|We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us. - George Eliot|
No. 122, Part II, 24 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 UKRAINIAN LAWMAKERS REVIEW DRAFT CONSTITUTION. The Ukrainian Parliament has begun an article-by-article debate over the draft constitution, Ukrainian TV and UNIAN reported. Deputies reviewed the draft's preamble and 10 articles on 21 June, but many critical clauses failed to garner the required absolute majority vote. President Leonid Kuchma told a gathering of newspaper editors the next day that if legislators fail to reach a compromise by 25 June, he would call a national referendum on the draft. Kuchma said the torpid review process demonstrated that the legislature was incapable of adopting the constitution, and accused Speaker Oleksander Moroz and the communist caucus of dragging out the debate until the Russian presidential runoff on 3 July, alleging that they have pinned their own political hopes on a communist victory there. The communists said they would lobby citizens to vote against the draft constitution in such a referendum. -- Chrystyna Lapychak YELTSIN IN BELARUS. Russian President Boris Yeltsin was in Brest on 22 June, international agencies reported. Yeltsin took part in a ceremony commemorating the Nazi invasion with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, and attended a session of the Supreme Council of the [Russo- Belarusian] Community. Observers interpreted the visit as a campaign tactic, since it received wide media coverage and Russian law forbids free TV campaign ads until the week before the 3 July runoff election. Lukashenka, the only CIS leader not to endorse Yeltsin prior to the first round of Russian elections, offered supportive words to Yeltsin during his visit, saying he would be crowned with victory. Despite the endorsement, Yeltsin cautioned Lukashenka that the slower pace of privatization in Belarus could impede integration. The visit was marked by separate rallies in Minsk by communists and the anti-Lukashenka opposition. Both ended peacefully. -- Ustina Markus INTIMIDATION OF BELARUSIAN RADIO LIBERTY CORRESPONDENT. The wife of a Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty correspondent was beaten up by two assailants in Minsk, Ekho Moskvy reported on 22 June. Her attackers broke into her apartment at night while her husband was away, beat her, and told her to tell her husband about it. Nothing was taken from the apartment. The following day, NTV reported her husband saying the attack was not a robbery, but an act of intimidation against him. He denied having any connections with legal or illegal businesses, and said the attack was directed against his journalistic activities. -- Ustina Markus ESTONIAN COURT ACQUITS DEFENDANTS OF 1992 RUBLE SALE. A Tallinn court acquitted Tiit Pruuli, adviser of former Prime Minister Mart Laar, and businessmen Agu Kivimae and Marek Strandberg on 21 June of charges resulting from a sale of rubles collected when Estonia introduced its own currency in June 1992, ETA reported. The court ruled that the defendants did not violate currency export-import regulations because they obeyed the instructions of the Monetary Reform Committee, which at that time had greater authority. The revelation of the secret sale to an unknown buyer in Russia sparked a political scandal that contributed to Laar's resignation in 1994. Foreign Minister Siim Kallas, who headed the Bank of Estonia at that time and was a member of the committee, said claims that the rubles were sold for more than their real value were nonsense because no Russian bank was obligated to buy them. -- Saulius Girnius U.S. UNDERSECRETARY OF DEFENSE VISITS LITHUANIA. John White began a two- day visit to Lithuania on 21 June with a meeting with Prime Minister Mindaugas Stankevicius, ELTA reported. Stankevicius repeated the worries of his counterparts in Latvia and Estonia about proposed changes in the Conventional Forces in Europe agreement permitting more Russian tanks in the Pskov region. White praised Lithuania's active role in the Partnership for Peace program and expressed condolences over the death of a Lithuanian officer serving in the IROR forces in Bosnia. White also met with National Defense Minister Linas Linkevicius, commander of Lithuanian armed forces Gen. Jonas Andriskevicius, and other senior officials. -- Saulius Girnius POLAND TO LAUNCH SWEEPING GOVERNMENT REFORMS. The Sejm on 21 June approved a sweeping reform plan to limit the government's role in the economy and streamline decision-making, Reuters reported. According to Cabinet Chief-of-Staff Leszek Miller, the plan would "decentralize government powers and strengthen the position of provincial governors." Under the program, control over most state firms will be transferred from ministries to provincial governors, leaving only some 200 strategic, large companies under government supervision. The plan will also merge some ministries, scrap others, and create new ones. A "treasury ministry" supervising all state assets is due to be created in October, while the privatization ministry will be replaced with a Privatization Agency. "As a result [of the plan], many current power- sharing conflicts will be avoided," said Marek Pol, a minister in charge of the reform. -- Zsofia Szilagyi GDANSK SHIPYARD WORKERS PROTEST IN WARSAW. Several thousand workers protested outside government headquarters on 21 June against the closure of the Gdansk shipyard, international media reported. "Get your red paws off the shipyard," workers shouted in protest of the ex-communist Privatization Minister Wieslaw Kaczmarek's bankruptcy plan for the yard, as union chiefs submitted a petition demanding talks with the government. The Solidarity trade union, which organized the demonstration, claims the closure of the historic shipyard is an act of revenge by the government for the opposition that arose there in the 1980s. Meanwhile, President Aleksander Kwasniewski urged that the issue be discussed "not in political but in economic and social terms." Kaczmarek argues that bankruptcy is the only way to start a turnaround of the state-controlled yard, which is burdened with debts and loss- generating contracts. Of Poland's five shipyards, only one has undergone successful restructuring so far. -- Zsofia Szilagyi CZECH PRIME MINISTER AT EU MEETING. Speaking to journalists at the EU summit in Florence on 22 June, Vaclav Klaus said he was able to explain the results of the recent Czech parliamentary elections to "our partners from member and associated countries." Klaus argued that Europe considers it unique that in the Czech Republic "the parties that have presided over radical reforms remain the strongest" after the elections. Klaus added that the expansion of the EU is so certain that "it is not even being discussed anymore." Klaus said his meeting with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, the first such meeting in several years, "was a first important step toward removing the media-created cliche about our alleged repeated failure to meet." -- Jiri Pehe MECIAR SNUBBED BY COALITION PARTNER. Deputies of the coalition Slovak National Party (SNS) snubbed Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar on 21 June, joining the opposition in a vote to include opposition members on a committee overseeing the Slovak Intelligence Service, Slovak media reported. The next day, the Central Committee of the Association of Workers of Slovakia (ZRS) expressed conditional support for the Meciar- led coalition, announcing that the ZRS does not intend to leave the coalition but "expects the coalition agreement to be observed," Slovak media reported. Also on 22 June, an official of Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia told journalists that "the situation in Slovakia is beginning to stabilize," because the opposition Party of the Democratic Left has allegedly expressed support for Meciar's government. But APA quoted SNS chairman Jan Slota as warning Meciar to stop policies that will result in the break-up of the coalition. -- Jiri Pehe HUNGARIANS ALLOWED TO PURCHASE FOREIGN SECURITIES. According to a draft government decree, Hungarian citizens will be allowed to buy foreign securities from 1 July, Magyar Hirlap reported on 24 June. In the beginning, securities can be acquired only through brokerages in Hungary and transactions will be limited to AAA graded securities with longer than a one-year term. While bonds and shares themselves will have to be brought into the country, yields must be converted into Hungarian forints. From January 1997, however, the scope of securities available will be broadened to all bonds and shares that fall into to the "recommended to investors" category. Passage of such an amendment was a condition of Hungary's membership in the OECD. -- Zsofia Szilagyi SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN CROATS DENY ATTEMPTING TO PRESERVE HERCEG-BOSNA. After having been heavily criticized by both their federal Muslim partners and the international community (see OMRI Daily Digest, 20 and 21 June 1996), three Bosnian Croat leaders on 23 June denied Croats were trying to preserve a separate mini-state of Herceg-Bosna, AFP reported. Bosnian Foreign Minister Jadranko Prlic, Federation Defense Minister Vladimir Soljic, and head of the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) Bozo Rajic said their move to restructure the Herceg-Bosna government was misunderstood, and was actually a way to gradually transfer authority to the Bosnian federation. Meanwhile, Bosnian Croats on 22 June stoned buses carrying more than 200 Bosnian Muslims trying to visit their former homes in Pocitelj, south of Mostar, AFP reported quoting a Bosnian radio report. The local Croat police did not react, AFP reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic COTTI VISITS BOSNIA BEFORE DECISION ON ELECTIONS. Swiss Foreign Minister and OSCE President Flavio Cotti arrived in Bosnia-Herzegovina on 23 June for a series of meetings with both Bosnian and Republika Srpska officials, international and local media reported. After talks with Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic, Cotti said the OSCE was not subject to any pressure, though all Western governments want the Bosnian elections to be held by the agreed September deadline, Hina reported. Muratovic said Bosnian authorities would take all measures necessary to create conditions for free elections, whenever they take place. Cotti is expected to disclose the decision on the elections date on 25 June. -- Daria Sito Sucic SERBS BEING BULLIED OUT OF SARAJEVO. Seventy-two Serbs have been intimidated into leaving formerly Serb-held suburbs of Sarajevo, Onasa quoted UN spokesman Alexander Ivanko as saying on 21 June. He added that more are preparing to go if the situation does not improve. "We are especially concerned over the harassment of [members of the] Serbian Democratic Initiative (SDI), the only organization that is trying to protect Serbs in those areas," Ivanko said. The UN is particularly concerned about SDI member Bogdan Jovanovic, whom federal police arrested some weeks ago on suspicion of war crimes, Ivanko added. Jovanovic remains in jail but no charges have been brought against him and no evidence has been produced. -- Patrick Moore BOSNIAN SERB FOREIGN MINISTER DENIES HE WILL REPLACE KARADZIC ... Apparently in response to the international community's anger at the nomination of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic as the governing Serbian Democratic Party's (SDS) candidate for the presidency of the Republika Srpska (RS) (see OMRI Daily Digest, 21 June 1996), leaks to news agencies from within the RS suggested that Karadzic will leave the presidency this week to concentrate on SDS affairs, and that Foreign Minister Aleksa Buha will replace him. Buha himself denied the story as "journalistic speculation," Nasa Borba reported on 24 June. Karadzic has been endorsed by the Banja Luka SDS and by the Society of Refugees in Brcko, which claims to represent 15,000 people. Also in Banja Luka, Mayor Predrag Radic, a former Karadzic ally as the candidate of the opposition Democratic Patriotic Bloc of the Republika Srpska, AFP reported on 23 June. -- Patrick Moore ... WHILE SERBIAN 'DEMOCRATS' SUPPORT KARADZIC CANDIDACY. Democratic Party (DS) representative Slobodan Vuksanovic said at a 21 June press conference in Belgrade that the DS could endorse a possible run by Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic in upcoming elections in the Republika Srpska. Vuksanovic described Karadzic's possible run as "legitimate" and said his party's position is that the Bosnian Serb leader "thus far has shown that he is responsible to his people, always seemingly placing their interests above his own." On the same theme, in a 19 June interview with OMRI, DS leader Zoran Djindjic said that the DS would participate in RS elections, adding that Karadzic's Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) had "a legitimate [wing] ... that can be worked with." -- Stan Markotich MILOSEVIC'S WIFE GAINS MONTENEGRIN SUPPORT. Rade Lakusic, chair of the League of Communists-Movement for Yugoslavia of Montenegro (SK-PJCG) said on 21 June that his party would formally join a coalition with the Yugoslav United Left (JUL), an organization headed by Mira Markovic, wife of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. Montena-fax reported the same day that Lakusic said his party and Markovic's would vie for seats in forthcoming Montenegrin elections, adding that JUL "is a movement that promotes the humanist and socialist ideals that are not pressed enough [here] in Montenegro." -- Stan Markotich KOSOVO SERBS DEMAND CLARIFICATION FROM MILOSEVIC. An unspecified number of Serbian Defense Movement supporters held a rally at the monastery of Gracanica near Pristina on 22 June, Beta reported. The demonstration's leaders had earlier sent a petition to President Slobodan Milosevic demanding he give an answer as to what future they can expect for Kosovo. Milosevic, however, did not appear, and neither did any representative of his Socialist Party of Serbia or the government. Some 40,000 Serbs and Montenegrins reportedly signed the petition. The head of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Aleksandar Despic, had caused fear among Kosovo Serbs by saying that Serbia may need to divide from Kosovo in the future. The leaders of the petition also plan to form a political party. Meanwhile, the Liberation Army of Kosovo sent a letter to Deutsche Welle claiming responsibility for the recent shootings of Serb policemen. -- Fabian Schmidt ILIESCU IN ITALY. Romanian President Ion Iliescu on 21-22 June paid a visit to Italy, Radio Bucharest reported. Iliescu, who took part in the Florence EU summit, met with businessmen in Torino and Milan on 21 June. He visited the Torino-based Fiat company, one of Europe's largest car producers, and the headquarters of the San Paolo banking group. At a press conference in Florence after the summit, Iliescu said on 22 June that isolation was no alternative to EU integration, irrespective of the costs that process may incur. -- Dan Ionescu CONFERENCE ON CONSOLIDATING MOLDOVA'S STATEHOOD. A conference on "Building Up and Consolidating the Statehood of the Republic of Moldova" was staged in Chisinau on 21 June, Moldpres reported. The gathering, attended by senior Moldovan officials including President Mircea Snegur, Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli, and Parliament Chairman Petru Lucinschi, focused on ways to consolidate the state structures of the former Soviet republic, which proclaimed its independence on 27 August 1991. In an opening address, Snegur praised his country's progress toward democracy and reform, and urged the authorities to work out a "clear concept" for Moldova's integration into the community of European states. -- Dan Ionescu BULGARIAN ROUNDUP. President Zhelyu Zhelev was awarded the annual prize of the Crans Montana Foundation on 21 June for his work for democracy, RFE/RL reported. The prize was presented by Swiss Foreign Minister and OSCE President Flavio Cotti, who stressed Zhelev's commitment to democracy. Zhelev asked the West for understanding of the difficulties former communist countries face in the transition process, arguing that the transition to a free-market economy placed enormous burdens on ordinary people. In other news, the Bulgarian civil defense accidentally triggered an air-raid alert on 23 June. The error was discovered before military planes took off. According to Trud, military and civil-defense officials were completely unprepared and in case of a real attack would have been unable to protect Sofia. Novinar reported that most air-raid shelters have been rented out as warehouses. -- Stefan Krause FINAL ALBANIAN ELECTION RESULTS ANNOUNCED ... According to the Central Electoral Commission (KQZ), the Democratic Party will get 122 or 85% of the 140 seats in the new parliament. The Socialist Party won 10 seats, the Republican Party and the ethnic Greek Party for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms won three seats each, and the Balli Kombetar won two. However, the Socialist Party considers the election results manipulated and plans to boycott the parliament. The Council of Europe (CE) Parliamentary Assembly's political committee will hold a closed- door meeting on 24 June with the OSCE, eight Albanian political parties, and the KQZ to prepare for a 26 June emergency meeting of the full assembly. A two-thirds majority of the assembly may advise the CE's Council of Ministers to suspend Albania's membership in the organization. -- Fabian Schmidt ... WHILE ALBANIAN PRESIDENT RULES OUT NEW ELECTIONS. Sali Berisha, attending the Crans Montana Forum on 22 June, announced that "there will be no new elections in Albania. On behalf of all those who freely voted in a sovereign country, I am making this very clear," AFP reported. Earlier the ruling Democratic Party had rejected a call by the European Parliament for fresh elections and called a resolution to that effect "aggressive." -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Tom Warner ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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