|When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain|
No. 117, Part II, 17 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 GOVERNMENT SHAKEUP CONTINUES IN UKRAINE. President Leonid Kuchma on 14 June dismissed Energy Minister Oleksii Sheberstov, the second top official to be fired in a shakeup orchestrated by the country's new premier, Ukrainian and international agencies reported. ITAR-TASS reported that Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko is expected to recommend that another four or five ministers be sacked soon. He announced on 14 June that he has ordered the layoff of 20% of government employees (some 10,000 people) in an effort to cut budget spending. The funds saved by the layoffs and new austerity measures that, among other things, reduce official privileges will be used to pay off some of the state's wage debt. Lazarenko also said his government was planning to reduce social benefits for citizens, including energy subsidies for some 17 million people. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUSIAN REACTION TO EU TRADE BAN. The EU Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Affairs has asked the union to suspend enacting a provisional trade agreement with Belarus because of human rights abuses in that country, Belapan reported on 13 June. Belarusian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Khvastau said the decision was influenced by "personal approaches" and underlined inconsistencies in the policies of European agencies. He downplayed the significance of the EU committee's recommendation, commenting that if Belarus cannot cooperate with EU countries within the framework of the union, it could continue to cooperate through bilateral ties. -- Ustina Markus BALTIC PRIME MINISTERS SIGN FREE AGRICULTURAL TRADE AGREEMENT. Tiit Vahi (Estonia), Andres Skele (Latvia), and Mindaugas Stankevicius (Lithuania), meeting in Vilnius on 16 June, have signed a free agricultural trade agreement, Radio Lithuania reported. The agreement lifts all import and export duties on farm products and removes quotas on farm and fish products whose origin has been confirmed. Once it has been ratified by the three parliaments, the accord is expected to promote competition and thus reduce food prices. A free industrial trade agreement between the three countries has been in force since April 1994. -- Saulius Girnius SWEDISH PRIME MINISTER PLEDGES AID TO LITHUANIA. Goran Persson, meeting with his Lithuanian counterpart Mindaugas Stankevicius in Vilnius on 14 June, praised Lithuania's efforts to curb illegal migration, BNS reported. He said his government will give Lithuania another 1 million Swedish kronor ($148,000) for the implementation of the law on refugees in Lithuania. Sweden has already granted 2 million kronor, almost half of which has been used to set up a refugee camp at Rukle. The premiers also discussed cooperation in nuclear power, focusing on how Lithuania will replace the Ignalina plant once its resources have been used up next century. The possibility of a Baltic Ring gas pipeline that would supply Lithuania with natural gas from Norway was mentioned. -- Saulius Girnius NEW GDANSK SHIPYARD REGISTERED. A new shipyard has been registered at Gdansk to partly replace the old bankrupt one. The new company will operate initially for 10 years and will lease 60% of the old shipyard's property. Some 3,000 of the old shipyard's 7,300 employees will find work in the new shipyard, which hopes to open on 1 July making use of bank credits. Privatization Minister Wieslaw Kaczmarek told the Sejm on 14 June that bankruptcy is the best way to save the old shipyard and its creditors, since it will allow for the re-negotiation of bad contracts. The Sejm is to vote in two weeks on whether to replace Kaczmarek over the closure decision. Jerzy Borowczak, Solidarity leader at the Gdansk shipyard, said that it was a bad idea to open a new shipyard, since it has no capital and guarantees employment for only 3,000 or so people. He added that shipyard workers will boycott the new shipyard. Meanwhile, the old one is expected to be declared bankrupt by 22 June. -- Jakub Karpinski POLISH TEACHERS DEMAND PAY RAISES. Some 7,000 teachers from all over Poland took part in a march in Warsaw on 15 June organized by the Polish Teachers Union (ZNP). The teachers submitted petitions at the Finance Ministry and the Presidential Palace demanding higher salaries and more money for schools. The ZNP is a part of the All-Polish Labor Unions Confederation (OPZZ), which belongs to the ruling Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) coalition. "Polish teachers live in poverty and their patience is running out," ZNP leader Jan Zaciura told Education Minister and SDL leader Jerzy Wiatr. -- Jakub Karpinski ROMANI DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS TO PROTEST POOL BAN IN CZECH REPUBLIC. Jan Rusenko of the Romani Democratic Congress (RDK) told CTK on 14 June that the claim that Roma under 18 living in Kladno have hepatitis is merely a pretext to bar them from the city's public swimming pools. The Kladno deputy mayor last week banned all Roma under 15 from the pools. Similar bans have been issued in other Czech towns in previous summers. An anonymous official at the Interior Ministry told RFE/RL that the ban is unacceptable since it applies to a group instead of the general public. Rusenko said that RDK will protest the ban. -- Alaina Lemon NATO DELEGATION IN SLOVAKIA. Arriving in Slovakia on 15 June for a three-day visit, North Atlantic Assembly President Karsten Voigt stressed the need to cooperate "in convincing the majority of the members of the West European and U.S. parliaments that democracy in Slovakia is so stable that its entrance into NATO will not be a risk," TASR and Reuters reported. Voigt added that it will also be important for Slovakia to show that membership in the alliance will strengthen democracy in the region, which some Western countries doubt. Voigt said NATO will expand without requiring new members to accept the location of nuclear missiles on their territory. In Brussels on 14 June, Slovak Defense Minister Jan Sitek noted that the Partnership for Peace program is not an alternative to membership in NATO and stressed that Slovakia continues to aim for full membership in the alliance. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S SON RESPONDS TO POLICE. Michal Kovac Jr. on 14 June issued a statement questioning the police's "sudden change of opinion" on his plans to travel to Germany to defend himself against fraud charges, TASR reported. Kovac Jr. said the police investigator had told him he did not see any obstacles preventing Kovac Jr.'s interrogation by German authorities. But a police statement issued the previous day said Kovac Jr. cannot leave Slovakia. Kovac Jr. stressed he wants to leave to undergo official questioning. Praca on 15 June noted that if Germany cleared Kovac Jr. of the charges, it would be "a catastrophe" for Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's camp, which has continually attacked the president's son. "It seems the only option left for Kovac Jr....may be to swim illegally across the Danube as in the good old communist times," the paper said. -- Sharon Fisher WORLD CONGRESS OF HUNGARIANS UNHAPPY WITH GOVERNMENT'S MINORITY POLICY. Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn was booed and whistled by delegates to the fourth World Congress of Hungarians in Budapest on 15 June when he explained that the government is not planning changes in its foreign minority policy, Hungarian media reported. Horn reiterated that Hungary will not seek the revision of borders but that it will insist on guaranteeing minority rights. He asked Hungarian minorities to make clear their concept of autonomy and to distance themselves from separatist declarations. Delegates warned that ethnic Hungarians abroad are second-class citizens not only in their own homeland but also compared with Hungarian citizens. Nationalist circles and the opposition have blamed the government for trading minority rights for the signing of the Slovak-Hungarian treaty. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN DISARMAMENT AGREEMENT SIGNED. Rump Yugoslavia, the Bosnian Federation, Croatia, and the Republika Srpska signed a disarmament agreement in Florence on 14 June, international media reported. The deal places restrictions on the number of tanks, other armored vehicles, artillery, fighter aircraft, and helicopter gun ships that each of the states is allowed to have. The UN Security Council is expected to lift the arms embargo against the former Yugoslavia on 18 June as a result of the agreement. The WEU will also end operation "Sharp Guard," under which shipping in the Adriatic was monitored during the embargo. -- Fabian Schmidt BOSNIAN SERBS CELEBRATE CONFERENCE AS VICTORY. Returning from Florence, Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Gojko Klickovic told Srna that he was "satisfied" with the treatment of his delegation at the meeting. He added "we have made it clear that the elections cannot be linked to demands for the extradition of the leaders of the Republika Srpska, and we did not come to Florence to make new concessions." Foreign Affairs Minister Aleksa Buha said the meeting "had calmed the hysteria" about extradition of Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, AFP reported. -- Fabian Schmidt FORMER BOSNIAN PREMIER ATTACKED IN PRE-ELECTION RALLY. Haris Silajdzic, leader of the opposition Party for Bosnia-Hercegovina (SBiH), was attacked and injured while campaigning in the northwestern town of Cazin on 15 June, international and local media reported. SBiH spokesman Mustafa Mujagic said Silajdzic was hit on the head with an iron bar and sustained a serious cut and bruises. He added that members of the ruling Muslim Party for Democratic Action (SDA) were responsible for what he called the "obviously organized" attack, Onasa reported. Silajdzic was surrounded by a crowd of some 100 people carrying SDA banners and shouting Muslim religious prayers. Both SBiH and OSCE officials claimed police did nothing to prevent the incident. But the SDA, which condemned the attack the next day, claimed that the police "saved" Silajdzic. -- Daria Sito Sucic BOSNIAN CROATS NAME NEW HERCEG-BOSNA GOVERNMENT. Pero Markovic, a local official from the town of Capljina, has been appointed prime minister of Herceg-Bosna by the self-styled Bosnian Croatian "presidential council." Onasa reported on 16 June. Markovic proceeded to appoint several new ministers, including Vladimir Soljic as defense minister. Soljic also holds that post in the Bosnian Federation. Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic condemned the Bosnian Croat leadership for naming a new government for a rebel state that, he said, should have been disbanded months ago, AFP reported. Muratovic condemned the move as illegal, saying its shows that the Bosnian Croats are not committed to a federal government in Bosnia-Herzegovina. -- Daria Sito Sucic BOSNIAN MUSLIMS APPLY TO RUN IN REPUBLIKA SRPSKA ELECTIONS. Muslims from six villages in northeastern Bosnia have applied to run in elections in the Republika Srpska, AFP reported on 16 June, citing Oslobodjenje. Inhabitants of villages held by the Muslims during the war in Bosnia and transferred to Bosnian Serb control under the Dayton agreement have nominated candidates for municipal and regional elections. Meanwhile, the deadline for registering for the fall Bosnian elections passed on 14 June. The OSCE said that 45 parties and 16 independent candidates submitted applications. An OSCE spokesman said no details will be announced until the applications have been checked and possible appeals considered. In related news, Reuters reported that the U.S. said refugees who vote will not lose their refugee status and will not be forced to return to Bosnia. -- Stefan Krause U.S. OFFICIAL ADMONISHES SERBIAN PRESIDENT. Assistant Secretary of State John Kornblum, visiting Belgrade on 16 June, told Slobodan Milosevic that Washington wants Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic ousted from power in the coming weeks. Kornblum stressed the need to implement the Dayton agreement, adding that "the patience of the international community...was beginning to wear thin." Kornblum and Milosevic also discussed freedom of the press in Serbia, freedom of movement, and preparations for the elections, AFP reported. -- Fabian Schmidt CROATIAN PRESIDENT SAYS COMMUNISTS WERE PARTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR JASENOVAC VICTIMS. Franjo Tudjman, during a visit to the World War II concentration camp at Jasenovac, has given a new interpretation of what happened there 50 years ago, AFP reported on 15 June. Tudjman said Communists loyal to Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito killed thousands of the people buried at the site. The generally accepted official version is that all those buried there were killed by the Croatian Ustachi, which ran the camp during the war. Tudjman's visit to Jasenovac came one day after the opening of the trial of two Croatian journalists who criticized Tudjman's plan to bury members of the pro-Nazi regime together with their victims. Tudjman paid homage to "all the victims" of the camp, including both "the victims of fascism but also those of communism," Hina reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic LOW TURNOUT REPORTED IN ROMANIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS. Romania's Central Electoral Bureau (BEC) noted that turnout at the second round of local elections in Romania on 16 June was even lower than during the first round (56%) two weeks earlier, Romanian TV reported. Polling stations stayed open till midnight in accordance with a BEC order, but longer voting hours apparently failed to attract more voters. Exit polls suggest that in the race for mayor of Bucharest, Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR) candidate Victor Ciorbea beat former international tennis star Ilie Nastase, who ran as the candidate of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania. According to final results broadcast by Radio Bucharest on 17 June, the CDR also won the mayoralty of Sibiu. In addition to run-offs, voting was repeated in 334 districts and in two counties where participation in the first round had been less than 50% . -- Michael Shafir MOLDOVA AND JAPAN TO BOOST COOPERATION. The Japanese government has decided to upgrade Moldova from the status of "transition-economy country" to that of "developing country," President Mircea Snegur and Japanese Ambassador at Large Sumio Edamura announced in Chisinau on 14 June. The two states will also increase economic cooperation. Infotag reported that Snegur thanked the Japanese envoy for a $40 million credit and humanitarian aid worth $2.5 million. -- Michael Shafir BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS NAME PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE... The ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party's Supreme Council on 16 June nominated Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski as BSP presidential candidate, RFE/RL reported. Following a 10-hour debate, 70 members voted for Pirinski, one against, and 16 abstained. Under the Bulgarian Constitution, the president must be Bulgarian by birth. Since Pirinski was born to a Bulgarian father and an American mother in New York in 1948, questions have been raised as to whether he can become president. But the constitution also says that everybody with one Bulgarian parent is considered Bulgarian. Pirinski is to run against Petar Stoyanov of the Union of Democratic Forces in elections that will most likely take place in November. Prime Minister Zhan Videnov told the Supreme Council that the BSP has to win the Presidency in order to implement its program. -- Stefan Krause ...AND INTRODUCE CHANGES IN PARTY LEADERSHIP. The Supreme Council also endorsed Videnov's proposal to change the lineup of the BSP Executive Bureau, Trud reported. Videnov and his four deputies will continue to serve on that body, while seven members have been removed and five new ones appointed. Meanwhile, former Tsar Simeon II wrapped up a three-week visit to Bulgaria, AFP reported. While he did not elaborate on his plans, he did suggest that he intends to play a role in Bulgarian politics. He spoke in favor of a constitutional monarchy, which he described as a "flexible and pragmatic form of government." Simeon also urged the government to speed up economic reforms. -- Stefan Krause ELECTION RE-RUNS IN ALBANIA. Albania's Central Electoral Commission claimed a 55% turnout at re-runs in 17 of Albania's 115 electoral districts on 16 June, Albanian media reported. President Sali Berisha decreed the new ballots following opposition claims of manipulation and calls by international institutions and several countries for a repeat of the vote. However, the opposition Socialists, Social Democrats, Democratic Alliance, Party of the Democratic Right, and Party of National Unity all boycotted the ballots, demanding that the elections be held afresh. The Constitutional Court on 15 June rejected an appeal by the Social Democrats and Democratic Alliance to declare the ballot illegal, according to international agencies. No official OSCE observers were present during the re-runs, but the Democrats reportedly invited members of conservative and right-wing parties from France, Greece, Italy, and Austria to oversee the voting process. -- Fabian Schmidt ALBANIAN DEPUTY PREMIER INVOLVED IN BAR BRAWL. Dashamir Shehi hit Koha Jone journalist Frrok Cupi in the face in a Tirana bar on 15 June, international agencies reported. Cupi had earlier charged Shehi with incompetence. Shehi was Cupi's bodyguard in 1991 when the latter was the chief editor of Rilindja Demokratike. Meanwhile, Shehi has denied that the incident took place, Albanian media reported. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Jan Cleave ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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