constitution is adopted. He blamed parliament for delaying the adoption of the draft constitution and accused Moroz of trying to destabilize the country. -- Chrystyna Lapychak PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE AIMS TO FINALIZE DRAFT CONSTITUTION BY 19 JUNE. Mykhailo Syrota, chairman of a special parliamentary conciliatory commission, said in Kyiv on 12 June that commission members are working long hours to finish the draft of a new Ukrainian constitution for debate on 19 June, Ukrainian TV reported. He said there are 1100 amendments or additions that needed to be worked out and incorporated into the draft, which will be reviewed article-by-article during the second reading. Syrota said he believes legislators will approve the draft by Ukrainian independence day, on 24 August, with the required two-thirds majority, and that they will pass the 24 new laws needed for the new basic law to be implemented. -- Chrystyna Lapychak RUSSIAN INVESTMENT IN UKRAINE UPS KARBOVANETS. The Ukrainian karbovanets has increased in value from 191,000 to the dollar to 182,200 to the dollar because of Russian purchases of Ukrainian treasury bills, Reuters reported on 12 June. Head of the Ukrainian Central Bank's hard currency department Mykola Melnychuk said Ukraine had never experienced such a large influx of foreign capital. Ukrainian T-bills yield an average of 100 percent or more interest over a year. Valerii Lyvytsky, economic adviser to President Leonid Kuchma, attributed the sudden influx of Russian investment to political uncertainty in Russia and warned that a victory for President Boris Yeltsin at the polls could reverse the trend. He added that the influx carried inflationary risks for Ukraine and that the accompanying currency stabilization could hurt Ukraine's exports. -- Ustina Markus BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT SPEAKER ON ELECTIONS; ARRESTS UPDATE. Syamyon Sharetsky told the integration committee of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan that it would be a mistake to artificially speed the process of integration among the countries, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 June. Sharetsky said the EU countries, which are coming closer together while maintaining their sovereignty, are an example to follow. He added that it is too late to speak of federation or confederation. In other news, an RFE/RL correspondent reported that poet Slavomir Adamovich's condition is worsening because he has been on a hunger strike for eight days. Adamovich was arrested while trying to enter Lithuania several weeks ago; he is being held in custody for allegedly writing a poem called "Kill the President." -- Ustina Markus DUMA DEPUTIES URGE LATVIA TO LET RUBIKS RUN FOR PRESIDENT. Nine deputies of the Russian State Duma, including Deputy Chairman Sergei Baburin, sent an appeal to Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis and Saeima Chairwoman Ilse Kreituse asking that imprisoned former Latvian Communist Party First Secretary Alfreds Rubiks be provided with equal conditions for campaigning for president, BNS reported on 12 June. The appeal was probably prompted by the decision by Interior Minister Dainis Turlais not to allow Rubiks to hold press conferences in prison. -- Saulius Girnius COUNCIL OF EUROPE ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT VISITS ESTONIA. Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly President Leni Fischer met on 11 June with Parliament Chairman Toomas Savi and Prime Minister Tiit Vahi, BNS reported the next day. She held talks with Foreign Minister Siim Kallas, the current chairman of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, who will present a report to a CEPA political committee meeting in Tallinn on 13 June. Fischer said that Russia should provide Estonia information about Russian residents in there, a request that Russia has refused to fulfill in order to be allowed to open more polling stations for the 16 June presidential elections. She also criticized Russia's policy of refusing to grant visas to Estonian CEPA members, preventing them from attending CE meetings. -- Saulius Girnius LITHUANIA ALLOWS EXTRA POLLING STATION IN VISAGINAS. The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry's CIS Department head, Ricardas Degutis, told BNS on 12 June that Lithuania will allow Russia to open an extra voting station in Visaginas for the Russian presidential election on 16 June. Visaginas has a large number of Russian residents, many of whom work at the Ignalina nuclear power plant. Degutis said the decision was a "political step of goodwill." Russian citizens will also be able to vote at the embassy in Vilnius and the consulate in Klaipeda. -- Saulius Girnius POLAND, GREECE SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENT. Polish Foreign Minister Dariusz Rosati and his Greek counterpart, Theodoros Pangalos, signed a friendship and cooperation agreement on 12 June in Athens, Reuters reported. Pangalos said Greece will back Poland's bid to join NATO and the EU and called for increased trade between the two countries. Rosati said political and economic ties between Warsaw and Athens are developing well but "there is even greater room for further cooperation." -- Stefan Krause GDANSK SHIPYARD MANAGEMENT TO REGISTER NEW FIRM. The management of Gdansk shipyard said it will file an application to register a new company that will use assets of the shipyard. The shipyard's president, Ryszard Goluch, said the new company will employ about 2,500 workers and lease 60 percent of the old yard's production assets for 10 years, Rzeczpospolita reported on 13 June. The project appeared to be at variance with the guidelines set by the Privatization Ministry, which wanted the new shipyard to lease the assets for one year to complete construction of 4-5 already-contracted vessels. After one year, the assets were to be turned over to the liquidator for sale to a future investor. Goluch is talking with Polish banks about the financing of the vessels' construction. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz ANOTHER CONTROVERSIAL CONVERSATION BROADCAST IN SLOVAKIAŠ The private, Bratislava-based Radio Twist on 12 June aired a recorded conversation between Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Sergej Kozlik and Justice Ministry State Secretary Lubomir Dobrik concerning the state insurance firm Slovenska poistovna. The tape reveals the involvement of Kozlik, a member of the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), in the recent management changes at the firm. The installation of new management with close ties to the HZDS provoked a crisis within the ruling coalition, and Slovak National Party (SNS) Chairman Jan Slota reportedly played the tape during recent coalition negotiations. Last month, Radio Twist made headlines after broadcasting a conversation between Interior Minister Ludovit Hudek and Slovak Information Service chief Ivan Lexa in which they discussed the firing of a police investigator. -- Sharon Fisher Š AS RULING COALITION FAILS TO REACH AGREEMENT. Representatives of the government coalition parties met for the third time on 12 June to discuss the continuing crisis, Slovak media reported. Although Slota stressed that the SNS "will never initiate the coalition's disintegration," he noted that the ruling parties have yet to resolve the conflict over Slovenska poistovna. The HZDS's position on the case constitutes a partial violation of coalition agreements, he said. Slota expressed dissatisfaction with the development of coalition talks, but he emphasized that a solution should be found by the time the parliament convenes on 19 June. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK PRESIDENT ON FIRST OFFICIAL VISIT TO HUNGARY. Slovak President Michal Kovac in Budapest on 12 June reassured Hungary that Slovakia will respect the rights of its Hungarian minority and said he would urge Slovak legislators to pass a law on the use of minority languages, Hungarian dailies and international media reported. The Slovak government introduced a controversial language law late last year that allowed only Slovak to be used in public places. The government promised to pass a law on the protection of minority languages but has so far failed to put the bill before parliament, provoking strong criticism from Kovac. On this first official visit, Kovac also supported an out- of-court settlement in the Gabcikovo dam dispute and called on Hungarians and Slovaks to work for reconciliation between their countries. -- Zsofia Szilagyi HUNGARIAN PREMIER SAYS VISEGRAD FOUR SHOULD JOIN EU SIMULTANEOUSLY. "It is in Hungary's interest that the Visegrad countries become members of the EU simultaneously and in the first round of enlargement," Gyula Horn told visiting Slovak President Michal Kovac on 12 June, MTI reported. Meanwhile, President Arpad Goncz assured Kovac that it is not in Hungary's interest to keep Slovakia out of any European organization. The present Hungarian government has repeatedly stressed that it supports its neighbors' accession to Western organizations, while the previous Antall-Boross government abstained from the Council of Europe vote on Slovakia's and Romania's membership in 1993. Budapest also attempted to block Slovakia's accession to the CSCE in 1992. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE CLINTON CONTRADICTS PERRY ON IFOR, EXPLAINS NON-ARREST OF WAR CRIMINALS. U.S. President Bill Clinton said on 12 June he expects IFOR troops to complete their mission in Bosnia by the end of the year, Deutsche Welle reported the next day. He apparently overruled Secretary of Defense William Perry, who had just said that he could see NATO extending its role into 1997 (see OMRI Daily Digest, 12 June 1996). Clinton sidestepped a question as to why the peacekeepers have not yet arrested indicted war criminals like Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic: "The IFOR troops can arrest anybody that's been charged with a war crime with whom they come in contact. But they are not charged with, in effect, being the domestic or the international police force and targeting people and going after them." Critics have charged that IFOR has turned a blind eye as war criminals move about freely, apparently even through IFOR checkpoints. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIA'S ELECTION DATE TO BE ANNOUNCED AT END OF JUNE? Robert Frowick, the head of the OSCE mission in Sarajevo, said that Swiss Foreign Minister and OSCE Chairman Flavio Cotti will announce in late June whether elections in Bosnia will be held in fall as scheduled by the Dayton peace accord, AFP reported on 12 June. But the U.S. and major European powers are pushing for an exact date to be set at the two-day conference that will start on 13 June in Florence to review compliance with the Dayton Agreement six months after it was signed, Reuters reported. Frowick said that so far no party involved in Bosnia has asked for a delay of the elections. Meanwhile, international organizations, such as the International Crisis Group and Human Rights Watch, have warned that minimum standards for fair elections are already being flouted, Nasa Borba reported on 13 June. -- Daria Sito Sucic BILDT HOPES TO AVOID SANCTIONS AGAINST SERBS. After a meeting with Bosnian Serb Parliament Speaker Momcilo Krajisnik, High Representative for Bosnia Carl Bildt said that he hopes and has always hoped to avoid sanctions against the Bosnian Serbs, AFP reported on 12 June. He was commenting on the recent call by the head of the international war crimes tribunal, Antonio Cassese, for sanctions against the Bosnian Serbs. In another development, Bosnian Serb Premier Gojko Klickovic said Bosnian Serbs will never support the reintegration of Bosnia-Herzegovina even if the West punishes them economically, Nasa Borba reported on 13 June. -- Daria Sito Sucic RED CROSS ISSUES "NO FAULT" CALL ON MISSING PERSONS IN BOSNIA. The ICRC says that there are over 12,000 persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina still described as missing, Reuters and Onasa reported on 12 June. The Muslims are looking for 10,805 individuals, the Serbs for 1,703, and the Croats 217. Most are presumed dead, and the ICRC now says it will welcome any information on the fate of the missing, with no questions asked as to how they happened to die. The purpose of the new policy is simply to seek confirmation of deaths in order to put the minds of families at ease. A spokesman added that it is the business of the war crimes tribunal and not of the Red Cross to determine guilt and punish murderers. Meanwhile, the Bosnian government has handed over two indicted war criminals to The Hague. Hazim Delic and Esad Landzo are wanted for crimes committed in the Celebici concentration camp. -- Patrick Moore BELGRADE LOOKS TO ZIMBABWE FOR ECONOMIC BOOST. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe arrived in Belgrade on 12 June for an official three-day visit, AFP reported the same day. Mugabe, who has been one of the few world leaders to openly support rump Yugosalvia's authoritarian regime and to oppose sanctions against Belgrade, is slated to meet with a host of officials, including Serbian President Milosevic, Federal President Zoran Lilic, and Federal Premier Radoje Kontic for talks aimed at reaching agreement on bolstering bilateral trade. -- Stan Markotich RUMP YUGOSLAV GENERAL CANCELS PRESS CONFERENCE. Rump Yugoslavia's commander of the army, General Momcilo Perisic, on 12 June abruptly canceled an annual press conference commemorating army day, Beta reported. Perisic hinted that an inability to speak openly and low morale in the ranks were factors in his decision. "It is far better to say nothing at all than to say that which is already well known. Besides, what needs to be said, and what would interest you, would be upsetting," he said. -- Stan Markotich MACEDONIAN, NATO SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENT. Foreign Minister Ljubomir Frckovski signed a document on military cooperation with NATO in Brussels on 12 June, AFP reported. He met with the ambassadors of the North Atlantic Council member states. Frckovski said the cooperation agreement was the first step toward Macedonia's aim of full NATO membership. He said there is "social and political consensus" in Macedonia on joining NATO. Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry concluded a visit to Macedonia, where he dedicated a military training center and held talks on the future of UNPROFOR. Addressing the parliament, Perry named cooperation within NATO's Partnership for Peace program and military transparency as the keys to stability and peace in the Balkans. President Kiro Gligorov urged the U.S. to extend its troops' stay in Bosnia lest "the NATO mission fail and renewed fighting break out." -- Stefan Krause BODIUL SKEPTICAL ON TRANSDNIESTRIAN CONFLICT. The former first secretary of the Moldovan Communist Party, Ivan Bodiul, said in an interview with Nezavisimaya Moldova cited by Infotag on 12 June that the Moldovan and the Transdniestrian authorities are very far from a solution to the conflict. Bodiul said there was no solution but union, adding that Chisinau should offer Tiraspol a transition period. In his opinion, Moldova should have two, and possibly three, official languages: "Moldovan," Russian, and Ukrainian. In other news, for the first time a Transdniestrian official came out in support of President Boris Yeltsin's re-election. Grigori Markutsa, chairman of the breakaway republic's Supreme Soviet, called on Russian troops and citizens residing in the region to vote for Yeltsin. But Transdniestrian leader Igor Smirnov, currently in Moscow, met with Yeltsin's main rival in the elections, Gennadii Zyuganov. -- Michael Shafir BULGARIA THREATENED WITH ISOLATION FROM FINANCIAL MARKETS. The Industrial Bank of Japan (IBJ) has threatened that unless Bulgaria accepts its responsibility to cover payments due by Mineralbank on 14 June, Bulgaria's relations with Japan will seriously worsen, Pari reported on 13 June. Finance Minister Dimitar Kostov on 31 May had asserted that the government was not obliged to cover the $47.6 million owed IBJ by Mineralbank under a loan taken out in 1989. The Bulgarian National Bank on 31 May applied to initiate bankruptcy proceedings against the 80% state-owned bank, which had losses of $62.8 million by the end of 1995. Mineralbank owes other Japanese banks over $100 million. Recently, Belgium's Banque Generale took ECU 5 million from the BNB's account with it in order to cover Mineralbank's overdue debt to it, and the BNB threatened to take court action against the Belgian bank in response. -- Michael Wyzan BULGARIAN PREMIER SURVIVES NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE. The government of Zhan Videnov on 13 June easily survived a no-confidence vote called over its handling of Bulgaria's economic crisis, Bulgarian and Western media reported. The secret vote was 99 for, and 135 against, with one abstention. While the government was expected to survive the vote, such a clear defeat of the motion came as a surprise. The ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party and its partners hold 125 seats in the 240-member parliament. All opposition parties had said they would support the no- confidence vote. In other news, former Tsar Simeon II announced that he will return to Madrid on 16 June after three weeks in Bulgaria. -- Stefan Krause OSCE ISSUES REPORT ABOUT ALBANIAN ELECTIONS. An OSCE report released in Vienna on 12 June said there were serious "irregularities" before and during the 26 May parliamentary elections. The report says 32 out of 79 articles of Albania's electoral laws were violated during the campaign and the voting. It also charges Albanian authorities with failing to cooperate fully with foreign observers, AFP reported. The report did not call for new elections. President Sali Berisha had earlier decreed a partial re-run on 16 June, but the OSCE has not yet decided whether to send monitors. The opposition said it would boycott the partial re-run and demands complete new elections. -- Fabian Schmidt ALBANIAN OPPOSITION WANTS AUSTRIA TO MEDIATE. Albanian opposition parties on 12 June sent a letter to Austrian Chancellor Franz Vranitzky, asking him to mediate between them and the ruling Democratic Party in the post-election deadlock. The letter said that "Albania is going through a critical situation as a result of manipulation and physical violence during the whole process of the May 26 elections." The letter was signed by the Social Democratic Party leader Skender Gjinushi and Democratic Alliance leader Neritan Ceka, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, more than 2,000 supporters of the Socialists demanded new elections at a rally in Tirana on the fifth anniversary of their party's founding on 12 June. -- 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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