|We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us. - George Eliot|
No. 119, Part II, 19 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 FURTHER RESHUFFLING IN UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT. President Leonid Kuchma has appointed Vasyl Durdynets, deputy prime minister for security and emergency situations, as first deputy premier, Ukrainian and Western agencies reported on 18 June. Durdynets replaces Pavlo Lazarenko, the new prime minister. Kuchma also sacked Finance Minister Petro Hermanchuk and appointed Valentyn Koronevsky as his replacement. No official reason was given for the move, but Kuchma had recently accused Hermanchuk, who was appointed by former President Leonid Kravchuk, for mishandling the government wage debt crisis. Virtually unknown at the national level, Koronevsky was in charge of the regional administration's finances in Zaporizhzhia Oblast. -- Chrystyna Lapychak UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSIONS CONCLUDE POWER-SHARING ACCORD STILL VALID. Two parliamentary commissions have concluded that a June 1995 power-sharing agreement between President Kuchma and a majority of deputies is still valid, Ukrainian Radio reported on 18 June. Both the human rights commission and commission on legal policy and judicial reform agreed that the wording of the so-called constitutional agreement makes it valid until a new Ukrainian constitution is adopted. Parliamentary speaker Oleksander Moroz was recently criticized by the parliament for claiming the accord expired on 8 June. -- Chrystyna Lapychak KYRGYZ PRESIDENT IN UKRAINE. Askar Akayev, arriving in Kyiv on 18 June for an official visit, called for closer cooperation between Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, Ukrainian Radio reported. Following a meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart, Akayev said the signing of a treaty on friendship and cooperation, expected to take place during his visit, would lift the "artificial barriers" between the countries. More than 300 agreements exist between Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, but trade between them amounted to only $17 million in 1995. -- Ustina Markus THIRD MEETING OF RUSSIAN-BELARUSIAN EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE. Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin chaired the third session of the Russian- Belarusian Executive Committee for integration in Moscow on 18 June, ITAR-TASS and Russian Public TV reported. Delegates discussed social issues, setting up a joint customs space, and establishing a unified statistics service. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka was supposed to attend the meeting but was not present. He is quoted as having said that the first round of the Russian presidential elections showed that Russians were opposed to reform. -- Ustina Markus ESTONIAN CABINET GIVES RESIDENCE PERMITS TO 3,000 RUSSIAN MILITARY RETIREES. The Estonian government on 18 June announced it will grant residence permits to some 3,000 retired Russian officers and their family members, BNS reported. Five-year permits were granted to 2,965 officers, while the others received permits for between two and four years. The government still has to decide the fate of some 8,000 other military retirees and family members. Until now, no application has been rejected. -- Saulius Girnius SIX DEPUTIES QUIT "FOR LATVIA" CAUCUS. Six deputies of the Popular Movement for Latvia caucus in the Saeima on 18 June announced they are leaving the parliamentary group, BNS reported. The deputies cited the "undemocratic atmosphere" in the caucus. They claimed that all decisions were made by caucus chairman Odisejs Kostanda and German-born party leader Joachim Siegerist. The six deputies do not intend to establish a new caucus immediately but may do so during the fall session. -- Saulius Girnius POLISH PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION FINISHES DRAFT CONSTITUTION. The Polish parliamentary commission on drafting a new constitution has adopted the final article (no. 218), which stipulates the procedure for making changes to the basic law. According to this article, a relevant bill must gain a two-thirds majority in the Sejm and an absolute majority in the Senate. If changes are proposed to those articles dealing with general constitutional principles, citizens rights, or the procedure for changing the constitution, a national referendum may be called, Rzeczpospolita reported on 19 June. -- Jakub Karpinski BRITAIN TO RENT MILITARY TRAINING GROUNDS IN POLAND. British Defense Minister Michael Portillo on 18 June signed an agreement with his Polish counterpart, Stanislaw Dobrzanski, allowing Britain to use training grounds in Poland. Britain will pay $100 a day for each soldier. The first major exercise will take place in September at Drawsko and will involve 3,500 troops from the Seventh Armored Brigade, Rzeczpospolita reported on 19 June. This is the first such agreement that Poland has signed with a NATO member country. -- Jakub Karpinski CZECH POLITICAL UPDATE. Talks on forming a minority coalition government led by incumbent Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus are nearing an end, Czech media reported on 18 June. Klaus's Civic Democratic Party (ODS) has made a number of concessions to its two junior coalition allies--the Civic Democratic Alliance and the Christian Democratic Union--including giving up its resistance to subdividing the country into regions. The ODS continues to insist on having a majority of cabinet positions but is now willing to give its coalition allies the right of veto in government decision-making. The coalition parties are still opposed to the opposition Social Democrats' proposal that important parliamentary posts be proportionately divided among all parties with representation in the legislature, including the extreme-right Republicans and the extreme- left Communists. -- Jiri Pehe AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CRITICIZES CZECH REPUBLIC. In its 1995 report, Amnesty International has criticized the Czech Republic for what it calls "discriminatory instructions" issued by the Interior Ministry permitting police to search Romani homes with loaded weapons, CTK reported on 18 June. But Czech police told CTK the same day that the Law on Police, which defines the police's use of weapons, does not mention any ethnic or national group. Amnesty International cited the case of a Romani man shot by police while in custody in 1994. No charges were brought at the time. The human rights organization asked the Czech state to provide information for an investigation. -- Alaina Lemon GERMANY SUSPENDS ARREST WARRANT FOR SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S SON. Michal Kovac Jr.'s lawyer, Jan Havlat, announced on 18 June that Germany has suspended his client's arrest warrant in connection with the $2.3 million Technopol fraud, RFE/RL's Slovak Service reported. Kovac Jr. can now travel to Germany for questioning without fear of being arrested, Havlat said. It is unclear, however, whether the Slovak authorities will allow Kovac Jr. to travel there. On 13 June, Slovak police said the president's son is unable to leave the country because of fraud charges filed against him in December. -- Sharon Fisher SLOVAK POLITICAL ROUNDUP. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's health is better, but he remains unable to fully carry out his duties, his spokeswoman Magda Pospisilova announced on 18 June. After attending the cabinet session led by Meciar, TASR director Dusan Kleiman noted that he is "just as dynamic" as before his illness . In other news, parliamentary chairman Ivan Gasparovic said the question of expanding the board that oversees the Slovak Information Service could be added to the agenda of the parliament's session that begins on 19 June. Gasparovic and Meciar, both members of Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, on 18 June met with representatives of the opposition Party of the Democratic Left (SDL) to discuss domestic and foreign policy as well as the possibility of expanding the board to include SDL deputies. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT CHANGES HOUSE RULES. The parliament on 18 June approved a proposal that changes house rules to the opposition's disadvantage, Hungarian dailies reported. Leaders of the socialist- liberal coalition submitted a proposal in early June to limit the number of morning debates, saying that, among other things, the opposition's "unserious" contributions are damaging the parliament's prestige. The new regulation limits the debates to once a week and allows only caucus leaders to speak. Opposition parties see their basic rights violated by this move, not least because their contributions and air time during the televised debates will be reduced just before the 1998 election campaign begins. Moreover, some important scandals, such as "Oilgate," have been revealed by the opposition during the morning debates. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE ARMS EMBARGO ON FORMER YUGOSLAVIA ENDS. International restrictions on the export of weapons to the former Yugoslavia became history on 18 June, AFP reported. The move was made possible in accordance with the terms of the Dayton agreement following the signing of a regional arms control agreement on 14 June (see OMRI Daily Digest, 17 June 1996). Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina will now enjoy parity in heavy weapons in a ratio of 5:2:2. Within the Bosnian allotment, the Croatian-Muslim federation will be allowed more weapons than the Bosnian Serbs. The embargo went into effect on 25 September 1991 following Serbia's invasion of Slovenia and Croatia. The ban served to preserve Belgrade's existing military preponderance, but all sides found ways of circumventing the restrictions, the BBC noted. It is unlikely that the latest arms control agreement will be any more water- tight than was the embargo. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN SERB WOMEN HOLD OSCE REPRESENTATIVES CAPTIVE. Dozens of Bosnian Serb women who wanted help in finding relatives missing since last summer surrounded the OSCE offices in Banja Luka on 17 June, preventing staff from leaving the building, AFP reported. Twenty-four hours later, they left the area outside the building, following talks with Michael Steiner, deputy of the High Representative for Bosnia. Leader of the Bosnian Serb missing persons' group said the women's action was "political" and aimed at diverting the attention of UN organizations to the problem of missing Serbs in Bosnia. But Alexandar Ivanko, UN spokesman in Sarajevo, said the UN international police consider it "not a political but a criminal action." -- Daria Sito Sucic TUDJMAN SKEPTICAL BOSNIA WILL SURVIVE AS STATE. NATO diplomatic sources in Brussels describe the recent talks between NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana and Croatian President Franjo Tudjman as having been "extremely difficult," Nasa Borba reported on 19 June. The NATO official was "not impressed" by Tudjman's readiness to cooperate in solving Bosnian problems. Moreover, he was discouraged to find out that Tudjman does not believe that Bosnia-Herzegovina will survive as a single state and that the Dayton peace accord is valid only temporarily. Tudjman believes that in the long run, Bosnia will be divided between Serbs and Croats, Nasa Borba reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic MORE FALLOUT OVER HERZEGOVINIAN CROAT "GOVERNMENT." The Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), the leading Croatian political party in both Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, denied on 18 June that recent political changes in the self-proclaimed Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosna are a breach of the Dayton agreement (see OMRI Daily Digest, 17 June 1996). The HDZ's Bozo Rajic said that the changes involve only reorganizing an existing cabinet and that the republic remains legal until the Croatian- Muslim federation comes into effect. The Muslims charge that the quasi- state should have been disbanded long ago. Federal Vice President Ejup Ganic has demanded the recall of federal Foreign Minister Jadranko Prlic, a Croat, since his appointment was conditional on the disolution of Herceg-Bosna, Onasa reported. The Russian Foreign Ministry has also protested the Croatian moves, Nasa Borba wrote on 19 June . The Muslim position seems to be the one most in keeping with Dayton, but western Herzegovina functions in any event as a part of Croatia. -- Patrick Moore RUMP YUGOSLAVIA PARDONS DRAFT DODGERS. The rump Yugoslav parliament on 18 June approved an amnesty for some 12,500 conscripts who avoided military service or deserted during the wars in Croatia and Bosnia- Herzegovina between 1991 and 1995, Reuters reported. The law does not apply to professional soldiers and active officers. Previously, draft dodgers and deserters faced up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Tens of thousands of young men fled rump Yugoslavia to avoid having to fight in the war. Rump Yugoslav authorities repeatedly rounded up men born in Croatia and Bosnia and sent them to fight there, according to human rights monitors. -- Stefan Krause INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SEMINAR CLOSES IN BELGRADE. A three-day seminar on media freedom, organized by London's Article 19 and Belgrade's Media Center, ended in the Serbian capital on 18 June. Journalists from all parts of the former Yugoslavia and all neighboring Balkan countries took part in the meeting to discuss the role of the independent media in a post-conflict environment, journalistic ethics, and how to deal with the "advocacy of national, religious, racial, and religious hatred." Igor Mekina of the Slovenian weekly Mladina said a relatively good legal framework in Slovenia did not prevent the courts and political structures from being insensitive to the need to promote media freedom, Nasa Borba reported on 18 June. B-92 Director Veran Matic said that since Dayton, the number of free media organizations in Serbia has been reduced owing to the regime's machinations. -- Stanko Markotic in Belgrade SHOOTING INCIDENTS IN KOSOVO. One Serbian policeman was killed and two wounded in separate shooting incidents on 16 and 17 June in Kosovska Mitrovica and Podujevo, Reuters reported. Unidentified gunmen also opened automatic gun fire and threw a hand grenade at the police station in Luzane. Kosovo's Albanian-language media reported that police began harassing and beating Albanians following the incidents. In similar incidents earlier this year, five Serbs were killed within a few days. The Liberation Army of Kosovo, which was previously unknown claimed responsibility for those attacks. No group has yet owned up to these most recent attacks, which, the Socialist Party said, "undermine all efforts to restore a lasting peace in the province." -- Fabian Schmidt CROATIA, BULGARIA SIGN MILITARY COOPERATION AGREEMENT. Croatian Defense Minister Gojko Susak and his Bulgarian counterpart, Dimitar Pavlov, signed a military cooperation agreement in Zagreb on 18 June, Hina reported. Susak said the agreement provides for close military cooperation once the arms embargo on the former Yugoslavia is lifted. He noted that it is "no secret" that Croatia is interested in buying anti- armor rockets and possibly producing them in cooperation with Bulgaria. Pavlov proposed that Croatian officers attend training courses at Bulgarian military academies. -- Stefan Krause ROMANIA'S RULING PARTY CONCEDES LOSS OF VOTES IN TOWNS. Adrian Nastase, executive chairman of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), on 18 June conceded that his party lost most big towns-- including Bucharest--in local elections held on 2 and 16 June, Reuters and Romanian media reported. Nastase said voter frustration with the ongoing reforms were responsible for his party's poor showing. He also claimed that "We lost the battle at the mass media level," saying that in the big towns, the press waged a campaign against the party. But Nastase praised the loyalty of the rural electorate toward his party, whose nationwide performance he described as "a success." Preliminary results show that the PDSR won nearly 32% of the 2,610 mayoralties. -- Dan Ionescu SOME 3 MILLION BULGARIANS BUY PRIVATIZATION VOUCHERS. The Center for Mass Privatization on 17 June announced that just over 3 million people- -or 48.7% of those eligible--have bought privatization vouchers, Bulgarian media reported. Of those who bought vouchers in the second round of purchasing, roughly two-thirds paid the full price of 500 leva ($3.50) for one voucher, whose nominal value is 25,000 leva. The rest paid the reduced price of 100 leva intended for pensioners, students, and soldiers. In other news, the National Statistical Institute announced that the prices of goods monitored by the government went up by 10.8% in the first half of June. This is twice the increase predicted by economists and statisticians. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN MEDIA CAMPAIGN AGAINST OSCE. The daily Albania has published a series of articles alleging a conspiracy between Norwegian, Danish, Bulgarian, and German OSCE monitors. The newspaper, which backs the government, claims the monitors were either old friends of late communist dictator Enver Hoxha or spies. It adds that they were therefore biased in their report on the recent elections, which pointed to irregularities and manipulation. Among those accused by Albania is the head of Deutsche Welle's Albanian Service, a Danish sociologist, who himself was banned from Albania beginning in the 1970s, and a senior German judge. Most allegations are based on their having spent time in Albania during the communist era. Radio Tirana recently stopped rebroadcasting Deutsche Welle programs on short wave because of its criticism of the elections. -- Fabian Schmidt TURKEY UPSET WITH GREEK-ARMENIAN ACCORD. Ankara has reacted angrily to a military cooperation accord signed by Armenia and Greece in Athens on 18 June, the Turkish Daily News reported. Turkish Defense Minister Oltan Sungurlu commented that Turkey is in a position to "have such an agreement cancelled." He also said that no threat was posed to Turkey by Greece's stated desire to establish a "defense forum" among countries known to harbor strong misgivings about Turkey's intentions. Those countries, he said, include Greece, Armenia, Iran, Syria, "certain Arab countries," and Georgia. -- Lowell Bezanis [As of 12:00 CET] Compiled by Jan Cleave ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 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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